Source: American Anglican Council
May 7, 2009
By Robert Lundy
The process that some hope will save the Anglican Communion comes with a $1.5 million dollar price tag. Equally as interesting is who is paying for that process.
Canon Philip Groves is the facilitator of the "Listening Process," a process begun in 1998 that has sought to seek a "common mind upon the issues which threaten to divide us" according to an ACC-14 publication. The main focus of this listening process has been on "monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Anglican Communion and included listening to the experience of homosexual persons and the experience of local churches around the world in reflecting on these matters in the light of Scripture, tradition and reason."
On Wednesday, Canon Groves presented the delegates of ACC-14 with a new vision for what the listening process could address in the Communion. This new vision, called the Continuing Indaba project, included taking an African-rooted process of decision making and consensus building, known as "indaba," that seeks to have all the parties involved come together to dialogue, and apply it to the root controversies that are perceived to underlie the problems in the Anglican Communion. This new and improved listening process would address issues over the authority of Scripture, faithfulness to tradition and respect for the dignity of all.
Canon Groves also told the delegates that this consensus building process would also come free of charge to the ACC. That is because a secular organization based in Atlanta, Ga. has promised to fund the Continuing Indaba project until the end of 2011. Though reluctant to say, Groves told reporters that the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine was giving $1.5 million dollars to fund the Continuing Indaba project. The Satcher Health Institute is a progressive research and advocacy organization that seeks reform on societal issues of health. These issues range from ones on mental disorders, to quality healthcare for minorities, to issues of sexual health. It is when you look at the Satcher Institute's Center for Excellence in Sexual Health that you find striking similarities to the proposed Continuing Indaba project and basis for a strong concern on the pressure groups behind this initiative.
The Center for Excellence in Sexual Health has various methods of advocacy and reform. One such method, the National Consensus Process on Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior (NCP) was intended to be a consensus building conversation among participants with widely differing views. The center's conclusion in its 2006 interim report included the following:
"After eighteen months of work, we are confident that what we have learned, through our time together, can assist that needed conversation. Specifically:
· By taking the time to know our partners in dialogue as individuals and not positions, we were able to have a better understanding of one another and our divergent positions; and
· By engaging in "respectful listening," we were able to rise above stereotypes and discover unexpected areas of agreement and gain new insights into the nature of our disagreements.
In conclusion, we are committed to broadening our consensus through continued dialogue..."
One can not help but notice the similarities between the center's methodology and the proposed Indaba project. This would also explain why, according to the Satcher Institute's director, the institute would want to fund the proposed Indaba project. However, one must go further down the money trail in order to find out more.
According to the Satcher Institute's website, the Center for Excellence in Sexual Health, the program which is supporting the Indaba project, is funded by the Ford Foundation, an independent nonprofit grantmaking organization devoted to progressive causes. In 2005, the foundation authored the report, "Sexuality and Social Change: Making the Connection; Strategies for Action and Investment" which described the recommendations and priorities they developed through a consultative process to direct attention and resources to issues of sexuality as a "powerful means to achieve gender equity, improved public health and social justice." Their long term goal is to improve sexual health and promote sexual rights by partnering with and funding organizations that share their goal of social change. The report made it quite clear of their opposition to traditional or orthodox views of human sexuality when they wrote:
"Conservative and fundamentalist forces use sexuality to attack progressive sectors that work on reproductive health, women's rights, girls' education and other issues. Often using religion to justify their actions, these groups see sexuality and sexual rights-particularly women's control of their own sexuality and LGBT rights-as a tremendous threat to the status quo that they want to maintain (or a former order they are seeking to restore). Indeed, more open and positive attitudes toward sexuality would reduce the ability of vocal fundamentalists to sustain these attacks. If the terrain of sexuality is left uncontested, extremist forces will increasingly occupy the space as a base for their onslaught against human rights, religious pluralism, tolerance and social justice."
In fact, the report lists "addressing the impact of religion" as one of its five areas of emphasis to include engaging religious leaders in advocacy, promoting outreach dialog and networking to "search for common ground and increase public attention to progressive views from different faith traditions on sexuality and religion."
When asked how this connection between the Continuing Indaba project and the Ford Foundation could not help but undermine the listening process, Canon Groves insisted that none of the monies the Indaba Project received from the Satcher Institute came from the Ford Foundation and that it was in writing. When asked for the documentation, Groves said that he didn't have it with him and would need some time to get it.
The Ford Foundation gave Morehouse College $2 million from 2006-2009 to establish the Center of Excellence in Sexual Health and an additional $400,000 in funding from 2008-2010 towards its Fellowship Program and to develop a diverse donor base. Perhaps one of those diverse donors has come through with the $1.5 million Indaba funding.
While we're waiting for Canon Groves, think about this. The ACC's largest single contribution came a few years ago from the Province of Hong Kong in the amount of $750,000. The donation from the Satcher Institute is twice that amount. The questions to ask now are, "Would the ACC have continued the life of the listening process if it hadn't been fully funded by an outside source?" and "Why would any church want to be the test subject for an experiment in social change engineered by a wealthy secular special interest group that opposes orthodox Christian views?"