IRD Conspiracy, Part III
John Dorhauer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 07, 2007 at 09:51:40 AM EST
Over the last few weeks, I have been focusing attention on a single document: the IRD's 2001 - 2004 Executive Summary of their Reforming America's Churches Project. We continue our examination of this document, and study its effect on Mainline Christianity this week.
I want to focus my attention on a single verb, and one that I locate in three places throughout the document. It is not only a key concept throughout this document, it is a lynchpin in what is now at least a quarter of a century project by the IRD to dismantle Mainline Christianity as we know it on behalf of their benefactors.  That verb is `train.'
I will cite the three locations in the document where this verb appears. I will comment briefly on its import and impact. I will note how the object of the verb changes with each use - a move that is very telling. The subject of the verb never changes: it is `We,' and the `We' referred to is always the IRD.
Here is the first use of the verb in the document:

Working with other renewal organizations, we will identify electable conservative candidates for national church conventions. We will help train elected delegates to be effective at church conventions.

First, note the object of the verb: `elected delegates.' Who are these elected delegates? Not representatives of the IRD organization itself, which would make sense and would draw no comment from me. No. And where are these delegates, once trained, to be deployed? At the national gathering of the IRD? No.

These are elected delegates to conventions or annual meetings held in our local church, regional, and national gatherings. I have never as a local church pastor, as a member of Conference staff, or as a representative to a National body asked for anyone outside of our church, our Conference, or our Denomination to train my delegates. Why would I? Why would we? And I certainly would not want them to be trained by an organization committed to my/our demise. That would be insane.

The point here is you are not asking the IRD to train your delegates. And they are not telling you they are training your delegates. You didn't even identify this delegate: they did. And you don't even know it. "We will identify conservative candidates for national church conventions. We will train elected delegates..." They identify. You elect. They train. What does this training entail? You will never know. Where is it held? You will never know. When is it held? You will never know. Who attends? You will never know. For an organization so proud of what they do, they sure seem to want and need to keep everything they do in secret. But I am getting just a little ahead of myself. Let's get back to the document, and continue looking at this verb.

Beginning in 2001, we will emphasize training conservatives and moderates for the debates on marriage and human sexuality.
Remember how in 2001, the calm before the storm, our churches had never heard of `Marriage Equality?"

Remember the time before the 2004 election when no state had ever thought of amending their constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman? Remember how also in 2004, in an effort to mobilize their base, the neo-cons in the Republican Party imagined that just such an effort might bring fundies out in droves to vote back in to office our current White House? Do you think that just because the same people who fund the ultra conservative wing of the Republican Party  also fund the IRD it is only a coincidence that they developed the same divisive wedge issue to mobilize their bases at the exact same time?

Before you ask what qualifies the IRD to conduct debates on human sexuality and marriage, first ask why in 2001 they invested so much time, effort, and energy in training conservatives for this debate. Is it because they felt like this issue was tearing at the fabric or our being, rending the country asunder? Did they believe Jerry Fallwell when he announced that the bombings on Sep. 11 were the fault of homosexuals? Or did they just correctly assess that the vast majority of simple, plain speaking, church going Americans could be riled into a mass of human emotion if led to believe that the gays had an agenda to destroy the institution of marriage?

Carefully framing the debate around the latter, they once again `trained' conservatives to be deployed in our churches. Every one of us in our local churches who found ourselves all of a sudden, and fully unprepared, engaged in unexpected controversy over homosexuality and marriage equality did so because of the training efforts of the IRD. Does that mean that every one of our local churches has a trained IRD operative in them? No. It simply means that those they train know full well how to build a network; how to phone bank every conservative they know; how to invite them to call every conservative they know; how to script the conversation so that by the time they leave the phone with someone they too are willing in defense of God, Bible, Church, and Country to attack anyone unwilling to defend the sanctity of marriage against the wiles of Satan and his gay minions.

Where do these conservatives get trained? We will never know. What are they taught? We will never know. Who are they? We will never know. Why? The very next sentence in the document tells us why:

We intend to conduct invitation-only training seminars and consultations

All this training we are talking about takes place with our people, our delegates, our church members and we don't know who, where, when, what. They go and return, and we have no idea.

Lest you think the document has said all it needs to about training, let me finish with this:

Within key mainline denominations, the IRD conducts the following: reporting, analysis, and exposes of national church activities; education on positive policy initiatives which the church ought to undertake; organizing and training of church activists; and coordinating the efforts of conservatives within and among the denominations.

Note the italicized words. The IRD identifies delegates from our churches, regional bodies, and national structures based on their conservative theology. They have the audacity to train them around issues of their choosing for deployment on the floors of our deliberative bodies. They do so at clandestine, invitation only events which we will never know about, even though they are being deployed in our deliberative bodies. And within our denominations the IRD is organizing a cadre of trained activists. And this is their language.

In all the years I have been writing, I have used this strong language. People like David Runnion-Bareford, who still has on the front page of his Biblical Witness Fellowship website a quote implying I have no evidence or proof of that which I say or write; people like James Hutchins of who at one time was so obsessed with my work he had eight articles about me on the front page of his website, all arguing I am making this stuff up and have no evidence or proof; people like Rebekah Sharpe, John Lomperis, and Matthew May who are deployed by the IRD to follow me around the country and report about my activities, whereabouts, writings, and speech and who also make the claim I have no proof or evidence: all these people and many others act as if I create a fictional account of what has been going on in our churches.

"Within key mainline denominations the IRD conducts the following: ...organizing and training church activists."

The Association of Church Renewal "allows us to synchronize strategies across denominational lines."

"Twice a year we will conduct invitation-only training seminars."

People, I ain't making this stuff up.


Is that document a planning document, in that it was intended for internal circulation, a "this is what we/the board/etc. are planning on doing in the next years" document or was is a fund-raising document, in that it was intended for external circulation, a "this is what we would be able to do if you give us some money" document?

Six years after this document was circulated that what evidence is there that this is what the IRD is doing?  Is there any evidence beyond conjecture in response to a percieved pattern that this is what the IRD has ever done?  Do we know ANYONE who has ever attended, seen an agenda for or even heard about any of this training?  Do we know anyone who has received an invitation to one of these training sessions.

Fred has taken me to task for missing things, so I'm probably asking for it again, but having been a local church pastor you know the limits of my free time.   But unless I'm mistaken what you and Sheldon are connecting is this document and a pattern of behavior in congregations that have left our denomination, saying in effect, IF the IRD DID do this, it would look just like what we see happening in our congregations.

p.s. Fred, in the sidebar you pointed me to earlier you refered to the BWF clergy referal process as "secretive."  It looks pretty above board to me--

I don't it either but I'm don't get what's "secretive" about it unless it's that they don't publically post a list of pastor searching for churches, but the regular process doesn't do that either.

by Don Niederfrank on Sat Nov 10, 2007 at 08:42:15 AM EST

Wish this site had an edit option for people who write too fast. (blush)

by Don Niederfrank on Sat Nov 10, 2007 at 08:55:45 AM EST

Whose names are on that list of pastors?

While I can know that about the pastors in the search and call process in the UCC, I can't know that with the Pastoral Referral Network. I've asked, but I can't get them. That's secretive.

Who is sending their documents to our churches, and when they do send them, why am I not told about that? Where is their criminal background check? Where is their background disclosure statements? What judicatory officer is communicating with what other judicatory officer about the background, history, and patterns of behaviors of these pastors whose names we can't see? These are all critical steps in our search and call process that afford all of our churches a level of confidence that the pastors whose names we are giving them are who they say they are; and that they will be safe with the pastors they call.
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 Nov 11, 2007 at 10:09:02 AM EST

John, what was your take on the article in the last United Church News where Jeremiah Wright at Trinity UCC in Chicago handled his own search process for his successor?  It sounds like other folks are doing the same thing, not just those in BWF.

by deloar on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 07:48:43 PM EST

As one who followed and did interim repair work with a congregation that bypassed the usual process, I hear you loud and clear about those concerns, especially w/re. to professional history.  

I'll pursue some answer with my BWF friends.

If they were to somehow (I'm not sure about process here...) share with persons in the established process, namely judicatory officers, I think that would go a long way in establishing some trust.  I wonder if something can be negotiated.

by Don Niederfrank on Sun Nov 11, 2007 at 04:24:21 PM EST

I don't want to take this thread too much further, for it is not what the site is for. But a lot more would have to happen that just sharing names. We can't - and we don't - circulate profiles to any of our churches that don't come through our system. We can't, for a host of reasons. Turning what is a system wide process of thorough checks (including credentials, transcripts, disclosure forms, release of information forms, criminal checks, histories, etc) over to any individual would never happen under any circumstances, and given the restraints of our legal counsel and insurance agents this is even more difficult. And, please believe me when I say this, we do this NOT to filter out conservatives or fundamentalists, but to insure the health, vitality, and safety of our churches. We would never say to the BWF just show us the names and assure us you trust them, and we will find a way to circulate the names of those people as candidates. Anyone unwilling to go through the rigorous system outlined here will never have their resume presented to any of our churches or their search committees. Insurance companies are telling us that any church that calls a pastor not authorized by their denomination will lose the liability portion of their property insurance. Given the payouts insurance companies have made in recent years, ministers are seen more and more as a risk, and Insurance agents are looking for some pretty standard pieces before they are willing to insure against liability. One of those is the endorsement of the congregation. One of the results of this is that the Pastoral Referral Network is, without thinking about it, raising the liability risk of individuals who, if they call a pastor not credentialled by their church, become themselves personally responsible for any negligence that could be proved against their pastor. Sorry to go on about this, and like I said if we are going any further with this thread we need to take it somewhere else, but I needed to share this.
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 Nov 11, 2007 at 10:55:50 PM EST
James Hutchins over at UCCtruths finds it unbelievable that UCC churches that call pastors outside the denomination might have difficulties with insurance; however, he had no problem believing that UCC churches might have trouble getting insurance because of the denomination's policy on GLBT clergy.

by Rusty Pipes on Thu Nov 15, 2007 at 06:08:13 PM EST
John Dorhauer deals with these matters all the time as an associate conference minister, and umm, James Hutchins does not.  I can only speculate that Hutchins thinks that the insurance companies, and for that matter, all responsible churches have learned nothing from the priest pedophile scandal.

That the UCC has in place a rigorous process for vetting ministers must be profoundly reassuring to the many people who are well aware of the value of responsible leadership, and taking the time to ensure the health and safety of a congregation.  

As John has written here and in his book, it is a shame that churches are getting hoodwinked into abandoning such care and rigor developed over many years. That such recklessness is cheered by ideologues and hubris-filled ignorati comes as no surprise.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Nov 16, 2007 at 03:21:15 AM EST

I meant in that lengthy diatribe to write 'endorsed by their denomination', not by their congregation.
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 Nov 11, 2007 at 10:58:06 PM EST

I can, and probably should, take this up with my own CM.

I'm still thinking that it would be rather difficult for the IRD to hold 6 years of training sessions w/o you or me having known of someone who was invited or when or where such was held. :-)

by Don Niederfrank on Mon Nov 12, 2007 at 11:24:23 AM EST

call David Runnion-Bareford and ask him about them.
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 Mon Nov 12, 2007 at 05:01:14 PM EST
He's not the one implying, if not claiming, that these training sessions have ever taken place and/or are taking place now and/or have been taking place for six years.  You are.  So my question to you, and Fred who claims to highly value facts, (as opposed, I assume, to inuendo and implication) is--Have you ever seen one of these invitations, talked to anyone who has been invited, talked to anyone who has talked to someone who has been invited or have any objective proof that any of these trainings have taken place other than the IRD in a fund raising effort claiming that this was their intent/plan?

by Don Niederfrank on Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 09:53:37 AM EST

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