Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Investigating Right-Wing Strategies

Press Release:
PRA Launches Research on Attacks on Mainline Denominations

Challenges to LGBT programs and policies a key focus

This month, Political Research Associates launched an investigation into right-wing efforts to destabilize mainline Protestant denominations and their LGBT rights programs and policies with the hiring of Project Director Kapya John Kaoma.

Over the past several decades, mainline Christian denominations in the U.S. have faced relentless pressure from conservatives both inside and outside their churches to abandon the tradition of social witness. In recent years, such campaigns have seized on the issues of marriage equality and ordination of gay and lesbian clergy, embroiling many local churches and even international church bodies in the controversies. Among other effects, such campaigns have weakened the socially progressive role of mainline denominations in public life. Political Research Associates' new program will investigate the leading strategies being employed by right-wing groups to destabilize the progressive LGBT programs of mainline denominations.

"PRA has tracked the efforts of such right-wing organizations as the IRD for years. Our quarterly The Public Eye has published key research on the subject," says PRA President Katherine Hancock Ragsdale. "So we are thrilled the Arcus Foundation has given us the resources to take our investigations even further, and further support those within the Episcopal, Methodist and other churches who are defending equity."

Project Director Kapya Kaoma is an ordained Anglican priest with a particular interest in social justice issues, ecological ethics and interfaith work. From 1998-2001 he served as the Dean of St. John's Cathedral and lecturer at the University of Africa in Zimbabwe, where is coauthored a class ethics text, "Unity in Diversity." From 2001- 2002 he was Academic Dean for St. John's Anglican Seminary in Zambia where he launched a Women Studies program, and the Church School training program.An active campaigner for women's reproductive rights, Kaoma theologically argues for the promotion of condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He received the Boston Theological Institute "Costas" Ecumenical Student Consultation Award from 2003-2005. A doctoral candidate at the Boston University School of Theology, he received its African Studies Merit Fellowship Awards four years in a row from 2004-2008.