Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Assailing Mainline Protestants -- "warming the heart of Goebbels"

This is a title of one of Rev. Andrew Weaver's essays on the IRD (Institute of Religion and Democracy, a Washington-based think tank):
When President George W. Bush met with religious journalists in May of 2004, the religious authority he cited most often was not a fellow United Methodist or even another Protestant. It was a man the president affectionately calls "Father Richard." He is Catholic priest Richard John Neuhaus, who, the President explained, "helps me articulate these [religious] things" (Time, 2005). A senior administration official confirmed to Time magazine that Neuhaus "‘does have a fair amount of under-the-radar influence' on such policies as abortion, stem-cell research, cloning and the defense-of-marriage amendment" (Time, 2005).
Father Neuhaus, 69, has been a leading culture warrior in the Neoconservative camp (Berkowitz, 2003). Although his ideological positions have been challenged by fellow Catholics as inconsistent with church teachings (Cocozzelli, 2006; Commonweal, 2006; Linker, 2006), few mainline Protestants are aware of his activities or those of other influential Neocon Catholics such as Michael Novak, George Weigel, and Robert P. George. Fewer still realize that these Catholics direct a group of paid political operatives who work ceaselessly to discredit mainline Protestant leaders and their Christian communions (Swecker, 2005; Weaver et al, 2005). The Washington-based think tank that they lead is the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD - website).
Click on title to read the whole article, somewhere mid-way, you'll see this:
Assailing Mainline Protestants -- "warming the heart of Goebbels"
Recently, Rev. Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches and a United Methodist minister, observed "there is a growing body of evidence that groups like the IRD" are working to "deliberately divide and undermine institutional churches...This is a concerted effort, not just against the National Council but the mainline churches themselves, to erode the confidence in leadership of these churches" (Guess, 2006).

Here is how the attacks are carried out. In November of 2005, in an unusual move, 99 (now 109) United Methodist bishops from every region of the United States as well as Europe, Africa, and Asia released a joint Statement of Conscience entitled, "A Call to Repentance and Peace with Justice" (United Methodist Reporter, 2005). The bishops are the elected officials who constitute the consecrated leadership of the 11 million member United Methodist Church (UMC), which includes among its members President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney.

In the Statement of Conscience the bishops confess, "In the face of the United States Administration's rush toward military action based on misleading information, too many of us were silent." The bishops commit themselves to pray for the end of war in general and "the unjust and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq" specifically, to reclaim their prophetic authority to speak out against war and injustice, and to engage in advocacy and peacemaking as integral to Christian discipleship (UMR, 2005). The signers reflect a wide consensus and are comprised of a broad national, age, gender, and theological diversity.

A few days after the bishops' Statement of Conscience was made public, the Weekly Standard published an IRD response (Fred Barnes is the executive editor of Weekly Standard and a board member at IRD). In IRD's attack piece on the bishops for the Weekly Standard, it accused them of "flogging the President." Its graphic denunciation of the bishops followed the Neoconservative party line, condemning the bishops for being out-of-touch "liberal elites" who promote "anti-Americanism" and have "hostility to capitalism" (Tooley, 2005a).

This was followed by a Christmas fundraising appeal from IRD dated December 22, 2005, in which it smeared the bishops a second time. IRD claimed that the bishops' Statement of Conscience is "insulting" to the "brave young men and women" who are serving in Iraq (Tooley, 2005b). Never mind that family members of the bishops have been and are serving in Iraq. IRD sneers at the bishops' call for peace, justice, and reconciliation in Iraq as sounding "like warmed-over 1960s utopianism" and proceeds to mock them as "flower children and chronic demonstrators who never really grew up and faced the real, sinful world" (Tooley, 2005b). In a direct challenge to the basic patriotism of the bishops that would warm the heart of Joseph Goebbels, IRD declares:

No doubt, if transported back in history, these bishops likewise would have impartially "lamented" the "continued warfare" between Allied and German forces in Normandy in 1944, while blaming the plight of millions of victims of fascist aggression on the United States (Tooley, 2005b).
This malicious accusation, typical of IRD, is made despite the fact that among the bishops are decorated World War II and Korean Era combat veterans

Again, I encourage you to read the whole article. Click on the title.
Religion and faith have been coopted, and as far as this believer is concerned, too many 'religious' people are serving Mammon, not God. But that's just my opinion.


Blogger Lindsay Lobe said...

Religion & War

Any religion or philosophy which is not based upon a respect for life is not a true religion or philosophy.

It is good to maintain life and further life, it is bad to destroy life. And this ethic, profound, universal has the significance of a religion. It is religion.

When we observe contemporary society one thing strikes us. We debate but make no progress. Why? Because as people we do not trust one another.

Consider the above sayings of Albert, Schweitzer, just as relevant to day, indeed more so as when made many moons ago !! ...........we need more thoughts along these lines, as opposed to the culture of a politically motivated fear to war mongering !! And there will be always be those who corrupt religion, who seek to abandon its true value. Those that justify the violence are as is a anathema is to their religion.

best wishes

7:16 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Lindsay, how true and exactly true you are! This simplemindedness that subjugates religion to suit their own primeval purposes (destruction of life and the contempt thereof) gets me to the quick. It makes me so mad sometimes. Shame on them many times over..

7:22 PM  
Blogger Tina said...

Aarrrgh! It is crap like this (in addition to maaaany other despicable things, such as their position during the 2004 election) why I pretty much told the Catholic Church to kiss my liberal ass buh-bye. Our 4 yr old daughter was baptized, but when it comes time for our yet to be born baby to get baptized, Hubby and I have no idea what to do.

4:36 AM  
Blogger betmo said...

this is why i am anti organized religion of any kind. my friend left her church where her children attended because they wouldn't confirm her girls because the girl's parents weren't married. my friend had taken in and adopted her sister's children to give them a stable home and good upbringing- and because their parents weren't married- they wouldn't confirm them. my friend confirmed them herself. she had family over in a ceremony and confirmed both girls. did she need 'official' sanction for this? no- the girls believe and isn't that enough? we don't need churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. to give us spirituality- and these folks in the article are using their power to grab more power. not very holy in my opinion.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Granny said...

I just linked to this. As a Methodist, I feel as if I've been attacked personally.

For Bush to slap his own church in the face - I can't think of enough words to describe it.

The Cal/Nevada Council of Bishops has come out for many things Bush is against. including a woman's right to choose. It remains to be seen what the church as a whole will do.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

I too am a United Methodist. I signed the Statement of Conscience quite some time ago. Thanks for posting this Ingrid. When I get a few spare minutes, I'll link to it as well. I've been thinking about sending Bush a copy of "The Book of Discipline". Obviously he hasn't read it.

9:32 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Damn they're good, aren't they? They've perfected staying on message and manipulating the message machine. 'They' being the whole neo-con machine.

The religious nutbars are the worst, because they may just have some sort of superstitious beliefs that go so much deeper than simple power, greed and emptiness.

What would Jesus do? Well if he existed and came back today - he better have a damn good team of writers, broadcasters, funders and security. I think he should start with Oprah to get attention... then kick some butt in the White House temple.

Or maybe he is back - and living quietly in a little cabin, wondering how it came to this?

9:37 AM  

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