The Archbishop of Canterbury's own shortcomings on climate change

As we reported earlier, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has given a speech on climate change. The headline at The Church Times' blog reads: "Archbishop of Canterbury: Religious communities "failing profoundly" in climate change response."

Until he states clearly that powerful people in his own Communion don't believe human activity contributes to global warming, and that he appeases these people so that they won't split the Communion over the issue of homosexuality, he has little credibility on this matter.

If one examines the funding sources of the organizations behind the attempted Anglican schism, and the funding sources of the organizations that deny human activity contributes to climate change, one finds that they are sometimes one and the same.

For a little referesher course on the politics of Howard Ahmanson, the most significant financial backer of the Anglican right, click Read more. The information comes from part one of Following the Money. And it does make you wonder how much longer we are going to pretend that the upheaval in the Anglican Communion is simply a principled disagreement over the legitimacy of same-sex relationships that we can work out if we all just try to see the other fella's point of view.

Previously, Ahmanson was a disciple of the Rev. Rousas John Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism. Rushdoony died in 2001 with the Ahmansons at his bedside. 9 He advocated basing the American legal system on biblical laws, including stoning adulterers and homosexuals. 10

Ahmanson, who suffers from Tourrette's syndrome, rarely grants interviews with the media, but he and his wife cooperated with the Register on a five-part profile that appeared in August 2004. 11 "I think what upsets people is that Rushdoony seemed to think--and I'm not sure about this--that a godly society would stone people for the same thing that people in ancient Israel were stoned," Ahmanson was quoted as saying. "I no longer consider that essential." 12

"It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral, to stone people for these things," he added. "But I don't think it's at all a necessity." 13

Ahmanson emerged as a political force in his home state of California in the early 1990s. Research conducted for The Los Angeles Times found that he and his wife had contributed $3.9 million to Republican candidates in state and local races and $82,750 in federal races between 1991 and 1995. 14 They also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to ballot initiatives that banned gay marriage and affirmative action. 15 Campaign finance records indicate that the couple continues to contribute heavily to Republican candidates nationwide. 16

Ahmanson is a member of the secretive Council for National Policy, an elite group of politically conservative national leaders who meet several times a year to coordinate their efforts on a common agenda. According to a New York Times report, the dates and locations of the group's meetings are kept secret, as is its membership. Participants in the group's discussions promise not to reveal their content. 17 Members in recent years have included Gary Bauer, Tom DeLay, James Dobson, Bob Jones, III, of Bob Jones University, Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series, Grover Norquist, Oliver North, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and Phyllis Schlafly. 18

Ahmanson also supports several think tanks. He was a major benefactor and former board member of Rushdoony's Chalcedon Foundation. He also contributes heavily to the Discovery Institute, the intellectual flagship of the Intelligent Design movement, 19 and the George C. Marshall Institute, which disputes research indicating that human activity contributes to global warming. 20

Comments (3)

You're exactly right, Jim. Rowan lacks credibility on this issue for the reason you explain.

Which is unfortunate, because the theology in his statement is exactly right, too.

Also, it should be noted his speech was also about treating unpowerful people well. He seems to have a credibility problem there also.

Oh come on, now, Jim. Rowan Williams isn't any more responsible for Howard Ahmanson than you are--or Katharine Jefferts Schori is. I celebrate that the Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes that global warming is humankind's responsibility and that people of faith need to join with others to do something about it.

Condemning Howard Ahmanson or anyone else in his crowd has nothing to do with it.

I disagree, Bill. Williams isn't "responsible" for Ahmanson, as you put it, but he has within his Communion some of the most powerful players in the movement to deny the human beings play a role in climate change. If he doesn't take on the problem as it exists in his own back yard, he is just blowing smoke.

His decision to place the unity of the Communion ahead of other issues means he has credibility problems on climate change, human rights (no criticism of Akinola's anti-gay legislation in Nigeria) and interfaith relationships (no investigation of the Yelwa massacre. You can't convincingly call on other people to take risks and make sacrifices when you don't do it yourself.

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