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Progressives and US Churches

Above is a set of progressive connections with American churches.  Blue boxes denote recipients of secular funding.  Green boxes signify active donors.  Pink boxes signify progressive recipients and related connections. 

Part of the reason for my putting this together is to help you understand that Christianity in the US does have progressive connections which may be leading your church down a secular, relativist route.  It’s also to help give Catholics reasons for boycotting the Campaign for Human Development collection later in November. 

Documented sources for the chart:

Archdiocese of Chicago

Campaign for Human Development (CHD)

Saul Alinsky

Arcus Foundation

ACORN and Tides Foundation: The American Spectator, Michelle Malkin

Faith in Public Life

Sojourners and Brian McLaren

This is by no means an exhaustive chart, but it gives you an idea of where some of your donations go and where your church or related institutions may get some of their money.

CHD bannerNEW_02To read previous posts about Saul Alinsky, the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CHD), click here.

The social activism of the Catholic clergy might appear to laypeople to have peaked in the 1970s, but that would be a mistaken view.  It has merely gone mainstream, with funds still pouring in to the CHD via designated second collections at Masses across the country, normally in November.  

Here are just a few examples of where CHD money has gone over the past 25 or more years:

  • 1985$40,000 for Chicago’s Developing Communities Project, led by then lead organiser, Barack Obama
  • 1986: $33,000 for Obama’s Developing Communities Project, which Obama continued to lead 
  • 1992: ACORN funding (see below) for Project Vote, a Chicago programme which Obama also led
  • 1995: Cardinal Bernardin helped commit $116,000 from the national CHD fund to Chicago Metropolitan Sponsors, an Alinsky Industrial Areas Foundation organisation
  • 2000 – 2008: $7m went to ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), an Alinsky-influenced, leftist network under criminal investigation in several states.  ACORN supports radical, ‘in your face’ local and national causes as well as abortion.  CHD funding stopped only in November 2008, well after every other American wondered when the bishops would halt the allocation of $1m to the group.
  • Ongoing: $20,000 to $30,000 per community group across the country under the guise of ‘community organisation’
  • Also ongoing: 4% to 5% of total CHD funds to the Gamaliel Foundation, a Marxist socio-political network of Alinsky-inspired organisations
  • Still ongoing: Alinsky’s own Industrial Areas Foundation, which receives 16% of CHD funds annually!  

Barack Obama was still a lad when Alinsky died in 1972.  So, how did he get to be so adept at Alinskyite techniques?  One of his community organiser mentors was Greg Galuzzo, a former Jesuit, who was lead organiser for the aforementioned Gamaliel Foundation.  Gamaliel has no direct connection with the Catholic Church and does not support Catholic teachings.  

The Revd Owen Kearns, editor-in-chief and publisher of the National Catholic Register, was among a small group of representatives from the Catholic press in the United States who met with President Obama in July 2009. (H/T: Doug Lawrence’s blog.) Fr Kearns states (emphasis mine):

The President said he had fond memories of Cardinal Bernardin and that when he started his neighborhood project, they were funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development …  The president spoke about how during Cardinal Bernardin’s time the U.S. bishops spoke about the nuclear freeze, the sanctuary movement, immigration and the poor, but that later a decided change took place. He said that the responses to his administration mirror the tensions in the Church overall, but that Cardinal Bernardin was pro-life and never hesitated to make his views known, but he had a consistent ‘seamless garment’ approach that emphasised the other issues, as well. explained last year:

99% of Catholics in the pews haven’t any idea of how much they have invested in building the political infrastructure that has now been activated to support Obama. That infrastructure always supports the Democratic Party and its candidate, but now they have a candidate who comes directly out of their political culture, well to the left of previous Democratic nominees like Gore and Kerry.

Yet, it’s not just laypeople who are ignorant of the facts.  Catholic journalist Stephanie Block observes:

A few bishops understand exactly what the Catholic Campaign for Human Development is and approve what it funds. Most, however, swallow the concept of its ‘helping the poor’ and have probed no deeper. Busy about the Lord’s work of minding their dioceses, they’ve trusted others to run the ‘social justice’ offices.

It’s important to understand that the USCCB does not fund Catholic organisations and charities with CHD monies!  This is because they wanted the CHD to be seen as impartial when the campaign was established in 1969.  The American Catholic sagely notes:

The bishops could really help poor people by promptly shutting down CHD and giving any remaining funds to, for instance, Catholic inner-city schools. In any event, if there is a collection at your parish this month, I suggest that you return the envelope empty—and perhaps with a note of explanation—without the slightest moral hesitation

For all of us still scratching our heads and wondering why this is allowed to go on, the Snow Report offers an answer:

For anti-capitalist radicals — as indeed for zealots generally — the ends justify the means. It has ever been so — for the Jacobins, the Communists, the fascists and now the post-modern Alinsky/Obama left. And that is because of the very nature of those ends as radicals conceive them. A world without poverty, war, racism, or ‘sexism’ is so noble, so perfect in contrast to everything that has preceded it — that it would be criminal not to deceive, lie … in order to advance or protect the cause

You can also read more here: ‘The Influence of Saul Alinsky on the Campaign for Human Development’, Lawrence J Engel, December 1998

To read previous posts about Saul Alinsky, the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CHD), click here.

In 1970, the Revd P David Finks, personally trained by Saul Alinsky, and now effectively controlling the CHD, went with the other members of the Catholic Committee on Urban Ministry to an Industrial Urban Institute that Alinsky was running.  Its purpose was to:

bring together a dozen or so priests to examine in some detail the practical process of group organisation to effect social change based on the goal of a free and open society. It seemed clear after several years of investigation that Mr. Alinsky and his staff had developed the best process and rationale for organising people.

It didn’t take a political strategist to figure out that CHD funds would be earmarked for Alinsky’s projects.  Chicago’s Cardinal Cody had already picked up on the notion and wrote Bishop Bernardin warning him about it.  It seems, however, that Bernardin knew and empathised with Alinsky’s work.  Cardinal Cody was the only prelate in Chicago over the past 30+ years to object to Alinsky.  Therefore, Bernardin could safely ignore Cody on the matter.

Finks, meanwhile, wrote an article entitled ‘Poverty Crusade: Getting It off the Ground’.  In it, he suggested that those involved with the bishops’ task forces read Alinsky’s 1947 book, Reveille for Radicals, and The Professional Radical: Conversations with Saul Alinsky by Marion Sanders.  In another article, he described a link-up between Alinsky’s Rochester, NY FIGHT Organisation and the Xerox Corporation.  Finks said:

the organisation and selling to the bishops of the Campaign for Human Development–all were an attempt to make available and find support for Alinsky’s approach to community organisation.

Wow.  Imagine being so enthralled by Marxist theory and practice that you completely disregard the words of Our Lord and the teachings of His Church!

In November 1970, Egan wrote to Bernardin explaining that local clergy would need to be involved in achieving the objectives of the CHD, including the $50 million fundraising mandate.  As the General Secretary for the National Catholic Conference of Bishops, Bernardin realised that he would have to lend his name and his time to further the programme.  This he gladly did.  The first CHD parish collection a few weeks later raised $8.4 million nationwide, an astronomical sum in those days and the largest single collection in the history of the US Catholic Church at that time.    

Since then, the numbers increased five-fold to a total of $225 million in donations by 1998.  It is unclear how well the funds have been used.  Yes, we read where the money has gone but see little evidence that the blight in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and other urban centres has disappeared.  In fact, it appears that little has changed over the past 40 years, despite astronomical sums being thrown at these very real problems

Yet, many American Catholics have swallowed the CHD line completely.  In an article dated September 4, 2008, Catholic Democrats criticised a remark from Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin in which she derided candidate Barack Obama’s community organiser history.  The article says in part:

Community organising is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching to end poverty and promote social justice … The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has operated the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, its domestic anti-poverty and social justice program, since 1969. In 1986, the Bishops issued Economic Justice for All: Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the US Economy, which said, ‘Human dignity can be realized and protected only in community’. Senator Obama worked in several Catholic parishes, supported by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, helping to address severe joblessness and housing needs in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of Chicago.

See? Even the laity are bamboozled, to borrow an Obama word. That explains all the Obama bumperstickers seen in the car parks of Catholic parishes, which infuriates conservative pro-life Protestants no end. Gee, and all along I thought that obeying the Word and spreading the Gospel were at the heart of the Catholic Church’s teachings.  Like other Christians, Catholics are commanded to look after the less fortunate, but do they need sacerdotal community organisers to do that?

But even the Catholic Democrats can’t come up with any evidence of material improvements from all the cash poured into disadvantaged neighbourhoods.  Community organising isn’t something you do for a while and then move on once you’ve improved things.  You never really want to improve things because then you’d have to look for another job.  And that might imply looking for real work.

Nope, community organising funded by the CHD cash cow — and other religious institutions — is here to stay.  It’s an industry now, don’t you know.

Please think twice before you feed the CHD any more money.  Unless you love your community organiser in the dog collar, that is.

You can read more here: ‘The Influence of Saul Alinsky on the Campaign for Human Development’, Lawrence J Engel, December 1998

Tomorrow: Conclusion – the CHD, ACORN and Obama

CB064038To read previous posts about Saul Alinsky, the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CHD), click here.

In 1968, the United States was in a socio-political state of flux.  American Catholics, in particular, were bemused and dismayed at how their highly-respected clergy could seemingly change overnight.  Not only that, but many Catholics were living in what were known as ‘changing neighbourhoods’ which were making the transition, rather painfully, from European-influenced middle-class enclaves to minority-dominated areas.  It was a difficult time during which many families who had lived in the same area for generations — from the time their ancestors had arrived in the United States — moved to the growing suburbs.  It was hard for Catholics even in medium-sized cities to fully comprehend what was happening.  Change happened quickly — within a couple of years — and you didn’t need to live in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles, to witness it first-hand.

The Church seemed to be adding to the confusion.  Locally, there was still the neighbourhood parish, still offering Mass but with a new Vatican II liturgy and outlook.  Nationally, guest newspaper columns and television interviews featured young clergy and religious talking about peace, social justice and the poor.  This was set against a backdrop of campus protests, riots and anger, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the early part of the century, when the struggle was for workers’ rights. Martin Luther King was assassinated in April 1968.  Democratic Presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy met his brutal death two months later. There was little to no guidance for the faithful to be found in the Church. 

I know: I lived it.  I don’t know what was worse: being a Catholic school pupil seduced by all the change because the nuns said it was good or being an adult trying to make sense of it all and wondering where your hard-earned church donations were really going.  The Church no longer seemed to be speaking for the man in the pew.  

So, when Cardinal Cody became head of the Archdiocese of Chicago and dumped Msgr Jack Egan’s Alinsky-influenced Office of Urban Affairs, it seemed to Catholics that the Church was nipping radicalism in the bud.  Hopes were soon dashed when the then illustrious president of the University of Notre Dame, the Revd Theodore ‘Ted’ Hesburgh, CSC, invited Msgr Egan for a ‘sabbatical’ there, one which would last 14 years!  Egan’s work under Alinsky’s tutelage established him as the ‘unchallenged leading Catholic priest in the urban ministry’.  It must have delighted Father Hesburgh to have Egan on board.  Notre Dame was undergoing its own transformation both as a Catholic institution of higher learning and experiencing its own campus unrest during the anti-Vietnam War years. 

From his new base at Notre Dame, Egan expanded the year-old Catholic Committee on Urban Ministry.  His chief acolytes were

  • Msgr Geno Baroni of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Urban Office
  • The Revd Eugene Boyle of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, active with Cesar Chavez’s United Farmworkers of America
  • The Revd Patrick Flood of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (Wisconsin) and trained by Alinsky, was active in race relations
  • The Alinsky protege, the Revd P. David Finks of the Diocese of Rochester (New York), who was active in Alinsky’s FIGHT organization.  Finks had written the 1969 Labor Day message which Msgr Higgins of the Archdiocese of Chicago gave to launch the CHD
  • The Revd John McCarthy who was assistant to the labour activist, the Revd George Higgins
  • The Revd Phil Murnion of New York who was to direct the National Institute on Pastoral Life
  • The Revd Marvin Mottet of Davenport (Iowa) who was to become the director of the Campaign for Human Development 

Together, Egan and his men expanded their activism nationally.  The Committee on Urban Ministry:

  • put two members on the U.S. Catholic Conference social-action staff in Washington
  • built a lobby to work on church social programming (Network)
  • developed urban-ministry offices in dioceses nationwide
  • implemented social-action projects in seminary education
  • created the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs
  • organised a theological conference that brought together priest activists, theologians, and bishops
  • developed the CHD itself, although it should be noted that Egan only influenced its development — Baroni and Finks were the founders

In the summer of 1968, when America was building up towards a socio-political explosion of events, the Right Revd John J Wright, Bishop of Pittsburgh and chair of the USCCB Social Action Department announced a 45-member urban task force to work on race relations.  Egan, Finks, Flood, Baroni, McCarthy and Boyle were part of it.  By late autumn, 101 American dioceses each had their own task force along with a co-ordinator.  In June 1969, Baroni would discuss the formation of the CHD, saying vaguely:

A national response by the U.S. Church would be a concrete initiative in leading the nation by way of example to develop new priorities and new efforts in meeting human needs in our society. This would be expended mainly at a diocesan level for practical programmes aimed at self-determination of all our citizens.

In August of that year, the group met in Canada to discuss an agenda. Egan did not attend.  The priests and bishops knew the Black Manifesto was asking for $3 billion in reparations for slavery.  Protestant churches were quick to respond: the United Church of Christ was allocating $1.1 million for racial justice programmes and the United Methodist Church would give $1.8 million.  The Catholics hadn’t yet committed any funds. This was how and when they decided the CHD would raise $50m for urban causes.  It was a staggering sum for the time, unmatched by their Protestant brethren.  The money would go toward all the usual ‘community organiser’ causes with which they were familiar:

projects as voter registration, community organisations, seed money to develop non-profit housing corporations, community-run schools, minority-owned co-operatives and credit unions, capital for industrial development and job training programs, and setting up of rural cooperatives.

Compare that goal with Alinsky’s own words on transferring power from the Haves to the Have-Nots (emphasis mine):

we are concerned with how to create mass organisations to seize power and give it to the people, to realize the democratic dream of equality, justice, peace, cooperation … the creation of those circumstances in which man can have the chance to live by values that give meaning to life.

After the meeting in Canada, Finks and Baroni started working through details with then-Bishop Bernardin, General Secretary of the National Catholic Council of Bishops, in advance of the CHD launch.  We saw in an earlier post that Bishop Sheil was the Catholic who lent credibility to Alinsky’s Back of the Yards campaign.  The Alinsky-trained Finks would now assume the limelight with the CHD.   He crafted the language and discussion of the CHD resolution as well as its agenda. Bernardin gave his approval and the CHD was born. Finks credited his mentor, not Christ or the Church:

I was convinced that Alinsky’s approach was the best there was. I didn’t see anything else on the horizon.      

Tomorrow: The CHD agenda 

You can read more here: ‘The Influence of Saul Alinsky on the Campaign for Human Development’, Lawrence J Engel, December 1998

bishops blogsreuterscomTwo readers have asked me to elaborate on the Marxist connections within the Catholic Church in the 1960s.  I am happy to oblige.

Many American Catholics know of the Campaign for Human Development (CHD), which the national conference of Catholic bishops initiated in 1969.  It is the longest-running social experiment in American Catholic history.  It is the primary example of Catholic social action in the United States.

This is the founding statement for the CHD:

There is an evident need for funds designated to be used for organising groups of white and minority poor to develop economic and political power in their own communities…. Therefore be it resolved that the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) establish a National Crusade Against Poverty. The crusade will commit the Church to raise a fund of 50 million dollars over the next several years.

By 1998, the CHD had raised a total $225m.  But why?  Surely, the original goal of $50m would have been sufficient, particularly with a variety of US Government programmes in force at the same time: welfare, aid to dependent children, food stamps, Medicaid.

A former President of the NCCB, Bishop James Malone, says the CHD was started as a response to:

  • ‘the crisis of human needs and aspirations which was being experienced with peculiar urgency in American society’
  • ‘the impact of the Second Vatican Council’

There is also a third reason which largely goes unstated: as a means of support to Saul Alinsky, the daddy of community organisers in the United States.  Since his Back of the Yards programme in 1939, he and the Catholic Church worked closely together.  The ‘Yards’ referred to the Chicago Stockyards, where all the big meatpacking facilities were located.  They moved out at the end of the 1960s to other parts of the nation, but for decades, since the advent of processed meat and commercial packing, they relied on European immigrant labour from nearby neighbourhoods.  (For a turn-of-the-century look at what the Stockyards were like, read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a jaw-dropping account of the daily grind, poverty and dire working conditions.)   

The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago got involved because many of the Stockyard workers were Roman Catholics from various ethnic backgrounds.  Each neighbourhood had its own church reflecting the national identity of the employees and their parents: Poland, Lithuania, Ireland, Germany.  Alinsky organised the parishes one by one to argue for better housing for local families and improved working conditions for the men in the Yards.  Alinsky knew that the Church was the focal point for these neighbourhoods and that any lasting impact would require their support.

The Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago at the time, the Right Revd Bernard J Sheil, became the honorary Chairman of the Back of the Yards Council.  His support legitimised Alinsky’s organisation immeasurably.  Alinsky’s additional powerful public support came from  John L Lewis, the head of the Congress of Industrial Organisations (CIO).  Alinsky had what he wanted: a community programme built on the foundation of the Church and organised labour. 

The media were not slow in picking up on this fact. Time magazine that Sheil’s involvement and his application of a papal encyclical (Rerum Novarum) to Lewis’s organizing drive ‘was making not only Chicago, but U.S. history’.  The Chicago Daily News said:

… something new in community organisation is about to happen in the Back of the Yards…. The council is the conception and individual project of Saul D. Alinsky … The residents of the district … are almost completely stockyard workers and Catholics, and on this basis the sociologist [Alinsky] has enlisted churchmen and the CIO leaders to form the main pillars of the neighborhood council.

Both publications were right.  Lewis and Sheil appeared together in public support of the Stockyard workers who were threatening to strike.  Hours later, in July 1939, the four main meatpacking companies — Armour, Cudahy, Wilson and Swift — acceded to the workers’ demands for better pay and conditions.  Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of the Archdiocese of Chicago would state decades later in 1995 that the Back of the Yards victory marked the moment when ‘the great work of community organising began in Chicago’.

This remark was part of the cardinal’s address marking the 25th anniversary of the CHD.  Let’s examine a passage from that speech (emphasis mine):

It is fitting that we are gathered here because since the beginning, Chicago has been important to the Campaign and the Campaign has been important to Chicago. As you may know, Msgr. George Higgins of this Archdiocese wrote a Labor Day message that pointed the way to the Campaign; Auxiliary Bishop Michael Dempsey of Chicago was the CHD’s first spokesperson; Msgr. Jack Egan organised the ‘Friends of CHD’ in the mid-1970s, and for decades has been an inspiration to the Campaign’s work; the great work of community-organising began in Chicago, and Chicago has many important networks and training centres; CHD enjoys a rich tradition of support here, both in the form of active and enthusiastic participation by people in organisations and projects funded by CHD, and in the generous donations to the annual CHD Collection.

Here are the salient facts from that excerpt:

  • Of the individuals the cardinal mentions, Dempsey was the only one with no direct link to Alinsky
  • An Alinsky protege, P David Finks, wrote the Labor Day message for Msgr Higgins
  • Msgr Egan was the first priest to be an Alinsky intern
  • Egan organised the Friends of CHD using Alinsky’s strategy as developed in Rochester, New York
  • The ‘network and training centres’ have direct links to Alinsky’s methods
  • The ‘generous donations’ — hundreds of thousands of dollars — from the Catholic faithful support Alinsky-style organisations   

It was no exaggeration for Heather Booth of the Midwest Academy in Chicago when she remarked, ‘Alinsky is to community organising as Freud is to psychoanalysis’.

You can read more here: ‘The Influence of Saul Alinsky on the Campaign for Human Development’, Lawrence J Engel, December 1998 

Tomorrow: Activism among clergy in the 1960s

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