I didn’t think of it at the time, but I’ve since wondered about how prominent Tim Yeager, the chairman of the Communist Party USA’s Religion Commission and an Episcopalian, is in the church. Turns out he’s a member of the Chicago Diocese’s Peace and Justice Commission, and a member of the National Executive Council of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. The latter has a bio of him on their site, which discretely neglects to mention his political affiliation:
Mr. Tim Yeager (Prov. 5) is a member of Grace Church in Oak Park, Illinois, where he serves as assistant organist. Tim is the Chair of the Peace & Justice Committee of the Diocese of Chicago. He is the Financial Secretary/Treasurer of the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, UAW Local Union 2320, which represents nearly 4,000 lawyers, support staff, social workers and other employees working in legal and human services agencies across the country. Tim has served one three-year term on the NEC where he has been a member of the human resources committee and an EPF representative to the Consultation. He is concerned that the Church finds and uses its prophetic voice to advocate for a more just and peaceful socioeconomic order, and feels that there has never been a greater need for all people of good will to join together in the struggle against poverty, violence and fear.
One could easily read this biography as saying that Mr. Yeager is using the Episcopal Church and its resources to advance a political agenda, given where he has put his efforts and what are described as his “concerns.” But I’m sure no member of the CPUSA would ever seek to use a religious organization for his political ends, nor seek to take that organization in a direction antithetical to the one its Lord would want it to go.
UPDATED: Lest anyone should think that Yeager is an inconsequential figure in the CPUSA who just happens to be a religious type, or that he’s just a Christian idealist who doesn’t take the “Communist” part seriously, there are a couple of articles on the CPUSA web site that indicate otherwise. One is a piece with the uninformative title, “On Religion,” that is mostly just a screed about the religious right. He concludes this way:
A growing sector of the religious population is part of the broader people’s movement, and not just on the peace question, but on all questions. The struggle against the religious right will be carried out in no small measure by the religious center and left. As Marxists, we need to understand that struggle as part of the overall people’s movement. And we need to find the ways, as with all parts of the broader people’s movement, to link the various struggles together, to strengthen the unity of peoples’ movement, and to ensure the success of this movement which is so critical to the future of our country and the world.
You tell me what’s more important to the writer of that passage: his faith, or his politics.
The other is called a “Constitution Committee report” that has to do with a re-write of the governing document of the party. It includes a couple of nifty passages:
Article II (Principles of Organization): We took a look at the style, and have proposed some changes in language to set forth our basic organizational principles, such as democratic centralism, in what we hope to be more working-class, familiar language, without changing the essence of those principles.
“Democratic centralism” is Soviet-speak for control from the top-down. The use of the phrase indicates that some old habits, as well as some old allegiances, die hard.
Article III (Membership): We took in consideration the discussion over the basic requirements of membership, and the process by which someone joins the Party. We have attempted to have a more consistent national approach on this question, confirming Leninist standards of what it means to be a Communist, while at the same time removing unnecessary obstacles to becoming one. [Emphasis added.]