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A series of essays towards General Convention in 2003

American Anglican Council and <br> The Institute for Religion and Democracy

American Anglican Council and Institute for Religion and Democracy

Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2003 08:58:22 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jack H Taylor

To the Bishops, Delegates and Leaders of the Church, may God bless your ministries and service during these difficult days ahead.

A lot of attention has been focused in the aftermath of the events at General Convention on those who have expressed dissatisfaction. Much of it, according to inquiries to me, has been about the American Anglican Council (AAC) and the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD), two conservative organizations that share offices and ideas in Washington but don't acknowledge the connection as required by the IRS.

The inquiries to me probably stem from my journalistic inquiries of those and other church-related organizations a few years ago. The recent inquiries, in anticipation of the AAC-sponsored and IRD-blessed meeting in Dallas in October, prompted me to update my information. I was surprised at some of it. Some among you have encouraged me to share it. Here is a snapshot:

According to recent income tax information, the IRD has focused its principal expenditures, if not full attention, on the Untied Methodist Church. In 2001 it spent $358,607 (40% its total expenditures, including its $76,890 salary to Diane Knippers) on "monitoring" the UM's activities and "public witness" of the UM leadership and public policy statements. That was three and a half times what it spent on religious liberty, ostensibly its primary purpose. In 2000, it spent $337,636 for the same purpose. (It also has two retired UM clergy on its board.)

IRD funding has been cyclical during the last seven years, declining on three occasions and increasing on three occasions. Most recently, it rose 40% in 2001 to $1.1 million after two years of slight declines of -6% and -10% in 2000 and 1999, respectively. Its primary funding come from individuals, probably including Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Jr., the multi-millionaire, anti-gay member of the Southern California parish where the new AAC CEO is rector. It had five significant individual contributions in 2001, for $200K, $150K, $85K, $50K and $25K.

Based upon an article I wrote on December 7, 2000, the AAC had a secret agreement with Ahmanson to contribute $200K in matching funds (probably annually). This followed a deliberate effort by the AAC to become closer to Ahmanson (according to private communications among AAC board members which I obtained at the time). The unabashed purpose, according to those communications, was to obtain considerable contributions. The AAC's funding during 2001 was primarily through four individual contributions of $322.4K, $100K, and two for $20K each. It had two significant individual contributions in 2000 for $240K and $275K. I imagine Ahmanson has made good on his still secret agreement. This has been consistent the past four years.

This has helped the AAC stay afloat, so that, in effect, it may very well be an organization doing the bidding of its principal private and always secretive backer. The AAC spends most of its money on salaries (22%), consultants (16%), printing, rent, postage and travel, probably defraying the expenses of its six bishops and CEO flying around the country (30%). Its biggest grants were $25K to co-sponsor SEAD's 2001 conference in South Carolina and $9.3K to the losing cause of Christ Church-Accokeek before its rebellious rector could be dragged out of the parish (and soon left the church for the splinter Episcopal Church of Christ the King).

The scariest element of the AAC and IRD is the Ahmanson influence, particularly in view of the private correspondence I obtained where the AAC directors were agreeing to do whatever is necessary to win over Ahmanson, including allowing him private access to its inner-most activities, just to get into his deep pockets.

He is an ultra-conservative heir to a savings and loan fortune who has long supported religious right extremists and fundamentalist Christian causes, including so-called Christian Reconstructionism, which advocates replacing American democracy with a harsh fundamentalist theocracy under strict biblical law in which the death penalty would be required for everyone from adulterers and homosexuals to witches, incorrigible children and those who spread "false" religions.

If any of you would like for information, including tax returns, copies of the AAC's private correspondence or other documents on this point, please feel free to contact me.

God bless all of you.

Jack H. Taylor Jr.
Taylor Research and Investigations
15757 Coif Rd. (Suite 400)
Dallas, TX 75248
(972) 991-5045
(972) 503-3302 FAX

You are welcome to submit your essays for consideration for this series. Send them to Identify yourself by name, snail address, parish, and other connections to the Episcopal Church. Please encourage others to do the same.


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