Jun 17th, 2005 · Categories: Uncategorized · No Comments

PCUSA: The Presbyterian PAC

Like most of its mainline sisters, the Presebyterian Church USA (PCUSA) is wandering clueless through the post-modern landscape, trying to decide which carries more weight, the Bible or the latest cultural trend. Trends seem to be gaining the upper hand. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the public posturing of our unregistered PAC, the PCUSA Washington Office.

First, a little background on the PCUSA’s governance and my role in the PCUSA. The General Assembly (GA) is highest governing body of the PCUSA. It meets every two years. Actually, this is the first year in a couple of centuries that that it hasn’t met. It used to meet annually, but the GA decided to meet every two years because falling income from a dwindling membership made yearly meetings an unbearable financial burden. Like many bureaucracies, the PCUSA has a number of entrenched organizations that pretty much do as they please. This seeming independence is because the PCUSA, like many bureaucracies, disciplines only selectively.

I have been ordained as a deacon and as an elder in the PCUSA for several years. Although this subjects me to the “discipline” of the denomination, it also compels me to comment on its worldly ways and its lust for the affirmation of the culture.

Political Action Committees aren’t required to tell the truth. Their job is to tell politicians what they (the PAC) want them (the pols) to hear. If we take that as a working definition of a PAC, then the PCUSA Washington Office surely qualifies. Undeterred by mere facts, its director, Elenora Giddings Ivory, tells the pols what she wants them to hear, true or not. She seems to think that “PCUSA” is not the organization to which she is nominally accountable, but the acronym for her personal political objective – a Politically Correct USA.

Of course, PACs are supposed to be registered as such and are required by law to follow certain rules. But by masquerading as an arm of the GA and claiming to be accountable to it, the Washington Office avoids all that messy paperwork and unwanted attention from elections officials. According to its page at the PCUSA web site, it poses as “the public policy information and advocacy office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Its task is to advocate, and help the church to advocate, the social witness perspectives and policies of the Presbyterian General Assembly.” This is simply false, as evidenced by two recent lobbying efforts:

Senate filibuster of judicial nominees

Presbyterian General Assembly: No stated perspective or policy.

Washington Office: “Careful and independent scrutiny of judicial nominees can happen during the confirmation process in the Senate. Scrutiny should not be shortchanged by cutting off extended debate (filibuster). Without careful review we can almost guarantee that we will open our newspapers one morning and see stories of judges who are being impeached.”

Impeached? Where does she get this stuff? (Although, to be sure, there are plenty of federal judges right now who ought to be impeached.) Note also that scrutiny “can” happen. It could, but that is not the Democrats’ (or the Washington Office’s) intent. Their intent is to block nominees they haven’t the votes to reject.

Federal Marriage Amendment

Presbyterian General Assembly: “Nothing the 216th General Assembly has said or acted upon is to be construed to state or imply a position for or against the Federal Marriage Amendment. General Assembly entities shall not advocate for or against the Federal Marriage Amendment”

Washington Office: “Congress [should] reject any proposed amendment to the federal Constitution that would prohibit the marriage of same-gender persons,”

In stories posted in The Layman Online on June 8, September 23, and September 28, 2004, this was the original text of a lobbying screed edited by the Washington Office. Caught red-handed, they edited and re-posted the document, but not until letters had gone to legislators falsely claiming that the PCUSA opposed the amendment.

There are many instances of the Washington Office simply spewing letters, press releases, and statements on topics that the General Assembly has not addressed. Such shoot-from-the-hip advocacy of liberal political causes does not in any way promote the “perspectives and policies of the Presbyterian General Assembly”. It is, indeed, the behavior of an independent PAC. Well, not altogether independent. Support of the Washington Office does divert at least $600,000 a year (as of 2002) from the denomination’s “mission” budget.

This entry was posted on Friday, June 17th, 2005 at 9:00 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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