I know that it’s thought rude to speak ill of the dead, but that doesn’t mean one has to praise them, either. Sometimes simply silence would be the best response. I think that’s the case with the passing of the Rev. Lucius Walker last week, but the National Council of Churches doesn’t agree.
During the 1970s, Walker was the NCC’s Associate General Secretary for Church and Society. He was fired from that position for doling out lots of money to “community organizers,” but the NCC doesn’t hold that against him. In fact, they hold him up as a shining example of what the NCC stands for:
The Rev. Dr. Lucius Walker, 80, a former member of the National Council of Churches staff who became a controversial and beloved activist for human rights in the 1960s and 70s and later founded an organization that sent hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid to Latin America, including Cuba, died September 7 in his home in Demarest, N.J.
“Lucius is one of several NCC staff members whose contributions to justice and faith we honor with pride,” said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary. “He did not leave the council in 1978 on a happy note, but today we freely acknowledge that he exemplified the highest standards of the council and we are proud of him….
“Lucius’ rhetoric was often radical and I don’t suppose all our member communions would approve of it,” Kinnamon said. “He frankly regarded U.S. policy in Latin America and Cuba as imperialistic, and he openly violated the embargo rules because he regarded them as unjust and immoral.
“But his credo always was that God anointed Christians to bring good news to the poor, release to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom to the oppressed. He believed we are called to feed the hungry. And these words of Jesus certainly unite the 45 million who relate to NCC member communions.”
About his work after leaving the NCC, the article says this:
Since 1988, Walker had been active in organizing shipments of food, medicine and other humanitarian supplied to Latin America, including Cuba, where his visits violated the U.S. travel embargo countless times. To carry out his mission, he founded an organization of clergy called Pastors for Peace. More than half the organization’s 40 missions have been to Cuba, which has been off-limits to U.S. visitors and businesses since the Kennedy Administration.
Under Walker, IFCO became a successful working partnership of national religious agencies and indigenous community groups involved with funding, field services and leadership training. Represented in its membership were African American, Latino and American Indian interests.
From this, you’d get the idea that Walker was a generous, big-hearted follower of Jesus who opposed injustice wherever he found it, just like the NCC. In fact, Walker was an enabler of those who persecuted Christians, and a big supporter of anyone who opposed the United States. He traveled numerous times to Havana, and in 2000 proclaimed during a speech there, “Long live the creative example of the Cuban Revolution! Long live the wisdom and heartfelt concern for the poor of the world by Fidel Castro!” He traveled frequently to Baghdad in the company of Ramsey Clark to visit his buddy Saddam Hussein, and IFCO is a member organization on the steering committee of the Stalinist group International ANSWER. Discover the Networks goes on to describe IFCO’s “social justice ministry”:
Among the more than 40 groups whose activities IFCO “sponsors,” and on whose behalf it accepts tax-deductible donations, are Refuse and Resist (affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist Party), the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (which supports the convicted cop killer and leftist icon), Not In Our Name (affiliated with the Revolutionary Communist Party), and the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, or NCPPF (founded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami Al-Arian). In fact, an IFCO seed grant subsidized the founding of NCPPF.
They’ve also been big fans of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and Hugo Chavez’ Venezuelan dictatorship.
Michael Kinnamon says that Walker “exemplified the highest standards of the council and we are proud of him.” I wonder whether he knows just how accurate that statement is.