Just a week after an arson attack against a United Church of Christ congregation in Virginia the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a group aligned with Republican Party activists and funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, sent out another attack piece against the UCC. This one was written by IRD staffer and former CIA employee Mark Tooley. Tooley wrote:
Episcopalians often get tarred as America’s most liberal Christian denomination. But there is a more liberal one! (Hint: it’s the one Howard Dean joined after he quit the Episcopal Church in a dispute over a bike trail.)
And it’s nearly as old, too. Episcopalians can trace their history in America back to Jamestown in 1607, but the United Church of Christ’s antecedents date to the Puritans who arrived in New England only a couple decades later.
It’s been a roller coaster of a ride across the centuries for the United Church of Christ, from gun-toting Calvinists to super-PC gay “marriage” proponents.
The l.2 million member United Church of Christ (UCC) became the first major Christian denomination in America officially to endorse same-sex nuptials, when its General Synod met July 1-5 in Atlanta.
The General Synod also targeted Israel for sanctions (forgetting, among so much else, the philo-Semitism of its Puritan forbears) and opposed Israel’s new security wall. And for good measure, it opposed privatization of Social Security, opposed President Bush 2006 budget proposal, urged the United States to support the International War Crimes Tribunal, and advised Bush to nominate a “moderate” Supreme Court justice.
The UCC didn’t say yes to every proposal. It rejected a resolution defining marriage as the union of man and woman.
And the UCC decided to remain Christian! It voted to affirm its continued belief in Christ and to retain a cross on its official logo…..
In a fitting conclusion to the UCC event, children’s cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants made a surprise visit. As a UCC news release explained, “SpongeBob and the UCC share something in common. They have both been accused by right wing critics of endorsing a gay lifestyle.”
Earlier this year, conservative and gay groups sparred over SpongeBob, who holds hands with a starfish and appeared in a commercial touting “diversity.”
Bouncers from the UCC TV spot appeared on the stage with SpongeBob, who took their arms and chirpily suggested, “Let’s go find a UCC church." Such fun!
It was the perfect conclusion for the UCC. Pretend bouncers, escorting an animated children’s cartoon character, to increasingly empty “inclusive” UCC local churches.
Actually, 100 new congregations have joined the UCC over the last year. 22,000 people asked our national offices where they could find a UCC church to attend in the days after General Synod concluded.
The IRD is a front group for Republican political operatives that advocate against basic civil rights for minorities, work to oppose health care options for women, support military intervention in nearly every instance, and is critical of every mainline Christian church.
The UCC is different from IRD. We are a church and not a political front group like IRD. Worship of God is central to our lives. Partisan politics is central to IRD. The UCC does hold that God calls humanity to be peaceful and justice centered. So we reject war whenever possible and seek to put the concerns of the "least of these" front and center.
IRD's web site also includes anti-UCC statements this week from the Biblical Witness Fellowship. The fellowship, which calls themselves a UCC renewal group, partners with IRD on their work. Biblical Witness Fellowship also encourages their readers to visit the UCCtruths web site for news and information. UCCtruths is a group that states "it needs to be said clearly that this site is in no way affiliated with the United Church of Christ...and we are proud of that.
When you’ve got groups funded by Richard Mellon Scaife scared enough to attack you maybe the reason is that they’re worried the Extravagant Welcome evangelism preached by the UCC is reaching out and talking hold. Praise be to God!
No one should be surprised that IRD did not take the opportunity to condemn the attack on our congregation in Virginia.
Related Link: The General Synod of the United Church of Christ