Air America takes on the campaign against mainline Churches

One of the frustration of people whose generally liberal political views are shaped by their faith, is the the difficulty we have had in getting secular liberals to understand what we were up to and to collaborate with us when the issues permit.

I am glad to say that Air America, the liberal radio network, has begun a program devoted to progressive faith communities, and gladder to say that this Sunday, the program will be exploring an issue that has been a hot topic in the Diocese of Washington, and on this blog. (If you haven’t read the Following the Money series, give it a look.)

Here’s the release:

This Sunday, May 21, on the national radio show State of Belief, Rev. Welton Gaddy exposes the coordinated effort to undermine mainline Protestantism — and render America’s largest denomination incapable of standing up to right wing politics.

In conjunction with the website Talk to Action, State of Belief takes an unprecedented look into the takeover of America’s churches, revealing the ugly truths, personal experiences, and exhaustive research of four leaders:

Dr. Bruce Prescott, Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, is, like Welton, a veteran of the purges that marked the conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention. The strategy, says Prescott, is to keep mainstream denominations in turmoil over wedge issues such as gay marriage, so that conservative leaders can be free to achieve their political and religious goals.

Dr. John Dorhauer, minister for the St. Louis Association of the United Churches of Christ, has seen congregations around him descend into in-fighting, provoked by right-wing propaganda. Dorhauer explains, “What the politically motivated achieve is the silence of the religious conscience voice that has historically led this country….If you take out the 45 million people that are represented by the National Council of Churches, you are going to hollow out one of the cores of our nation’s democracy.”

Dr. Andrew Weaver, a United Methodist pastor and research psychologist, has traced the campaign against mainline Protestantism largely to the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a think-tank funded by uber-conservative industrialists such as Richard Mellon Scaife and the Adolph Coors family. Weaver says that the IRD and so-called religious “renewal” groups are funneling money in “a systematic effort to undermine mainline churches that still have democratic, transparent processes.” The problem in countering these efforts, he says, is that “All of these traditions have niceness at the core; while we’ve been thinking it’s touch football, they’ve been playing tackle.”

Welton offers listeners a wake-up call: “The Southern Baptist Convention was lost not because of those trying to take it over, but because of people arguing that it wasn’t a big deal.”

This issue has never before been discussed on national radio, and continues State of Belief’s focus on how religion is being manipulated for partisan political purposes. It may stun listeners – and it is sure to inspire Protestant congregations to reclaim their role as a positive and much needed healing force in our nation. State of Belief: religion and radio, done differently.

State of Belief is heard nationwide on Air America Radio on Sundays from 5 to 6 PM EST. Information about affiliates, listening live via the internet, or podcasting can be found at

Much more information on this issue, including the research and writings of Welton’s three guests, can be found at the website Talk to Action.

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