Rodriguez Signed Evangelical Call to Stop Mercury Poisoning While Working to Oppose Regulation
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 01:00:31 PM EST
On September 23, the U.S. House passed the TRAIN Act (H.R. 2401), which will delay enforcement of regulation on mercury emissions and air pollution.  The Evangelical Environmental Network worked to oppose the bill citing "the protection of children and the unborn from industrial pollution" with efforts including ads on Christian radio.  As reported in TIME Magazine, "More than 100 evangelical pastors and leaders have also signed the 'Evangelical Call to Stop The Mercury Poisoning of the Unborn,'" including representatives from over 10 Christian colleges, National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson and Christianity Today's Editor-in-Chief David Neff."  

One of the signers was the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.  Meanwhile, Rodriguez was helping lead the opposition to regulation of mercury and other industrial pollutants in his role with the Affordable Power Alliance, an affiliate of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Once a prestigious civil rights organization, CORE has received funding  from Exxon Mobil and Monsanto, and its leadership describes environmental regulation as "eco-imperialism" and a "war on the poor."

The Affordable Power Alliance is led by Niger Innis (spokesperson for CORE), Bishop Harry Jackson, and Samuel Rodriguez, along with the head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce and two officers of 60 Plus, a counter group to the AARP.

Niger Innis is son of Roy Innis, chairman of CORE and board member of the Hudson Institute.  CORE was led by James Farmer from 1961-1966, and was the organization that sponsored civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney. Today CORE hosts elaborate events on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, including a 2005 gala keynoted by Monsanto president Hugh Grant, emceed by Shawn Hannity, and co-chaired by Hudson Institute's Herb London. CORE claims to represent the poor in its lobbying for genetically modified foods and against environmental regulations.

The Affordable Power Alliance (APA) lobbies legislators to oppose taxing and regulation of energy. While energy costs for the poor is a legitimate issue, the APA disseminates documentation such as "A Scientific Critique of the EPA's Mercury Rule" by Dr. Willie Soon. In May, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled The Myth of Killer Mercury by Soon and Paul Driessen, two leading figures in battling control of mercury emissions.  

Soon was one of the authors of a paper claiming that polar bears are not threatened by anthropogenic global warming. In June, it was reported that Soon has received over one million in funding from industry sources, including the Koch brothers.

Driessen is a senior advisor for CORE and also for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. The latter is a recipient of funding from Exxon Mobil and the Scaife foundations. Driessen has claimed that global warming is "fraudulent science." CORE has a Ugandan arm which lobbies for use of DDT and solicits funds through the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

Right Wing Watch has a series of posts on CORE and the Affordable Power Alliance. The Center for Media and Democracy's has more information on the "Stop the War on the Poor" campaign led by CORE, Americans for American Energy, and Harry Jackson's High Impact Leadership Coalition. There is more documentation on CORE at Sourcewatch and DeSmogBlog.

 Affordable Power Alliance

 The Take Action section of the APA's website features "Stop the EPA," described as

"a project of the Affordable Power Alliance, a coalition of African American, Hispanic, seniors, and small business association."

Rodriguez is apparently the Hispanic representative in that equation. APA leaders have authored articles that have been placed in publications around the nation including an article  in Townhall by Harry Jackson, Niger Innis, and Rodriguez in June 2010 and another in Townhall co-authored by Niger Innis, Rodriguez, and Amy Frederick, in January, 2011.

The APA's articles are also published in Family Security Matters, a publication of Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, including one by Niger Innis on September 6, 2011, one by Innis and Jackson on August 2, 2011, one by Innis, Rodriguez and Frederick on January 4, 2011,  and one by Rodriguez on October 9, 2010. In the latter article, Rodriguez states,

"Nineteen Latino activist groups recently asked Congress and President Obama to oppose any attempts to delay or scale back proposed Environmental Protection Agency air pollution and climate regulations."

Rodriguez continues, stating his NHCLC was not consulted or asked to comment, but that if they had been,

"we would have offered some very different insights and perspectives."

Rodriguez continues,

"...most mercury emissions and microscopic soot now come from volcanoes, forest fires and overseas sources.  Although atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have been rising steadily, even scientists who worry about 'dangerous' warming now acknowledge that there has been no warming since 1995. This undermines EPA's claim that carbon emissions pose a health threat."

A webpage on Rodriguez's NHCLC titled Stewardship announces the organization's partnership with both CORE and the Evangelical Environmental Network, one above the other.  The CORE section states,

"Thus, CORE and the NHCLC have joined with other social justice organizations to form the Affordable Power Alliance, a new team that fights to keep energy prices low for vulnerable populations."

Underneath, the section announcing the partnership with the Evangelical Environmental Network is followed by a report titled "Environmental Justice: Hispanics at Higher Risk for Mercury Pollution."

Rodriguez's Many Contradictions

Rodriguez has been marketed in publications across the nation as a "moderate evangelical," who has worked with Republicans and Democrats on issues of immigration and poverty. In August, Christianity Today described Rodriguez as one of a "new kind of Pentecostal," concerned with issues of social justice.  Rodriguez's version of social justice includes promoting religious supremacism and demonization of Islam.  His support for the poor includes tirades against government involvement and regulation. Following my articles, Rodriguez resigned from the Oak Initiative, a Religious Right organization he helped found in 2009, claiming he was unaware of the anti-Islamic agenda.  The Oak Initiative and its affiliates have targeted Islam as being controlled by demonic spirits and are working with Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy.

CORE and the Affordable Power Alliance's relationship with Gaffney's Center for Security Policy is not limited to fighting environmental regulation but also encompasses Gaffney's Islamophobia activities.  Gaffney's Secure Radio advertises Niger Innis as a civil rights leader and a frequent guest. contributor Bill Berkowitz reported Roy Innis's work in warning politicians about the dangers of "non-spiritual" conversion of African Americans to Islam. Innis and CORE joined protest against what they called the "Ground Zero Mosque" along with the Center for Security Policy, Hudson Institute's Herb London, and the Traditional Values Coalition.  The Traditional Values Coalition is led by Louis Sheldon, also a board member for the Oak Initiative.

Both Harry Jackson and Samuel Rodriguez of the Affordable Power Alliance are leaders in the apostolic and prophetic movement or New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), as described in my recent article.  NAR leadership orchestrated Rick Perry's prayer event in Houston, held a week before Perry kicked off his presidential campaign.  Rodriguez and Jackson participated in this event and in the anti-healthcare reform Prayercast in December, 2009.

The NAR is an emerging force in the political and Religious Right that merges conservative social issues with a Tea Party-style economic and policy agenda, but has an agenda and track record of attracting Hispanic and African Americans.

More articles on Rodriguez, the Oak Initiative, and the NAR:

Rodriguez and the NAR

Overview of the controversy, by Frederick Clarkson

Resignation of Rodriguez from the Oak Initiative

Rodriguez,the Oak Initiative, and Religious Supremacism

Hello, Rachel, I believe it should be "anthropogenic global warming" rather than anthropomorphic. Thanks.

by MLouise on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 04:33:43 PM EST
Thanks for catching that!

by Rachel Tabachnick on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 04:50:07 PM EST

This letter is from June 2011 and is too recent to be the letter that Rodriguez was complaining about in his Family Security Matters article.  This was sent to the Obama administration from Latino organizations calling for smog reduction and to block any legislation that would slow slow implementation of the Clean Air Act.  

Signers included:
Comité Cívico del Valle  *  Common Ground for Conservation  *  Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas en Norteamérica (COFEM)  *  Latino Coalition for a Healthy California  *  League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)  *  National Hispanic Environmental Council  *  
National Hispanic Medical Association  *  National Latino Coalition on Climate Change  *  
National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Trade Association  *  National Puerto Rican Coalition  * Project Economic Refugee  *  Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services  *  
William C. Velazquez Institute *  Voces Verdes

A related article reports,

"In the U.S. today, one out of every 10 children are affected by asthma, a staggering number in itself. Latino children, however, fare far worse being 60% more likely to develop asthma than non-Hispanic white children. Sadly, Latinos are also three times as likely to die of asthma as white non-Hispanics."

by Rachel Tabachnick on Mon Sep 26, 2011 at 05:35:00 PM EST

This is one of the most disgusting articles I've ever read on this site!  I am appalled that CORE would sign onto proposals to tout GM food products (can't actually call them food, eh?)  What the poor need is real food, locally produced and therefore cheaper (not being hauled from 1200 miles away).
Just shows how good guys get co-opted by the bad guys like Koch and Montsano (who have only the desire to get richer from the pockets of everyone else.

Jim of Olym

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