Being 60 Minutes Means You Never Have to Say You are Sorry - Except Once
AJWEAVER printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 02:19:02 PM EST
[ By Andrew J. Weaver and Fred W. Kandeler ] Sixty Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt appeared on the December 2, 2002, edition of Larry King Live (CNN) and was asked whether he regretted any shows that he had done in his 36-year career. Hewitt named only one, the 1983 60 Minutes double segment on the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches. Hewitt told King that;

"We once took off on the National Council of Churches as being left wing and radical and a lot of nonsense. And the next morning I got a congratulatory phone call from every redneck bishop in America and I thought, oh, my God, we must have done something wrong last night, and I think we probably did."

The broadcast on CBS's 60 Minutes entitled "The Gospel According to Whom" began with Roman Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus, saying, "I am worried - I am outraged when the church lies to its own people." The camera moved from an offering plate in a United Methodist church in the Midwest to images of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and then to marchers in Communist Red Square. The lengthy segment over and over suggested that the National Council of Churches (NCC) was using Sunday offerings to promote Marxist revolution.    

The most damaging accusation in the program was that NCC had somehow funded armed insurgents in Zimbabwe. While showing horrific footage of a slain missionary, the program implied that the NCC was responsible for the brutal murder.  It was a lie that the top rated show in television told to tens of millions.  The broadcast was highly damaging to mainline Protestants and the NCC.

At the same time the program gave momentum to a fledging Washington "think tank," The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), nearly 90% funded by right-wing benefactors like Richard Mellon Scaife and the Smith-Richardson Foundation. The IRD was a primary source of the false and reckless claims made by the 60 Minutes segments.  

Founded in 1981 by several key leaders of the neoconservative movement including Roman Catholics Michael Novak and Father Richard John Neuhaus it has relentlessly used propaganda methods to carry out the radical political agenda of a handful of secular benefactors bent on neutralizing and overturning the social justice tradition of mainline Protestant churches as well as the NCC.  

Attacks by IRD on the NCC and its constituent churches are meant to discredit the legitimacy of their democratic bodies and support imposition of strict dogma and autocratic governance. This tactic is often on view when the conservative "renewal" factions in mainline denominations work with the IRD to foment internal dissent and generate conflict. In some cases, unaware theologically conservative Christians seeking spiritual renewal are used by the IRD and the "renewal" factions for hardball political power designs.

The question remains, why would secular political operatives care about funding a multi-million dollar attack on mainline churches and the NCC?  Think about this: NCC church members' influence is disproportionate to their numbers and include remarkably high numbers of leaders in politics, business, and culture.  The prevailing ethos of American culture has been shaped by the leadership and membership of theses churches.  Moreover, these churches are some of the largest land owners in the U.S., with hundreds of billions of dollars collectively in assets.  A hostile takeover of these churches would represent a massive shift in American culture, power and wealth for a relatively small investment.  If this sounds far-fetched, one need only consider how right-wing groups during recent decades have taken over and now wholly control the Southern Baptist Convention.  

One of the most troubling aspects of the IRD is that, while powerful figures in the right-wing of the Roman Catholic Church have been among its leaders from its inception, there is no program, staff or budget for changing the Catholic Church. There are only programs, staff and budget for changing Protestant churches. At the same time, 6 of the 17 current members of the board of directors, a full (35 percent), are prominent conservative Catholics. They include founders Father Richard John Neuhaus of the American Enterprise Institute and Michael Novak of The Institute on Religion and Public Life, along with Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University, George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Mary Ellen Bork (wife of Judge Robert Bork) and the chair of the board, Professor J. Budziszewski of the University of Texas at Austin.

These prominent Catholics who direct the IRD's board have conferred their prestige and considerable influence on an organization that has consistently labored to generate suspicion and hostility about Christian leaders who are not in their communion. This is not acceptable among responsible people of faith. Don Hewitt at 60 minutes said he was sorry. We are still waiting for the leaders at IRD to say they are sorry.

Andrew J. Weaver, M.Th., Ph.D., is a United Methodist pastor and a clinical psychologist living in New York City. He is Associate Publisher of Zion's Herald an independent religious journal published by the Boston Wesleyan Association.  He has researched and written on the right-wing attack on mainline churches and is a contributor to a new volume, Hardball on Holy Ground, The Religious Right vs .The Mainline for the Soul of the Church.

Fred W. Kandeler M.Div., D.D., is a retired United Methodist pastor affiliated with Travis Park UMC, San Antonio, Texas.  His thirty-six years of ordained ministry included serving ten years as founding pastor of Christ UMC in Plano, Texas and as later as District Superintendent. He is a contributor to a new volume, Hardball on Holy Ground, The Religious Right vs .The Mainline for the Soul of the Church.




Display:
I've been very troubled about the IRD since I discovered it over a year ago. Your post adds some additional information. The creeping invasion of mainstream denominations is malignant. And I have the sense that many in those churches are unaware of the agenda. Does the NCC aggressively counter the threat - for instance by educating clergy or helping them with conflict resolution within their churches?

As for CBS, it sounds rather typical of the traditional media. They make bad mistakes and frequently don't admit it, much less apologize. And I would never expect the IRD to apologize. What's needed here is not an apology but a Larry King, 60 Minutes, or other program on the IRD: how it's supported, what it's goals are and the dissension that it causes. That's the stuff that never makes it to the MSM.

Would the NCC be willing to get behind such an effort and provide effective speakers. Somehow the right wing doesn't seem to have problems getting their representatives on TV. Jim Wallis and Barry Lynn of AU seem to be developing a TV presence but there appear to be few others representing more moderate views. Another thing you might try, if you haven't already considered it is to get on C-SPAN Book TV to talk about your book.  

by Psyche on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:23:01 PM EST


remains nearly as demonized as the American Civil Liberties Union, when it comes to religious conservative AM talk radio. The "60 Minutes" charges are still being recycled.
That reminds me: wasn't there something in the Bible somewhere about not bearing false witness against one's neighbor?

by MaryOGrady on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 09:16:50 AM EST
Not being a conservative AM talk radio listener, I wasn't aware of it. Seems all the more reason to do some reality orientation on major media. One of the things that is most disturbing to me is that although the Religious Right is demonized in some circles as well, it never stops them from getting on TV and pontificating.

It seems to me that given the expertise on this and other liberal blogs addressing religious issues, it shouldn't be difficult to come up with a "recommended speakers list" that could be distributed to the MSM. We need to demand the opportunity for a counterpoint to the bilge they regularly dispense. Speakers could be listed with brief bio and area of expertise. It's also important that people on the list are assertive and have stage presence (something the right has honed to a fine art). Good grief! Walter Cronkite speaks for the Interfaith Alliance. He certainly has gravitas.

Could this blog take on such a project? A big problem is that many people that need to be reached don't do a lot of reading. If the message doesn't get out on radio or TV, it isn't heard.

by Psyche on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 03:40:26 PM EST
Parent

Bob Edgar was on Keith Olbermann tonight. They discussed Robertson's outburst and the flap over NBC's Book of Daniel. Both good men and they had a sane, reasonable, informative, and coherent discussion. We need more like that!

by Psyche on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 03:33:44 AM EST
Parent



The equation of National Council of Churches = Communist is a particularly nasty form of demonisation, one that has an obvious tone to people outside the dominionist community (in that most of us tend to think Communism = Bad) but which has a deeper meaning within the dominionist community itself.

Especially within churches in the National Association of Evangelicals, it's been quite explicitly taught that both the NCC and World Council of Churches are not only Communist sympathisers but also actively Satanic (because "ecumenicalism" outside of the dominionist community is seen as Satanic).

In the case of the "They're Commies" claim, this also has a deeper meaning within premillenarian dispensationalist churches--Communism is literally seen as Satanism because of a longstanding belief that Russia (or, occasionally, China, but far more often Russia--often controlling countries by proxy) will be the home of the Antichrist and the Antichrist in Russia will launch an attack against Israel (in more modern versions of this, via either Europe or various Middle Eastern countries, in Cold War variants, directly).  In fact, it's even taught that the NCC, or the WCC, are secretly partnering with Satanists or are actively Satanic themselves and will be used by the Antichrist to set up a "one world church".

(Yes, as a matter of fact, conspiracy theories DO crop up like mushrooms in premillenarian dispensationalist churches.  Entire libraries, starting with the book "The Late, Great Planet Earth", have been written and promoted to the premillenarian dispensationalist community on how non-pentecostal ecumenical bodies are working in league with the Commies, if not actively Commies themselves, and thus Satanists.  Quite literally everyone who isn't a fellow dominionist is seen as a devil worshipper, and often via a convoluted ball of conspiracy theories that would put a hand of Steve Jackson's "Illuminati" card game to absolute shame.)

by dogemperor on Fri Jan 06, 2006 at 09:06:16 PM EST



WWW Talk To Action


Priebus' RNC Israel Trip Organizer: "Wage War To Restore a Christian America"
image, right: Pastor David Lane, screenshot from Right Wing Watch video "Where are the champions of Christ to save the nation from the pagan......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
The Theocrats' New Clothes: A Naked Call for Political Dominion
Like the monarch in Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale, The Emperor's New Clothes, the theocratic ambitions of the organizers of the big Christian Right......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Republican Diversity Program... Is Working
The Washington Post recently underscored the larger point in this post, which goes far beyond the issues of the GOP diversity program. So I......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Unholy Alliance for Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety
When I obtained a post from a private email listserv of gun control advocates, I wasn't sure what to do with it. Then I......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Bobby Jindal's Big Rally for Christian Right Dominion
There is a big Christian Right rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, January 24th. The event, called The Response, is intended to, among......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
Dominionism, Gov. Rick Perry and The Response Rally of 2011
The David Pakman Show recently rebroadcast this "Classic Interview"  with Rachel Tabachnick in which they discuss her groundbreaking work on the New Apostolic Reformation,......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Religious Freedom as Revolution
In which I discuss Religious Freedom Day on the David Pakman Show. I said, among other things, "The idea of religious freedom was one......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
President Obama's Religious Freedom Day Proclamation
As is the annual custom, Mr. Obama issued the the Presidential Proclamation for Religious Freedom Day, 2015. I have republished the whole thing after......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Seize the Day (Religious Freedom Day) on Social Media
Today is Religious Freedom Day! And there are ways to participate on social media on this, the most important national Day that most of......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Silencing Dissent: How Biased Civil Rights Policies Stifle Dialogue on Israel
"Silencing Dissent: How Biased Civil Rights Policies Stifle Dialogue on Israel" is a new article in Tikkun Magazine, (January 2015) by Chip Berlet and......
By Chip Berlet (0 comments)
Antisemitism and Islamophobia on U.S. College Campuses
Here are the Recommendations from the Report "Constructing Campus Conflict: Antisemitism and Islamophobia on U.S. College Campuses, 2007-2011: published by Political Research Associates, 2014......
By Chip Berlet (1 comment)
What Did Jefferson & 18th Century Evangelicals Have in Common?
What did Jefferson and 18th century evangelicals have in common?  If you guessed separation of church and state, you can go to the head......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Waking the Sleeping Beast of Religious Liberty
This piece originally appeared as an op-ed at LGBTQ Nation. Something remarkable happened in the run up to the decision of the U.S. Supreme......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Rousing Remarks: Remembering Mario Cuomo's Powerful Speech On Religion And Politics
Two memorable speeches were delivered in the early 1980s on separation of church and state. The first was by U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Huckabee Dumps Fox News -- Might Jump in to the Race for 2016
According to a statement on his web site, tonight will be Mike Huckabee's last show on Fox where he has held forth on Saturday......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)

Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (0 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (0 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.