The group FAST (Faith and Action for Strength Together) is a progressive community organizing group that takes mandatorily from the church offertory to fund biased political activities. They have been exposed in many ways by this blog including their anti-democratic means, refusal to fight abortion, pure political agenda, violation of catholic teachings on Social justice and more. Now Glenn Beck is informed and is following the issue. This author called into his radio show yesterday and was allowed several minutes and was applauded by Glenn for my actions within the Catholic Church community to lead a catechism study on Social Justice (many have signed up and are asking for an online feed…we shall see). In addition, an opinion piece I wrote was published in the Clearwater Gazette last week. It is hoped that many in the Catholic Community, in Pinellas County and beyond, will find the courage to ask tough questions and stand up against mandatory contributions from the church offertory collection to these political groups. Perhaps people will ask for an open discussion with the Pastor in front of the entire congregation. Perhaps debate will be allowed and dissent not suppressed if enough people ask to be heard.
It is very noteworthy that the Bishop of the Cleveland Dioceses, Bishop Robert Lennon, has banned participation of his Parishes in an identical group called the Greater Cleveland Congregations. Many of you may have heard of this Bishop and his brave stand against the contraception mandate in a letter that was read through many parishes in America in January. For those who fear standing up against mandatory funding of FAST through our parish offertory you should know this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Bishop Lennon of the Cleveland Diocese BANNED participation by Parishes in his Dioceses in a FAST-Like Group called the Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC). This was confirmed on a phone call I made to GCC Director Ari Lipman this last week. The GCC is identical in every way to FAST and has exactly the same progressive, Saul Alinsky Radical Roots. It is part of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) just as FAST is part of the equivalent group DART.
Here is the Op. Ed that ran in the Clearwater Gazette recently in its entirety. It is hoped that the work of the Sun Beam Times on this issue will empower many to take up the mantle and the courage to fight.
FAST – Losing the Moral High Ground (published, Clearwater Gazette, 3/22/12)
As a Catholic, my church and its catechism call me to work for Social Justice. That means ensuring that individuals or groups can achieve “what is their due” through moral action in ways that serve the “common good”. The church further teaches that the individual rights are “prior to society” and that the common good can be achieved only by respecting the dignity of the individual in a system where government authorities are trustworthy. Thus it was with interest I noted a group of churches, many of them Catholic, coming together through a group called “FAST” (Faith and Action for Strength Together), to work for Social Justice. However, after personal involvement and deep analysis it is clear that FAST is more likely to cause injustice and is an entity that must change its ways or lose support of the parishioners who fund it every day through church collections.
FAST has pushed a number of programs that call for government to spend money on social programs that often produce negative unintended consequences, fail to produce promised results and place unacceptable burdens on the taxpayers. FAST asks for money to be spent on “Affordable housing”, “drug courts”, privately owned “Direct Instruction” reading programs, failed prison recidivism programs and other things. FAST ignores the call of Jesus Christ for each of us to individually reach out to our neighbors and asks that our governments help them in our absence. As a one time member of FAST I asked the “lead organizer” Haley Grossman to have their board consider having the 40 congregations institute tutoring programs for kids with reading problems, “adopt a family” program for those with kids at risk for drug addiction, prisoner adoption programs to ensure they can re-integrate in community after release and the like. At each request, the lead organizer and the Board advised me that they had one mission only: “to hold systems accountable”. That means getting elected official on stage, demanding that they answer only “yes” or “no” to a request for some government program and having the 3,000 or so gathered clap on cue when directed by the assembly leaders. The members are never asked to get up out of the pew and go help a troubled kid in the community.
As I continued in FAST, I learned that there is a top down agenda run by a small group of leaders. No member of the church that FAST claims to represent can appear before a committee or Board meeting without permission of the clerical leader of the congregation. No vote is taken on the church representative to FAST. There is mandatory contribution from the church offertory to FAST totaling 1% of the total church budget and parishioners are not given a choice about donating. This is truly a religious oligarchy that has rejected democratic and representative governing principles and actively suppresses dissent. I wrote the board and asked them to allow me to request that FAST address stopping abortion in Pinellas County. Perhaps the local director of Planned Parenthood can be put on the stage and be demanded to answer yes or no : “will you stop performing abortions?” The Board advised me that they could find “nothing actionable” in my request and refused to even allow me to appear to state my case. They told me they had made an official decision to never even discuss abortion in any way!
More disturbing is their connection to political groups that have a political world view and use tactics that many church members may actually reject. FAST is formed as an affiliate of DART (Direct Action and Research Training Center) founded in Miami in 1984 by John Calkins. John Calkins is on the board of “the Organizers Forum” with such notables as SEIU’s Andy Stern, Acorn’s Wade Rathke, and similar groups like PICO and the Gamaliel Foundation that arose out of Saul Alinsky’s “Industrial Areas Foundation”. Saul Alinsky is well known as the father of “community organizing” that fought for socialism and dedicated his manual for community organizing, “Rules for Radicals” to Lucifer. ACORN lost funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) when Rathke’s brother Dale was found to be embezzling $1 million after CCHD had donated $7.3 million from parishioners church basket donations over years. CCHD now funds DART and has a history of funding left-leaning, progressive organizations drawing criticism from many conservative church leaders.
Finally, FAST misinterprets the bible with their Nehemiah Action Assembly where deep debts were forgiven after an assembly of the people demanded it. These people were in debt due to excessive taxation of the Persian king and sold their children into slavery because of it. Yet FAST never calls for tax cuts, only more taxpayer spending. More importantly the Book of Nehemiah’s main message was that Israel had rejected moral expectations of God as laid out by Moses and must adopt a moral life and personal responsibility.
FAST is certainly entitled to work in the community on its political agenda. However, it is not entitled to cloak itself in religion, reject representative democracy, suppress dissent, hide its larger relationships and mandatorily take from strapped church budgets in the process. Parish members should work to hold the system of FAST accountable and have a thorough discussion of the group at the parish level with all facts on the table. Since my priest and Bishop have told me there will be no change like this, I will make the only meager act of parishioner civil disobedience I can and refuse to donate to the Bishop’s Annual Pastoral Appeal until parishioner participation in FAST is voluntary. That way my parish leaders will have to choose whether they will give to the mandatory FAST tax or to the mandatory tax taken by the Bishop for Diocesan work.
David McKalip is a St. Petersburg Neurosurgeon who offers a detailed analysis on FAST at his blog, the SunBeamTimes.com