Friday, April 28, 2006

The Diocese of Washington Follows the Money

Jim Naughton, former reporter for The New York Times and The Washington Post, currently the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Washington, has published a two-part report entitled Following the Money. It is an excellent followup of our previous conversation, as it offers an indepth look at the inner workings of the IRD and the AAC using various sources, including IRS documents.

From Part 1:

When the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets next month in Columbus, Ohio, a small network of theologically conservative organizations will be on hand to warn deputies that they must repent of their liberal attitudes on homosexuality or face serious consequences. The groups represent a small minority of church members, but relationships with wealthy American donors and powerful African bishops have made them key players in the fight for the future of the Anglican Communion...

...Contributions from Ahmanson and the Bradley, Coors, Olin, Scaife and Smith-Richardson family foundations have frequently accounted for more than half of the operating budgets of the American Anglican Council and the Institute on Religion and Democracy, according to an examination of forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service and an analysis of statements made by both donors and recipients.

The AAC and the IRD have worked together in opposing the Episcopal Church's consecration of a gay bishop with a male partner, its practice of ordaining non-celibate homosexuals to the priesthood, and its willingness to permit the blessing of same-sex relationships. Their campaign has entailed extensive international travel, heavily subsidized conferences and the employment of a professional staff and consultants to coordinate and publicize their efforts...

...When the General Convention of the Episcopal Church meets in Columbus next month it will do so in a politically charged atmosphere, created in some measure by conservative organizations supported by a small number of wealthy donors.

Filings made by several of these organizations give a partial accounting of the donations received and expenditures made by the AAC, INFEMIT and the IRD. But the groups do not observe the standards of transparency and accountability practiced by the Episcopal Church and its dioceses...

...As a result, the bishops and deputies to General Convention will be left to guess at the intentions and resources of the American conservatives and bishops from the developing world who are pressing the Church to change its course or pay a price.
From Part 2:

...At the Dromantine conference, the Americans and their international allies collaborated with an unprecedented openness, in an attempt to force Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take a harder line against the Episcopal Church.

Among the primates who backed this effort were Peter Akinola of Nigeria , Henry Orombi of Uganda and Gregory Venables of Argentina . Working with them were the leaders of the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Communion Network, the Ekklesia Society and the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

Those groups, backed by five politically conservative U.S. foundations, and Howard F. Ahmanson, a benefactor of numerous conservative ballot initiatives, candidates and think tanks, had been cultivating relationships with evangelical leaders in the developing world since the mid-1990s. But at Dromantine, the Americans' role as the principal strategists for the movement against their church came into focus.

During the conference, American and British church activists took rooms in Newry and kept in contact with the primates, who were ostensibly meeting in private sessions. Among the activists were the Rev. Canon David Anderson, president of the AAC; the Rev. Canon Bill Atwood, general secretary of Ekklesia; Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh , moderator of the Anglican Communion Network, and Diane Knippers, president of the IRD...

...Conservative leaders agreed on their strategy at a meeting in London on November 20, 2003 . In attendance were Duncan, several American conservatives and several primates sympathetic to their cause. According to Duncan's notes, those present secretly agreed that the primates who supported the Network would announce their support to Williams, urge him to recognize the Network as the true expression of Anglicanism in the United States, and "Tell Rowan that if he will not recognize the Network they will separate from him."

Network leaders asked the primates to inform Williams that "in the present crisis the issue of boundaries is suspended," meaning that bishops could claim the right to minister uninvited in one another's provinces and dioceses.

The Network also requested that the primates refuse to recognize any bishop who had participated in Robinson's consecration. This, in effect, would have rendered 13 American sees, including the Diocese of Washington, as vacant.

Network leaders also asked that Duncan be regarded as Griswold's equal at all international gatherings.

In addition, Duncan 's notes say: "We commit to the guerilla warfare of the next year...

...Since conservative Episcopalians' highly visible role at Dromantine, leaders of the Communion have begun to ask whether they and their financial backers such as Howard F Ahmanson, Jr., are the real power behind a movement that claims to draw its strength from Africa and Asia .

In an interview last October, Eames said that he was "quite certain" that African bishops were being offered money to cut their ties with the Episcopal Church.

"Is it the might of finance that will influence a theological outlook, and then that outlook come to dominate the Communion?" he said. "It raises a serious question for me: what is the real nature of their faith and their Anglicanism? It is certainly different from mine"...
Jim has done us a great service by compiling all this information into one place. The footnotes also provide us with a number of excellent references. Thanks Jim, and thank you to Bishop Chane and the Diocese of Washington for having the courage to proclaim boldly what many of us have been saying for a few years; the current struggle is not about the bible or morality; it's about power. What we are witnessing is an Attempted Coup.


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