Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Infamous Dominionist Spotted at GAFCON

Ruth Gledhill spotted a well know player in the ongoing Anglican saga; none other than the avenging angel of the religious right himself, Howard Ahmanson.

You don't recognize that name? Maybe this 2003 report from the Guardian will refresh your memory. Or this Special Report by Jim Naughton entitled Following the Money. Or our previous discussions of this man, to be found here, here and here.

I'll attempt a brief summary:

Howard Ahmanson was a member of St. James Episcopal Church in Newport Beach, CA. His rector was David Anderson.

St. James, Newport Beach was one of the earliest parishes to claim allegiance to a foreign bishop. That property case is still working its way through the courts.

David "I like a good fight" Anderson left St. James, Newport Beach to launch the American Anglican Council, partially bankrolled by Howard Ahmanson.

Before joining up with Anderson, Ahmanson was a previous disciple of the infamous Rousas John Rushdoony. You may recall that Rushdoony was the grandfather of the Dominionists, who advocated for, among other things, capital punishment for all gays and lesbians.

Howard Ahmanson turns out to have been the primary contributor of the AAC during its early years. He pledged $200,000 annually to the organization (and much more, according to Jim Naughton's research). There was discussion regarding adding his name to the letterhead of the AAC, but cooler heads prevailed. It would not be wise to allow such a blatant connection between the AAC and an extremist. Instead, Roberta Ahmanson, Howard's wife, was appointed to the board of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

The IRD shared a suite of offices in Washington DC with the AAC for many years. For all intents and purposes, they functioned as one organization, sharing a mailing address and wealthy sponsors. The IRD is notorious among most of the mainline denominations as advocates for conservative movements, with their clear agenda being to be a subversive element, until they can get their own right wing candidates in positions of authority within the Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopal churches. The IRD lost much of their credibility after the CEPAD affair, in which their zealous anti-communist position is suspected of costing the lives of some missionaries in Nicaragua.

The American Anglican Council became the Anglican Communion Network, the primary group behind the attempted coup, in which they hoped to replace TEC. The Network is now in the process of morphing once again, this time into Common Cause, a coalition of extremists from many different break-away groups, some of whom use the term "Anglican," although they have never been recognized by Canterbury.

David Anderson is now a Nigerian Bishop. And Howard Ahmanson shows up at GAFCON, wearing a "delegate" badge. Imagine that. Now we at least know where Nigeria found the funds to fly all those Bishops to Jerusalem.

The Lead has more on this, and concludes with a good question:

...So here's a question for Archbishop Akinola. It's said that you "raised $1.2 million in three weeks for the conference [and your] church even subsidized the attendance of a number of Americans." Where did you get that money?

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