National Council Churches

October 4, 2018

National Council of Churches (Still) Opposes Kavanaugh Nomination

An ecumenical council which counts several oldline Protestant, Eastern Orthodox and historically African-American denominations among its members has – again – weighed in against the nomination of United States Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) released a statement Wednesday afternoon calling for the withdrawal of Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court. The NCC had already signed on to an August 27 letter addressed to U.S. Senators on behalf of “37 national faith-based, nontheist, and religious liberty organizations” which expressed skepdgticism about the nomination and Kavanaugh’s opinions and writings.

That letter raised concerns that Kavanaugh “would allow broad religious exemptions that could harm other people” citing his dissento in Priests for Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which opposed a mandate requiring employer coverage for abortifacient drugs. The Supreme Court eventually ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that for-profit organizations are protected under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

An Associated Press piece published late Wednesday night cites the NCC as “a massive coalition of U.S. Christian churches attended by 40 million people”. The 40 million number has not been updated for many years, and includes oldline denominations that have shrunk precipitously in recent decades.

The NCC does not count the two largest Christian bodies in the United States – the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention – among its affiliated member communions. The United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (USA) and Episcopal Church do affiliate with the NCC and are among the council’s largest financial contributors.

As this blog has previously reported, the NCC has published audited statements showing that grants and contributions from both member communions and individuals to the council have declined significantly in recent years. Total operating revenues also shrank.

In 2006 the NCC had an approximately $12 million budget and employed 40 staff, most of which were based in a now-shuttered New York headquarters. Today, the council has an annual budget one-quarter the size and lists seven staff and a single office at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Participation by member communions has decreased. Customarily, about one-third of the NCC’s 38 member communions contribute a significant amount to the council’s budget. Another third of NCC member communions give a token amount, while the remaining third make no financial contribution.

The NCC has not organized a governing General Assembly since 2010, when the council held annual gatherings jointly with the Church World Service. A more modestly-sized Christian Unity Gathering has convened outside of Washington, D.C. for the past few years. In 2017, the gathering was themed “Resilience, Resistance, and Persistence.”

Statements made by the NCC in the past year oppose the U.S. decision to declare Jerusalem as capital of Israel, oppose GOP tax reform plans as biblically indefensible, and call for gun control measures. At the same time, the council has remained silent on issues of marriage and sanctity of life.

The full NCC statement on Kavanaugh is listed below:

The National Council of Churches (NCC) calls for the withdrawal of the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States. We believe he has disqualified himself from this lifetime appointment and must step aside immediately.

We note several reasons for this. During his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Kavanaugh exhibited extreme partisan bias and disrespect towards certain members of the committee and thereby demonstrated that he possesses neither the temperament nor the character essential for a member of the highest court in our nation.

In addition, his testimony before the Judiciary Committee included several misstatements and some outright falsehoods, some in relation to accusations of sexual misconduct. All citizens must be expected to speak truthfully when under oath, however, this is especially true for anyone who seeks a seat on the Supreme Court.

Moreover, Judge Kavanaugh’s extensive judicial and political record is troubling with regard to issues of voting rights, racial and gender justice, health care, the rights of people with disabilities, and environmental protections. This leads us to believe that he cannot be an impartial justice in cases that are sure to come before him at the Court.

Therefore the National Council of Churches calls for the withdrawal of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court immediately.

The council later amended the statement to include: “We are deeply disturbed by the multiple allegations of sexual assault and call for a full and unhindered investigation of these accusations.”


10 Responses to National Council of Churches (Still) Opposes Kavanaugh Nomination

  1. Mike says:

    The NCC does not represent anywhere near 40 million people. It is as irrelevant as you can get. It toes the liberal line the whole way.

    Who really cares what the NCC comes up with?

  2. Paul W. says:

    It appears that the AP chose to purposely exaggerate the scope of the NCC’s influence: “A massive coalition of U.S. Christian churches attended by 40 million people wants Brett Kavanaugh to withdraw his Supreme Court nomination.”

    Sad.

  3. Lance Thomas says:

    Why is NCC housed in Methodist building? Who makes that decision? How much $ does UMC give to the NCC?

  4. Larry Beeman says:

    I care less what this unimportant group thinks. But I’m glad to run across this article so I can investigate and make sure the church I belong does not give them a dime.

  5. Joan Oliver says:

    Is the NCC God that it can declare it knows Judge Kavanaugh has uttered “outright falsehoods”? What a presumption!

  6. William says:

    So, this organization follows the social justice view of guilty before proven innocent and has abandoned the centuries old judicial principle of presumption of innocence, one that the historic church has stood behind?

  7. Loren Golden says:

    “In addition, his testimony before the Judiciary Committee included several misstatements and some outright falsehoods, some in relation to accusations of sexual misconduct. All citizens must be expected to speak truthfully when under oath, however, this is especially true for anyone who seeks a seat on the Supreme Court.”
     
    This is the only genuine complaint that the NCC has, and it is hardly unique to the NCC.  The remainder of its complaints are heavily conditioned by its own “extreme partisan bias and disrespect” that it has exhibited over the years toward those who hold to a high view of Scripture and “conservatives” in general.
     
    However, in this statement it has made regarding “falsehoods”, the onus is on the NCC to substantiate its claims.  Which statements did Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh make that were “outright false”?  I would agree that Supreme Court judges ought to be held to the highest level of truthfulness, especially in matters related to law and justice. However, in the American system of justice, the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and if one is going to make the kind of accusation quoted above, one had better have solid evidence to demonstrate the truth of one’s own accusation, or else be found guilty of violating the Ninth Commandment (Ex. 20.16).
     
    Now, with respect to “accusations of sexual misconduct”, the only accusation currently being evaluated by the Senate is Christine Blasey Ford’s; all others have been discredited.  Furthermore, Blasey Ford has had significant issues finding reliable witnesses to corroborate her accusation against Kavanaugh, and recently her own testimony has been found to have “numerous inconsistencies” (Margot Cleveland, “Christine Blasey Ford’s changing Kavanaugh assault story leaves her short on credibility”, USA Today, Oct 3, 2018; https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/10/03/christine-blasey-ford-changing-memories-not-credible-kavanaugh-column/1497661002/ ).
     
    Now, even if Blasey Ford’s testimony were entirely consistent, the Senate is still left with the fact that there is only one witness accusing him of sexual assault.  Scripturally, this sort of charge is inadmissible.  “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offence that he has committed.  Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.” (Dt. 19.15; cited Mt. 18.16, II Cor. 13.1, I Tim. 5.19)  For an ostensibly Christian organization, such as the NCC, to make an accusation of sexual misconduct against an appellate court judge who has served with distinction solely on the basis of one witness is inexcusable.
     
    To be sure, the charge of sexual abuse against Judge Kavanaugh is a very serious one and one that must not be disregarded.  If he has committed it, then he should never have been appointed to juridical office in the first place, and his lying about it under oath should automatically disqualify him from serving in any juridical office in the future.  However, there is a very great difference of being found guilty of a crime and being accused of a crime—especially by only one witness.  It would be a travesty of justice if, in the end, he is denied the seat on the Supreme Court to which the president has nominated him because a majority of Senators presumed him guilty solely on the basis of a single witness—and one whose credibility is in question, on the basis of her inconsistent testimony.

  8. Thomas says:

    The NCC is just a liberal branch of the Democratic Party. The UMC should disaffiliate from NCC soon as possible. Judge Brett Kavanaugh is brilliant new member of the Supreme Court and I hope that the new conservative majority will do great things for the culture of life and religious freedom in the United States.

  9. Rose Santos says:

    Just look at which denominations provide the bulk of NCC funding–Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Church USA, and the United Methodist Church. Two apostates and one teetering on the brink.

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