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 Well, the web site was out of date.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?


Blogger Adel Thalos said...

Thank you Jim.

It was my question that prompted this and I am very appreciative of all the research you put in. It is also somewhat encouraging to know that direct GAC funds do not support this completely and utterly morally bankrupt group.

Adel Thalos
Snellville, GA

12:03 PM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Dwight said...

While my assessment of the RCRC is likely to be quite the opposite of your own, I would be curious to know what it takes for a group to be identified or not identified.

The PCUSA has in the past indicated some level of support (resolution and otherwise) and presumably there isn't efforts (from Louisville or the General Assembly) that would indicate an interest in *not* having their name included.

But is that it? While I have definite views on the subject, I think the war over abortion has largely subsided (on both sides) in the mainline church. Replaced by the gay, presumably. But you're more involved in such things than me, so maybe my sense of that is wrong?

2:26 PM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Jim said...


Thanks for commenting, but I need to have your last name and where you live in order to keep your comment up. This blog accepts only fully identified commenters.

I'd like to deputize you to check with RCRC about how it is that organizations can be listed as members without giving a dime to RCRC. In particular, how is it that the three PCUSA organizations get away with that? Then please report back in a comment.

I'm tired of dealing with stonewalling bureaucracies. It's your turn. They might actually treat YOU with respect!

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA
(see, I follow my own rules!)

2:40 PM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Dwight said...

I'll see what I can find out. As a bit of background, I grew up PCUSA but am working for ordination in the Disciples and standing in the UCC as a student at Christian Theological Seminary.

As an aside, I left the PCUSA because I took the denomination to be on a rightward trend (and one which can enshrine 51% into church law, which guarantees culture war battles for the foreseeable future)

But I do like to come on the blog now and again and follow (both left and right) the on goings of other denominations and I appreciate (and usually disagree) with this site.


Dwight Welch
Indianapolis, IN

3:02 PM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Jim said...


Thanks for the info. I hope you come up with a good reply from RCRC, too.

Indeed we do see things differently! A rightward trend for the PCUSA--WOW! That unhinges my mind and gives me vertigo.

You left because we're right. Hmmm. I CAN understand that. :-)

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

5:00 PM, February 19, 2009  
Blogger Jeff Heil said...

Hey Jim,

My church is part of the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery. They just voted 125-53 in support of changing proposition B. I disagree with their position and I'm confused with the logic. If we can reinterpret the scriptures on homosexuality and make them irrelevant for the 21st century why can't others do that as well? It seems to me that the key words in the new criteria for sexual relationships are consenting adults in a loving, supportive, faithful, committed relationship. According to that definition consenting adults in an incestuous relationship would meet the criteria. Do those who support the monagomous same-sex relationship think that they are the only ones who will use interpretive freedom when it comes to the Bible. I'm afraid we are opening a can of worms and those who support same-sex relationships haven't taken the train of logic all the way down the track.

Jeff Heil
St. Louis, MO

11:38 AM, February 23, 2009  
Blogger Jim said...


Your logic seems correct to me, and I am praying that 86 other presbyteries don't do what your presbytery did: fall victim to unbiblical morality being foisted on the church by a corrupt society.

I have written on the matter. See http://www.layman.org/news.aspx?article=25541

Also, the Presbyterian Coalition has excellent resources on the whole question: http://www.presbycoalition.org/campaign.cfm

As good as the topic is, however, let's keep this thread about the RCRC.

Jim Berkley
Bellevue, WA

5:23 PM, February 23, 2009  
Blogger Dodger Fan said...

Hey Jim,
This is Sandy Brown, Lemoore,CA. I don't often come to your site, but I have a common interest. It has to do with getting information from our PCUSA buracracy. We have been told that we cannot get a line item budget from General Assembly mission. Huh? so much for transparency. Anyway, I would love to talk with you more but figure that this would be better with personal email addresses. Email me at sandyblemoore@sbcglobal.net.

sandy Brown
Lemoore, CA

10:15 PM, March 10, 2009  
Blogger Byron said...

Thanks for your post! Sorry you had to go through some difficulties in getting your answer. Although reproductive choice (abortion, etc.) is a potentially divisive subject, I'm appreciative of your insight. Blessings upon your ministry!

9:39 PM, March 17, 2009  

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