Tuesday, February 17, 2009

RCRC Support in Name Only

Following my previous post about the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)--a "never met an abortion we didn't like" kind of political activist group--I was asked in a comment if the PCUSA provides any financial support for the RCRC. I didn't know, but I found out.

At least for 2007 and 2008, nothing has been given to RCRC in terms of direct Presbyterian financial support.

It is good to know that Presbyterian money is not supporting RCRC and its appalling pro-abortion advocacy. But I am left with two further thoughts:

First, it was anything but easy coming up with a conclusive answer from denominational leaders to my simple questions about funding. Between January 28 and February 5, I wrote no fewer than six e-mails before I received a clear and unequivocal answer.

Three Presbyterian entities are listed by RCRC as member groups: The Washington Office, Women's Ministries, and Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options (PARO). Joey Bailey, Deputy Executive Director for Shared Services, quickly made it clear that GAC entities hadn't written any checks to RCRC in 2007 or 2008, but it took a third e-mail to him to get clarity that that didn't say anything about PARO's possible support.

So, looking at the PCUSA web site, I found contact information for a co-moderator of PARO, and I wrote her about possible PARO financial involvement with RCRC. Well, the web site was out of date. That co-moderator is no longer co-moderator, and what's more, she wouldn't tell me who was now in her former role, nor would she give me the information I sought.

Finally, when I was forced to cc higher-up leaders in order to try to obtain an answer to my simple questions, the answer eventually came from Sara Lisherness. Ably filling in for an associate, she assured me that "No funds from PARO, PHEWA, or any related entity were given to RCRC in 2007 or 2008. The last time that PARO gave any money at all to RCRC was $100 for membership dues in 2000."

Lisherness, who serves as Director of Peace and Justice, had the savvy and courtesy to simply answer my question clearly and fully the first time, rather than give partial or evasive answers, as other leaders had done. I have regularly found Lisherness to be a breath of fresh air, due to her nondefensive and helpful attitude in dealing with matters from constituents. She understands what is being asked for and graciously provides it.

So I finally got the information that ought not be that hard to pry out of the system, and it was encouraging information.

But second, that got me thinking: Why does RCRC allow groups to be named as members but pay no dues? And won't dues-paying groups be steamed if they find out that, unlike them, the Presbyterian member groups don't have to pay anything at all?

I can guess why the Presbyterian groups can remain named as RCRC members although they have not contributed: RCRC wants the apparent legitimacy of endorsement by official Presbyterian entities. It's worth a lot for RCRC to be able to list PCUSA members to make it look like the PCUSA is a proud sponsor of abortion.

So while Presbyterian money hasn't gone to RCRC for some time, the Presbyterian name gets lent to the RCRC cause, and that is distressing for those of us who believe that abortion is a great moral tragedy. Whatever good name is left for Presbyterians ought not be associated with so morally bankrupt an organization as RCRC.

Further, we don't know for certain what in-kind contributions might be made by PCUSA staff, offices, and organizations. Publicity channels, staff members' time, advocacy by Presbyterian entities, promotion of RCRC activities by PCUSA groups--all of this is worth something to RCRC, too.

But one does wonder, who is supporting RCRC financially, if member organizations can freeload, as the three Presbyterian organizations apparently do?