For nearly forty years, The Wanderer has followed the Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s funding of radical, left-wing political organizations, many of them carrying the brand of Saul Alinsky. The Wanderer also covered the first Call to Action conference – the months of “hearings” leading up to it, its orchestrated structure and contrived demands – and our reporters commented on the Alinskyian nature of it, not merely in its tactics but in its outcomes. In hindsight, we can see that organized dissent in the Church was a product of organized parishes, filled with Alinskyian-trained laity.
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development is responsible for that.
It is also responsible, in some part, for the fact that forty years later, we have a virulently pro-abortion, pro-homosexual presidential candidate whose principle political training has been in Alinskyian organizing. While he – Barak Obama – was lead organizer in Chicago for the Developing Communities Project, it received a $40,000 Catholic Campaign for Human Development grant in 1985 and a $33,000 grant in 1986.
While he was in Chicago Obama was trained by the top Alinskyian organizers. One mentor was the ex-Jesuit, Greg Galuzzo, lead organizer for Gamaliel. The Developing Communities Project operated under the Gamaliel Foundation, a network of Alinskyian organizations that receive 4-5% of all Catholic Campaign for Human Development grants each year.
The Developing Communities Project, which hired Obama as lead organizer, was an offshoot of Jerry Kellman’s Calumet Community Religious Conference. Kellman, another of Obama’s mentors, was himself trained by Alinsky. The network of community organizations Alinsky founded, the Industrial Areas Foundation, receives about 16% of all Catholic Campaign for Human Development grants annually.
After Obama went to Harvard Law School, he returned to Chicago and taught Alinskyian organizing to ACORN staff. Although ACORN has a different structure than other Alinskyian networks, its tactical philosophy and world view are formed by men who were trained by Alinsky, in a sort of diabolical apostolic succession. Obama ran ACORN’s 1992 voter-registration drive, Project Vote, and in turn received ACORN’s endorsement for Illinois senator. ACORN annually receives about 5% of Catholic Campaign for Human Development grants.
This translates into millions of dollars of Catholic money over the last four decades going into Alinskyian community organizing. Catholics generously gave their money to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection because they were told it would “help the poor.”
Relatively little from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development collection goes to “help the poor.” Alinskyian networks are political. They work closely with politicians – such as Obama – and other organizations that are fighting for abortion and homosexual “rights.” ACORN’s “People’s Platform” has nothing in common with Catholic social justice teaching and everything in common with socialism. Gamaliel and the Industrial Areas Foundation teach liberationism, a form of “Christianized” socialism, among their members.
This has serious ramifications for Catholics. The Alinskyian networks operate ecumenically and include numerous Catholic parishes. The Catholics involved in the extensive trainings these networks offer are not catechized in Catholic principles of social activism or political analysis but in Marxist analysis and praxis. Their worldview is marred by visions of class struggle and perpetual revolution. They are systematically trained to renounce moral truth in favor of consensus-based “values.”
Catholics trained in Alinskyian thought become confused about the comparative moral weight of the issues they encounter in the public arena. They also become confused about the legitimate authority of the Church, frequently imagining they can apply consensus-building strategies to doctrines and moral truth. They are the same Catholics who people the dissident Call to Action chapters around the country.
Ironically, they learned these confused ideas in their parishes, through Church-sponsored “educational” programs such as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s liberationist “Poverty and Faithjustice”. Because of this confusion, Catholics, who ought to be a powerful, consistent voice for moral values in society, are fragmented and ineffective. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development bears much of the responsibility.
A few bishops understand exactly what the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is and approve what it funds. Most, however, swallow the concept of its “helping the poor” and have probed no deeper. Busy about the Lord’s work of minding their dioceses, they’ve trusted others to run the “social justice” offices.
In this sense, the nomination of Barak Obama has been a great blessing. Even the politically naïve are fascinated by the pejorative dismissal of Obama as a “community organizer” and his campaign’s rebuttal that to disrespect community organizers is to disrespect Catholic Action. Obama isn’t Catholic. Catholic thought hasn’t subtly filtered into this ecumenical movement. Amoral Alinskyian thought, on the other hand, has clearly filtered into Catholic circles – to such a degree that some people confuse one for the other.
Obama’s nomination is a window of opportunity to explain – starting with the bishops – the difference between Alinskyian principles and Catholic Action. They and other Catholics should find materials about Obama’s Alinskyian roots quite interesting. We need to be sharing those materials.
After 40 years of funding the bad guys, it’s time to stop.
For a summary of Archdiocese of Chicago CCHD 2008 Grants, go to
Elena Segura is the CCHD director for the Archdiocese. If you have other questions after looking at the materials on the web, please feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org