JustFaith is JustWrong

religion | Dec 08, 2010 | By Stephanie Block

One of the perennial topics among Catholics concerned about spiritual formation has been the toxic pollution spewed by the JustFaith program promulgated in dozens of dioceses around the US, including the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Jo Joyce from Oklahoma catches a news story about an assigned book in a New Hampshire high school “personal finance” class that is making waves for general profanity and specific anti-Christian diatribes. It’s called Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, written by Barbara Ehrenreich. The article includes an excerpt from the book:

It would be nice if someone would read this sad-eyed crowd the Sermon on the Mount, accompanied by a rousing commentary on income inequality and the need for a hike in the minimum wage. But Jesus makes his appearance here only as a corpse; the living man, the wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist, is never once mentioned, nor anything he ever had to say. Christ crucified rules, and it may be that the true business of modern Christianity is to crucify him again and again so that he can never get a word out of his mouth.

Reading this, Jo wonders aloud if this is one of the books on the JustFaith website. Having a curious turn of mind, Jo looks it up (http://www.justfaith.org/news/pdf/jf_voices-09q4.pdf ) and writes, “I was right. This book (below news article) is one recommended by JustFaith. Go to page three in their newsletter! Save it before they scrub it...”

Sure enough, the Fall 2009 newsletter of JustFaith, Voices, says “Small Changes…BIG DIFFERENCES; Be informed – Read.” And there it is: the first on the recommended JustFaith reading list for Fall 2009 - Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Janet Baker in Washington DC follows the link provided by Jo and reads the rest of the newsletter. “In the newsletter we see a link to ‘Institute for Women’s Policy Research.’ Go to it. Then follow ‘health and safety,’ then scroll down a little on that page to ‘reproductive health.’ There you’ll hear about ‘accessible birth control’ and ‘safe and legal abortion.’ … Gee – if you scroll down to the bottom, “’other resources’ include Planned Parenthood.”

Janet is referring to section on page 3 headed, “Join Others Working on Women’s Economic Issues,” just below the recommended reading list. Sure enough, Catholics involved with the JustFaith program through their dioceses read the JustFaith newsletter and, looking to join others working on women’s economic issues,” will visit the Institute for Women’s Policy Research under the presumption that their work with the Institute is Church-sanctioned.

The provided web address, http://www.iwpr.org, leads, just as Janet said it would, to the Institute’s homepage and a menu that includes a “health and safety” link. On the “Health and Safety” page of the Institute for Women’s’ Policy Research website there’s a “Reproductive Health” link to the following information:

Making Reproductive Health Services More Accessible

• Former Research Fellow, Holly Mead, conducted a cost-benefit analysis of over-the-counter oral contraceptives titled, Making Birth Control More Accessible to Women: A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Over-the-Counter Oral Contraceptives.

• In 2003 IWPR published a briefing paper summarizing the United States policy on abortion titled, Policy Update on Safe and Legal Abortion 30 Years After Roe v. Wade.

Links to other resources

• The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
• Guttmacher Institute
• Planned Parenthood
• National Women's Law Center

Ann in Birmingham reads the above and complains that JustFaith has been in her diocese for the past five or so years. She pulls up the summer 2008 Voices (http://www.justfaith.org/news/pdf/jf_voices-08q3.pdf ) and notices that this issue recommends the highly partisan political group Sojourners on page 3 and on page 4 carries its founder, Jack Jezreel’s comments, including:

What JustFaith Ministries does is provide opportunities for people to be changed by the Gospel (JustFaith and JusticeWalking), to become active agents of social change (JustSkills and JustMatters), and to come together and support each other as a faithful community (Graduate Ministry and Mission-Based Communities). We summarize this by saying that “JustFaith changes people. Those people change the world.” You are one of those people. You’re invited.

We notice that the newsletters point out that JustFaith is “in partnership” with Call to Action affiliate group Pax Christi – not surprising given Jezreel’s own ties with organization. Call to Action is a completely anti-Catholic coalition of groups and individuals determined to change the Church – never mind the world.

Another JustFaith “partner” is Bread for the World, whose founding president was Call to Action’s Bishop Thomas Gumbleton. Bread for the World doesn’t feed hungry people. It lobbies American legislators and awards monetary grants to organizations such as CIDHAL, a Mexican liberation theology women’s rights group that advocates for “reproductive rights.”

And, of course, there’s the Catholic Campaign for Human Development partner.

This just isn’t right.

Stephanie Block is the editor of the New Mexico-based Los Pequenos newspaper and a member of the Catholic Media Coalition. Jo Joyce, Janet Baker, and Ann are also members of the Catholic Media Coalition.

Further reading: "JustFaith Is a Big Part of the Problem”  The education component of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development - including Jack Jezreel's JustFaith - is all about progressive politics. http://www.speroforum.com/site/print.asp?idarticle=30988

"Jack Jezreel: In His Own Words” 



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