Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 12:28:07 AM EST
It was just a matter of time before the professional slimers at the neoconservative Institute on Religion and Democracy would squeeze out some propaganda products in response to Steeplejacking: How the Christian Right Hijacks Mainstream Religion by my blogger colleague John Dorhauer and Sheldon Culver -- and that these would be cheered, parroted or uncritically reproduced in some sectors.  I recently reported how a piece written by IRD consultant Rebekah Sharpe, engaged in the writer's equivalent of photoshopping to make it appear that I said things that I did not.  Most recently we have seen IRD web editor Steve Rempe slime John Dorhauer by calling him "insane"; and we have seen James Hutchins of the crank web site, "UCC Truths", joyously join in the sliming.  

What will they think of next? I guess we will find out.  But while we wait, I want to wipe the slime off of a few details, partly to correct the record, and partly to illuminate the IRD method of making stuff up to fit whatever story they are trying to tell.

Rempe writes:

Along with author and political provocateur Frederick Clarkson, Dorhauer has created a website, Talk-to-Action

Rempe also writes, refering to Dorhauer, "he says on his Talk to Action website."  Hutchins, in the course of reveling in Rempe's slime, echoed the claim that Talk to Action is "Dorhauer's blog."

Here are the facts.

Talk to Action is owned by Frederick Clarkson and Bruce Wilson. Originally, Bruce and I and several others posted on a group blog, which operated from April to November of 2005, when we launched an expanded version of the site. Before and after the launch of the expanded site, we invited a number of others to join us. While a committee of us drafted and approved the site guidelines in the run up to the November launch, John was not part of the group at that point, and in fact did not join us until the end of January 2006. John is a friend and a valued contributor, but it's not his blog, and he had nothing to do with the creation of the site or the site rules. John, like all of the front page writers, is responsible for his own posts. No one tells him what to write. It's a blog, not a magazine.  

It might seem like a small thing, but the question of who owns the blog and who is responsible for what, matters. And oddly, it seems to be a big bugbear for the religious right.

Indeed, a few weeks ago another slimer, Jeffrey Lord, a former political director in the Reagan White House, (and current president of a UCC (United Church of Christ) congregation) slimed his own denomination in The American Spectator, comparing it to the Soviet Union -- and made a bizarre attempt to use the Talk to Action site guidelines as a basis for his claim -- even though Talk to Action is entirely independent, and has no affiliation with the UCC, or anyone else.

Rempe makes a further claim that "groups like Talk-to-Action... hold regular conferences to encourage church members to speak out on matters like same-sex marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals".

The fact is that Talk to Action has never held a conference about anything, ever -- let alone regularly. For IRD's professional editor to get so wrong such basic facts about one of the main subjects of his piece is as telling as his sliming of John Dorhauer.

Strange days indeed.

I don't know why Steve Rempe of IRD, James Hutchins of UCC Truths, and Jeffrey Lord, lately of The American Spectator, have each grossly misrepresented in some way Talk to Action, and/or John Dorhauer's or the UCC's relationship to the site.  But, I suspect that they all know better. Slimers usually do.

As I wrote in response to slimer Lord:

Talk to Action operates in the best tradition of both private enterprise and the first amendment: we set the parameters for what can and cannot be published -- just like the New York Times, The American Spectator, or any blog in the blogosphere. Some blogs are free-for-all-open-fora; some are not; some allow comments, some don't. These are the editorial choices of owners of the respective publications and blog sites. It is their right. Some gadflies, rightwing and otherwise, believe that they are somehow entitled to hijack other people's blogs for whatever purposes they see fit. And some huff and puff when they are shown the door. Some never get over it.

Rempe, Hutchins and Lord don't like it that the religious right is excluded from Talk to Action. For the record, here is the part of the Talk to Action site guidelines that has the slimers so agitated:

Talk to Action is a platform for reporting on, learning about, and analyzing and discussing the religious right -- and what to do about it. It is not a forum for discussion, dialog or debate with those who sympathize with or belong to this movement. There is an editorial framework for this site that is different than you will find on other major blog sites, so please read this carefully: We are pro-religious equality and pro-separation of church and state. We are prochoice, and we support gay and lesbian civil rights -- including marriage equality. Therefore, debates about the validity of abortion and gay rights are off topic. We understand that some people who share our general concern about the politics of the Christian Right may not agree on all of these matters. That's fine. Anyone who agrees with the purpose of this site is welcome to participate -- but bearing this in mind. It is our intention to take the conversation forward, and not let it be held back by debating what, in our view are or should be, settled matters of human, civil and constitutional rights.

Meanwhile, what John wrote the other day in response to Rempe is worth quoting:

I must be insane.  This is the argument made by the Institute on Religion and Democracy as they struggle to defend their actions against what I have written about them.

Regent University graduate Steve Rempe, who has worked for the IRD since 1999, posted a front page article about me on the IRD website. Knowing they had to do something to quell the rising tide of information coming out about them, the IRD has deployed a number of people in recent days to discredit me and my co-author, Rev. Sheldon Culver.

They are giving it their best - because a lot is at stake. That this is their best is as much an indictment of their credibility as anything I or anyone else has written or said about them in quite some time.

As interesting as their means may be, slimers' ends are usually much more interesting.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 02:26:31 AM EST
well said. The slime continues to rise
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 Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 01:59:10 PM EST

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