Why is Religion News Service – RNS – so liberal?

It’s almost always the case that when I post anything about Religion News Service (RNS), it’s because what they publish is liberal editorializing rather than religious news.  David Gibson of RNS seems to go out of his way to make conservative Catholics look bad.  Remember what he did recently to Cardinal Burke?  Keep reading.

In a National Catholic Register/CNA piece today we read about funding to RNS from homosexual groups.

A Homosexual-Rights News Service? RNS Denies LGBT Money Influences Its Religion Coverage

WASHINGTON — The editor of Religion News Service has denied that a grant from a wealthy LGBT advocacy funder has biased its coverage of traditional religion, which includes a recent controversial story on Cardinal Raymond Burke.  [This explains quite a bit.]
The Arcus Foundation [arcus is Latin “bow”, as in “rainbow”] dispenses millions of dollars in grants every year to support LGBT activism. Its 2014 grants included $120,000 to the Religion Newswriters Foundation, the owner of the widely syndicated Religion News Service.  [I wonder what their $120K bought them?]
The Arcus Foundation’s grant listing said the one year of support was intended “to recruit and equip LGBT supportive leaders and advocates to counter rejection and antagonism within traditionally conservative Christian churches.”  [Back in the 80’s the LGBT crowd, when they protested, just wanted to be “left alone”.  Now they use mainstream media outlets to shove their advocacy in people’s faces.]
The foundation’s Sept. 23, 2014, announcement said the grant aimed at “fostering a culture of LGBT understanding through the media” by funding the production of feature stories and blog posts “about religion and LGBT peoples of color.” [And to do so by smearing the reputations of traditional Catholics such as Card. Burke and others.]
Kevin Eckstrom, RNS editor in chief, told CNA that receiving money from the advocacy group did not influence editorial choices.
“All editorial decisions about coverage of the LGBT community, or any other issue, are made independent of any foundation support, including Arcus,” he said, adding that RNS welcomes support “from any individual or foundation that supports our aim of informing and challenging our readers.” [Is that so?  Would they take money from a conservative donor?  QUAERITUR: Have any conservative donors wanted to give money to RNS?]

David Gibson Article

RNS coverage of some Catholic figures has drawn criticism.
On March 27, RNS distributed a story by David Gibson entitled: “Cardinal Raymond Burke: Gays, Remarried Catholics, Murderers Are All the Same.[Which is simply a falsehood and intellectually dishonest.  That’s not what the Cardinal said.  On the other hand, Gibson’s RNS piece – reprinted by Fishwrap makes Card. Kasper out to be 5th apparition of Vishnu.  To read him, you’d think you were reading the 2nd nocturne.]


For its part, the Arcus Foundation’s self-described social-justice program aims to cultivate “positive religious leaders and advocates” and to develop “effective faith messages and messengers” that have an impact in target communities. The foundation’s grants also oppose “the abuse of religious freedoms” through religious exemptions[?] and aim to develop “religious and legal strategies to hold exemptions in check,” while challenging “religious opponents of LGBT people in the U.S. and internationally.” [Am I wrong or does that sound like Arcus wants to prevent people such as small business – or even large business – owners from saying “No” when approached by homosexualists for work, such as baking a “gay” cake?]
The foundation’s grant application page said it considers grant applications from organizations whose work “aligns with our values, strategic priorities and EEO requirement.[Ergo, RNS aligns with the values Arcus describes.  And RNS took their money.]
Eckstrom said that the RNS grant proposal to the Arcus Foundation stressed the need to “increase and improve domestic and international coverage of how religion affects a diverse range of LGBT communities.”
“Our job is to offer readers a window into the personalities, theology and institutions that are shaping a momentous social and civic debate,” Eckstrom told CNA.
The $120,000 grant appears significant compared to the Religion Newswriters Foundation’s past revenue. Its tax forms show a total revenue of $216,000 in 2012 and $166,000 in 2011. Religion News LLC, the nonprofit corporation that operates RNS, had $1.8 million in revenue for Fiscal Year 2012-2013.

RNS Reporter Worked for Arcus

One Arcus-sponsored RNS feature story was by Jay Michaelson, a former vice president for social-justice programs at the Arcus Foundation. On March 31, RNS ran a different story by Michaelson about the controversy over Indiana’s religious-freedom bill.


Interesting.  Make up your own minds about this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Sonshine135 says:

    The founder of Arcus is John Stryker- heir to Stryker Medical. This guy has extremely deep pockets. Interestingly enough, he is divorced with two children and homosexual. He has a PAC called Coalition for Progress. They spent close to $1 million to defeat Michigan Republicans in 2010, and they also help fund legal efforts to get marriage redefined all over the place. Arcus gives grants all over the place, especially targeting youth LGBTQ programs. Truly a diabolical organization.

  2. Boniface says:

    “Arcus” is wealthy, powerful, and evil. We all need to be sharply aware of who they are funding, and withdraw all patronage accordingly.

  3. govmatt says:

    While people may be distressed over this, I can’t think that people would be surprised. Buying up media influence has contributed to the relatively rapid society-wide acceptance of homosexuality. It makes sense that convincing people of faith is the logical next step.

    Obviously I’m not defending this, but it shouldn’t surprise people.

  4. Boniface says:

    Who’s surprised? I’m not in the least. More importantly, who is ready for a hard-core boycott of anyone who takes their money? With all respect for Fr. Z, it goes along with why I will never click on a link that connects to NcR… let them all die away by attention-starvation. That’s what the media really fear.

  5. Latin Mass Type says:

    Stryker’s Arcus has been after SF Archbishop Cordileone, too, for his support of traditional marriage. Catholic San Francisco had an expose a few months back.

    “I’m probably one of the wealthier gay men in this country, and I felt I had a big responsibility,” said Stryker, who is heir to a medical technology fortune, according to a 2008 Chronicle of Philanthropy profile about Stryker’s role as a gay activist and philanthropist. Arcus gave grants totaling $806,000 between 2010 and 2014 to Dignity USA – all but $36,000 for the coalition Equally Blessed. Arcus also awarded large grants to other Catholic or Catholic-identified nonprofits and colleges: $330,000 to Women in Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual, according to tax returns for 2011 and 2012; $250,000 in June to Catholics for Choice; and $100,000 in 2010 to Jesuit Fairfield University to hold forums at four Catholic universities on homosexuality. Arcus gave New Ways Ministry $93,345 for its “Catholic Equality Marriage Program” in 2009 as well as $5,000 in 2013. It gave Faithful America $75,000 in 2014 for publicity campaigns to denounce those who use religious liberty arguments to oppose “full equality for LGBT persons.”

    From: http://catholic-sf.org/news_select.php?newsid=26&id=62723

    Another article from the same series mentions Arcus and other foundations. There is a lot of money flowing…but we knew that.

  6. Boniface says:

    At least he knows who his real opponents are.

  7. chantgirl says:

    Latin Mass Type- From the article you linked at the bottom of your post:
    Arcus said the 2014 grant was to support “a coalition of pro-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Catholic advocacy agencies which will amplify pro-LGBT voices within the Catholic Church in preparation for significant international gatherings planned by Catholic bishops and the Vatican.”

    Sounds like a lot of money is being thrown around before the Synod this Fall. How many groups have tried to buy a change in Church teaching before?

  8. acricketchirps says:

    “Arcus” is wealthy, powerful, and evil.

    You gotta admit Arcus is a good name for a wealthy, powerful, and evil organization. Doesn’t Stryker keep a cat on his lap or in his arms for stroking at all times and have his minions design a “gay-ray” to be deployed from orbit?

  9. acricketchirps says:

    On RNS, they might be telling the truth. That is to say they might be getting homo dinero because they slant gay, rather than slanting gay because they get the gay payola (gayola?).

  10. Elizabeth D says:

    Is Arcus the group whose dual causes are Great Apes’ Rights and Pro-Gay?

  11. Gail F says:

    “Arcus said the 2014 grant was to support “a coalition of pro-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Catholic advocacy agencies which will amplify pro-LGBT voices within the Catholic Church in preparation for significant international gatherings planned by Catholic bishops and the Vatican.””
    What publication would accept an amount that is more than half of its year operating budget with strings like that attached? I can see a supposedly neutral service convincing itself that it could accept money for “increasing exposure to gay Christian writers and theologians” or something like that. But with an agenda THAT open??? They didn’t even bother to lie.

  12. Gail F says:

    Elizabeth D: Yes, it is. I looked it up. What an odd combination. I don’t see Mr. Billionnaire employing great apes any time soon. Unless that’s the plan…

  13. acricketchirps says:

    The plan is clearly world domination — employing armies of great gay apes (gapes?) It will also involve a vast underground compound. And slow and complicated methods of killing arch opponents that are prone to failure by the timely escape of the victim.

  14. benedetta says:

    Yes these RNS writers, grants or inducements/incentives and other things are somewhat interesting Fr. Z.

    The news stories of the week, president, nytimes columnists, arcus, rns writers, indiana, and the vitriol being expounded towards people who profess the Christian faith as a group makes me wonder: how, when all of the Christians are eventually rounded up after so much propaganda scapegoating even from the highest quarters, do they intend to discover which Christians are the ones they wish to eliminate via various means one hears proposed, attacks, household killing lawsuits, job firings, cyberharassment, vandalism, assault (expectation of physical danger), fines, imprisonment? How would they go about surveilling and verifying the ones they want to harm and the ones who they would permit to stay. It’s a conundrum I expect all who have such rather nazi like inclinations must have to face at one point or another.

    Perhaps the scapegoating language of this week — Obama, nytimes, elsewhere is only intended to terrorize? Very hard to tell without clarification. I know that as an ethical and moral matter, it’s not only my Christian faith, but my status as an American citizen with a responsibility to my country and its people, that compels me to refrain from scapegoating, stereotyping, and speaking ill of any people of particular creed or identity. I was brought up to understand that in a plurality and in the great diversity of America that one could rely on this shared value. What a surprise to discover that this is far from the case, and to be jolted by the proclamation from the very elite and highest quarters of the country.

  15. Clinton says:

    Arcus is giving RNS money because Arcus believes it is getting its money’s worth.
    If RNS were to step off the pro-LGBT reservation, its grant money would dry up
    very quickly. RNS might think it’s not on a pro-LGBT reservation, but Arcus does.

    Groups like Arcus and Planned Parenthood don’t believe in giving funding to
    organizations that aren’t advancing their goals. Now if we could just get our good
    bishops to grasp that concept when it comes time to pass out Catholic Campaign
    for Human Development grants again…

  16. benedetta says:

    I would add that this is the power that propaganda has, it terrorizes, but, it has serious limitations. So, I do not think anyone should feel anxiety about the sort of verbiage some are putting out there. I think there are more pressing issues to attend to in the world right at this moment.

  17. JuliB says:


    This agit-prop / aka “news” creates and feeds our culture. How/why else do you think that the world has changed so dramatically in the last 10-15 years? Ignore at your own risk, but the culture is ground zero for the war. People grow up in the culture, and inform their thoughts in it. I’m not talking about just Catholic youth but Christians, Jews, secular of all types.

    And we’re losing this battle, btw.

  18. benedetta says:

    JuliB, Nevertheless I do not think anxiety, which is what radicalized, extremist, scapegoating verbiage is designed to instigate in the hearer, is where Christians, as well as seculars or any people of inherent good will, ought to dwell given this present situation unfolding. It begs the question: what is the proper mindset of a Christian given these current events? How may we express our faith, the virtues, the works of mercy, our citizenship, our caritas towards all, and take responsibility, when faced with persecution?

  19. benedetta says:

    I would say also further to the above comments that while I recognize that there is such a thing as agitprop I don’t think that in 2015 America for someone to essentially pay a mainline journalist or writer to do certain things, whether that includes only writing or other things or not who can say, but I am certain that I would be in great company with the vast majority of secular liberals as well as classically educated persons who would easily agree that this is not an example of “culture” or a “culture war”. Paying something to do something, something that is per se unethical, is really never about culture. It’s about dominance over others, trying to control others, taking away their free will or choice, which is why totalitarian systems adore it and use it with such undisciplined and obsessed abandon. It is why ultimately even though those systems are armed to the teeth and groups of people they attempt to control not, in their quest to dehumanize others, they ultimately do fail even if they make life harsh for a great many in their sights, even the most innocent, the vulnerable, and people who have nothing to do with or care about their power interests either way.

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