Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The IRD Writing on Itself

Lately, I have been reading everything I can find regarding the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), a secularly funded hard right-wing group begun in the early 80's whose actions have led them from political propagandizing in Latin America (one of the co-founders associated with Ollie North) to a group bent on redirecting more liberal mainline American churches to the conservative and/or Orthodox end of the spectrum. In particular, they are active in the United Methodist Church, The Episcopal Church (Anglican), and the Presbyterian Church USA, the three largest denominations in the United States. Their active press and propaganda machine has attacked other churches, as well.

Having recently read a blog suggesting that all of the conspiracy theories about the IRD were more or less paranoid manufacturings, I found their Four-Year (2001-2004) planning brief (posted at Theocracy Watch, a CRESP Center, University of Cornell project) instructive.

I thought it particularly interesting given recent blog postings on Fort Worth's dialogue with their local Roman Catholic Diocese. Whether Ft. Worth is genuinely interested in leaping to the Roman Catholic Church under the Anglican Use rubric is unknown. Here are the final two lines of the IRD's document:

We now look forward to the coming decade, when IRD will challenge the American mainline churches to reassert historic theology, to propagate values and virtues necessary to sustain freedom, and to align themselves with fellow orthodox believers in the Evangelical and Roman Catholic churches. Both the churches and our nation will benefit enormously.

You can read the entire (relatively brief) document here.

Interestingly, another blog writer addressed the materials on Katie Sherod's site and while the blog writer is admittedly Orthodox, he seems a bit flummoxed by Ft. Worth's inquiry with the Roman church. Perhaps he, too, needs to do more reading on IRD. He later published a carefully worded letter from Ft. Worth's Bishop, Jack Iker, no doubt designed to keep him out of a new boiling kettle.

Much is out there to be read on the IRD dating back many years and believe me, it is interesting reading.