Tag Archives: Sojourners

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.


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

The Time is Now!: Vatican Cardinal Warns of American Getheseme by Judie Brown

The time is now--Judie Brown
The time is now! Judie Brown

When the Catholic University of America’s Tower reported  that during a recent address at the university, His Eminence James Francis Cardinal Stafford criticized President-elect Barack Obama as “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic” and said he campaigned on an “extremist anti-life platform,” I can only imagine the cheers that must have risen from the hall. The Tower continued,

“Because man is a sacred element of secular life,” Stafford remarked, “man should not be held to a supreme power of state, and a person’s life cannot ultimately be controlled by government.”

“For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden,” Stafford said, comparing America’s future with Obama as president to Jesus’ agony in the garden. “On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake.”

Cardinal Stafford said Catholics must deal with the “hot, angry tears of betrayal’ by beginning a new sentiment where one is ‘with Jesus, sick because of love.'”

These inspired sentiments from such a beloved prelate should have been received with echoes of agreement, not only by the USCCB but the entire Church and pro-life movement. After all, this American cardinal is currently the major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary for the Tribunal of the Holy See and has staunchly defended Catholic teaching for years.

Well, I haven’t heard much from my fellow pro-lifers, but I have seen the vitriol that has spewed forth from CNN.

On Tuesday’s Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer referred to a Catholic cardinal’s criticism of Barack Obama’s abortion position as a “scathing rant” and a “diatribe.” A CNN graphic also used the “scathing rant” term, and Blitzer later referred to the cardinal’s words as a “blistering rant.”
As the Media Resource Center’s Matthew Balan reported,

At the end of the segment, Blitzer misrepresented the Catholic Church’s stances on various issues. He stated that the Church and Obama “do agree on some hot button issues, including opposition to the war in Iraq, greater access to health care, and more equitable tax codes,” as a CNN graphic referred to the health care issues as “universal health care.” On the last two issues, this is an oversimplification. Paragraph 2211 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the “political community’s” duty to “honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure,” among other things, “the right to private property, to free enterprise, to obtain work and housing, and the right to emigrate” and “in keeping with the country’s institutions, the right to medical care, assistance for the aged, and family benefits.” The same Catechism, which lists the official teachings of the Catholic Church, says nothing of “more equitable tax codes.” It only states how it is “morally obligatory to pay taxes” (paragraph 2240) and that tax evasion is “morally illicit” (paragraph 2409).

On the other hand, Blitzer did correctly state that Obama and the Church “strongly disagree on embryonic stem cell research; abortion rights…and civil unions for gay couples, all of which Obama supports – the Catholic Church opposes.”

One can surmise from the above that there is more to this bashing of Cardinal Stafford than meets the eye. After all, the cardinal was not screaming, and he did make every effort to make sure his comments were understood in the proper context. But as we might have guessed, CNN is not going to attempt, even for the sake of appearances, to be objective about the president-elect.

Further, they can rely on many Catholic dissidents and alleged pro-lifers to shore up their inference that saying anything negative about Obama is always a very bad thing indeed. As the Catholic News Agency reports,

The pro-lifers reaching out to abortion rights supporters argue that legal challenges to permissive abortion laws will not be successful, especially following Barack Obama’s election to the presidency, the Washington Post reports…

The coalition of pro-lifers seeking policy change rather than legal change includes Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals; Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; Catholics United, described as a progressive Catholic lay group; Sojourners, a progressive evangelical organization; and RealAbortionSolutions.org, a coalition of Catholics and evangelical leaders.

Rev. Thomas Reese, S.J., from Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center, has also allied himself with the effort, even though he has resigned himself to only commenting on politics in the past.

So too has Nicholas Cafardi, a former dean of the Duquesne University School of Law and a Catholic canon lawyer. He resigned from the board of Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio after writing a column supporting Obama and declaring the abortion battle lost, the Washington Post says.

My, what a tragic web is being woven – a labyrinth of half-truths designed to further entangle the American public into believing the media myth that when a Catholic prelate speaks out in defense of truth, it is always a bad thing for America. I can actually see a time when the hierarchy might, by law perhaps, be silenced similarly to the way the administrator of the Charleston, South Carolina diocese has silenced Father Jay Scott Newman.

The fullness of truth could even come to be regarded as the enemy of the common good. Who is to say where all this might lead, with the media in charge of preaching and teaching Catholic dogma to the not so faithful?

Now is the time for courageous leadership, unapologetic declarations of truth and much more honesty, such as that courageously displayed by Cardinal Stafford at the Catholic University of America.

We need to hear from the bishops, now more than ever. We should expect them to provide us with clarifications on anti-life measures such as the Freedom of Choice Act  and the Prevention First Act.

These bills would lead to more social chaos than anyone can imagine. It is tragic enough that abortion is ever committed, but to become a signed, sealed and delivered government program would be anathema to the future of this once-great nation.

 Father Frank Pavone has written, “It is the role of bishops to herald the Gospel of Life by their preaching, teaching, and stirring into flame the gifts of God in the hearts of the laity.”

Let us hope that the flame ignited by Cardinal Stafford, with his stirring comments, will be carried forth and burn intensely from every pulpit in the United States, Catholic and otherwise. The time is now!

Source: Catholic Exchange

‘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:


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, 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.