Just after the Iraq war began, a parishioner said to me, “I hear that the National Council of Churches is funding the war protesters! That’s money I put in the plate—now it’s paying for those people to disrespect our country!”
That story was false, as best I could tell, though the NCC along with most United Methodist bishops was on record as opposing the war. When I preached against the war my church members were angry. Yet through conversation, prayer and lots of visits to their mamas, all of us learned to live together in disagreement. But when a bureaucrat in New York or Washington uses money from church offerings to lobby for a political position that local parishioners loathe—that’s a wound without pastoral salve. When it happens, the Institute on Religion and Democracy tells them about it, and seeks donations in return.