Tag Archives: Faith in Public Life

The Catholic Con Continues

Many left-wing Catholic political organizations use Soros funds and misuse social doctrine to promote anti-magisterial, pro-abortion messages

SOURCE: Catholic World Report

One of the ways you can tell it is a national election year is that left wing Catholic political organizations re-emerge with new strategies, new funding, and sometimes even new names. But, while the organizational names may change, the players stay the same as the agenda remains to elect Democrats who will expand the progressive economic agenda, strengthen the power of the unions, and increase women’s access to comprehensive health services—including abortion.

This con game began during the 2004 presidential campaign with the creation of the Catholic Voting Project. The founders claimed they simply wanted to “promote the US Catholic bishops’ 2003 document Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility” and “encourage a dialogue which would allow Catholics to learn how their political views matched up to those of the bishops.” But the reality was that the Catholic Voting Project was always a front for electing pro-choice Democrats.

Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

After Senator John Kerry lost his presidential bid, Chris Korzen, one of the leaders of the Catholic Voting Project blamed the defeat on Kerry’s messaging problems about abortion. A master at sophistry and community organizing (formerly an organizer for SEIU) Korzen realized that the cover had been blown on the Voting Project and disbanded—but kept the same agenda and leadership—reconstituting the Catholic Voting Project under the new name, Catholics United—a 501C-4. That same year Korzen also teamed up with left wing Catholics to help found the George Soros-subsidized Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good—a 501C-3. The two organizations shared staff members (Korzen’s 2007 salary of $84,821 as Executive Director of Catholics United was paid out of Catholics in Alliance donations).

The role of Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good was to obscure the debate over abortion as much as possible by propagandizing to the effect that Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for President was the “real” pro-life candidate because he intended to reduce the rate of abortion through anti-poverty measures. They even issued a research study (by Michael Bailey and Joseph Wright) which attempted to “prove” that the poverty reduction Obama was proposing would reduce abortion. But, the study was so flawed that it had to be dramatically revised. Bailey removed his name from the revised study—which demonstrated far less of a benefit to wealth redistribution—and, eventually, the study itself was quietly removed from their website.

Still, their strategy was successful. Obama won the Catholic vote—in part, because of the successful strategies used by these organizations. Soros knew that his money would be well spent by funding a pseudo-Catholic organization. He was joined by many other major Democratic donors. During the months leading up to the 2008 presidential election, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good attracted large donors including the late Smith Bagley, a major Democratic fundraiser who came close to matching Soros with grants from his Arca Foundation. In fact, until 2010, Bagley’s third wife, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, a longtime Democratic Party fundraiser, was so enamored of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good that she not only funneled thousands of dollars to the organization but also served as chair of its board. Describing herself as a “staunch Irish Catholic” Bagley has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Planned Parenthood and the anti-Catholic group People for the American Way.

No longer major players in the 2012 elections, Catholics United still issues press releases to convince progressive Catholics that conservative candidates hate the poor. But, like aging screen stars who have to become even more outrageous to get attention, their most recent, “Paul Ryan’s Priorities Reflect Teachings of Ayn Rand, Not Jesus Christ,” is just the most recent attempt to reclaim the higher Catholic moral ground. While Korzen has moved back to Maine to establish Maine’s Majority, a political action group, James Salt, has taken over at Catholics United—and has escalated the attacks on the Romney-Ryan team. Salt, like Korzen, was on the launch team for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and did “messaging” work for Kathleen Sebelius—trying to convince voters that the pro-choice Sebelius really wanted to reduce rates of abortion even though her record of expanding abortion rights was clear.

In their most recent publicity stunt, designed to make Paul Ryan especially unwelcome when he was invited to give a speech at Georgetown University, Salt led Catholics United in creating and displaying a fifty-foot-long banner outside the event with the slogan: “Were you there when they crucified the poor?” The group denounced Ryan’s budget as “immoral” and “an outrageous slap in the face to our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens.”

Although the Board of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good continues to operate (it is now led by Alfred Rotondaro, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank helping to re-elect Obama), they have fewer funds and have done little beyond issuing a “voters guide” for 2012. The Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good Board now reads like a federation of labor leaders as it includes Edward McElroy (former president of the American Federation of Teachers), Tom Chabolla (assistant to the president of SEIU), Tiffany Heath (national organizer for the AFL-CIO), and Steve Callahan (former AFL-CIO coordinator of labor organizing campaigns). Few take them seriously anymore.

Faith in Public Life and Faithful America

Meanwhile, some of the staff members from Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good—and the Soros money—have moved over to Faith in Public Life, which was founded by Jim Wallis, a progressive evangelical. John Gehring left his media messaging position at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to become the senior writer and “Catholic Outreach Coordinator” for Faith in Public Life. Formerly an assistant media director at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Gehring spends most of his time now attacking the same Catholic bishops he used to work for at the USCCB. The most recent battle began when Gehring criticized the bishops for their promotion of the Fortnight for Freedom events. Claiming that the bishops’ support for the Freedom events showed “just how out of touch some bishops are with the real threats faced by working families,” Gehring wrote that “while most bishops don’t want to be the Republican party at prayer, their alarmist rhetoric and consistent antagonism toward the Obama administration often convey that impression…it’s a bad sign for bishops when they are essentially forced to explain that they are not a faith based Super Pac for the Romney campaign.”

Gehring is not the only Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good employee to find himself now working at Jim Wallis’ creation, Faith in Public Life. In what appears to be a major consolidation of faith based organizations, Faith in Public Life not only houses several of the leaders of what had been Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, it also has welcomed staff members from the organization Faithful America—founded by Tom Perriello, formerly a Catholic Democratic Congressman from the 5th District in Virginia.

Founded in 2004, as a “communications and organizing resource center dedicated to helping faith leaders reclaim the values debate in America for justice, compassion and the common good, ” Faithful America was really created to help Perriello convince voters—including pro-life voters—to move beyond what he called “divisive abortion rhetoric.” It is important to note that nearly all of the Soros-supported progressive faith-based organizations are founded to reclaim the “common good.” And, for left wing Catholic groups, a commitment to the common good always includes access to abortion rights.

In 2009 the two organizations teamed up with Sojourners, Jim Wallis’ social justice organization and PICO National Network, the USCCB-funded community organizing initiative, to create a “toolkit” on the health care reform debate. The toolkit reassured readers that conscience protections would remain in place—even though no such assurance was offered in any of the versions of the reform. Such protections were never intended to be in place.

Soros funds Sojourners (and others), by George!

Like Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Faith in Public Life has benefited greatly from the generosity of George Soros. Jim Wallis, however, does not like to be reminded of this fact. When Stephanie Block, the editor of Los Pequenos, a New Mexico-based online publication, wrote an article indicating this fact, Jason Gedeik, the Deputy Press Secretary for Sojourners and Jim Wallis demanded that she print an online correction clarifying that Jim Wallis had nothing to do with establishing Faith in Public Life. Gedeik claimed in his letter to Block that “Faith in Public Life was actually established by John Podesta’s non-profit group Center for American Progress.” Block refused to post the online correction, citing the group’s own online website description of Wallis’ role in creating Faith in Public Life. But, it did not end there. Wallis continued to deny funding from George Soros through the summer of 2010—even when reporters have presented him with the evidence that Soros has given Sojourners several hundred thousand dollars. And, not content to simply deny that he received the funds from Soros, Wallis went so far as to call anyone who stated that Soros had provided financial support a “liar.”

This denial of Soros funding continued until 2010 when World Magazine editor, Marvin Olasky who simply reported in July, 2010 that “in 2004 Sojourners, Wallis’s organization, received $200,000 from billionaire George Soros, a financier of left wing groups that push for abortion atheism, bigger government, and other causes.” Olasky claimed to have a printout of a page from the website of the Open Society Institute—Soros is the Open Society’s founder, funder and chairman—showing the grant. When asked to respond to Olasky’s allegations in an interview for the online publication Patheos, Wallis is described by the interviewer as having “exploded” in anger saying: “It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.”

Wallis continued to deny that he ever received any money from Soros, claiming “our money comes from Christians who support us and who read Sojourners.” But, Olasky simply asked his readers to go to the Open Society Institute website and see for themselves. Unfortunately, they did—and the record of the grant had disappeared—and a large white space appeared where the record of the grant to Wallis had formerly appeared. Someone had scrubbed the site. Fortunately, there were PDF copies of the $200,000 Soros grant as well as another one of $25,000 from 2006. There were also physical copies of these pages held by a large number of people who had already discovered the funding from Soros to Wallis.

Once Wallis was unable to continue denying the large grants from Soros, his communications manager released a statement insisting that “the first of the three grants, for $200,000”, came at a time when Sojourners, according to its 2003 audited financial statement had “incurred a significant amount of net losses leading to a negative asset balance.” In other words, they had bigger financial concerns than the grant of $200,000. Later, Wallis issued his own statement claiming that he should have declined to comment until he had “consulted with our staff on the details of our funding over the past several years.” Wallis also claimed that “the allegation concerned three grants received over 10 years from the Open Society that made up the tiniest fraction of Sojourners’ funding during that decade—so small that I had not remembered them.” Most of us would not consider the hundreds of thousands of dollars from George Soros to be a “tiny fraction” of Sojourners income—especially when Wallis himself admitted that Sojourners had a “negative balance” in 2003—the year before receiving the large cash infusion from Soros in 2004. Olasky concurs, telling a reporter for Christianity Today, “If you’re in the red and someone comes up with $200,000, especially a billionaire, you tend not to forget that.”

Soros money continues to flow into Wallis’s initiatives—and now is flowing into Faith in Public Life, the new home for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good personnel. The Big Con continues—and sadly, John Gehring, a former employee of the USCCB is now part of that con. But it is getting much harder for the progressive organizations like Catholics United or Faith in Public Life to hide their tracks now that everyone knows who they really are.

About the Author
Anne Hendershott

Anne Hendershott is Distinguished Visiting Faculty Member at The King’s College in New York City. She is the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education.

St. Joan of Arc Mpls. – Dialogue on difficult church issues, or, advertisement to subvert the Catholic Church in America?

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Editors Note: 

In this week leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday I’m praying the novena and Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily. Today’s intention (The Fifth Day) relates to Christ’s will that we should bring to Him the souls of all those who have separated themselves from his Church. Our Lord encourages us, saying:

 “Immerse them in the ocean of my mercy. During my bitter Passion they tore at my body and heart, that is, my Church. As they return to unity with the Church my wounds heal and in this way they alleviate my Passion.”

Yes, of course, Our Lord was speaking to Blessed Faustina preeminently about Protestantism and the scandal of Christian disunity as it was understood in her age, but we ourselves are able to recognize within the one Passion this very same tearing of His body and heart in our own days.

One need only consider, for instance, that with every non-ordination publicly proclaimed as “valid” by the sect Roman Catholic WomenPriests another soul thus separates his or herself from full communion with the Church through self-excommunication.

This is serious business. And made all the more serious and troubling by the confusing fact that many of these souls have stated outright the unbiblical notion of refusing to hear the Church in this matter, and in doing so, fail to acknowledge the reality of their own excommunication.

The following report begins with the long-troubled parish of St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis, but portends of an even deeper tearing of the body and heart of the Church with the advent of the American Catholic Council. I encourage you for the sake of these souls, their return to full unity, and ultimately for the sake of alleviating this ongoing passion of Christ, that you too pray with me for these children of the Church and by actively making your concerns known about the American Catholic Council by contacting your bishop and the Archbishop of the Diocese of Minneapolis and St.Paul – Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt, S.T.D.. The story follows… 

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Last Palm Sunday (2008) St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Minneapolis, Mn. brought us “liturgical” images like this one above. This year there were no such heinous images offered up to heaven within the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Instead, there was this faith-threatening invitation found within the Sunday bulletin:

SJA Palm Sunday Bulletin April 5, 2009

Catholic Coalition for Church Reform: A number of Catholic organizations and groups are partnering for a prayer breakfast on Saturday, April 18 at the Metropolitan Ballroom. Planning will begin for a series of Synods of the Baptized to initiate dialogue around difficult issues in our Church. Cost is $25; no one will be turned away due to inability to pay. FFI contact Julie Madden.

What the unsuspecting pewsitter needs to know

Perhaps for the sake of cover from Episcopal notice, what the SJA bulletin ad conveniently fails to mention to Joe and Mary Pewsitter is that those “Catholic organizations and groups involved in planning this series of “Synods of the Baptized” (Note: Only bishops can convene Synods) to dialogue around difficult issues within the Church” are using this prayer breakfast as a fundraiser and means of support for the newly formed anti-church organization known as the American Catholic Council.

The SJA promo ad advertises the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform. Only upon visiting their site does the unsuspecting Catholic learn about the American Catholic Council (ACC). The ACC is a multiplicity of heterodox church reform groups and other like-minded sympathizers who are currently in the planning stage of developing their stated goals of radically restructuring the Roman Catholic Church along the lines of the American Constitution-meaning, democratic governance by the laity–A proposition obviously at odds with the Head and Founder of the Church.

According to the event flier found on the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform website:

[The] CCCR is a coalition of Minnesota Catholic organizations dedicated to Church reform, including the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC), the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), Call To Action MN (CTA-MN), Corpus, Dignity Twin Cities, the Progressive Catholic Voice, Roman Catholic WomenPriests, FutureChurch, and MN St. Joan’s Community, dedicated to women’s ordination. The keynote speaker at our April 18 Prayer Breakfast will be Janet Hauter, vice-president of Voice of the Faithful, and co-chair of the American Catholic Council, a national convention dedicated to church reform, projected for 2011.

Reform of the reform groups

Up until the onset of the homosexual abuse scandal within the Church, reform groups in America (such as many of those mentioned above) were widely known to be waning in influence due to many factors including: lack of interest and non-involvement by laity, the reassertion by the Holy Spirit of fundamental truths concerning authentic Catholic faith and morals under the leadership of Pope John Paul II and (now) Pope Benedict XVI, as well as, by the aging populace of the reformers themselves.
After the scandal broke, however, reformers were reenergized for a time making it possible for new groups such as Voice of the Faithful to emerge. When it became apparent that the original good intentions and goals of VOTF were exchanged instead for the apostate goals associated with structural reorganization of the Catholic Church, VOTF too fell by the wayside both in membership and financial support. Which seems to remain their same struggle today. Perhaps this helps explain, at least in part, why two members of VOTF are the first ever co-chairs of the American Catholic Council. We shall see.

While it may be true that the majority of American Catholics have very little interest in helping to undermine the Catholic Church in America and will rightly reject this latest mystery of betrayal by kiss, one hopes that American bishops will not overlook the danger that the ACC represents in the days, months and years ahead. It would be a terrible mistake to underestimate the intent of the ACC or extent to which they’ll plunge themselves headlong in acting out their long-held goal of restructuring the Church. The “Institutional Church” as they see it has for the most part, and for many years now, frustrated the member organizations that now make up the ACC. This latest reform of the reform movement into one big trail drive shows signs of desperation, including a reckless encircling of the wagons for survival.

For example, all the headlines last month read that the State of Connecticut was trying to force the Catholic Church to reorganize itself financially. There was a big hullabaloo over the government attempt to impinge upon the eternal affairs of the Church, and thus, our religious freedom. What was not so widely publicized from the beginning was the reality that two Members of VOTF were responsible for helping introduce the content of the bill #1098 to lawmakers, [See: here] which in turn was placed on the legislative agenda before being pulled (without vote) due to strong Catholic protests locally and nationwide.

General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, Anthony Picarello, described the bill during the controversy, saying that 1098 was not only “blatantly unconstitutional” but also that it “targets the Catholic Church explicitly and exclusively, and attempts to use the civil law to alter Church governance.” Mr. Picarello nails it, of course, because in effect members of VOTF attempted to influence the Church through civil litigation by instigating the specious use of government in the clear attempt to undermine the apostolic nature and authority of the Catholic Church in America. And that’s the plan of reformers however tragically nearsighted and dangerous that might be…  

Bishop Lori [Diocese of Bridgeport] warned the faithful at the time, saying that, “If this bill were to be enacted your bishop, would have virtually, virtually no real relationship with the 87 parishes…they could go off independently, some of them could break off from the Church if they wished, and go their own way as has happened, for example, with the Episcopal Church.” One doesn’t have to look to the Episcopal Church for future examples of independent catholic parishes with virtually no real relationship with their bishop. Try this story from another part of the world for the sad results of such a break in communion.

Remember, I said “signs of desperation”

What’s obvious (and pitiful) concerning the lessons learned in Connecticut is that these groups perceive that unless they somehow manage to garner control of the wealth of the Church, (placing it into the hands of the laity), they will not find themselves in any viable position of power to leverage bishops in order to secure the “change” they seek. It comes down to money equals power for them. And for such reform groups it makes sense, because the change they seek flies in the face of authentic faith and morals as proposed for belief within the Catholic Church and bishops obliged to defend faith and morals cannot accept the multitude of errors these groups propose for belief under the guise Catholicism.

As it is, today’s reform groups remain under funded, are prevented mostly from using church facilities within dioceses by bishops because of their heretical anti-Catholic stances, find themselves unsupported by the same laity they presume to be the voice of, and therefore have come to determine that in order to remain relevant and survive they need now band together in order to keep alive the dream of recreating the Church in the world according to their own image. But, the question remains: Is it possible they might succeed?

Those “and other” groups and the future moves of the ACC

What the Connecticut blunder taught VOTF and other likeminded reform groups is that bishops and laity alike will not stand for government abrogation within the eternal affairs of the Church, financial or otherwise. And any further attempts on the part of reformers to openly (or secretly) use government as their jackhammer to undermine the foundation of the Church will not only meet with swift rejection as it did in Connecticut, but may even signal the final death nil for Church reform groups through episcopal action as well as final recognition by the faithful that the “spirit of Vatican II” is, what it is, a spirit of destruction that harms the Church, and thus, her mission in the world–the salvation of souls.

Licking their wounds, reformers must come up with another alternative. To gain the means to realize victory they need financing that far exceeds what many “prayer breakfast fundraisers” might provide. And that alternative may consist in turning their attention to other groups for help. Groups such as heterodox Christians and sympethetic non-Christian political activists, tacticians, and community organizers with long histories of emnity with the Church. No, I would not be surprised if the ACC moved into a mode of operation that mimicks groups such as Faith in Public Life, who helped successfully dupe nearly 55 percent of Catholics in America into voting into power the culture of death under the pretext of “hope” and “change”. At any rate, I look for an ACC full court press for help upon the following groups [described here] such as:

  • Catholic Organizations – official catholic bodies
  • Dissident Organizations- exist actively and deliberately to alter Catholic church teaching. All these organizations are associated with Call to Action.
  • Other Religious Organizations – member organizations from other religions, usually liberal members. Many who make abortion and homosexual rights denominational policy.
  • Community Organizations- Alinskyian organizations and their networks. These organizations are made up of congregations from all denominations. They have an historical and ongoing relationship with Call to Action. They promote liberation theology, progressive political activism, and they often receive funding from the Catholic Church.
  • Issue-based Organizations- organizations working for a particular cause. In this category we find a large number of Faith in Public Life members whose only advocacy is to act to secure abortion rights or homosexual rights.

Reform Groups: resurrection from the dead, or, Custer’s last stand in Detroit?

Bishops and laity alike would be wise to be on guard for reformers approaching such groups for needed financial assistance, training, and adaptation of the same successful community organizing tactics within their dioceses and parish’s as was utilized in the election of 2008. Simply put, there will be no effective American Catholic Council if reformers can’t somehow hoodwink laity and bishops into believing that their illegitimate goals are, well, legit. And this entails substancial participation of both bishops and laity for any chance at success. If they fail here, the American Catholic Council tentatively scheduled to convene in Detroit, Michigan, in the fall of 2011, will end up being just another Catholic Call To Action convention that no one pays any real serious attention to any longer–and the only difference being is that this Catholic charade will be held in another city other than Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Or perhaps, stated more positively, it will turn out to be Custer’s last stand in Detroit.

For the sake of the Church, that is, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, let us hope so.

From Davos To Devo: The Center for American Progress

By Stephanie Block

There is big money, George Soros’ money, behind religious progressives. Take a look at John Podesta’s Center for American Progress.

     When I was corrected for crediting Jim Wallis with helping to establish the progressive network called Faith in Public Life – despite the fact that it says so on the Faith in Public Life website (silly me) – the corrector attributed the real “establishment” to John Podesta’s non-profit group, Center for American Progress (CAP). 

George Soros
George Soros

     If you’ve listened to any conservative talk radio lately, you may have heard Podesta’s name in connection with a new censorship movement. CAP published a report in 2007, “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio,” which found that “of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners… 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming is conservative, and 9 percent is progressive.” CAP seeks (according to the recommendations of this report) to remedy the imbalance by restricting ownership of commercial radio stations and fining “commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations.” 

     In addition to its censorship project, CAP has helped establish Media Matters for America, an Internet site “devised as part of a larger media apparatus being built by liberals to combat what they say is the overwhelming influence of conservative commentators.” [Jim Rutenberg, “New Internet Site Turns Critical Eyes and Ears to the Right,” NY section of the NY Times, May 3, 2004] 

     Now, I don’t want to misuse the term “established” again, so here’s what I mean by it: according to the New York Times, the “project was developed with help from the newly formed Center for American Progress [CAP], the policy group headed by John D. Podesta…” [Ibid.] 

     So, what we have here is a two-pronged response to the “conservative” message – censor and attack. Wait, there’s yet another prong, Faith in Public Life, which CAP also helped establish – according to, ahem, reliable sources (namely, my corrector, Jason Ge deik, Deputy Press Secretary of Jim Wallis’ Sojourners. But one also finds, independently of Gedeik, that the information was published in The Nation [Sarah Posner, “Democrats Chase Evangelical Votes,” 10-27-08, which says Faith in Public Life was “incubated” at the Center for American Progress after the 2004 election]). 

     And what is this Faith in Public Life “resource center” but a network of religious progressives gathered together to reshape the media perception about Christian values. Their writers and speakers – abortion “rights” activists and homosexual “rights” activists prominent among them – claim to represent the “true” voice of morality… beautifully bolstered by progressive politics. Censor, attack, and make it look as though God is on your side…you have to hand it to CAP. 

Now, a little background on the operations of this media machine: 

     In December 2004, national religious leaders (including Jim Wallis) laid the groundwork for creating Faith in Public Life. It had a board in place in 2005, and on June 20, 2006 issued a press release announcing its “official launching,” though it had been operational six months earlier. Wallis’ Sojourners is mentioned as one of the groups FPL supports. 

     June 28, 2006, Obama spoke at a Call to Renewal Conference hosted by Jim Wallis’ group Sojourners. The speech argued that Democrats needed to grasp proper role of f aith in the public square. Religion wasn’t the property of the Christian right and there are “values” of import to believers besides gay marriage and abortion. 

     April 13, 2008, Faith in Public Life organized the Compassion Forum at Messiah College, where Democrat presidential nominees Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were questioned by religious leaders, among them Jim Wallis, about “value issues” and their religious beliefs. 

     As an aside, by the time Obama accepted his party’s presidential nomination (June 3, 2008), the Democratic National Convention had launched an initiative to organize “faith communities” around the party’s values. An August 24, 2008 Interfaith “Service” before the Democratic National Convention in Denver, designed “to honor the diverse faith traditions inside the Democratic Party,” included Jim Wallis among its featured participants. 

       In mid-August 2008, Obama appeared with John McCain at mega-pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church to answer questions about his policies and his religious beliefs. Obama already knew both Wallis and Warren. At the 2006 Call to Renewal speech (see above), he had said, “Pastors, friends of mine like Rick Warren …Religious thinkers and activists like our good friend Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo…” According to the NY Times, the forum was cosponsored by Faith in Public Life. 

     The target of all this activity, remember, are “faith communities.” CAP was founded on July 7, 2003 due in no small measure to the generosity of billionaire George Soros (also one of the major funders of the Democratic Alliance, with its “religious outreach” component, including Faith in Public Life representation), who wanted to create a progressive think tank, able to respond quickly to conservative media “attacks.”

       CAP has over a dozen spokespeople to which are added Faith in Public Life’s capabilities, directed particularly to people of various religious traditions. CAP posts daily “Talking Points” and a daily email newsletter, The Progress Report. It has several associated blogs, a youth outreach program, and a “sister advocacy organization” – the Action Fund – a 501c-4 lobbying arm. Faith in Public Life also has daily “faith news” emails – linked summaries of various media reports, usually with a progressive bent. 

      What’s going on here? If you – the observant Protestant, Jew, or Catholic – feel a bit like a clay pigeon, there may be a very good reason for it. Big money has been spent to shoot you out of the heavens and into the progressive hunting pouch.

Stephanie Block is the editor of Los Pequenos – a New Mexico-based publication. Her columns are made possible by the sponsorship of generous individuals who believe information about the development and dissemination of progressive ideology needs to be more widely understood. Please fell free to share — acknowledging authorship — these articles with others. If you would like more frequent publication of Stephanie Block’s work, tax-deductible donations can be sent to: Catholic Media Coalition – PO Box 427 Great Cacapon, WV 25422 Attn: Progressive Watch

Photo Credit: Photo: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

“We will be begging in the streets…” Fr. Corapi: Eleventh Hour Election Alert

Catholics, take heed… Father Corapi: Eleventh Hour Election Alert (Part III). (Part II) (Part I). 

‘Panty Waist Christians’ For Obama Target Evangelical/Catholic Vote: The ‘Matthew 25’ network by Stephanie Block

       During my conversion to Catholicism 11 years ago, I worked for a data protection company delivering information to various Silicon Valley tech companies. With plenty of time in-between stops, many days were spent listening to Christian radio. One of my favorite programs was J. Vernon McGee. Odd for a Catholic, I suppose, but nonetheless a true favorite Protestant evangelist of mine. Why? Put simply, because of his sincerity of faith and willingness to defend that faith. Mr. McGee wasn’t afraid to explain how the ‘cow ate the cabbage’ when it came to his faith and its saving doctrine. And that’s how it should be. Of course, his doctrine was not my own, and most assuredly his was not mine… And that’s how it should be too, until the Holy Spirit convinces otherwise–and He will. If there were one phrase in which to describe Mr. McGee’s fiery oratory when turning his attention towards Christians he believed were preaching another Gospel, or had strayed in some manner from authentic doctrine, it would have to be “Panty waist Christians”. A southern preacher’s expression I’m sure, and one I had not heard before. The first time, I nearly swerved my truck from the highway in uncontrollable laughter–“You go get’em Vernon” I remember saying to the radio… Yes, his style was all his own, but most importantly, his voice revealed a deep and sure love for Our Lord Jesus Christ.

       Since that time I have met and worked with a number of fine Protestant brothers and sisters. I have also marched with them in defense of the unborn child. I believe on this point, the defense of innocent children in the womb from abortion, J. Vernon and I would agree wholeheartedly. Everything about our faith comes from and leads to life…. I also believe Mr. McGee and I would agree that Our Lord has blessed His Church with a long history of despising abortion and defending against it, at least from the 1st Century on. In recent times Our Lord has again bonded His people, Catholics and Protestants alike, in defense of the little ones. However sad it is to note here, the election of 2008 offers a deep challenge to our shared bond in this work of justice and mercy on behalf of the unborn child and traditional family values. This post below is a heads up for all sincere Protestants and Catholics unafraid to defend the Christian faith, and a hat tip as well to Dr. J. Vernon McGee for his inspiration and example of both.

The Mathew 25′ Network by Stephanie Block

 The Matthew 25 network, devised by Mara Vanderslice, was created to bridge the ‘God-gap’ Democrats have with Republicans. Alinskyian in nature, the network brings together Christians of different denominations to support Obama’s campaign.

The words are all about feeding the hungry, freeing sex slaves, caring for AIDS orphans – the stuff, more or less, of Matthew 25, in which Jesus exhorts those who hope to inherit the kingdom to help, in very practical, material ways, their fellow men.

And these are the right words, used to craft a message to Christian voters in terms Christians find familiar and comforting. The purpose for using them, however, is to narrow the “God gap” between Republicans, who have a long-standing advantage among religious voters, and Democrats.

Mara Vanderslice
Mara Vanderslice

Whose bright idea was this? Any of a number of people have noticed and decried this “gap” but it’s only been in the last four years someone has developed an effective way to bridge it. That someone is Mara Vanderslice, who has formed the political action committee called the Matthew 25 Network to “coordinate grassroots mobilization in these Christian communities, develop credible religious surrogates in the media, respond to negative faith-based attacks, and communicate directly with undecided voters through paid advertising and direct mail.” [Background authorized and paid for by The Matthew 25 Network and published at:

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/politics/Matthew25Background.pdf%5D

Vanderslice is an evangelical Democrat. She interned with Jim Wallis’ left-wing Sojourners and its political offspring, Call to Renewal, was the director of religious outreach for the John Kerry and John Edwards campaign in 2004, and worked on numerous successful campaigns in 2006, including Senator Bob Casey (PA), Governor Ted Strickland (OH), Governor Jennifer Granholm (MI), Representative Heath Shuler, and Governor Kathleen Sebelius (KS).
The challenge for Vanderslice has been reaching out to religious voters. Democrat candidates needed “a new language to use in talking about faith and values, aimed in part at neutralizing hot-button issues.” Rather than demand “choice,” pro-abortion politicians were told to emphasize abortion “reduction,” making abortion “safe, legal, and rare.” [Hanna Rosin, “Closing the God Gap”, Atlantic Monthly January/February 2007]

Instead, they were to “talk about serving others; promoting the common good; protecting the environment as God’s creation, and alleviating poverty.” [Rosin] When the issue of same-sex marriages arose, t hey were to change the subject to the financial pressures on marriage.
The tactic works. According to one report, candidates coached by Vanderslice did 10 percentage points or better than Democrats nationally. They’re getting elected.

The targets

Obviously, evangelicals are a major target of Vandersplice, her Matthew 25 Network PAC, and the various organizational efforts of her mentor, Rev. Jim Wallis. They aren’t the only ones, though. Catholics – 47 million (according to Time Magazine) of whom could vote in US elections – tend to be “conservative” about abortion and homosexuality but “liberal” about issues of governance and social welfare. How to tap into that potential, liberal lode?

The Matthew 25 Network has a good number of Catholic “endorsers” – Ron Cruz, former Director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Hispanic Affairs; Sharon Daly, former Vice-Pre sident of Catholic Charities; Delores Leckey, Senior Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center and Former Director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth; Vince Miller of Georgetown University; David O’Brien of College of the Holy Cross; and Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, who serves on the board of Faith in Public Life and works for NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby.

A number of these people – Sr. Catherine, Ron Cruz, Sharon Daly, Vincent Miller, and David O’Brien – are on Obama’s Catholic National Advisory Council. During a Matthew 25 Network conference call that included Sharon Daly, she discussed Catholic pro-life beliefs and added, in true Vandersplice form, that Obama supports abortion reduction measures and the need to address the circumstances that increase abortions.

Obama

Obama, trained by Alinskyian organizers, also understands the power of language and the need to use it persuasively. At one of Jim Wallis’ Call to Renewal conferences (June 2 8, 2006), Obama delivered the keynote address. He said, “….the discomfort of some progressives with any hint of religion has often prevented us from effectively addressing issues in moral terms. Some of the problem here is rhetorical – if we scrub language of all religious content, we forfeit the imagery and terminology through which millions of Americans understand both their personal morality and social justice. Imagine Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address without reference to ‘the judgments of the Lord.’ Or King’s I Have a Dream speech without references to ‘all of God’s children.’ Their summoning of a higher truth helped inspire what had seemed impossible, and move the nation to embrace a common destiny.”

He said many other things but closed with the story of a pro-life doctor who had written to him, challenging his pro-abortion rhetoric. “So I looked at my website and found the offending words. In fairness to them, my staff had written them using standard Democratic boilerplate language to summarize my pro-choice position during the Democratic primary, at a time when some of my opponents were questioning my commitment to protect Roe v. Wade. So I wrote back to the doctor, and I thanked him for his advice. The next day, I circulated the email to my staff and changed the language on my website….”

An Alinskyian says what needs to be said to win. One pro-Obama blogger wrote, “We have to win. Period. If this means he has to say he disagrees with the Supreme Court on the death penalty and child rapists, that he agrees with the handgun decision, and that he has to bring religion into the campaign, than so be it. No only do we have to win, but we have to win by a big enough margin so they can’t steal the election. Again. There is no other option – if we lose this time we lose everything.”

Posts worth reading on this subject:

“Justice in Pieces – Faith in Public Life”

 “What the H*** Is Community Organizing

Stephanie Block is the editor of Los Pequenos newspaper and is a member of the Catholic Media Coalition.

Obama, ACORN, and the churches By Stephanie Block

Presidential candidate Barack Obama has extensive experience in community organizing. In the 1980s, Obama was lead organizer for a campaign funded by the Catholic Church in Chicago that was formed on the principles of radical Saul Alinsky…

      Senator Barack Obama’s political ambitions stirred Jackie Kendall, executive director of the Midwest Academy, a Chicago-based training center for community organizers, to crow, “He’s given community organizing a good name.”

This remark was sparked by the fact that Obama entered politics through community organizing. In 1995, one analyst wrote, “He says he is drawn to politics, despite its superficialities, as a means to advance his real passion and calling: community organization….What if a politician were to see his job as that of an organizer, as part teacher and part advocate, one who does not sell voters short but who educates them about the real choices before them? As an elected public official, for instance, I could bring church and community leaders together easier than I could as a community organizer or lawyer.”

Obama has had extensive experience as a community organizer. In the 80s, he was the lead organizer of the Developing Communities Project, a campaign funded by Chicago’s south-side Catholic churches and formed on the organizing principles of Saul Alinsky. He spent another four years building an organization in Roseland and the nearby Altgeld Gardens public housing complex.

ACORN is another community-organizing network with Alinskyian roots. Before going off to law school in the early 90s, Obama directed ACORN’s partner organization, Project Vote. Meeting with ACORN leaders in November, he reminded them of this, saying, “I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.”
ACORN, an acronym for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, considers itself the nation’s largest community organization. Its Political Action Committee, ACORN Votes, announced its endorsement of Senator Obama’s run for the US presidency in February 2008.

The Problems with Alinskyian Organizing

The community organizing embraced by Senator Obama is an inheritance from Saul Alinsky who founded the Industrial Areas Foundation and wrote about his organizing principles in two books, Reveille for Radicals and Rules for Radicals. Today’s major organizing networks – ACORN, PICO, DART, Gamaliel and, of course, Alinsky’s own Industrial Areas Foundation – owe their structures and their methodologies to Alinsky. The old time organizers who founded these networks were either trained through the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) or by IAF organizers.

Alinsky’s principles are deeply unethical, however. He teaches, for example, that in politics, the ends justify the means. Specifically, he teaches organizers to seek political power by any means that accomplishes that end. Local agendas are used to serve a larger, organizational agenda that is sometimes diametrically opposed to the values of its membership. Faith-based institutions are evangelized into liberationist theory through a variety of mechanisms. These are serious problems for the religious bodies who have become institutional members of the Alinskyian networks.

These Alinskyian principles are manifested in myriad, cynical ways. Obama unabashedly explained how he became “churched” in a 2007 speech:

“It’s around that time [while working as an organizer for the Developing Communities Project (DCP) of the Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) in Chicago] that some pastors I was working with came around and asked if I was a member of a church. “If you’re organizing churches,” they said, “it might be helpful if you went to a church once in a while. And I thought, “I guess that makes sense.”

Complicity of Religious Bodies with Alinskyian Organizing

If, as Alinsky taught, worldly power has two forms – money and people – the organizer’s rule of “follow the money” is to be taken seriously. Where do the Alinskyian networks get their people and money?

The answer is that Alinskyian networks get people and money from religious institutions. Catholic, Jewish, evangelical, mainline Protestant, and a spattering of Muslim congregations have been the primary members of the networks organizing by institution.

An analysis of Catholic Campaign for Human Development grants demonstrates that over the decades, about 33% of its beneficence goes to Alinsky-style, church-based community organizations sporting highly politicized, left-wing agendas. This means the ACORN network receives approximately 5% of the national CCHD annual budget. The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) network receives approximately 16% of the national CCHD annual budget. These figures, however, don’t include the dues paid by member churches, the money given to network affiliates through local Catholic Campaign for Human Development grants, nor the grants coming into the networks through other Catholic bodies. Nor does it account for the money raised by other religious groups through similar “poverty programs”.

Using donations for the poor to help power-seeking politicians attain their ends is pure Alinskyianism. One of Obama’s Chicago mentors, Gregory Galluzzo – a former Jesuit priest, now married and Executive Director of the Gamaliel community organizing network – was interviewed by a writer to whom he showed the training manual he uses with new organizers. “Galluzzo told me that many new trainees have an aversion to Alinsky’s gritty approach because they come to organizing as idealists rather than realists. But Galluzzo’s manual instructs them to get over these hang-ups. ‘We are not virtuous by not wanting power,’ it says. ‘We are really cowards for not wanting power,’ because ‘power is good’ and ‘powerlessness is evil.

Update From Editor: The Post “What Joe and Mary Catholic Need To Know Before They Vote: Justice in Pieces – Faith in Public Life” by Stephanie Block, is a “must read” on this same vital subject.

Stephanie Block is a writer and editor of The Pepper, a publication of Los Pequenos de Cristo of New Mexico.