Soros-funded “Faith in Public Life” handling PR for “Nuns on the Bus”

In Janesville, WI, Sr Simone Campbell of "NETWORK Lobby" with Casey Schoenberger of "Faith in Public Life"

Sr Simone Campbell of NETWORK Lobby, head “nun on the bus” (center), with Casey Schoeneberger of Faith in Public Life (right), who is managing media relations for the bus tour.

After going to see the Nuns on the Bus in Janesville, WI, I found on facebook a video the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters had recorded of Sr Simone Campbell earlier the same day, in which Sr Simone described candidly that “we asked for help in DC, and our colleagues, all the big players, they came together and helped us brainstorm this.” Certainly made me wonder who were “the big players” in DC that helped make this happen. Well, we can now verify one of them: Faith in Public Life, the George Soros-funded, Center for American Progress-associated political progressive organization that is also engaging in a media campaign against the Fortnight for Freedom, as shown in this recent Advisory Memo to Journalists from the USCCB. Among other efforts, they put out talking points to try to get journalists to politicize the Fortnight for Freedom and trip up bishops — see also Fr Z’s coverage and commentary of the Advisory Memo.

Nuns on the Bus supporters hold up a peace flag behind Sr Simone, to block the view of the "Stop the HHS Mandate"/"Stand Up For Religious Freedom" signs. Here, the "stop sign" peeks out from behind the flag.

Nuns on the Bus supporters hold up a peace flag behind Sr Simone, to block the view of the “Stop Obama’s HHS Mandate”/”Stand Up For Religious Freedom” signs, a message they seemed to regard as contradictory to their own. Here, the “stop sign” peeks out from behind the flag.

Well, no wonder the Nuns on the Bus so entirely wanted to evade and hide the religious freedom message we brought to them in Janesville. No wonder all Sr Simone had to say about it, while walking right next to FIPL staffer Casey Schoeneberger, was “it’s complicated”!

The photo at the top of this blog post shows Sr Simone with Casey Schoeneberger, who traveled on the bus doing media relations for them. The picture below is from the FIPL staff page, which also explains, “Before coming to Faith in Public Life, Casey participated in the Associate Program at NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. At NETWORK, Casey advocated for the protection of federal safety net programs.”

Casey Shoeneberger, Media Relations Assistant for Faith in Public Life

Casey Shoeneberger, Media Relations Assistant for Faith in Public Life

A June 14th news article about the Nuns on the Bus verifies Casey’s role with the bus tour:

“The sisters are merely raising concerns about Paul Ryan’s budget and  saying that a budget that decimates services for the poor does not follow their religious values,” said tour spokeswoman Casey Schoeneberger.

When I met up with the Nuns on the Bus in Janesville, Casey accompanied Sr Simone closely and her media role was obvious. As I queried Sr Simone about her views on the HHS Mandate and the Fortnight for Freedom while she walked back toward the bus following the brief press conference, and she mainly only reiterated, as described above, that “it’s complicated”, Casey was also responding to me, for instance insistently correcting my perception of something eyebrow-raising I thought I heard Sr Simone say and hurrying Sr Simone away from me. The photo at the top of this post shows Casey accompanying Sr Simone to where CNN had set up for an interview.

So what is “Faith in Public Life”? It’s bad news, and certainly does not have Catholic concerns faithfully at heart. As Sr Mary Ann Walsh of the USCCB quoted from this page that has all the details, they are “a group founded with help from a pro-abortion group long directed by John Podesta called the Center for American Progress. . . (CAP); like the CAP it has received funding . . . from billionaire atheist  George Soros. . . . ”

Faith in Public life on Facebook, featuring the Nuns on the Bus as their cover image

If you visit the facebook page for FIPL, Nuns on the Bus is actually their “cover image” (their main image on the page, with which they represent themselves) and they are steadily sending messages about the NETWORK bus tour on facebook and on their website.

The bus tour has now just ended, but I think one thing it’s helped make it very crystal-clear is why the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was right to specifically suggest that women religious leaders should not be involved with NETWORK Lobby. This is pure progressive politics, in coalition with other progressive “big players”, without any distinction made (indeed a refusal to make a distinction) between NETWORK Lobby’s perspective and the stridently pro-abortion politics of secular progressivism.

[UPDATE: additional details you may find interesting:]

The first leader of Faith in Public Life, Rev. Meg A. Riley, describes some of her previous qualifications, and the group’s founding.

While Unitarian Universalism is my home base, I have spent the past eighteen years building relationships with national leaders across the faith spectrum. I have served on national boards including The Interfaith Alliance, Americans United for Separation of State, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Interfaith Worker Justice. This means that I have relationships across a spectrum of faith.

I have been part of founding two nonprofits for interfaith work: In 1997, anticipating the Million Man March of the Promise Keepers, I worked with others to launch Equal Partners in Faith, which worked to link racism and homophobia and to challenge the Promise Keepers’ premise of being nonsectarian. Before the UUA even had a Public Witness team, I appeared on dozens of national TV shows.
Following the 2004 elections, I gathered with other people of faith at the invitation of John Podesta from Center for American Progress, to reflect about what we might do. I emerged from that meeting as the leader of a group empowered to start another nonprofit, which has become Faith in Public Life (FPL). See www.FaithinPublicLife.org. Next year I will complete two terms as founding board chair of that group. FPL is amazingly effective, well-connected, and creative. Founded on the principle of open source support for religious groups on the ground rather than institutional self-promotion, we have quickly become a go-to group for progressive religious initiatives.

From the site “Discover the Networks”, which was linked to by USCCB’s Sister MaryAnn Walsh to supply background information on Faith In Public Life:

Established in 2006, Faith in Public Life (FPL) is a tax-exempt charity which was originally launched to strengthen the progressive evangelical movement. Its founding mission was to counter what it describes as the modus operandi of President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign, in which “faith was often deployed in service of a narrow and partisan agenda.”

While 40 religious leaders throughout the United States played some role in FPL’s founding, the principal founders were Jim Wallis of Sojourners; Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Melissa Rogers, director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University; Rev. Dr. Jim A. Forbes, Jr., founder of Healing of the Nations Foundation; Ricken Patel, co-founder and executive director of Avaaz.org, which is a project of Moveon.org and Res Publica; and Sister Catherine Pinkerton, a NETWORK lobbyist who gave the closing benediction at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

FPL’s sister organization is Faithful America, which is also affiliated with True Majority and Res Publica. While FPL has hundreds of affiliates throughout the United States, its primary partners are Sojourners, Interfaith Worker Justice, Vote the Common Good, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Episcopal Public Policy Network, and the National Council of Churches.

FPL also has a close relationship with John Podesta‘s Center for American Progress (CAP). Two of CAP’s senior fellows, Fred Rotondaro and Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, currently serve on FPL’s board. Another FPL board member, Tom Chabolla, is the assistant to the president at the Service Employees International Union, and he previously served as associate director of programs for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Other noteworthy groups affiliated with FPL include People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO), ACORN, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Interfaith Alliance, People for the American Way, the Center for American Values and Public Life, and Pax Christi USA.

A number of prominent leaders in the progressive movement serve as speakers and organizers for FPL. Among these are Greg Galluzzo, national director of the Gamaliel Foundation; Kim Bobo, founder of Interfaith Worker Justice; Sister Simone Campbell, national coordinator of NETWORK; and Rabbi Jonah Presner of the Industrial Areas Foundation.

On June 27th, Sr Simone was interviewed by a reporter for Bill Moyers’ PBS show. Her reponse to “Tell us about your own personal journey. Who are  your greatest influences?” does not mention Jesus, or any Catholic leader. Her response to “What does being Catholic mean to you?” has only vaguely to do with Catholicism, but entails a rejection of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, in favor of a materialist interpretation of the story that George Soros would find entirely satisfying.

Fredericks: What does being Catholic mean to you?

Sister Simone: To me it’s that amazing history of spiritual practice, social engagement, witnessing to the fact that Jesus lives in our world now and says that there is enough if we share. The miracle of the loaves and fishes — one of the accounts says 5,000 men ate. Well, the reason they only counted the men was the women and children knew it was the women who had brought all the food! Only the guys thought it was a miracle, the women knew it was about breaking bread and sharing it. This isn’t biblical — this is just my interpretation of it, but to me the miracle was sharing.

Yikes. She’s right that isn’t Biblical. Neither is it Catholic. As Steve Ray points out in his Catholic response to this fashionable error, “the entire patrimony of the Catholic Church upholds without any deviation whatsoever that our Lord actually did multiply loaves and fishes by divine power to feed the multitudes.” But oddly enough… one thing I get out of Sr Simone’s re-conception of it is that subsidiarity works.

20 Responses to Soros-funded “Faith in Public Life” handling PR for “Nuns on the Bus”

  1. On July 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm annebender said:

    Thanks for this post and for the link to Sr. MaryAnn Walsh’s USCCB story. Very informative!

  2. On July 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm LoveGodAndAsHeLoved said:

    Thank you, Elizabeth!

  3. On July 3, 2012 at 2:29 am Harold said:

    Yes, maybe we should all get on board with the Republicans and their abortion profiteer candidate Mitt Romney.
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/romney-bain-abortion-stericycle-sec

  4. On July 3, 2012 at 8:14 am Elizabeth said:

    Harold, Mother Jones would probably like to convince pro-lifers that all candidates in some way have some sort of connection with abortion, therefore not to vote.

    It may be worth saying, because the media has oft portrayed both support for the Fortnight for Freedom and opposition to the Nuns on the Bus as partisan and Republican, actually the Nuns on the Bus came to my attention from the Catholic angle and not the political angle, I do not follow politics much at all and do not identify with any particular political party.

  5. On July 3, 2012 at 9:02 am Dismas said:

    “it’s complicated”

    In Casey’s and Sr. Simome’s regard, when are adulterous relationships and divorce settlements never ‘complicated’?

  6. On July 3, 2012 at 3:01 pm Nonny said:

    We have to remember that the battle is not with human flesh, but with powers and principalities. True believers are not deceived by those who side with the culture of death or allow themselves to be bankrolled by them. I’m sure these nuns believe what they are doing is right, but they have been blinded by worldly delusions.

  7. [...] Soros-funded “Faith in Public Life” Handling P.R. for “Nuns on the Bus” – Lætificat [...]

  8. On July 4, 2012 at 12:48 am I_M_Foreman said:

    Communista! Someone tell the “Nuns on the Run” tour that Communism doesn’t work, neither does Socialism and that if it isn’t Catholic Doctrine, then it is NOT Catholic. The only thing being thrown under the bus on this trip is Catholic Orthodoxy. She should be denouncing abortion, gay marriage and the HHS Mandate, not Paul Ryan’s budget. Thanks also for pointing out Comrade Casey to us. Now we know that whenever we see her then we can expect Red Herrings to be thrown at at us.

  9. [...] best source for this is the blog Laetificat, which was an early and thorough reporter on the Nuns On The [...]

  10. On July 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm Gail Finke said:

    Hi Elizabeth. Here is a piece I wrote analyzing the Nuns on the Bus for Catholic Exchange:

    http://catholicexchange.com/nuns-on-the-bus/

    You may not be a political person but I think the NotB is all about politics. Have you seen the video at Creative Minority Report today, made by NETWORK, that has 75 Decmocratic members of Congress thanking the Nuns on the Bus? It is a disgusting piece of partisan politics, and frankly I am appalled at NETWORK trying to ally itself, and by implication all the LCWR congregations, with a political party — so much so that they will allow themselves to be used as a tool against the rest of the Church. Watch the video… some of the Congress people call them things like “the conscience of the Church.”

    Great work on the Soros connection. All these leftist groups are intertwined, and unless you know which one is allied with which, you can get thrown off. A group that does one thing can also share offices with, and a board with, a supposedly different group that is much more radical — but the radical positions and work don’t show up when you casually look into the other group.

  11. On July 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm j. carden said:

    When the Catholic Religion crashes the Islamic will take over!!
    What a revolting thought……………….

    Anything that is backed by Soros has got to be examined before “jumping on the bus with him.”

    Soros is “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

  12. On July 26, 2012 at 9:45 am Karen Salstrom said:

    As a returning Catholic….a kid in the 60’s who was not catechised well then…I am now 60…. I have only come back because of solid teaching via EWTN TV & Immaculate Heart Radio. These have not just offered doctrine & dogma, but give solid historical analysis for those & every followed tradition in Roman Catholicism.

    So each time I hear or read stories of those Catholics who want to stray from Rome, I wonder why they continue to call themselves Roman Catholic. They should realize they are a modern version of what happened at the Reformation: they are Protestants. They should spend 35+ years in three variety of lacking teachings of Protestantism (30,000 + to date) as I did. Then perhaps they will yearn for the fullness of truth that can only be found in Rome.

    • On July 26, 2012 at 12:02 pm georgia hedrick said:

      I would blame the Bishops for closing big city parishes and therefore Catholic Schools attached to these parishes. Without Catholic Schools, Catholic theology dies over time. gh

  13. On July 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm Elizabeth said:

    Catholic education is VERY important. It also really has to be faithfully Catholic–and unfortunately there have been serious problems with that, though my impression is that the situation is getting better. Without the sisters to keep the cost of Catholic education down it is difficult for the schools with their lay staff to survive. The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and the Nashville Dominicans are faithful teaching orders that are getting a lot of vocations and if they could spearhead a revival of teaching sisters that would be so wonderful. There are women from Madison Diocese who have joined these orders, and another one just went off to enter the Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

  14. On July 26, 2012 at 7:23 pm Karen Salstrom said:

    Oh, Elizabeth…send some out to California! Praise God for those lovely Sisters who adore Christ, and follow His Teachings and those of Rome.

  15. On August 29, 2012 at 11:35 am DR said:

    Regarding Catholic education, one problem is that too many schools don’t teach any substantive Catholic theology or catechism, and focus on very simple feel-good topics. At my parish school, there was a lot of teaching that the Church is people, not a building, and there were a lot of happy songs, but we learned very little about Catholic beliefs. (Luckily, my parents were able to fill the void in some areas.) My Benedictine high school, however, was much better and I benefited from a curriculum that included Bible study, Church history, and topics such as philosophical approaches to the existence of God. It’s hard to teach everything that Catholics need to know, but too many students graduate from Catholic schools with almost no knowledge of Church teachings.

  16. [...] NETWORK Lobby, a 42-year-old left-wing lobbying group that identifies itself as Catholic, but that has ties to the progressive, Soros-funded group, Faith In Public Life. NETWORK says that their mission is [...]

  17. On July 18, 2013 at 9:45 am The Nuns on the Bus Are Back said:

    [...] NETWORK Lobby, a 42-year-old left-wing lobbying group that identifies itself as Catholic, but that has ties to the progressive, Soros-funded group, Faith In Public Life. NETWORK says that their mission is [...]

  18. […] in Public life – the Soros funded disinformation site that tries desperately to reduce Christianity to a materialist, liberation theology oriented […]

  19. […] Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG), Network, Faith in Public Life, and the Nuns on the Bus. CACG has had close ties with Big Labor, ACORN, and John Podesta’s Center for American […]

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