Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The liberal blogosphere organizes against the IRD

The Institute on Religion and Democracy faces two crises of conscience that I don't believe it is constitutionally capable of assessing on its own.

First, it is a front group for those in the US who wish to make Christianity a solely-owned subsidiary of the Republican party. Surely Christianity is the worse for it, and the Republican party is already dying from it. The last time the GOP ran a 50-state strategy for winning a presidential election was 1984 (and they would have succeeded had Mondale not won his home state). Today, the GOP is fully committed to a strategy that appeals to a once large and now increasingly self-aware sector of the population that wants fiscal discipline (and lower taxes -- see here for more), national security, good schools, and greater control over their health care and retirement, not to mention moral rectitude in our politicians and institutions. These interests have not changed, but the perception that the GOP can provide them has.

Second, the IRD has taken a one-sided stand against persecution of Christians -- but not against persecution. Anne Morse writes on Townhall.com of the IRD's decision to decline participation in "the 160-member Save Darfur Coalition because of its decision to include The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization with ties to terrorist groups including Hamas, which dreams of wiping Israel off the map." Well, Townhall and the IRD have other issues on their plate -- they want to fight Islamic terrorism, too (as do we all). But the involvement of CAIR, which the US government has not designated as a terrorist organization (unlike the Islamic American Relief Agency-USA, which the Save Darfur Coalition ejected), presents a moral conundrum for the IRD that apparently trumps the moral issue of stopping genocide:
When asked why Save Darfur did not also suspend the membership of CAIR, given its many links with terrorist groups, Crowley told me via email that "the Save Darfur Coalition relies on the federal government to determine whether a group supports terrorism or not." Noting the Coalition's suspension of Islamic American Relief Agency-USA, Crowley wrote, "We would take the same step if the government designated any [other] coalition member as a terrorist supporter"--an explanation [Andrew] Whitehead [founder of Anti-CAIR] calls "Beyond disingenuous. It is cowardly. Where is Save Darfur's sense of morality?"
Yeah, that's the problem, Andrew. But which morality are we talking about? The one that makes stopping genocide less important than the odious nature of the temporary alliance necessary to stop it? Faith McDonnell, of the IRD, says:
They have worrisome ties to terror groups, and in the past they have denied the existence of slavery in Southern Sudan. That's why we didn't join the Coalition, although we have cooperated with them in their effort to help the people of Darfur.
I don't get it -- the IRD has cooperated with CAIR in Darfur, but they won't add their name to the Coalition if CAIR is involved?

And it gets worse. As I've written before, it's not entirely clear that the IRD deserves to include the word "democracy" in their title. While championing the cause of persecuted Christians in countries like Sudan, Pakistan, Indonesia and China, they have also taken the side of Anglican Primate Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who has endorsed legislation (which still has not passed!) that would strip speech, press, and religious advocacy from homosexual Nigerians, with prison sentences of up to 5 years. So much for supporting democratic institutions.

Now the liberal blogosphere has started to organize against them. As reported at Political Cortex today, Air American Radio will be presenting, in its syndicated radio show State of Belief, a program covering the takeover of mainline Christian churches in the US by the Republican Party. The program, to be aired on May 21, is produced in conjunction with Talk To Action, a community weblog aimed at defanging the creeping monster of politics in matters of faith.

Christianism has no place in American Democracy.

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