Catholic fund drops Street Roots over Planned Parenthood Listing: An in-depth report looks at how politics and religion mix in the world of charitable giving
After five years of financial support through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Street Roots was informed this spring that it would no longer be eligible for funding.
The reason given by the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon was the a single listing in Street Roots’ Rose City Resource, a pocket-sized booklet listing 300-plus resources for people experiencing homelessness and poverty. There, under the category of health care, was a listing for Planned Parenthood, which in a half-inch space included a description of the various basic services, including contraception, that the organization provides to low- or no-income customers seeking health care.
The message from CCHD managers at the Portland Archdiocese, although supportive of the booklet’s overall mission, was made clear in terms of funding: If Planned Parenthood remained in the booklet, CCHD, in keeping with Catholic teaching, could no longer fund Street Roots. Street Roots decided to keep the listing.
But what was behind the call? What changed? How did a piece of information suddenly morph into a theological offense?
That question launched a two-month investigation into how community organizing groups across the country, including the seven noted in the story, were losing funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, that nation’s largest funder of self-help, social justice groups for the poor. Behind these moves by the Church is a renewed and revitalized push by conservative organizations within the Catholic community that are using allegations of doctrinal and political offenses to defund community organizing, social justice and empowerment of the poor. More than 50 CCHD-funded organizations have been investigated and labeled “anti-Catholic” by a reform movement that has prompted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to reconsider how it funds community organizing. In the balance are thousands of cash-strapped nonprofits that CCHD supports, and the millions of poor and disenfranchised people who rely on these programs that today serve as proxy to government initiatives.
The impact of this conservative campaign, and the consequences to the organizations in their sights, are compiled in an in-depth report in the Sept. 17 edition of Street Roots, which will be available through all of our vendors on Friday. Our editorial, which follows, addresses Street Roots’ view on this disturbing trend and the consequences to all organizations working to end poverty:
What we believe in
What is made evident to Street Roots, time and again, is that many things can get in the way when you’re trying to do what’s right.
Homelessness and poverty are a national crisis, a stain on our collective will to maintain a society that believes in equality and justice.
Homelessness touches every Portlander in one way or another, and has so for decades. And in that time, the issue — and effective ways to address it and help people — has left local communities strained, divided and dumbfounded as to the correct formula for dismantling the institution that homelessness has become.
In each issue of Street Roots, and the Rose City Resource, you will find information on a wide variety of individuals, organizations and institutions. That includes groups working in the faith-based communities, the private sector, law enforcement, hospitals, service providers, government and advocates. All of them work in one form or another to eradicate poverty, and all of its manifestations — domestic violence, human trafficking, drug addiction, unemployment, mental illness, post-traumatic disorders, economic disaster and so on.
Street Roots prides itself on not being pinned to any one ideology or agenda, and doing our best to both report and distribute information to the general public that will ultimately make a difference and create real change.
That’s why being defunded ($5-10k annually) by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) through the Portland Archdiocese for our listing of Planned Parenthood (See page 1, On the left side of God.) in the Rose City Resource is a shot to the heart, and ultimately a shot at our entire community that is working to end homelessness.
Knowing the paramount importance of health care for people in poverty, particularly for young women, we have an obligation to note the tremendous resources of Planned Parenthood, and a host of other health organizations, working with people on our streets. And we’re proud to do so. Likewise, we’re proud to provide information on the diverse organizations working to solve homelessness and poverty within the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. And we are equally proud to list and report on a host of faith-based programs, including the many services of the Catholic Church.
The point being, nothing is black or white about poverty. And blind ideology in any form has no place at the table when it comes to solving homelessness. By defunding Street Roots for listing Planned Parenthood, and other groups for similar reasons, CCHD is drawing a disturbing and potentially disruptive line in the sand. CCHD is the largest private group funding community organizing in the United States, and pulling its support is a blow to community and grassroots organizing at both the local and national level.
Street Roots is small train that carries a heavy load. The load just got a lot heavier because not only are we losing core funding, but it’s questionable as to the extent that we can work with other community groups supported by the church for fear of putting those organizations at jeopardy for the association — all because we believe that the community should have access to the resources available to them. It is this resourcefulness that empowers people to overcome obstacles, to come together around a larger cause and to improve the lives of everyone in the community. That is what we believe in.
Here are is what Street Roots Executive Director Israel Bayer had to say on the matter:
“At the end of the day, a witch hunt is a witch hunt, and that’s exactly what Street Roots and dozens of community organizations working to fight poverty in the United States are facing, a witch hunt born out of fear and intolerance. And let’s be clear, this is far from over. Every group that currently receives funds from CCHD is being asked to not take part in activities, or align themselves with the very groups it will take to dismantle poverty in this country. In our case, the very tool is the Rose City Resource guide. The guide gives people experiencing homelessness and poverty a chance to become their own advocates through education, and now it’s being used against us because we have chosen to deliver to people, without judgment, the resources that are available to them in our community.”
We know many people in the community have an interest in this story on one side or the other. We want to hear from you. Read the entire 5,000 word, in-depth investigation in Street Roots tomorrow, Sept. 17.