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Revisiting the Center for Community Change

February 1, 2010

On November 20th, the Reform CCHD Now Coalition issued a press release based on research conducted primarily by the American Life League that detailed the relationship between thirty-one national Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) grantees and the Center For Community Change (CCC).

Since that time, the CCHD has not responded publicly or privately to the allegations.  The CCHD prides itself on taking seriously any credible accusations made against the organizations it funds, so we are somewhat perplexed that two months have passed with no response.

Working closely with Reform CCHD Now coalition partners, the Bellarmine Veritas Ministry has conducted extensive research into the activities of the Center for Community Change and has confirmed the previously released information.  Additionally, further troubling facts have been discovered which strongly indicate that the CCHD, its grantees and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in general should immediately cease working with, and or promoting, the Center for Community Change.

What is the Center for Community Change?

The Center for Community Change is perhaps best described as a large-scale organizer of community organizing groups.   The CCC, according to its website, “strengthens, connects and mobilizes grassroots groups to enhance their leadership, voice and power.”  The CCC provides support and training to organizations, builds large scale coalitions, and “incubates the ideas that will shape a better tomorrow.” (ibid)  The CCC is widely recognized as a leader in the progressive movement, recently winning the Paul Wellstone Leadership Award.

Current USCCB Promotion of the Center for Community Change

Currently, thirty-one CCHD grantees have been identified as CCC partners (see image on right, courtesy American Life League), including many from the Gamaliel Foundation network.*

The CCC is also promoted on the USCCB website.  The USCCB gives several suggestions on how to advocate for those living in poverty in the United States.  Among those suggestions is the following:

“Lend your support to organizations that work with people in poverty to bring about positive changes at the state and federal level. One such group is the Center for Community Change (www.communitychange.org), which helps low income people build effective organizations that can change their communities and public policies.” (see USCCB website)

*As an aside, it should be noted that Gamaliel worked closely with the CCC during the last election cycle, and after the election co-sponsored a forum with the CCC called “Realizing the Promise: a Forum on Community, Faith and Democracy.”  This forum can be viewed in its entirety on C-Span’s website.  We suggest that the CCHD staff watch this video closely, as criteria #7 of the CCHD grants guidelines (“organizations engaged in partisan political activity are not eligible”) seems to have been violated by Gamaliel’s election year activities.  Furthermore, current CCHD director Ralph McCloud’s appearance at this forum (beginning at 27:41 of the video) should be clarified since it appears to give tacit support to the proceedings.

Recent Examples of CCC Activities Contrary to Catholic Teaching

On a surface level, many of the issues the CCC promotes seem in conformity with Catholic social teaching.  However, once the smooth facade and flowery language is peeled away, what remains is a deformed progressive vision that is at odds with the Catholic vision of humanity.   Noble goals, such as universal access to health-care, immigration reform, and strong community values become little more than sacrificial hosts for an agenda that includes abortion and promotion of homosexual lifestyles.

The research conducted by the American Life League and reported by LifeSiteNews covering items such as radically pro-abortion members of the CCC board and the CCC’s equating of abortion rights with criminal justice gives ample support to this claim.  However, since the CCHD and USCCB have yet to take action, we felt it necessary to conduct further investigation that we hope will clarify any remaining doubts they may have regarding the CCC.  The following represents a portion of our findings.

CCC Support of Abortion Funding in Health Care Reform

Exhibit A: Deepak Barghava, Executive Director of the CCC, states that the CCC is fighting for “lifting restrictions on women’s access to health services.”

“Even as we continue to fight for affordability, for a public option, for greater efforts on racial disparities, for lifting restrictions on women’s access to health services and immigrant inclusion, we believe it is important for all Americans to take stock of the truly important changes that the current reform will achieve”  (see CCC website)

Exhibit B:  The CCC joined the “Stop Stupak” coalition (see Politico) (Note: Center for Community Change joined Stop Stupak officially through its activism arm, Campaign for Community Change)

Exhibit C: At a Stop Stupak rally, the following remarks were offered by the CCC:

“Of course, no issue is more critical to women’s economic opportunity than the ability to choose when and under what personal circumstances to raise children.  Access to reproductive health services including abortion has had a terrible legacy of class bias in the United States.  Prior to abortion being legalized it was widely understood that many upper income families could find safe abortion services and low income families could not.  We brought this legacy into law when we began restricting federal funds from being used to provide abortion services to low income women who receive Medicaid.  Now we are poised to bring those restrictions to millions of women who will receive some subsidy to help bring down the cost of health insurance – just at the time in our history when we are trying to make health coverage more universal and accessible.  The Stupak restrictions go even further and interfere with the whole private market.  The current state of debate on abortion often misses this fundamental truth.” (see CCC website)

CCC Use of Immigration Reform to Promote Abortion

Exhibit A:  CCC is a member of the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights (NCIWR) 

NCIWR requires all member to sign an agreement that states:

“My organization is committed to advancing equality and human rights for all immigrant women, children and communities. We support the goals of the NCIWR that are stated in the Guiding and Operating Principles. I and my colleagues are aware of, have read and agree to the principles espoused in the following documents: NCIWR Guiding Principles, NCIWR Operating Principles” (see NCIWR Agreement Form)

The NCIWR Guiding Principles, which the CCC has read and agreed to, include the following provisions:

• Universal health coverage that provides adequate health services and care for all immigrant women regardless of legal and economic status.
• Reproductive health care coverage financed through public funds provided to all immigrant women regardless of legal and economic status.
• The repeal of all federal and state level restrictions on access to reproductive health services by immigrant women and their children.
• Social services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking.
• Equitable access to non-employment based public benefits for all immigrant women.
• Equitable access to confidential and non-coercive family planning services and contraceptive equity.
• Equitable access to linguistically, culturally competent, and medically accurate reproductive health care services.
• Equitable access to comprehensive sex and sexuality education.
• Technical and training support to service providers, attorneys, community advocates, and other professionals (both governmental and non-governmental) working with immigrant women at the local, state, federal, and international levels. (see NCIWR Guiding Principles)

CCC Actively Develops Leaders for the Homosexual Movement

Exhibit A: The CCC, through its Generation Change program, actively seeks to train homosexual activists to further the homosexual movement.  According to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-gender) Movement Advancement Project, the aim of the Generation Change program is to:

  • Increase number and diversity of leaders in the movement
  • Provide a progressive, cross-issue frame for LGBT movement leadership development
  • Equip leaders with skills to strengthen organizations and organizing efforts (see Building LGBT Nonprofit Leadership Talent, P. 30)

Exhibit B: The CCC received a $50,000 grant in 2008 for leadership training from the Gill Foundation, one of the nations largest funders of LGBT causes. (see Gill Foundation website)

CCC Promotes Radical Ideas Through its Movement Vision Project

UPDATE 2/2/2010 : The CCC pulled all Movement Vision Lab articles from its website shortly after this report was posted on 2/1/2010.  CCC states: “As of February 1st, 2010, the Movement Vision Lab is no longer a project of the Center for Community Change.”

The CCC’s Movement Vision Project was started with the goal of “identifying and advancing a shared, progressive vision for the future of the United States.”  The director of the Movement Vision Project is Sally Kohn, who has worked in the past with the Third Wave Foundation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  Currently, the Movement Vision Project is operating through the Movement Vision Lab, which is housed on the Center for Community Change’s website.

The Movement Vision Lab contains a number of submissions from both CCC staff and outside organizations.  A wide range of progressive topics are covered, and it would not be correct to assume that every article is endorsed by the CCC.  However, reading through the submitted articles, especially those submitted by staff members and close associates, does give one an accurate barometer of what the CCC’s progressive vision for humanity includes.

Some notable examples:

Exhibit A: Sean Thomas-Brietfield, Director of the Center for Community Change’s Taproots Project, wrote an article promoting consensual polyamory.  Brietfield states:

Polyamory, or consensual non-monogamy, recognizes a basic fact of human sexuality: the eye will wander. If open relationships were a socially acceptable option, we’d think very differently about “adultery” and we’d probably craft very different romantic relationships. (see “Tila Tequila, MTV and Polyamory,” CCC website)

Brietfield also adds:

Consensual non-monogamy would make it possible for partners to honestly tell each other when they are attracted to other people and even go out on dates with other people with the full knowledge and blessing of their primary partner. It would be possible for a couple to welcome another person (or persons) into their relationship (and bedroom). It would certainly give new meaning to the idea of a “blended family” (Heather could have three mommies instead of just two). Obviously, these possibilities exist outside of the legal frame of marriage. But, as the 250 authors, activists, intellectuals and celebrities (gay and straight) who wrote the Beyond Same-Sex Marriage statement noted, “marriage is not the only worthy form of family or relationship, and it should not be legally and economically privileged above all others.” (ibid)

Exhibit B:  Xiomara Corpeno, a Center for Community Change 2008 Taproot’s Fellow and Director of Organizing for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), wrote an article discussing cross issue work between homosexual rights groups and immigration reform organizations.  This article is particularly of interest as it gives further confirmation to our findings concerning Mobilize the Immigrant Vote.  Corpeno states:

“CHIRLA, in conjunction with Mobilize the Immigrant Vote first began with conversations about how “wedge” issues are created  and who benefits from the divisions they create.  The next steps have included educational workshops for our members on Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender definitions and issues, as well as workshops on the historical context of oppression in the United States.   Our conversations are far from over because the struggle for liberation of all peoples is on-going.” (see “Queer Activists and Immigrant Activists: Finding Intersections and Working Together”, CCC website)

Commentary and Analysis

This report, in conjunction with the previous research provided by American Life League and reported by LifeSiteNews, should put to rest any doubts that the Center for Community Change should not be considered an ally of the Catholic Church.

While it may seem that the interests of the Church and the CCC intersect on several important issues such as health-care and immigration reform, a cursory examination shows that Church social teaching and the CCC’s guiding principles are, in fact, two separate roads leading to fundamentally different destinations.

Cooperation with non-Catholic organizations is a sometimes necessary and even praiseworthy way to more effectively promote human dignity.  However, cooperation is only possible where there is common ground.   This common ground should not be judged solely on the basis of shared interests, but rather by the shared fundamental principles underlying those interests.  Without such common ground, cooperation may ultimately lead to the unintended compromise of fundamental principles by one or both parties.

A case and point can be seen with the recent push for health care reform.  The Catholic Church and radical progressives both share a common interest in universal access to basic health care.  However, generally speaking, the Church and radical progressives have differing views on fundamental issues of human dignity.

Should there be any surprise, then, that the legislation proposed by progressives ultimately included provisions for abortion funding, family planning, lack of a conscience clause, and skewed toward a model which lacked a basic understanding of subsidiarity?

While the argument might be made that only progressives were making any push toward universal access, expediency must never be a justification for betrayal of principle.   Yes, the USCCB was quite vocal in condemning the abortion provisions found in the legislation, however, the fact that a faulty health care bill came a hair’s breadth from becoming law was, in part, the fault of a flawed notion of cooperation.

Similarly, cooperation with radical progressives on immigration reform is another source of potential danger.  We must carefully examine the fundamental principles involved, and make sure that those we cooperate with do not have an all-together different set of values driving their work on this issue.

Our investigations into organizations such as Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and the Center for Community Change have revealed that at least part of their motive for pushing for immigration reform stems from a desire to build a radicalized progressive voting base.  Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center For Community Change, stated this plainly at the “Progressives in the Age of Obama Forum” on June 1st, 2009:

“…[immigration reform] is also important from the perspective of building progressive power, because those twelve million undocumented immigrants, if we are successful in building a path to citizenship, will join in a larger progressive coalition on all the fights for economic and social justice that are ahead of us.”  (see “Progressives in the Age of Obama Forum” C-Span, beginning at 44:00)

Coupling this with uncovered evidence showing an attempt at indoctrinating immigrants into holding flawed positions on homosexuality and abortion by these organizations should give the USCCB good reason to reconsider any alliances, either they or their grantees hold, with such groups.

Once again, please keep in mind that in no way are we stating or implying that any bishop or staff member of the USCCB holds pro-abortion views.  We have conversed and exchanged correspondence on a number of occasions with USCCB staff and have nothing but the highest regard for the strength of their convictions.  However, we cannot avoid the conclusion that there is a disturbing pattern of cooperation between the USCCB and organizations that do not share the same fundamental vision of human dignity as the Catholic Church.

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