Thursday, April 27, 2006

If anyone still had illusions about the political slant of the IRD ...

Mark Tooley, recently of White House Easter Egg Roll fame, and the director of the United Methodist Committee at the Institution on Religion and Democracy (a religious front group for Republican politicos), penned the following in FrontPage Magazine (emphasis mine):
The Episcopal Church, at its upcoming General Convention in June, will consider whether to endorse reparations for 250 years of American slavery.

The two-million member Episcopal Church is the embodiment of the declining and aging Protestant denominations whose elites prioritize left-wing politics. And, like the other "mainline" denominations, it is largely white and upper-middle class. To compensate for their failure to attract racial minorities, Religious Left prelates often adopt radical race-related causes. It is the perfect issue for anti-American religious elites. Obsess over a social sin of past centuries that will portray the United States and Western Civilization in the most sinister light. Meanwhile, ignore or minimize the personal sins and spiritual needs of leftists. Mainline prelates feel "prophetic" and "relevant" when they adopt causes such as reparations for slavery.


The Religious Left, on slavery reparations, as on most issues, misses the point. Slavery was endemic to every culture at some point. The universalization of the Jewish God through the Christian Church fueled to [sic] the slow but inexorable demise of slavery. Human equality before a sovereign and loving deity made slavery morally impossible.
"Slow but inexorable," my ass. It took at least 1700 years before the Church, in its official capacity, even brought it up, and we're still struggling with its aftermath to this day.

Two things I know for certain: that the issue of reparations deserves honest debate from both sides, and that this guy needs help.


Daniel said...

Yeah, Mark Tooley is a moron. And the IRD is a conserative action group bent on covertly subverting or destroying less conservative churches.

But in this case, I have to agree he has a point. Reparations for slavery? Isn't that what affirmative action is all about. Does anyone really believe a cash award is in order for averyone who had an ancestor who was a victim of slavery?

On the IRD, does anyone know why they have a Methodist action group, a Presbyterian action group, and an Episcopal action group, but no group targeting the Baptist Alliance? Isn't the Baptist Alliance gay friendly (welcoming and affirming)? What about a Mormon action group? And a Jewish action group? And someone really needs to do something about the United Christian Churches with their "We don't reject anyone" commercials. Any Christian church worthy of remaining intact needs to reject anyone not righteous (or self-righteous), right IRD?

Matt said...

Reparations may or may not be a bad idea, but to discount a debate over them as a cynical ploy on the part of mostly white protestants to curry favor with African Americans is not, by itself, a real argument against them.

Daniel said...


You are correct. The argument that talk of reparations is just part af the liberal agenda is not really a valid argument against them. As I stated, I think Mark Tooley is a moron. The IRD is not what they claim to be, not nearly as benign, although they are a cancer within real Christianity, but they really need a better spokesman that Tooley. I do like the picture of him, it really captures his essence, and that feeling of wanting to wash after being around him.

However, there are plenty of arguments to be made against reparations. Should the debate take place? Perhaps, but only if there is real hope of a resolution. Otherwise the debate just reinforces feelings of persecution and leads to more cries of racism.

And before anyone goes off, I'm not saying race relations and civil rights are where they should be in this country, but progress has been made and is continuing to be made. I just don't think acrimonious debate about "reparations" helps further the cause. It will just result in a backlash and ill will for those wanting the reparations.

Jay said...

> but no group targeting the Baptist Alliance? [etc...]

Well, Daniel, that's because the IRD is not actually interested in the 'R' in their name except from the perspective of the IRD being political operators and neoconservative power brokers.

It ruffles their feathers badly and they have never forgotten that the largest of the mainline denominations were home to most of the political progressive movement that questioned the authority of the status quo in the latter half of the 20th century. These Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Methodists had the audacity to question the power abuses behind Joe McCarthy's activities. And the Vietnam War. And racial inequality. And women's [lack of] equal rights. And that Communism might actually not be plotting to pollute our precious bodily fluids.

So the IRD has had a long term plan to get the "liberal elites" out of the mainlines. How to best do that? Wedge issues. Scare tactics. Lies. Homophobia. Lots and lots of Scaife, Coors, and Ahmanson money appealing to an anti-intellectual reactionary element of the population.

It's about getting mainline church street cred, and valuable mainline church assets, under the control of the neocons. Then, in their vision, the political progressives among us will have no quarter.

faithwatch said...

Hi Daniel,
In reference to your remark:
"And someone really needs to do something about the United Christian Churches with their "We don't reject anyone" commercials."

I think that the UCC was one of the first to come under attack by the IRD, and they have spoken out about it.
Please see Talk2action for a history of the relationship between the IRD and the UCC: