Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

A report by Faith in Public Life is calling out a network of conservative Catholic activists who have worked for over four decades to undermine an effective anti-poverty initiative.

Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which has funded 214 organizations across the country with over $9 million in grants, is heralded as one of the most influential funders of grassroots community organization. Despite its success, critics of the initiative are pushing bishops to defund local groups that in any way associate with LGBT groups and marriage equality supporters.

The report, Be Not Afraid?  – Guilt by Association, Catholic McCarthyism and Growing Threats to the U.S. Bishops’ Anti-Poverty Mission, lists case studies illustrating the so-called “guilty by association.”

  • The Land Stewardship Project, a Minnesota non-profit that for five consecutive years received church funds, abruptly lost a $48,000 CCHD grant to help immigrant farmers in 2012 because of an association with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and TakeAction Minnesota. Those two groups work on diverse social justice issues supported by Catholic teaching, but did not endorse the Minnesota bishops’ efforts to fight same-sex marriage. The stewardship project does not work on marriage issues and never took a position on the state’s 2012 marriage ballot initiative.
  • Companeros, a small non-profit in rural southwestern Colorado that helps immigrants with basic social services and legal aid, lost church funds that amounted to half of its budget because of its association with a statewide immigrant rights coalition that included a single gay and lesbian advocacy group. Companeros did not and does not work on gay rights issues.
  • In 2012-13 alone, five affiliates of the Gamaliel Foundation – one of the nation’s largest networks of faith-based community organizers – lost CCHD funds.

“It is utterly wrong that a network of conservative Catholic organizations would choose to withhold funds from local groups working with the poor because they support marriage equality and the LGBT community,” said HRC Religion and Faith Director Sharon Groves. “Before all else Jesus’ ministry was with the poor and for the poor.  No matter what these Catholic leaders feel about marriage equality it is nothing short of wrong to turn poor people into pawns for their political ends.” 

“We thank Faith in Public Life for bringing this scandal to the attention of the wider public.”

To learn more about the report, visit Faith in Public Life.

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