Skip to comments.Jim Naughton's Grand Unified Episcopal Conspiracy Theory
Posted on 08/15/2006 6:00:31 PM PDT by sionnsar
Remember Jim Naughton's Grand Unified Episcopal Conspiracy Theory? Apparently it's lot more terrible than anyone originally thought. According to the Rev. Andrew J. Weaver, Ph.D, a Methodist minister, Roman Catholics are an important part of it. Some highlights:
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).
All of these benefactors have a common political aim (National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1997), which is to neutralize and overturn the social justice tradition of mainline Protestant churches because they are in tension with unfettered capitalism (Swecker, 2005; Clarkson, 2006). Between 1981 and 1984, the seed money for IRD, consisting of several hundred thousand dollars, came primarily from Richard Mellon Scaife and the Smith-Richardson foundations (Howell, 2003). Between 1985 and 2005 right-wing patrons donated an additional $4,764,000 to IRD (Media Transparency, 2006a). During these same years, at least $70,688,171 was given by conservative donors directly to these same Catholic Neocons or organizations in which they are employed or serve on boards (Media Transparency, 2006a; Blumenthal, 2006; Powell, 2003). However, that is not the total amount, because Christian Reconstructionist patron, Howard Ahmanson, (Blumenthal, 2004) gives money to IRD and other groups in a manner that cannot be tracked through current tax laws (Naughton, 2006).
[Cue sinister organ music] I don't know if this guy's an albino or not.
Rev. John McCloskey is an Opus Dei priest who sits on the IRD advisory board. As James Martin, S.J., put it in the Jesuit weekly, America, "Opus Dei is the most controversial movement in the Catholic church today. Its fiercely evangelical and fully devoted to the pope and the Catholic hierarchy. Its also a powerful force within the Vatican" (Martin, 1995). McCloskey joined Opus Dei when he was a 16-year-old high school student in Washington, DC, and he remained active during his college years at Columbia University and later when he worked on Wall Street for Citibank and Merrill Lynch (Boston, 2006; Suellentrop, 2002). He moves comfortably in elite circles where he focuses his evangelism (Fishman, 2004).
When Father McCloskey was ordained in Rome in 1982, he offered bellicose images of the priestly role: "Priests are warriors for Jesus Christ. They are the Navy Seals, the Army Rangers, and the Green Berets of the Catholic Church, and Im proud to serve among her ranks" (Boston, 2006). He worked as associate chaplain at Princeton Universitys Aquinas Institute from 1985 to 1990 (Martin, 1995). However, he was dismissed from that post after a faculty protest that chastised him for "being overly aggressive in recruiting and impinging on academic freedom" (Eshel, 2005; Martin, 1995).
As an Opus Dei evangelist, he now operates out of the Catholic Information Center, a couple of blocks from the White House. He has been called "a spiritual K Street lobbyist" for Opus Dei as a result of his high profile converts such as Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican and former United Methodist (Suellentrop, 2002). Other right-wing political insiders who converted to Catholicism under McCloskeys guidance include Jewish-born pundit Robert Novak (who outed a working undercover CIA agent) as well as the supply-side television commentator Lawrence Kudlow (Suellentrop, 2002).
[Cue more sinister organ music] This is all part of a Master PlanTM to DESTROY LIBERAL CHRISTIANITY!!
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 Administrations 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 IRDs 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.
Hmmm. Disagreeing with Methodist bishops constitutes an "attack" and a "concerted effort" to "deliberately divide and undermine institutional churches" and to "erode the confidence in leadership of these churches." I wonder what the stuff I do here constitutes. And how in the world can anyone "erode" something that hasn't existed for decades?
IRD is not above using explicit hate language to attack mainline Protestant leaders. Eight days after President Bushs famous "mission accomplished" declaration, Dave Berg, a "segment producer" for the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" wrote a commentary for IRD, posted on its website on May 9, 2003 (Berg, 2003). After Berg announced that "the war in Iraq is coming to a victorious close," he attacked "the godless army of Americas mainstream Protestant leaders" who "worship at the altar of the United Nations" and "gave aid and comfort" to our enemies. He named Jim Winker, General Secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, Bishop Clifton Ives of West Virginia, and Bishop William Dew of Arizona, among his targets. He then directed toward these United Methodist leaders, baseless accusations. He said these respected men of God have "hatred for President Bush and for America itself"
Weaves is just getting warmed up.
IRD has assaulted the integrity of myriad honorable Protestant and Jewish leaders including Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Rev. Jim Wallis of the Sojourners community; Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun; America Baptist Dr. Tony Campolo; Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; Bishop Mark Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Rev. Gardner C. Taylor, past president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention; Rabbi David Gelfand at The Jewish Center of the Hamptons; the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church ; and Rev. Welton Gaddy of The Interfaith Alliance (Faith and Freedom, 2006; United Methodists Affirming Christs Teachings in our Nation, 2006; IRD in the Media, 2006; Neuhaus, 1997). This is an incomplete list of those attacked.
I've been having at Frank for three years(even published a book about it, which makes a great gift, by the way) and IRD gets the credit. [Blinks back tears] Life sucks. Anyway, you Roman Catholics had better wake up and smell the incense.
IRD constitutes the most grievous breach in ecumenical good will between Roman Catholics and Protestants since the changes initiated by Vatican II. Since that time there have continued to be differences between Catholics and Protestants, as well as internal divisions on both sides. What has been remarkable has been the mutual respect among Catholics and Protestants and their ability to work together on many matters. We believe that the sustained attempt by one segment of the leadership of the Catholic Church to undermine the leadership of mainstream Protestantism is a unique breach of ecumenical relations. How other Catholic leaders deal with the debates internal to the Catholic Church introduced by its Neocons is a matter with which Protestants have no business interfering. But Protestants have the right to expect that those Roman Catholic leaders who wish to maintain ecumenical relations with Protestants will publicly disown and reject the activities of the IRD.
Read the whole
raving paranoia thing.
I've asked this question before and I'll ask it again. Why would anyone with a functioning brain spend a great deal of time, effort and especially money to do to mainline Protestantism what mainline Protestantism is enthusiastically doing to itself for free?
And why should Roman Catholics waste time in a Sinister PlotTM to destroy mainline Protestant churches when those churches are already destroying themselves without any Catholic help of any kind? Especially since about all Catholic churches have to do to undermine the mainline Protestant churches in a particular area is something as simple as the following:
Weaver must be terrified that the bigots in the pews really aren't coming back and really are sending their money to the Catholics, the Southern Baptists, the Orthodox, etc. That's the only thing that can account for hysteria like this.
Thanks to Paula.
ROFLOLOLOLOL to both Chris Johnson and the For Dummies.
Oooh, a conspiracy thread! Is it too late to join?
Yes but Christopher's commentary gives it the dressing needed.
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