Catholic Campaign for Human Development 2011: Part 1

Guilt by Association Funding the Idaho Community Action Network

Stephanie Block

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) collection is just around the corner and, as the Campaign has been under a good bit of scrutiny the last several years – well, for its entire 40–plus years of existence, actually – for giving money to organizations that advance blatantly immoral positions, a bit more scrutiny seems appropriate.

According to its critics, CCHD funding patterns are scandalous.

According to the CCHD, a few aberrations do not equal a pattern.

So the question to be answered, before Catholics shut their eyes and open their pocketbooks, is whether anti-Catholic CCHD grants are an anomaly or whether they are intrinsic to CCHD’s mission.

It’s a brand, new year…

To quell growing uneasiness about its grants, the CCHD office prepared an apologetic for the Campaign, consisting of a set of ten questions and answers.

Question 7: “Why was CCHD delayed in publishing its grants for 2010?”

Answer: “The CCHD Review and Renewal called for the development of a substantially revised CCHD Grant Agreement “to be used for all pending and future funding allocations and grants.” This new contract is “more explicit about the positions, activities and relationships not permitted by CCHD” and “strengthen prohibitions on partisan politics.” After the Bishops’ CCHD Subcommittee reviewed and approved the revised Grant Agreement and the bishops discussed the CCHD Report at their General Meeting in Baltimore, this stronger contract was sent to all potential 2010 grantees. While these groups were selected under earlier CCHD guidelines, only groups that signed the new Grant Agreement received CCHD funds. The list is now published, consisting of groups that signed the new grant agreement.” 1

This would seem to be saying that those in charge of awarding the CCHD 2010-2011 grants have made certain they are well-vetted. These grants, whatever has been done in the past, now reflect the best CCHD has to offer.

In this series, therefore, I propose to examine several groups of grantees. Then we must ask if their work merits Catholic charitable support. Or, perhaps the question is whether the Campaign for Human Development a worthy collection to which Catholics ought to contribute.

Guilt by Association

Question 8 of the above-quoted document is, “Didn’t the CCHD Report highlight a group that is pro-abortion and pro-same sex marriage?”

CCHD answers the question by saying that accusations against the CCHD-funded group were made because it presented at an event where there were objectionable workshops offered by other groups. That, it says, is “guilt by association.”

This is an interesting argument. What allowances must be made for the inevitable but innocent elbow-rubbing that activist individuals and organizations inevitably engage in as they go about noble business and when is “elbow-rubbing” really a guilty collaboration?

The question takes on added complexity when it involves network building, which is an important strategy for accomplishing the “progressive agenda.” For instance, one progressive coalition – the Western States Center – credited its founding to the need for network building. It observed that, not so long ago:
… progressive organizations and leaders were often working in isolation from one another serving particular constituencies or advancing specific issues.

Scattered across a broad geographic area, they lacked resources, appropriate training programs, and mechanisms to share intelligence, plan strategies and spread successes. Opportunities to work together and increase their impact and effectiveness were often missed and national progressive funders and organizations often failed to understand and support the West. The right wing was gaining strength and important political ground while many progressives seemed disengaged from electoral efforts and disconnected from each other.

In response to this set of circumstances, the Center was established to help strengthen and further develop the progressive movement in the West. For more than two decades, Western States Center has served to connect Western activists, building our sense of shared values, honing our strategies for building power, sharpening our political analyses, and forging relationships and alliances with the broader movement for social, economic, racial and environmental justice. 2 [Emphasis added]
What is this “progressive movement” that the Western States Center was established to strengthen and develop? Well, among other things, the Center manages a Gender Justice Program, with its various initiatives, to address “sexism, heterosexism, transgender oppression, reproductive justice, and family security in the context of racial and economic justice. We use a movement-building approach to strengthen the capacity of organizations dedicated to LGBTQ equality, reproductive justice, and family security.”3

For those who are unfamiliar with this language, “reproductive justice” includes a demand for legal and affordable abortion access. An examination of Western States Center initiatives makes it very clear that abortion – and working to maintain “abortion rights” – is an integral part of its package.

Now, as one would expect, given its overt pro-abortion activism, Western States Center doesn’t receive CCHD grants. However, over the years a number of Western States Center’s member “communities” have. Since we are only analyzing CCHD’s 2010-2011 grant period – the one that was not published immediately so that grants could be given a close, internal review – we will only consider the CCHD’s most recent, $30,000, award to Idaho Community Action Network. 4 This isn’t ICAN’s first CCHD grant5 nor, as already said, is it the only Western States Center “community” to receive CCHD money over the years.

It is, however, a grant that was scrutinized by CCHD in the light of recent complaints. ICAN is, therefore, presented to Catholics as a “clean” organization, one that has signed the new CCHD Grant Agreement, stating that it understands the fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching and will not engage in activities that conflict with them.

The Agreement even details what some of these conflicts might be: “Among other things, Grantee agrees that it will not promote or support abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, racism, discriminatory measures toward immigrants, or use of the death penalty.” 6

Yet, ICAN is a Western States Center “community.” According to Western State Center, the “fundamental mission” of ICAN “is to provide a voice for Idahoans committed to progressive social change and to develop the power necessary to create those changes.” 7

That statement means that Western States Center believes ICAN’s “fundamental mission” is essentially its own, on a local level.

Nor do ICAN’s progressive connections end with Western States Center. For instance, it’s a partner8 of the pro-abortion Center for Community Change.9

So ICAN, irrespective of the work it receives CCHD money to accomplish – namely comprehensive immigration reform, universal health care, utilities fairness, or food security… all of which may (or may not) be unobjectionable – is also, by its public support of the coalitions it operates among, pushing for “reproductive justice.” Its presence among these groups gives the idea of “reproductive justice” credence and respectability. ICAN aligns itself – and the progressive “goods” it is pursuing – with monumental evil.

It simply isn’t morally neutral to “network” hand in glove with those who are pushing for greater abortion “rights,” any more than one would join a coalition that advocated racial supremacy of one sort or another. There is guilt in associations that exist to work for common “social changes” when those changes are intrinsically evil.

Unless, of course, you don’t have a problem with racial supremacy…or abortion.

1 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Promoting Catholic Values,” usccb.org/cchd/PROMOTING-CATHOLIC-VALUES[1].pdf

2 Western States Center: www.westernstatescenter.org/about/our-history-1

3 Western States Center: www.westernstatescenter.org/our-work/gender-justice

4 2009-2010 CCHD Grant to ICAN was $35,000.

5 ICAN was founded in January 1999 through a merger of Idaho Citizens' Network and Idaho Hunger Action Council. There may be earlier grants but it can be confirmed that Idaho Citizens’ Network received the following from [C]CHD: $35,000 in 1992; $25,000 in 1993; $20,000 in 1995; $20,000 in 1996; $20,000 in 1997; and $25,000 in 1998. The Idaho Hunger Action Council received comparable [C]CHD grants during this time. In 1999, when the two groups merged, ICAN received the following [C]CHD grants: $30,000 in 1999; $25,000 in 2000; $20,000 in 2002; $32,000 in 2003; $35,000 2008-9.

6 CCHD Grant Agreement: www.usccb.org/cchd/CCHDGrantAgreement.pdf

7 www.westernstatescenter.org/our-communities/organizations/idaho-community-action-network

8 www.communitychange.org/who-we-are/our-partners/northwest (accessed 8-14-09; CCC has since removed its membership list from the website. As of this writing, however, ICAN lists CCC under the heading of its “Regional and National Partners:” idahocan.westhostsite.com/category/about/who-we-are

9 Stephanie Block, “The Scandal of John Carr at the USCCB,” SPERO News, 2-2-10: www.speroforum.com/site/print.asp?idarticle=26607

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