NY Methodists to IRD: Cease and Desist!
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 02:50:00 PM EST
I just learned that earlier this summer, an annual conference of the United Methodist Church in New York, overwhelmingly passed a resolution that calls on the nefarious neoconservative agency, the Washington, DC-based Institute on Religion and Democracy to cease and desist it's "deceptive and divisive tactics"; that Methodist affiliates of IRD decouple; that Methodists not support IRD in any way; and that IRD itself "disband" its Methodist program.  

This is a dramatic and important step for the mainline churches, which have generally been loath to acknowledge the externally financed and directed attacks on their communions, and to address the complicity of some of their members.  

The conference that passed the resolution is a representative body for New York City, Long Island, southeastern NY, about 1/2 of CT and a sliver of Pennsylvania. Here is part of the resolution, which was sponsored by the New York chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, the full text of which was recently posted over at Street Prophets.  

Whereas, the IRD and its UMAction Committee, led by Director Mark Tooley, are not related to the UMC and are not accountable to the UMC or its members through General Conference or a representational and elected Board of Directors--a charge (unaccountability) they often throw at denominational leaders who are democratically elected and who are accountable to various constituents and Boards of Directors.

Therefore, be it resolved, that we condemn the hardball, deceptive and divisive tactics of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and its UMAction Committee.

Therefore, be it further resolved, that we call for the following actions:

-- Good News/RENEW and The Confessing Movement to cease their partnership with the IRD

-- all caucus groups not to use the same kinds of hardball tactics exhibited by the IRD

-- all United Methodists not to support the IRD and to reject the agenda it works to impose on the UMC and the tactics it uses to advance them.

-- the IRD to disband its UMAction committee and cease its efforts to impose its agenda on the UMC.

-- all parts of the UMC to engage religion of the heart, in accordance with Wesley's teachings and the example of Christ, and join hands together so that we may move forward together in love and in good works.

IRD responded with a characteristically misleading and diversionary report, posted online by Rebecca Sharpe, the IRD consultant whose recent falsehood-riddled screed on a panel discussion I moderated, I reported on here.

Sharpe uses this occasion to continue the IRD tradition of diversion by among other things, ad hominem attacks.  This time, she writes that the resolution mentioned some of my work, but rather than dealing with any of the substance, she writes this:

MFSA also cited Fred Clarkson, the un-credentialed blogger known for his frequent diatribes against IRD.

The New York Methodist resolution cited one of my blog posts about IRD in a footnote -- along with two book- length critical reports on IRD. Sharpe does not address the footnoted point, or challenge a single fact in my or anyone elses reporting.   The Talk to Action post Sharpe sneers at was this one:  Yo, Mainline Churches:  Wake-Up and Smell the Coffee.   I am honored to have found myself in good company in that footnote:   Andrew Weaver and Steven Swecker, whose recent book Hardball on Holy Ground alerted many Methodists to the IRD's nefarious activities; and Leon Howell, whose book United Methodism @ Risk provided an earlier, well-reported wake-up call.

The IRD and its affiliates have been working in consort to disrupt and divide the major communions of mainline protestantism for many years.  Now, a major gathering of one of the denominations targeted for dismembering has formally -- and by "overwhelming" vote --  has recognized the problem faced by their church; named the bad actors and their objectionable activities, and taken a firm first step in beginning to address them.

And the NY Methodists have shown us what speaking up can look like and the difference it can make.

Given the overwhelming vote, contrary to the hand wringers who do not wish to offend anyone, the NY Methodists standing up to the divisive bully tactics that the IRD and its affiliates have used for so long -- was popular. Rather than divisive, it was a unifying stand.

Recently we have seen the results when a congregation truly wrestles with the matter -- in the case of a UCC church that voted to stay in the UCC in the face of lies, threats and bully tactics by those who sought to hijack the congregation -- but thanks to Sheldon Culver and John Dorhauer's book Steeplejacking, had a clear idea of what was happening and were able to address it.

The NY Methodists are complicit no longer -- and they are not the only ones.

by Frederick Clarkson on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 04:57:29 PM EST

I have corresponded with one of the resolution's authors, and find this to be an important and historic event. The IRD had to respond, and their response - once again and typical of them - is weak and, as you say, diversionary. This could be the start of a new approach by church leaders who continue to take the threat to their existence seriously, and who because of that choose to take action.
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 Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 06:27:21 PM EST

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