Just a few minutes ago I returned from a late night meeting of the National Council of Churches General Assembly where The Rev. Paul Sherry reported on the Let Justice Roll Campaign. The campaign is a joint effort of NCC and the Center for Community Change designed to challenge political leaders to address poverty issues. During the election season rallies where held (mostly in churches) in 13 cities across the United States (including Portland) to register voters and organize religious people who will carry on the campaign now that the election is over. Around 100,000 new voters were registered as part of the effort. Sherry, who is a former president of the United Church of Christ, will be convening the group at a December meeting to discuss next steps. One issue already on their agenda is working with bi-partisan leaders in Congress to raise the minimum wage. Sherry also plans to help establish a group of seminarians to take leadership roles with the campaign.
One interesting side note: A young fellow was at the meeting with press credentials representing the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD). This is the organization that recently released a report charging that NCC’s advocacy work is anti-Semitic. IRD is funded by some of the very same people who have bankrolled George W. Bush’s campaigns and other republican efforts. Their representative at this meeting wanted to know why republicans had not played a more visible role in the Let Justice Roll Campaign. Sherry responded by explaining how NCC engaged in efforts to involve republicans but that no national republican leaders – including the President – would agree to take part in any poverty focused events. I then asked the IRD representative if he might use his organization’s close ties with Republican Party operatives to get them involved with our mission of reducing poverty. He didn’t utter another word after being asked that question. Bringing people together and reducing poverty are clearly not part of IRD’s mission. Doing that type of work would interfere with their efforts to foster division among church bodies. You should fully expect for more attacks on the NCC to be coming from the IRD. Just keep in mind where their funding comes from and what their mission really is.