A Commentary on the Campaign for Human Development
Prepared for the Catholic Bishops of the United States
I. Introduction: This commentary is submitted to the Catholic Bishops of the United States with respect to their possible consideration of changes in the organization, funding, and structure of the Campaign for Human Development (CHD). It is essential to note, however, the limited purpose and scope of this commentary:
II. COMMUNITY ORGANIZING: During the funding period of 1992-1995, CHD gave significant grants to community organizing efforts that implement many of the organizational techniques recommended by Saul Alinsky. Many community organizations patterned after Alinsky's recommendations recruit their membership either entirely or partially by institution. Included among this class of grantees are four national organizations: the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), Gamaliel, Pacific Institute for Community Organizing (PICO), and Direct Action and Research Training Center (DART). The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) which is also patterned on Alinsky's organizational recommendations, recruits individual members. These five national organizations alone account for approximately 33% of current CHD expenditures annually. For purposes of illustration, it will be useful to note here some aspects of the operation of ACORN and the IAF.
1. ACORN received approximately 5% of the national CHD annual budget between 1992-1995. Between the years of 1992-1995, ACORN received $1,493,000 in national CHD grants.
2. ACORN's People's Platform was written in 1978 and ratified in 1979 at ACORN's national convention in St. Louis. The document was revised and re-approved in 1990 at ACORN's national 20th Anniversary Convention in Chicago and is in effect at present. Among other things, the ACORN People's Platform specifies that ACORN demands that the United States :
3. To accomplish its goals, as outlined in the People's Platform, ACORN has developed a political alliance with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Together with others, ACORN and the DSA have formed a political party, the New Party.
4. ACORN's political activity is viewpoint-oriented: "…[O]rganizing needs to happen more than ever to counter Right-wing assault." Member groups are able to "have a voice in setting a national agenda for organizing to fight the right." To this end, ACORN endorsed the pro-abortion Fight the Right March in 1996.
ACORN's political activities have extended beyond mere "Get Out the Vote" drives: "In 1972, ACORN made its first entry into electoral politics. ACORN's first effort was a 'Save the City Rally,' which all the candidates for Little Rock [AK] Board of Directors were invited to attend. Next, ACORN's Political Action Committee decided to back two candidates for Little Rock School Board….Buoyed by their success, ACORN members decided to go one step further and run for office themselves. In 1974, ACORN members, joined by a group of International Ladies' Garment Workers Union members, ran for seats on the Pulaski County Quorum Court [IL]….The great expansion of the organization [by 1975], led to multi-state campaign…ACORN national conventions and actions in 1978, 1979, and 1980 led to an entry into national politics through participation in the 1980 Presidential campaign. ACORN used the campaign to apply pressure to presidential candidates during the nomination campaign when they were most in need of grassroots support - a specialty of ACORN's. They also created the opportunity for the members and leaders to develop their ideas on a national agenda for the organization."
ACORN received $132,000 from the CHD in 1978, $159,000 from the CHD in 1979, and $157,000 from the CHD in 1980.
In 1988, ACORN backed Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition. "ACORN had thirty Jackson delegates on the floor of the Democratic Convention….Electoral politics…became a powerful weapon in the ACORN arsenal…[T]hey were refined and institutionalized within ACORN. The work with the Rainbow Lobby was clear proof of ACORN's electoral abilities. ACORN Political Action Committee work in local and national electoral politics paid off…"
During the 1990s, ACORN has been openly active in Congressional lobbying. Its leadership operates, "…from inside positions of power. ACORN's work on the savings and loan bailout provided effective means of developing and applying power…ACORN members won appointment to the Resolution Trust Corporation to help determine the management of the billions of dollars of assets the government seized.
5. ACORN's educational activism was described by Jennifer Anderson from the CHD-funded NY-ACORN at the 1995 25th CHD Anniversary Conference in Chicago. NY-ACORN is establishing alternative "New Visions Schools" within the New York public school system. During her workshop: "School Reform Sweeping the Nation," Ms. Anderson identified the reform model which NY-ACORN schools are emulating as the Debbie Meier experimental public school model (the Networks for School Renewal).
The experimental schools designed by NY-ACORN on the Debbie Meier model have many attractive features -- small teacher-pupil ratios and small student bodies, for example. However, each ACORN "New Visions School" has one full-time, paid ACORN organizer associated with it, whose duties include organizing parents, class by class. Anderson described ACORN's efforts to see that "progressively-minded" teachers and principals were hired in the New Visions Schools.
Academically, the Debbie Meier educational model includes substantive restructuring. Standardized testing is eliminated: "For instance, to put the sort of intense emphasis on standardized testing…meant, in practice, the gearing of curricula specifically to prepare students to pass narrowly focused tests-with little attention to the broader array of skills and critical capacities essential in a real world environment…In contrast…an alternative began to emerge." Parents and educators must be re-educated to accept this restructuring: "But for democratic school approaches [such as the Deborah Meier model] to work necessitated not only changes in the formal structure of education but also effective, skillful training and some clear public commitment to an alternative understanding of educational purposes themselves." These "educational purposes" can facilitate the training of new community organizers. In ACORN's New Visions School in New York, Local 1199 School for Social Change, "…students analyze public health issues, the organization of community groups, the development of public policy and the international labor movement. Students are involved in hands-on activities in order to relate classroom learning to community service. These activities range from participation in labor and community organization movements to service as interns at local health care facilities."
NY-ACORN received $170,000 in CHD grants between 1992-1995. As there is no specific project specified in the reporting of these CHD grants to ACORN, it would seem fair to assume that CHD money has been used by NY-ACORN in ways that would provide at least indirect support to its educational reform agenda.
6. ACORN's People's Platform is unexceptionable about what it terms "women's rights," demanding only equal pay for equal work, swift intervention in instances of workplace sexual harassment, and maternity leave benefits. However, Maud Hurd, ACORN's national president, was a speaker at Expo '96 for Woman's Empowerment.
The purpose of the exposition was to develop a response to "the conservative use of ballot initiatives to attack women's rights and to galvanize a right-wing vote…" The Expo promotional material stated that: "The attack on women's rights and sex discrimination law has galvanized our coming together….Never before has the woman's movement been under so much attack…" This network of feminists seeks to "…ignite the women's movement on the fight to save affirmative action and sex discrimination law; will develop a feminist national budget for the United States; and will envision a feminist future."
7. Conclusion: The CHD asserts that it "has become the largest funder of self-help groups for the poor in the nation. More than $250 million in grants has been awarded by the CHD to help at least 3000 self-help projects that work to create new opportunities for the poor in housing, education, health care, jobs, and civil rights….To be eligible to receive CHD funds, a program must be run by the poor, benefit the poor, and change social structures that harm the poor." However, in light of the politically oriented thrust of ACORN's activities, it is fair to ask whether the CHD subsidies to ACORN are advisable and commensurate with the purposes of CHD.
B. THE INDUSTRIAL AREAS FOUNDATION:
1. The Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) has received approximately 16% of the national CHD annual budget between 1992-1995.
2. The IAF has pursued a national agenda of educational restructuring through its local affiliates. This would appear to be inconsistent with the principle of subsidiarity and with the constant teaching of the Church on the position of parents as primary educators of their children, with responsibility to conduct effective oversight of the education of those children in schools.
3. The CHD-funded IAF has shown partisanship in its Get-Out -the-Vote Drives.
4. Conclusion: In light of the political nature of such activities of the IAF, it is fair to ask whether the CHD subsidies to the IAF are advisable and commensurate with the purposes of the CHD.
III. WELFARE REFORM:
1.CHD-funded organizations promoting welfare reform tend to focus on the preservation and increase of federal welfare funding.
The first 1997 CHD grants, totaling a half million dollars, were awarded to 13 organizations which promote what a CHD press release calls "innovative welfare reform initiatives."
One grant went to the Arizona Interfaith Network, which is a coalition of three IAF locals that are already individually funded by the CHD. The money is earmarked for a research project to assess the impact of welfare reform on church members. "This information will be collected and combined with the research of other Arizona social policy advocates such as the Children's Action Alliance, the Arizona Justice Institute and the Arizona Catholic Conference in order to impact the welfare reform legislative agenda at the statewide level."
The Arizona Interfaith Network has had an impact among those who are most concerned about welfare. However, a coalition of over 30 community-based human services organizations called the Arizona Human Services Rural Network, including food banks and health care facilities, has been fighting the IAF over control of public welfare funds. This Human Services coalition argues that the IAF is attempting to overrun "existing organizations with demonstrated track records and accountability for working with the poor..." so that the IAF will have control of that money for its own organizational efforts. The Human Services coalition claims that "Any diversion of funds to create another layer of providers would detract from the present effort and be disastrous."
One significant effect of the current half million dollar CHD welfare reform effort is the development of "educational" mechanisms designed to persuade people that any changes in the welfare system which cut or curtail services would be undesirable. "Father Robert Vitillo, CHD executive director, announced new grants in Washington. 'We are pleased that CHD is able to support groups and coalitions working to diminish the punitive effects of federal reform laws on the nation's poor and needy citizens.'" [emphasis added] Greater Birmingham Ministries has been funded by CHD "to respond to the potentially punitive elements of welfare reform legislation. Clergy and Laity United For Economic Justice (CLUE), in California, has been funded to "address concerns raised by the new welfare work requirements." [emphasis added]
The 1997 CHD grant to Catholic Charities of California (CCC) is significant: Catholic Charities provides funds to "conduct a short-term organizing project [along with the Fair Share Network (FSN) of California] to involve low-income persons, service providers, and the larger Catholic community in the state's welfare restructuring. CCC and FSN will organize grassroots advocates to 1) educate and influence state and federal policy makers 2)document and publicize representative stories of persons to be negatively impacted by the new welfare laws, 3) build awareness and linkages within the Catholic community about the implications of specific welfare measures." This sort of activity goes well beyond the moral education of the Catholic people.
Saint Paul Ecumenical Alliance of Congregations and Interfaith Action has been funded to work along with the Archdiocese of St. Paul- Minneapolis and the Interfaith Campaign for Welfare Reform, to "advocate for continued or increased welfare benefits." [emphasis added]
The opinions of Catholics who do not support increased federal welfare expenditures have been publicly criticized by CHD supporters. At the 1996 Catholic Social Justice Ministry Gathering, co-sponsored by CHD and convened -- at least in part -- as a Catholic lobbying action, Sharon Daly of Catholic Charities, told participants, "You are the official Catholic Church. You're not representing some fringe group. You're not like Father Sirico who just talks for himself. You're not some self-appointed person. You work for the official Catholic Church of the United States, and you are there [speaking to your legislators] to present the Catholic position, the position of your diocese, and your lived-experience, serving the poor, working within the Catholic community."
2. The CHD-funded welfare reform agenda tends to promote the passage of federal funds into the hands of "mediating institutions." Welfare benefits, under CHD-funded welfare reform, would be distributed by those "mediating institutions."
The Texas IAF locals, Valley Interfaith and Triangle Interfaith, are among the 1997 first round CHD grant recipients. The Texas IAF locals are being funded to initiate a "welfare reform" strategy "mobilizing its congregation members statewide to push for a $52 million reallocation of resources for long-term job training."
The job training program being promoted by the CHD-funded Texas IAF locals (the Texas IAF Network) is Project QUEST. Valley Interfaith has already been the conduit for substantial federal Empowerment Zone money for Project QUEST operations in its local region. The program supports job trainees at a living wage level for up to two years and then guarantees a well-paying job at the end of the training.
The QUEST program operates primarily through the IAF. COPS and Metro, two Texas IAF locals, have membership on the QUEST board of directors. "COPS and Metro also controlled the recruitment of trainees to QUEST. They advertised training opportunities through their churches (at services and in bulletins). One hundred and forty volunteers held interviews at churches two to three times per week. The IAF leaders interviewed 3000 applicants resulting in 650 trainees….By controlling recruitment, COPS could help build its organization, reinforce the social networks of the community, and vouch for the character of trainees to future employees."
The IAF, operating through the churches, becomes a "mediating institution," a conduit, for federal money into the local community, and a primary distributor of federal benefits. The practical advantages of cooperating with the IAF arrangement are obvious. Paul Osterman's 1996 study of QUEST shows that 41% of the QUEST participants definitely plan to become involved with the IAF or think there is a "good chance" for future involvement. QUEST is under consideration as a model for national replication. "In early 1994, representatives of QUEST attended a forum on job-training reform, sponsored by the US Department of Labor….If QUEST proves successful in San Antonio, it could become a model for the national job training strategy that Clinton has pledged to initiate."
3. Conclusion: The IAF activity in Texas is an example of the nature of the welfare reform agenda funded by the CHD. Involving the federal government in comprehensive services provided through the church-based "mediating institution" of the IAF, the government, aided by the CHD-supported community organization, takes on a dimension which is hardly consistent with the principle of subsidiarity.
In light of the ideologically oriented thrust of the CHD-funded welfare reform activities, it is fair to ask whether the CHD subsidies to welfare reform are advisable and commensurate with the purposes of CHD.
IV. CHD LOBBYING ACTIVITIES
1. The CHD, along with other official Catholic bodies, itself directly lobbies federal legislators. This was the purpose of the 1996 Catholic Social Justice Ministry Gathering in Washington, DC. Representatives from CHD, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, and eight other Catholic agencies prepared state delegations to meet with members of the U.S. Congress. The first Plenary Session set the 1996 Agenda "Context, Priorities, and Strategies," and participants were provided a variety of resources: "Hill Notes," "Backgrounders" and "Talking Points" with information on a wide range of issues, and a "Domestic Issues Handbook." The Plenary Session speakers provided the participants not only with tips on how to speak with their representatives, but with policy positions which they were told were reflective of the "official Catholic Church."
Sharon Daly, Deputy to the President for Social Policy, Catholic Charities USA, speaking at the 1996 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, said: "You are the official Catholic Church….You work for the official Catholic Church of the United States, and you are there [speaking to your legislators] to present the Catholic position, the position of your diocese, and of your lived experience, serving the poor, working within the Catholic community."
Daly also stated: "We can't trust states on abused and neglected children…The federal government has good laws if we can enforce them. We need to intervene before children are neglected. Clearly the state governments have not cared as much as the federal government. These children deserve the protection of the federal government."
2. CHD-funded community organizations, such as the IAF, recruit and train people -- often through Catholic parishes -- to lobby and campaign for specific issues. John Carr told the 1996 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering that "We need to welcome the new interest in the role of religious and other communities. We must shape that discussion and not resist it. We know better than most the limitations and possibilities. We will increasingly have to demonstrate that we have not just principles and experiences, but also a constituency that shares our values and supports our priorities. That is why your legislative networks and other vehicles are so important. Information and analysis is [sic] not a substitute for relationships and constituency. Paper cannot take the place of pressure."
3. It is fair to ask whether the CHD lobbying activities are advisable and commensurate with the purposes of CHD.
V. A NOTE ON FUNGIBLE CHD GRANTS:
1. On September 19, 1997, Bishop Cardinal Ramirez, Chairman of the USCC CHD Committee issued a series of fact sheets to all American diocesan bishops, "For the Record…The Truth about CHD Funding."
One fact sheet attempts to deal with the allegation that CHD projects are "fungible": that is, they free up monies for organizations to spend on other activities at variance with Catholic teaching. To refute that criticism, the CHD assures the bishops that it "maintains strict financial control of project funds. Organizations must deposit grant monies in a separate bank account which includes CHD in its title. Expenditures authorized by the approved CHD budget must be met with funds drawn directly from the CHD account and separate ledgers must be kept for CHD funds."
While it is commendable that such care has been taken to assure financial control of project funds, there is nothing in the CHD's explanation which answers the problem of CHD grants being "fungible," that is, releasing other resources for organizations to spend on activities that may be at variance with Catholic teaching.
This unanswered criticism is related to a second fact sheet which attempts to address the allegations that "CHD has a persistent habit of funding organizations closely associated with the pro-abortion movement." The fact sheet simply assures the bishops that the CHD itself is pro-life, and that all CHD projects are given careful scrutiny. While CHD grants do not go to organizations which directly provide abortion or contraceptives, CHD money allocated between 1992-1995 has gone to grantees which have supported organizations that promote legalized abortion. Some CHD-funded groups, for example, have aligned themselves with the Feminist Majority Foundation's Feminist Expo '96 and/or the Fight the Right Network
2. Conclusion: There is reason for concern that CHD funding of some organizations for unobjectionable projects releases the funds of such organizations to support activities and other groups that are inconsistent with the purposes of CHD.
VI. A NOTE ON CHD'S RESPONSE TO PUBLIC CRITICISM:
1. Claretian Medical Center: The CHD fact sheet, "For the Record…The Truth about CHD Funding," states that CHD critics allege that "In the late 1970's, the Campaign for Human Development funded the Claretian Medical Center in Chicago, which provided contraceptive services and abortion counseling." [emphasis added]
The CHD fact sheet states that "the national office of the campaign for Human Development has never granted money to the Claretian Medical Center. Some funds were granted to the Center from the Chicago Archdiocesan office of the CHD." The bottom line is that CHD funds did go to the Claretian Medical Center.
The fact sheet then defends the Center by asserting that "…the Center has not ever provided and does not now provide abortion counseling to its clients." [emphasis added] However, on the issue of contraceptive services, on April 1st and April 16th, 1997 Mr. And Mrs. Paul Likoudis "called the three Claretian Medical Centers in Chicago, at 2938 E. 91st St., 9119 S. Exchange Ave., and 556 E. 115th St., and asked about their family planning services. The receptionist at the E. 91st Street center referred The Wanderer to the Exchange Avenue center. The receptionist there said that they do provide contraceptives, 'but we don't do abortions here. We can send you to doctors who do provide those services.' The receptionist at the 115th Street center said that its staff can provide contraceptives, 'but none of our doctors do terminations here.'"
This point would seem to merit further inquiry by the Catholic Bishops of the United States.
2. Grassroots Leadership: The CHD fact sheet, "For the Record…The Truth about CHD Funding," states that CHD critics allege that: "The Campaign for Human Development funded Grassroots Leadership of North Carolina, a group whose mission is to promote radical causes, so-called 'freedom of choice,' gay and lesbian rights and environmental issues." The fact sheet states that CHD gave $119,000 from 1982-1984 "to assist the regional Grassroots Leadership organization in its early years," and then again "…the Bishop of Charleston endorsed CHD support for the Grassroots Leadership Community Organizing Internship Program in Orangeburg, SC, and the CHD provided $35,000 in funding during the period 1994-1995."
The fact sheet is a response to the national exposure that CHD grants to Grassroots Leadership received in the 1995 Capital Research Center's Organization Trends. Author Scott Weinberg reported that the mission of Grassroots Leadership is "to promote radical causes, women's freedom of choice, gay and lesbian rights, and environmental issues."
To defend Grassroots Leadership against this assertion, the CHD fact sheet says: "The organization's by-laws contain its goal statement: 'To build the infrastructure for a Southern movement, including the leaders, organizers, organizations, networks and coalitions that will make long-term, progressive change inevitable.' The by-laws do not include support for abortion or gay and lesbian rights."
However, a 1995 Grassroots Leadership News stated that Pete Tepley of Columbia, South Carolina is on the Grassroots Leadership Board of Directors as a civil rights advocate for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community. It also contains a paragraph about the work of one staff member, Naomi Swinton, who writes in the newsletter that: "Grassroots Leadership is giving me the training and support I need to be able to work with many communities on ending and creating alternatives to all linked issues of oppression. Queer politics, anti-racism, feminism, and labor history - all have a particular Southern context and potential."
3. Criticism of CHD by Capital Research Center: CHD Director, Timothy Collins, speaking over Baltimore radio in December 1996 said: "Let's start by acknowledging that any story that relies on Organization Trends, okay -- a publication of the Capital Research Center -- has been discredited because of their methodology and the conclusions they arrive at. So we'll proceed from the conclusion that the reporting of Carey Winters -- and she cites Organization Trends as her source -- is flawed and has no statistical validity."
In a letter to an inquiring Catholic, Collins wrote: "In fact, others are beginning to learn what CHD has known for some time: research from the Capital Research Center needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. In the current edition of FOUNDATION NEWS & COMMENTARY, Peter Frumkin writes: 'CRC's analysis rests on a subjective classification system of recipient organizations; this system has not been independently validated, and it predetermines the conclusions made in the reports." These ad hominem types of criticism from the CHD, however, ought not to substitute for an objective analysis of the data and conclusions advanced by the Capital Research Center.
Collins continues: "Moreover, [still quoting Frumkin] 'CRC reports make generalizations…based on a sample of grants that is far too small and unrepresentative to have statistical validity.'" However, if CHD funds even one organization which significantly supports activities or groups that promote legalized abortion, it has funded one too many.
An objective analysis of the Capital Research Center reports would lead to the conclusion that the Center has accurately raised serious questions about the CHD, which questions have been evaded to date by apologists for the CHD.
VII. The Catholic Bishops of the United States ought to reconsider the structure, funding, and activities of the Campaign for Human Development.
This commentary does not oppose CHD funding of genuine, grassroots community organizations, run and supported by individual members of a parish or diocese. There is potential value and virtue in the collective voice. However, when the CHD funds Alinsky-style, church-based community organizations as in the best interest of the poor and supports organizations which advance other agendas, it divests the poor of their right to an authentic voice. This process tends to treat the poor as exploited units of human capital, rather than as human beings created in the dignity of God's image.
Nor is there any basis for the CHD to imply by its actions that there are no alternative organizations that it can fund to promote valuable institutional change, uninfluenced by a politicized agenda. There is no necessity for CHD funds to go to organizations which contribute to or participate in any way in the political support of abortion. There is no necessity for CHD to fund Alinsky-style, church-based community organizations. There are alternative, self-determined organizations of the poor, which are supportive of life. Those alternative, grassroots community organizations do not merely serve their constituency but rather they are their constituency. They do not use community organizing to further an additional agenda.
It would be reasonable for the bishops to consider:
The immediate cessation of all CHD funding to Alinsky-style, church-based community organizations.
The immediate cessation of all CHD funding to any organization that directly or indirectly promotes an agenda contrary to the social justice teachings of the Church.
The immediate cessation of all CHD funding to any organization that directly or indirectly aids and abets the culture of death.
The immediate cessation of CHD funding to any organization which requires institutional membership, including, for example, membership by parish. Community organizations which organize by institution, as opposed to individual membership, are inimical to the dignity of the individual and to his rights of conscience. No Catholic should ever be required to choose between membership in his parish and involuntary membership in a church-based community organization.
Requiring the CHD to prepare annual reports available that reflect the complete expenditure of CHD funds, both national and local, with detailed descriptions of all recipient organizations and a complete disclosure of their activities.
The creation of a committee of Catholic bishops to formulate new and more stringent guidelines for the CHD, and to set forth a higher standard for CHD grants. We further ask that this committee not only oversee future funding and future grantees, but remain open and attentive to the research of the laity, examining closely evidence of imprudent CHD funding.
VIII. Conclusion: This commentary is offered for the consideration of the bishops in a spirit of objective inquiry. As noted in Section I above, it is not intended to disparage any person or group or to question the good faith or legality of any positions taken by any persons or groups involved in these matters. Rather, we respectfully submit that it is time for a searching reconsideration by the bishops of the structure, funding, and activities of the CHD.
A bound, footnoted copy of this text can be obtained from the Wanderer Forum Foundation, Forum Focus, P.O. Box 542, Hudson, WI 54016-0542 or telephone 651-276-1429. Please enclose $5.00.