Money and (church) politics

The Washington Post has a front page story today about “outside groups” with commercial and ideological agendas shoveling unprecedented amounts of money into closely contested elections.

I mention this not to make a point about campaign finance reform, but to point out that pieces of this nature are a commonplace of political journalism. The premise is that you can learn a lot about candidates by examining the list of their financial supporters. This particular piece also raises another question: Is the democratic process distorted when a candidate owes more to wealthy individuals and organizations outside his or her district than to the voters within?

The same issues are worth examining in church politics. So if you haven’t read Following the Money: Donors and Activists on the Anglican Right, give it a look. It is useful to know that the people who fund the American Anglican Council and the Institute on Religion and Democracy are also the people funding the drive to teach creationism in the schools, to deny that human activity plays a role in global warming, to roll back minimum wage laws and a host of other causes dear to movement conservatives. It is also useful to consider the future of our faith communities if wealthy individuals and organizations with no connection to these communities continue to exercise significant financial influence in internal church disputes.

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