The Witherspoon Society is a reliably left-wing PCUSA caucus. Whether it’s opining on denominational issues or public policy questions, Witherspoon has never seen a liberal position that it didn’t like. But in the most recent issue of the Society’s Network News, regular columnist Douglas Ottati of Davidson College takes the ideology and gets all partisan with it:
Which Democratic candidate should we support?
[C]onsider the question, Hillary or Barack? Many of us have our preferences. (Just before the Pennsylvania primary, a friend told me he might find it easier to vote for my dog, Sugar, in the fall than for H.C. In exit polls, a significant minority of the Pennsylvanians who voted for Clinton said they wouldn’t vote for Obama in the fall if he turns out to be the nominee. ) Even so, whether to support one or the other of the remaining candidates as they fight for the nomination is not the most important question facing Presbyterian (and other) progressives in this election. (And, remember, Sugar is not at all likely to be on either major party ticket.) The far more important thing is to articulate responsible arguments and positions on the main issues of the day, e.g., Iraq, the economy, and immigration, support the candidate in the fall who will best advance those positions and, in the case that this candidate needs to be pushed further, to go ahead and push him or her both before and after election day. In short, after eight years of W. and his many accomplishments, both foreign and domestic, our chief electoral responsibility seems nicely summarized by a sticker I saw the other day on another friend’s car: “Enough is enough. Vote Democratic.”
Jim Berkley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy thinks that the presence of a piece like this opens Witherspoon up to an IRS investigation, given the Society’s non-profit status and the obvious partisan nature of Ottati’s article. I don’t know the IRS code well enough to know if Jim is correct, but I do think that it demonstrates poor judgment on the part of the newsletter’s editor, Douglas King. as well as Ottati. It’s easy to guess that the vast majority of Witherspoon’s membership are Democrats, and certainly the Society rarely takes a position that wouldn’t fit that party’s positions (to the extent that it doesn’t, it’s because they are echoing the Green Party or someone even farther left). But that kind of upfront political partisanship on the part of a denominational caucus does nothing but confirm the suspicions of others that the group is really a basically secular political organization masquerading as a Christian one.
(Via The Berkley Blog.)
UPDATE: The Witherspoon Society, in a expression of boundless obtuseness, replies to Jim Berkley:
We believe that the views expressed by Dr. Ottati are perfectly legitimate theological-political reflections on the current situation in our church and our nation, and do not constitute an endorsement of any particular candidate.
No, it’s an endorsement of one particular political party, which will soon have a particular candidate for president. Ottati also makes clear his opposition to a particular candidate, John McCain. So regardless of whether the IRS cares to investigate, it’s pretty clear that Witherspoon has stepped into the morass of partisan politics. Hope they enjoy the mud.