This WaTi article describes this report (available for purchase now or, if you’re patient, to be released slowly on the web), which documents the support the National Council of Churches receives from essentially secular, essentially liberal foundations. I have no doubt but that there’s a coincidence of interests between the foundation and NCC bureaucracies. Here’s how the report’s executive summary puts it:
Most of the NCC-supporting groups share several characteristics: (a) They are not affiliated with an NCC member communion, or any other church body. (b) Christian unity and common witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ do not appear to be among their principal aims. (c) They have a much stronger interest in addressing social and political issues. (d) Their positions on those issues, insofar as they can be discerned, lean overwhelmingly toward the left. Several of the groups are so patently partisan that they can be described accurately as belonging to what journalists have called "the shadow Democratic Party."
We should be clear that there is no necessary sin in a Christian organization—the NCC, the IRD, or the Salvation Army—accepting contributions from or forming alliances with persons or groups who may not themselves be Christians. The problems come when the non-church funding and alliances loom so large that they cannot help but change the nature of a Christian organization. Then serious questions arise: Are the non-church funders and allies determining the programs and positions of the Christian organization? Or are organization leaders reshaping their programs to fit the priorities of the funders and allies?
Read the whole thing, for what it tells you (if you didn’t already know) about the bureaucracies claiming to speak for the mainline Protestant denominations.
I should add that at some point they may well speak for those who remain in the pews, the others having left (er, I mean departed) for denominations whose faith commitments are closer to their own.
Update: The WaPo’s Alan Cooperman also attended the news conference. You could almost predict that he’d focus on the sources of the IRD’s funding, an issue that’s constantly raised by defenders of the NCC. As the report’s authors note, there’s a difference between an advocacy organization that’s clear about its aims and a so-called umbrella organization that purports to speak for denominations that provide slightly less than half its funding.
Update #2: Get religions Mollie Ziegler Hemingway comments on how Cooperman appears to have followed the lead of the NCC in mischaracterizing the differences between the NCC and IRD.