The saying that “all politics is local” means, among other things, that often one can see the broader implications of a problem by first examining it close to home.
If “home” happens to be Albuquerque, the problem of international Alinskyian organizing can be understood by looking at Albuquerque Interfaith.
Albuquerque Interfaith is a local affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the oldest and one of the largest of the Alinskyian organizing networks. It’s a faith-based organization, meaning that its members are mostly religious congregations.
Not all faith-based organizations are equal, however. There is a tremendous moral rift between those adhering to the truths on which they were founded and those who have abandoned their traditions for more convenient, consensus-driven positions. A historical example of the rift between morally-responsive congregations and morally-bankrupt congregations was seen over the issue of slavery; today it manifests in such matters as the battle for the life of child in utero or for the preservation of procreative marriage.
Among Albuquerque Interfaith’s members, one finds congregations from both camps. There are Catholic parishes – which publicly defend marriage and life – and then, there are the others. For the sake of comparison, examine the following list of religious congregations with membership in Albuquerque Interfaith (union and other institutional members are not included here). The list has been broken down by “faith tradition.” It’s instructive to see who are signatories of a recent full-page ad in the Albuquerque Journal favoring religious recognition of same-sex “marriage”…and who aren’t.[i]
- Catholic: St. Bernadette, St. Charles, Aquinas Newman Center, Risen Savior, Holy Rosary, San Ignacio, St Therese of the Little Flower (Infant Jesus) – not signatories.
- Presbyterian: St. Andrew, La Mesa, Second Presbyterian – all signatories
- Lutheran: St. Luke – not a signatory; St. Paul – signatory
- First Unitarian – not a signatory (but has expressed solidarity with same-sex “marriage” in other venues)
- ABQ Friends Meeting – signatory
- UCC/United Church of Christ: Inglesia Congregational – not a signatory; First Congregational Church – signatory
- Episcopal: St. Michael and All Angels, San Gabriel the Archangel, St. Mark’s Episcopal – all signatories
- (Additionally, a number of Jewish signatories are related to Albuquerque Interfaith through the Jewish Federation of NM)
Exactly what these congregations are supporting is made clear by the ad: “As people of faith and as New Mexicans, we believe in treating one another as we would like to be treated – with dignity and respect. This means recognizing the love and commitment of lesbian and gay couples through marriage.”
Another action in contradiction to traditional moral understanding and common-sense compassion has been the effort to block a local fetal pain ordinance[ii] that would introduce some measure of consideration for the sentient child in the womb. This is not a popular position for pro-abortionists. Under the banner of Respect Albuquerque Women, the American Civil Liberties Union, Young Women United, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, National Organization for Women (Santa Fe), New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the state League of Women Voters, and others[iii] are fighting the potential ban.
Respect Albuquerque Women began its campaign with press conference and kickoff event on August 1, 2012. [iv] It was held at La Mesa Presbyterian Church whose senior pastor, Trey Hammond, is co-chair of Albuquerque Interfaith. Other prominent Albuquerque Interfaith supporters, Jerry Ortiz y Pino and Rev. James (Jim) Collie, a representative of the Presbytery of Santa Fe (PSUSA), were signatories of a MoveOn.org “We stand with Albuquerque women” petition against the ban.
The point is not that Albuquerque Interfaith – or any of the hundreds of other Alinskyian faith-based organizations around the United States – is directly promoting same-sex “marriage or abortion “rights” but that these are political organizations[v] in which morally-respectful religious institutions are politically yoked to morally-unhinged religious institutions.
In a functional society, any institution embracing abortion or same-sex marriage would immediately lose its “moral garment” – Alinsky’s term for the political “capital” religious institutions have. An institution’s “moral garment” comes from the fact that it holds fast to the moral truth. Society, in general, respects that.
In a dysfunctional society, however, morally bankrupt institutions arrange associations with those still having “moral capital” to provide themselves a covering of respectability for their politically activities. In Alinsky’s words, “All effective actions require the passport of morality.”[vi] “The tenth rule of the ethics of means and ends is that you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral garments.”[vii] In my four volume series 'Change Agents: Alinskyian Organizing Among Religious Bodies', I document the origins of the infiltration of churches and other groups by Alinskyian community organizers to give themselves effective cover.
The irony of the arrangement, sadly, is that instead of the moral factor acting as a yeast for the betterment of society, which it would do if it held firm to its values – immoral factors are gain increased leverage, neutralizing that “yeast.” Why? Because the moral factor has said, in effect, that its moral position is less important than its corporate position.
So, although the Archbishop of Santa Fe has issued a press release in favor of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance (later-term abortion ban),[viii] it has gone little further than the Archdiocese’s website. Its position on same-sex “marriage” has been better publicized but is diluted in the face their allies’ far grander public campaigns.
The argument for inter-religious political alliances such as Albuquerque Interfaith is that, while we may disagree over same-sex “marriage” and abortion, we can certainly agree on other, humanitarian issues…such as healthcare and education. Then the Catholic bureaucracy, shorn of its moral strength, is shocked and betrayed that the healthcare legislation includes abortion funding and mandates for contraceptive provision or that compulsory government-controlled education requires even parochial schools to include “sex education” or “tolerance” training.
Albuquerque Interfaith is an unequal yoking of institutions. The alliance it creates has only one goal: the furthering of progressive political and social ends. Any institution within its alliance – regardless of individual positions – serves the ends of the alliance, not the individual.
It works that way in Albuquerque.
It works that way in your city, too.
Spero columnist Stephanie Block is the author of the four volume work 'Change Agents: Alinskyian Organizing in Religious Bodies', which is available at Amazon.
[i] Ad: “We Are Faith Leaders and We Support the freedom to marry in New Mexico,” (emphasis in the original), Albuquerque Journal, October 9, 2013.
[ii] The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Ordinance which is slated for a citywide run-off election on November 19, to be voted on by Albuquerque residents.
[iii] The group hosting an October 9, 2013 Respect Albuquerque Women meeting is Self Serve, an adult “toy store.” Need one say more? www.dukecityfix.com/events/respect-albuquerque-women-conversation?xg_source=activity
[iv] Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice calendar: http://ww.abqpeaceandjustice.org/index.php/calendar/event/3/jao1m398shls40qkl8uel8s2og
[v] As an example of its partisan nature, Albuquerque Interfaith gave money to the Obama for America campaign.
Federal Election Commission, Report of Contribution by Employer to the Obama for America, primary election, filed 11/21/2011: query.nictusa.com/pres/2008/M5/C00431445/A_EMPLOYER_C00431445.html
[vi] Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, Random House (Vintage Books), 1971, p 44.
[vii] Rules for Radicals, p 36.
[viii] Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan, Press Release: “Later Term Abortion Ban,” 9-27-13.