Joe Irwin response to UCCtruths
Monday, February 26, 2007
Thanks for publicizing my first trip to Cuba in 2003 (February 14). I have had many people email me asking how they might learn more about Cuba and the Cuban people. While your recent web posting makes some good points -- perhaps, I was a bit over-dramatic -- the Travelogue you mentioned does not report a mission or religious trip to Cuba. It was an educational "study seminar" (as it clearly states), one which had been occurring annually for over 25 years. Thus, the goal of that trip was to get to know the Cuban people, their society, and their culture -- as well as their religion.
While that trip did not pretend to be a religious or mission trip, two years ago, the Bush administration tightened regulations which virtually ended most humanitarian, medical, educational and religious travel to Cuba. Thus, today, even full-time religious and mission trips to Cuba have been virtually stopped. As an American and a Christian, that concerns me. And, I am surprised that it does not concern even the most conservative of American citizens.
In any event, I'm sure you join me in hoping for the day when we can relate in a caring and Christian manner to ALL our neighbors -- whether their government be democratic or socialist -- whether they be Cuba or Red China (who happens to have a "preferred nation trading status" with the US government). Thank you and may God bless you in your work.
Sincerely, Joe Irwin
UCCIB recovery right on track
The Conferences of the United Church of Christ Insurance Board (UCCIB) annual meeting, February 15, received reports from both its chair and president identifying 2006 as a year of positive transition for the provider of insurance, liability and risk management services to Disciples and UCC churches throughout the United States.As we mentioned back in August, UCCIB CEO Cathy Green has been absolutely amazing. In her very short time with UCCIB, she has been able to turn around the struggling organization and regained confidence in the UCC's self insured system. Her effective planning and regular communication deserves significant recognition.
"Over the past year we have addressed financial issues, member renewal retention and operational concerns, making us stronger in all areas from a year ago," reported Cathy Green, CEO and president of UCCIB. "While I am dismayed by the loss of participants, nevertheless, our size remains quite viable and in fact compares quite favorably to insurance services provided by other denominational programs," Green
Dorhauer Conspiracy Tour Restricted
Saturday, February 24, 2007
John Dorhauer Seminar - Thursday, March 8, 1:00-4 PMTranslation: Lay members and Dorhauer critics not welcome. While John Dorhauer dispenses criticism pretty easily on his web site, he apparently likes to hide from any scrutiny around his phony conspiracy.
In a previous eBULLETIN you received information about a special seminar for clergy on Thursday, March 8 from 1:00 to 4 PM in the Church House. This seminar will feature the Rev. John Dorhauer, Associate Conference Minister of the Missouri-Mid South Conference. The purpose of this seminar is to inform pastors, licensed ministers, and commissioned ministers about the work of some organizations related to political movements who are seeking to undermine the mission and ministry of mainline churches. This seminar is purposely designed for pastors and these authorized ministers only. Therefore it is important that those who intend to participate register with Sue either at 610-489-2056 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Advanced registration is necessary so that the appropriate arrangements can be made at the Church House.
Your OCWM money at work.
Univision heavily fined for lack of children's programming
The commission has decided to impose the heavy fine — disclosed by Kevin J. Martin, the chairman of the commission, in an interview — as a tough rebuke to Univision for claiming to meet its obligations to broadcast educational children’s programs by showing the Latino soap opera “Complices al Rescate” (“Friends to the Rescue”) and other so-called telenovelas.While there is reasonable concern about educational programming on television, is this really a justice issue? The Office of Communication, Inc. (OC Inc. for short) is the media advocacy arm of the United Church of Christ - a legacy of the UCC's fight in the civil rights era when media options were limited to a few television and radio stations where the programming didn't reflect the ethnic diversity of the audience, primarily in the south. While the issue of children's educational programming is suitable for the FCC to investigate, is it really a justice issue on par with civil rights? According to Rev. Robert Chase, the UCC’s communications director, supporting children's educational programming is actually a mandated by the Gospels:
The penalty, part of a settlement that will allow the company to proceed with a buyout deal, is nearly three times the previous record fine of $9 million, imposed against Qwest Communications for violating telephone interconnection rules in 2004, and significantly more than the largest indecency penalty, $3.5 million, levied against Viacom that same year for remarks by Howard Stern and other so-called shock jocks on the radio.
“The United Church of Christ has a long history of advocacy on behalf of children,” Chase said. “Media has such a profound impact upon society, especially upon the youngest and most vulnerable among us. It is, therefore, consistent with the Gospel mandate to care for ‘the least of these’ that our concern extends into the broadcast arena.”I'm just thankful I didn't have a mouthful of coffee while reading that.
Chase has a knack for twisting the most obscure communication issues into justice issues. Back in 2003, according to the Washington Post, the UCC's Office of Communication was part of an unethical campaign to block WorldCom's licenses it used for its long distance and Internet services. Bob Chase and team were working with lobbyists who were paid by WorldCom competitors to sink the company. The "grass roots" campaign fizzled as it became obvious that the initiative was generated by WorldCom competitors - with the help of the UCC.
The politicization of education
The National Council of Churches will sponsor a national conference March 9 in Arlington, Va., on "fixing" the No Child Left Behind education act.A year ago, Resseger complained how dropout rates were climbing under the No Child Left Behind education act. When we actually checked the facts, we found out that the dropout rates between 1990 and 2004 dropped from 12.1% to 10.3%.
Although the event will include secular participants, the involvement of the nation's largest ecumenical religious organization signals a growing grassroots concern about the 2002 law, which is scheduled for reauthorization by Congress this year.
"It's a complex issue, and we want people to get a handle on it so they can speak from their faith," said Jan Resseger, the UCC's minister for public education and chairwoman of the National Council of Churches' Committee on Public Education and Literacy. "We hope people will be well-prepared to speak to Congress."
The NCC is among 105 organizations that have signed a statement demanding changes in the federal education law, including a call to decrease the testing burden on states and to ease up on sanctions against struggling schools and districts.
As I mentioned last year, there may be sound and faithful reasons to disagree with the No Child Left Behind Act, but Resseger barely makes the case and leaves the strong impression that this is more about politics than education.
No more vacations in Cuba, Joe?
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
''I believe the reinterpretation of the existing religious laws directly restricts my right as an American to practice my religion,'' said Joe Irwin, spokesman for the United Church of Christ's Southeast Pennsylvania Region. ``I think it's offensive, and actually quite scary to Americans that suddenly their right to practice their religion is controlled by the government.''
Could Irwin have been just a little more dramatic? I don't have any idea what religion Joe Irwin is pretending to be a part of, but it's not the United Church of Christ since travel to Cuba for a vacation isn't one of the tenants of our faith.
That's right - vacation. Irwin was kind enough to share his pictures of a recent trip to Cuba in a "Travelogue". I defy anyone to identify anything in this photo album that reflects a mission trip or any other sort of religious travel. I've taken trips just like this... and I've always called them vacations.
In the Travelogue, Irwin details all the beautiful places they went and even notes "In Cuba, every block or neighborhood is organized around a CDR (Committee for Defense of the Revolution.) These CDR groups work to solve local problems," and "Several CDRs got together to throw a huge block party for us. There was much hospitality with lots of music, dancing, food, rum and friendly conversation."
To anyone with even the slightest bit of knowledge about the governmental control structures in Cuba, the CDR's were formed during the Cuban Missile Crisis to keep the locals from speaking out against the revolution or taking part in any uprisings against Castro. Today, the primary function of the CDR is that of a local snitch.
Hope the rum tasted good, Joe.
Tucker Carlson: Obama's church is "wrong"
Monday, February 12, 2007
Here's a copy of the transcript in case you cannot see the video (from MSNBC):
TUCKER CARLSON: So Barack Obama is a member of a church called Trinity United Church of Christ. It‘s a predominantly black church in Chicago, that espouses something called the black values system, which includes calls for congregants to be soldiers for black freedom and a, quote, disavowal of the pursuit of middle classness. Now, it would seem to me, Tom, not to make a broad sweeping statement here, but a racially exclusive theology, a theology that ministers to one group of people, based on race, kind of contradicts the basic tenants of Christianity, and is worth talking about. Wouldn‘t you say?
TOM ANDREWS: Well, let‘s look at what those values actually are. We‘re talking about hard work, self-reliance, belief in god, and if you have made it to the middle class, you have an obligation to those who have not. Now, those sound like pretty good values to me, black, white or whatever, and I think that Barack Obama should not be ashamed of having those values and being part of a church.
TUCKER CARLSON: Again, those are great values, that I hope I embody. However, it‘s the word before them, black. It‘s making them racially specific. Again, Christianity—this is a subject that I am actually qualified to discuss—is, it seems to me, almost explicitly anti-racial. The idea is that we are all equal in the eyes of god. When you espouse a theology that is racially exclusive, as this appears to be, it‘s hard to call that Christianity. I think it‘s pretty easy to call it wrong.
Barack Obama at General Synod?
Sources inside the United Church of Christ have confirmed that discussions have started about the possibility of Barack Obama at least making an appearance ~and possibly giving a speech~ at the United Church of Christ General Synod in Hartford, Connecticut at the end of June.
"It makes sense on both sides. The timing and platform is a good one for the Senator to make it clear to the voting public that he is a Christian. It's also great publicity for the UCC," according to the source.
Questions about logistics and the mixing of church and state remain. At this point, it is difficult for a Presidential contender to make a commitment for a date in June. In addition, there are concerns that if an appearance is not properly orchestrated, a conflict of church and state could overshadow the event.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is already investigating a deal between the Governor of Connecticut, the UCC and the Hartford Civic Center to keep the UCC General Synod in Connecticut. According to a report in the Hartford Courant last year, the state is "taking care of the $100,000 fee for the Civic Center" for the UCC's General Synod. Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of American United and ordained UCC minister, made it clear in October he was "concerned" about the arrangement. Lynn contrasted the deal with a similar arrangement that the State of Maryland made to host a Baptist convention in June of last year. In that deal, a $150,000 state grant was used to help defray the costs of transportation for the group's convention in Baltimore. Lynn called the grant "totally inappropriate and clearly unconstitutional. Religious groups should pass the collection plate to their own members, not the taxpayers.”
In the UCC case, Lynn said "There are a number of questions that need to be answered. Is there a precedence in Connecticut of other religious groups receiving similar grants or is the UCC an exception?"
While secular groups regularly receive grants from states to attract convention business, Lynn made it clear that there is a distinction between secular and religious groups being the beneficiary of these types of grants.
Friday, February 09, 2007
The article, however, is not quite so specific on the details of how evolution and religion are compatible:
The Rev. Bill Hirschfeld, a UCC minister with a Ph.D. in biology, will observe “Evolution Sunday” on Feb. 11 at First Congregational UCC in Cadillac, Mich. He’ll make his case that Christianity and science are friends, not enemies.Contrary to the article, the "Clergy Letter Campaign" does distinguish religion from science and ultimately pits the two against each other:
“You don’t have to make a choice between being a Christian and believing in evolution,” Hirschfeld told the Cadillac News.
The Second Annual Evolution Sunday, sponsored by The Clergy Letter Project, was created so that congregations could “join together to discuss the compatibility of religion and science.”
Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible – the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark – convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.The letter does not convey any compatibility at all and it suggests that the motivation for this letter writing campaign is more political than theological. Either you believe God is our creator (even through the evolution process) or you do not.
Besides that, I'll leave the politics to the politicians.
"Steeplejacking": The John Dorhauer Conspiracy Tour
Things You Need to Know: How Church Stealers are at WorkIf you decide to go to the event, don't expect any real evidence of a conspiracy. A thorough reading of his own articles about the conspiracy didn't yield any proof and Dorhauer refused to offer any evidence when challenged by UCCtruths.com and by visitors to his web site.
A special informative session for all ordained, licensed, and commissioned ministers will be held on Thursday, March 8, from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M. in the Church House, Collegeville. The presenter will be the Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, Associate Conference Minister on the staff of the Missouri Mid-South Conference.
In his time on Conference Staff, John has had many opportunities to work closely with churches that have come under attack by agents and activists intent on pulling churches out of the denomination. John has studied the tactics and tools used by these activists; and along with his colleague on staff, the Rev. Sheldon Culver, he has written extensively about their findings. John contributes weekly to the website , wherein he chronicles the inner workings of attacks leveled against our congregations. He also has written for the magazine 'Zion's Herald,'and has appeared on Air America's "State of Belief" with the Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance, Welton Gaddy.
He is awaiting the release of a book co-authored with Sheldon Culver entitled Steeplejacking, due to be released later this spring. John has partnered in his research with investigative journalist Fred Clarkson, author of the groundbreaking work "Eternal Hostility: the Struggle between Theocracy and Democracy," and the clinical psychologist Andrew Weaver, with whom he has co-authored a number of articles on the subject and who himself contributed to another seminal work, "Hardball on Holy Ground." John has traveled the breadth of the country informing denominational and congregational leaders about the efforts of renewal groups some of which are aligned with ultra-right-wing political organizations to dismantle and destabilize Mainline Protestant denominations.
During the Church House seminar John will provide pastors with practical tools to help identify and deal with influences seeking to destabilize and even to withdraw congregations from the United Church of Christ.
More Dorhauer, More Nonsense
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Often, when I talk about the former, I refer to conspiratorial tactics. And when I do, I am asked why I don't allude to conspiracies when churches vote to leave their own denomination to join us.Dorhauer's attention to detail seems only to be matched by his attention span and apparent inability to read more than one sentence at a time. For starters, this web site is UCCtruths.COM, not .ORG. Since Dorhauer doesn't give his readers the benefit of actually seeing what was posted on this site with a link, here is the whole paragraph of what was posted:
Though I find the question disingenuous (because those who ask it know the answer, and use the question as a clever tool to delude others who are less informed about the internal dynamics involved in these matters), I will respond to it here.
On the www.ucctruths.org (a name which, like the Institute on Religion and Democracy, suggests something to the uninformed other than what it actually is) website, the question is posed in this way:
When the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas decided to leave their denomination (the Metropolitan Community Churches) for the UCC, did we consider that a conspiracy?
To answer as directly as possible: no. `We' (those of us in the United Church of Christ who write and talk about conspiracy tactics leveled against our churches to remove them from the denomination) do not consider that a conspiracy.
When the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas decided to leave their denomination (the Metropolitan Community Churches) for the UCC, did we consider that a conspiracy? Some peripheral facts might lead you to think as much - after all, they began conversation with the UCC at least 18 months before joining, they were headed by a UCC minister and they were embroiled in their own internal, divisive politics. In the end, we respect Cathedral of Hope's decision because we respect a local church's ability to discern for itself what is best for it's members. It wasn't a conspiracy. Whether we like it or not, our polity gives local churches this freedom to make these decisions.When you actually read the whole post, you get an entirely different picture than the conspiracy Dorhauer cooks up in his post. Plainly speaking, John Dorhauer dishonestly represented what was directly stated on this web site - which is why he doesn't provide a link to this web site. It's also why I suspect Dorhauer doesn't give his readers the benefit of any tangible proof of a church stealing conspiracy - he either doesn't have any proof or he's afraid that if his readers actually saw the evidence, they wouldn't believe him either.
All of this nonsense from a guy whose salary is paid for by your OCWM dollars.
Here's the link to the details of how this site unraveled John Dorhauer's conspiracy theory.