We’ve told you before about the George Soros-funded organization Faith in Public Life (FPL). As previously reported, Faith in Public Life received a two-year $450,000 grant in 2009 from Soros’ Open Society Institute (partially tied to the group’s work toward achieving immigration reform).
This week, the organization is, once again, finding itself embroiled in controversy. Catholic League President Bill Donohue claims that John Gehring, Catholic outreach coordinator for FPL, recently e-mailed leftist talking points and interview tips to the media. The subject at hand? The controversial contraceptive mandate.
The allegation is based on a leaked e-mail that Donohue intercepted and it comes during the same week that the Catholic Church plans to launch a religious freedom offensive. The top of the supposed e-mail, which is published on the Catholic League’s web site reads, “FOR BACKGROUND PURPOSES ONLY” and it claims that it was addressed to “Reporters, Editors, Columnists.”
“Given the charged political backdrop of this high-profile initiative — five months before a presidential election in which Catholics will be swing voters in key states — it’s important that journalists covering these efforts separate fact from fiction, ask critical questions about the Bishops’ sweeping claims and have access to Catholic experts who can provide clear analysis,” the email reads, going on to provide talking points as well as interview subjects that media outlets are invited to speak with.
One portion of the e-mail even offers up suggested questions that journalists can ask of the Bishops:
Earlier this week, here’s what Donohue wrote about the e-mail:
June 21 marks the beginning of the “Fortnight for Freedom” events, the campaign for religious liberty being conducted by the nation’s bishops. Fair-minded persons may disagree with this effort, but there is something unseemly going on when those who work for a George Soros-funded group are quietly providing talking points to the media. [...]
On June 7, Gehring sent a memo to his buddies in the media (a copy of which was generously leaked to me—click here) instructing them on how to handle the bishops. They should begin by questioning the prelates why the Obama “accommodation” wasn’t good enough. “You have to ask why the bishops can’t take yes for an answer,” he wrote.
Teaching them how to handle the “war on the Catholic Church,” Gehring advises, “Several bishops have used inflammatory and irresponsible rhetoric that conflates a process of working through complex policy issues with a fundamental attack on the Catholic Church.” He also frets over the politicization of the religious liberty campaign, an effort made possible, he neglects to say, because of the politicization of religion by President Obama.
Considering the notion that FLP purportedly sent the e-mail out to journalists in an effort to co-opt the conversation in its favor, The Blaze reached out to Gehring for comment.
“My position on that is that I’m not going to comment,” he said when reached via telephone.
After explaining that refusing to comment would likely create even more questions in the minds of readers, he reiterated his choice not to provide statements about the e-mail (read the full e-mail here).
“Gehring provides a go-to list of Catholic activists who can be counted on to subvert the bishops’ message,” Donohue concludes in his blog post. “It’s what we would expect from a George Soros group.”