Friday, March 03, 2006

More Akinola and the AAC

Check out another very interesting exploration of the Akinola/Radical American Conservative Connection on Political Spaghetti -- a new-to-me blog recommended by the Senior Warden of a clergy colleague. (See also: It Takes A Village!)

Here's a brief excerpt (my favorite part is the Tony Campolo quote at the end!):

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The AAC as an umbrella group for American conservative Anglicanism, has historical and present ties with the Institute on Religion and Democracy (or IRD), a conservative political group devoted to supporting evangelical Christianity as part of movement conservatism. The IRD has received considerable support ($4,679,000 between 1985 and 2005) from The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Richard Mellon Scaife via the Carthage Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundaiton, and the Scaife Family Foundation, the Randolph Foundation, the Castle Rock Foundation (the Coors family), and others.

This is not to say that all AAC members are hard-core conservative Republicans -- they may have no political affiliation at all. However, we must take for granted that the movement is driven (or at least heavily supported by in-kind contributions -- for example, the IRD and AAC websites used to be identically formatted, and their offices were in adjacent suites in an I St. office building in northwest Washington, DC) by a political and social agenda effectively separate from the movement of expanding evangelicalism in the Global South.

The IRD board is populated by such conservative luminaries as Mary Ellen Bork, Fred Barnes, author of "Rebel in Chief", Richard J. Neuhaus, Michael Novak, and is advised by conservative radio talk-show host Michael Medved, a group that spends little time evangelizing in Kenya.

The radical conservative agenda of this melding of religion and politics dirties religion immensely. Like Tony Campolo has said,

When government and church begin to mix, you got a problem. It's like mixing ice cream with horse manure: You will not ruin the horse manure, but it will ruin the ice cream. I think to mix the church and state is to, in fact, put the church in a compromising position.

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Bingo. The separation of church and state serves not just to protect our democratic system of government from those with theocratic designs it also serves to protect the independent voice of the prophetic church called to speak truth to power when elected officials fail to serve the common good. That's the challenge we're facing here at All Saints Church as we continue to deal with the IRS inquiry re: our commitment to preaching peace in and out of the election season.

4 comments:

Henry said...

Avoiding dealing with the substance of challenging criticism by damning such critiques with ill-informed suggestions of "guilt by association" is a McCarthy-era tactic unworthy of serious consideration.

Anonymous said...

Susan,

I think that in earlier years IRD did help out the AAC with office space and the like, but their agendas were markedly different. IRD was focused on the political involvement of mainline denominations where the AAC was focused on the goings on in the Episcopal Church. There was little to no overlap between the two. When the AAC moved out of the shared office into a nearby office it was for personal reasons. Both staffs got along very well and often celebrated birthdays and the like together. They were friends. However, this move separated the two in a very deliberate way. The AAC had no idea what was going on at IRD and visa versa.
There were never any joint meetings or joint projects.

I do think it would be safe to say that the IRD office is uniformly Republican. However, it would not be true to say the same of the AAC. Nor would it be true to characterise the AAC board as conservative Republican.

This has become a real dead horse issue. The real link between the two organisations was Diane Knippers who had a hand in helping establish the AAC; she was also a board member until her untimely passing. I doubt now that there is any interaction (the religious liberty progam excepted) between the AAC and the IRD.

Chip said...

Rev. Susan,

Please read Thomas Oden's recent works on orthodoxy for a better understanding of what's happening with renewal efforts such as those spearheaded by IRD. (He's a United Methodist theologian and has been involved with IRD heavily.) It'll give you a much better idea than these conspiracy theories. Speaking personally, I can tell you that those of us who are concerned for orthodox renewal of mainline denominations are flabbergasted that such a movement would be considered political.

Peace of Christ,
Chip

revsusan said...

Chip,

Email me and I'll send you a copy of an IRD Executive Summary leaves me flabbergasted that the IRD agenda could be construed as anything OTHER than "political."