New IRD President is a Schismatic Presbyterian
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 09:53:29 PM EST
You can tell a great deal about an organization by it's leader. That person is, after all, the person who was hired to carry out the agenda of the board of directors. That person is normally the principal spokesperson; the person who gives the speech; the person whom the reporter asks for even when he sometimes has to settle for someone else.  And whenever an organization goes through a transition after the departure of a longtime leader, who the next leader is often signals the organization's direction. Thus, the announcement of the new president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a Washington, DC-based organization with a 20 year history of seeking to undermine mainline Christian churches deemed "too liberal" -- is a bellwether moment.
The Rev. Dr. James Tonkowich was trained at the Gordon-Conwell evangelical seminary and has worked for the past five years for conservative evangelical Charles Colson's Prison Fellowship.  He has zero experience in mainline denominations. Perhaps most significantly, he is an ordained mininister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).   PCA is a small, rightwing schism that broke with mainstream Presbyterianism in 1973 over the ordination of women and membership in the National Council of Churches. (Women are not allowed to be ministers or elders in the PCA to this day.)  PCA is also member denomination of the National Association of Evangelicals. The church is predominantly southern and according to it's web site, the denomination had about 306,000 members as of 2000.

One of the leaders of the schism was televangelist and Christian Right operative, Rev. D. James Kennedy, who remains the PCA's best known leader. Other prominent PCA members include Rev. Lou ("Lucky Louie") Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition, who has emerged as figure in the Washington scandal centered on lobbyist Jack ("Casino Jack") Abramoff;  antiabortion militant Rev. Joe Foreman; Christian Reconstructionist author, George Grant; U.S. Sen. James Talent (R-MO); U.S. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO); Joel Belz, the founder of World magazine; and Marvin Olasky, the editor of World, and erstwhile advisor to George Bush.  

Tonkowich's appointment is also symbolic because IRD is the hub of the Association for Church Renewal, a national network of conservative factions in the mainline churches, that are the operational end of IRD's campaign of disruption and dismemberment. This is altogether fitting of course, because the Association for Church Renewal in recent years has held meetings in tandem with the National Association of Evangelicals. While positioning itself and related "renewal" groups as agencies of legitimate conservative disssent, IRD and the members of the Assocation for Church Renewal actively seek schism in the churches. The tactics of divide and conquer have occurred locally and nationally as Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer and Rev. Dr. Andrew Weaver have detailed here at Talk to Action.

In it's press release, IRD anticipates and seeks to deflect any criticism of Tonkowich's background. IRD Board chair Dr. Jay J. Budziszewski noted that Tonkowich's background notwithstanding, he is "firmly committed to reforming the mainline while at the same time helping the IRD to build alliances with other groups, such as evangelicals."

Rev. John Thomas, president of the 1.3 million member United Church of Christ, a member denomination of the NCC said this about IRD in a recent speech:  

"The target is the Mainline churches whose leaders, they allege, "pursue radical political agendas, throwing themselves into multiple, often leftist crusades - radical forms of feminism, environmentalism, pacifism, multi-culturalism, revolutionary socialism, sexual liberation, and so forth." And, as a recent book about their activities puts it, they "play hardball on holy ground."  

The IRD supports and encourages campaigns of disruption and attack in Mainline churches through its Alliance of Church Renewal. IRD has committees specifically focused on the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Presbyterian Church (USA), committees which provide support for so-called renewal groups within each of these denominations... More recently the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the American Baptist Churches, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have increasingly come into their sights as well. The IRD pursues its political agenda in the churches through three strategies: campaigns of disinformation that seek to discredit church leadership, advocacy efforts at church assemblies seeking to influence church policy, and grass roots organizing which, in some cases, encourages schismatic movements encouraging members and congregations either to redirect mission funding or even to leave their denominations."


It seems altogether fitting that IRD's new leader is a minister in a small, schismatic evangelical denomination whose best-known figures epitomize the Christian Right in the U.S.  



Display:
The IRD is showing it's true colors.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 01:55:01 AM EST

Wasn't Rev. Paul Hill a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America at one time? They probably kicked him out, perhaps way before he killed a couple of people during his fight against abortion.

by Carlos on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 03:02:19 PM EST
Paul Hill was indeed a PCA pastor. He was excommunicated when he publicly advocated his notion that murdering abortion doctors was justifiable homicide.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Mar 18, 2006 at 06:07:17 PM EST
Parent


how an organization so intent on "Turning Around the Mainline", and on renewal from within the Mainline (a phrase I hear so many renewal leaders use as they tell us over and over again they have no intentions of leaving their respective denominations and no intentions of helping other churches leave - methinks they protest too much) can make this move. It is, as you suggest, a clear signal to us all that their intentions are clear: this is a shot across the bow to all Mainline judicatories and churches. We are all on alert.
Shalom, Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer "Time makes ancient good uncouth; we must onward still and upward who would keep abreast of truth." from Lowell, "The Present Crisis"
by John Dorhauer on Sun Mar 19, 2006 at 08:33:15 AM EST

IRD has gotten away with its sniping because it has been able to portray itself as a rallying point for members of mainline denominations who genuinely are disturbed by the manifestations of modernity within their polities.

This gent sounds like an obvious outsider. As such, he lacks relevance. For most folks in the pews, who cares if yet another fundamentalist thinks their denomination is doing it wrong?
Can It Happen Here?
by janinsanfran on Mon Mar 20, 2006 at 07:47:17 AM EST



WWW Talk To Action


Trump Meets Man Who Inspired 2011 Terror Attack Deadlier Than Orlando Shooting
"It appears that the shooter was inspired by various extremist information that was disseminated over the internet" -- President Barack Obama, June 13, 2016,......
By Bruce Wilson (2 comments)
Terrorism as a "Marketing Method"
On the same day in 2011 during which he single-handedly blew up and shot to death 77 Norwegian citizens (mostly teenagers) and injured an......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Let's Can the Name Calling about Islam
President Obama rose to the occasion in the wake of the horror in Orlando. The president made clear in a speech on June 14th......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
50 Shades of Patriarchal Grey
In what must be one of the worst public relations disasters in university history, wealthy donors to Baylor University recently took out a full......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Pious Proclamation Panned: Iowa's Governor Goes Around The Bend With Bible-Touting Document
Some elected officials have a bad habit of releasing official proclamations lauding the Bible, Christianity or religion generally.We at Americans United find these proclamations......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Unreasonable Argument: Sometimes What Everyone Knows Just Isn't So
Over the weekend, a group of atheists, humanists, agnostics and others held a "Reason Rally" in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.Thousands......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Above The Law?: Ala. Chief Jurist Demands No Accountability
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is in legal hot water again and has no one to blame but himself - but, as usual, he......
By Rob Boston (11 comments)
Thomas More Was No Patron Of Religious Freedom
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is preparing to kick off its annual Fortnight for Freedom. This year the two weeks of......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Falling Starr
Reports from around the nation are reporting Ken Starr, President of Baylor University, has been fired as head of the Baptist school.  Other stories......
By wilkyjr (7 comments)
Bluegrass Bonanza: Ky. Theocrat Loses Grip On Statehouse Seat
Political news of late has been dominated by three people - Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They've certainly provided good copy, but......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
Political Piety Panned: We Don't Need A 'God's Party'
Every few years, a political pundit comes along and proclaims that the Religious Right is dead or on the verge of dying. I started......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)
Trump Campaign Tied To 2nd White Nationalist Party Leader
Even as Donald Trump seeks to tack to the center, and leave behind his earlier, wildly controversial statements on Hispanics and Muslims, mounting evidence......
By Bruce Wilson (4 comments)
Religious Rightism in the Democratic Party has Consequences
Those of us who write about the Religious Right and related matters often find ourselves wishing that we were wrong. Back in 2011 we......
By Frederick Clarkson (9 comments)
No Moore, Please: Ala. Chief Justice May Be Removed From The Bench
Word broke late Friday night that Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, may be on the verge of losing his job......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Road To Nowhere?: Ky. Officials Ramp Up Support For `Ark Park'
Officials in Kentucky have apparently decided that they're willing to endure a large amount of embarrassment if it will bring some mediocre jobs to......
By Rob Boston (6 comments)

Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (3 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (4 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (13 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (8 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 (10 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 (6 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 (3 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 (14 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 (7 comments)
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 (9 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 (12 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 (8 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.