Thursday, April 27, 2006

Required Reading; Hard Ball on Holy Ground

Daniel J. Webster, writing in The Witness, offers us a review of Hard Ball on Holy Ground by Stephen Swecker;

...Many believe a schism in the Episcopal Church USA and the worldwide Anglican Communion is inevitable after this summer. If it does occur it will not be about homosexuality or Gene Robinson or the blessing of same-sex unions. It will have been planned, plotted and engineered by the IRD and its very rich, ultraconservative henchmen (some women, but mostly men) who have targeted the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Episcopal Church for nearly 25 years. Sexuality was just a hot-button issue the IRD could exploit along with "radical feminist theology" and what the IRD judges to be an abandonment of "biblical Anglican theology"...
If the Institute on Religion and Democracy is new to you, some background information can be found here, here and here.

Webster provides a good summary of the IRD's strategy;

...The first IRD initiative is to court disaffected church members. It financially supports these small groups to wage conflict internally in their denominations. Episcopalians know of the American Anglican Council (AAC). It was created by the IRD, with whom the AAC shared offices for a number of years. Swecker's book also documents how the IRD shared board members and financial backing with ultraconservative dissident church groups, including the AAC, in the three targeted denominations. Another article digs further to illustrate how IRD board members have influenced, had access to, or ties with government agencies and the current presidential administration.

"It [IRD] brings to the task financial resources that are very large in comparison with the sums usually available to dissident factions in church disputes," writes Cobb.

The second IRD strategy is to carefully place board members in secular and church media in an effort to whip up controversy in the so-called, "culture wars." The influence these ideologues have on mainstream media and religious publications is really quite stunning...
If you want to fully understand the current struggle in the Episcopal Church, and how it is connected with our nation's current tensions, this book is required reading.


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