Written by Cliff Kincaid
June 25, 2008
By Cliff Kincaid
Pagan Pride and Barack Obama
While Senator Barack Obama struggles to keep the public in the dark about the nature of his pro-U.N. Global Poverty Act, a recent “Bay Area Interfaith Leaders’ Luncheon” was held to lobby for Senate passage of the bill, whose cost has been estimated at $845 billion. An actual witch who spoke at a “Pagan Pride” festival in San Francisco was one of the listed participants.
The witch, known as the “Elder Donald Frew” of the “Wiccan Community,” was interviewed by the Reverend Don Lewis of “Witch School International” for a “reality” show called “Magick TV” and is shown talking about his involvement in the United Nations-backed United Religions Initiative. You can see the interview here. Magick TV features a “daily spell.” (update, file removed from youtube)
Representatives of the United Religions Initiative and the World Parliament of Religions were also among those included in the controversial Bay Area conference, which was held at the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit Catholic institution with a “global perspective,” under the auspices of the Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought.
A local paper described the event as an “unprecedented lobbying effort” that was “paired with a call to the Bay Area’s myriad faith communities to join in what the religious leaders see as the defining issue facing the globe today.”
Meanwhile, a concerned parent alerted us to the fact that a Christian preschool in Long Island, New York was handing out a coloring page for children which included a plea for Congress to pass Obama’s Global Poverty Act. “Dear Parents,” said the letter that was sent home. “We would like to join efforts with the congregation of St. David’s to stop world hunger. You and your child can help by coloring and signing the enclosed sheet. This sheet will be sent along with many others to our representatives in Washington, D.C…Thanks for supporting such a great cause. Sincerely, St. David’s Christian Preschool.”
The sheet said “Dear Senator: At Preschool, I learned to thank God for the food I eat. I also collect coins to help those who don’t have enough. Today, I ask you to help, too, with more and better aid for the world’s poorest countries. We want Congress to pass the Global Poverty Act. Please cosponsor S. 2433. Thank you.” The child’s name and age were supposed to be filled in.
The pictures to be colored included what appeared to be an angel holding a bowl of food (with a Valentine heart on the robe and the bowl) and a basket with apples.
The Real Agenda
The plea for “more and better” foreign aid money conflicts with the claims of those who insist the Obama bill doesn’t authorize the expenditure of more federal funds. As AIM has documented, the bill amounts to a mandate on the federal government to force compliance with the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.
Despite the importance the left-wing religious activists attach to Obama’s Global Poverty Act, the senator failed to even mention the bill in a patriotic TV ad that is supposed to highlight his legislative activities. As AIM revealed, media “watchdogs” and “fact-checkers” at the Washington Post and the Annenberg Political Fact-Check project failed to note the omission. The cover-up undoubtedly reflects awareness of the unpopularity of spending massive amounts of new foreign aid money on U.N. causes and the fact that Obama’s sponsorship of this bill could badly backfire on the candidate.
But lobbying for passage of the legislation continues behind-the-scenes. The bill has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and awaits action by the full Senate.
Frew’s reported participation was significant. A featured speaker at a “Pagan Pride” festival in San Franciso, he is described as an Elder in both the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn and Gardnerian traditions of modern Wicca and a High Priest of Coven Trismegiston in Berkeley, California. Other attractions at the “Pagan Pride” festival included a firewalking instructor, a magician, and a belly dancer.
The popular Internet site myspace.com features an entry about Donald Frew’s Coven Trismegiston and a video about the “laws of Wicca.” It begins with the words, “Hear now the words of the witches.”
According to his bio, Frew “has been very active in interfaith work on behalf of the Craft for over 17 years and is the National Interfaith Representative for the Covenant of the Goddess (the largest Wiccan religious organization on Earth).” He has represented Covenant of the Goddess at both Parliaments of the World’s Religions and serves on the Global Council of the U.N.-affiliated United Religions Initiative. Frew claims pagan religions make up one-fourth of the world’s population and are increasing their influence in the U.S.
A Muslim representative to the Bay Area conference was identified as Iftekhar Hai of the United Muslims of America (UMA). The UMA is a member of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT), an umbrella organization that includes controversial groups such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The AMT’s “political advisory” urges support for a candidate promising constitutional rights for suspected terrorists, an immigration policy that is “fair” to “undocumented workers,” and an end to the U.S. “occupation” of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Real Cost
Even though Obama’s backers in the media and elsewhere are trying to insist that his Global Poverty Act costs nothing in additional foreign aid and simply reorganizes federal agencies, one of the main themes of the conference was passing the bill and committing the U.S. to “Point 7 Now and the Millennium Development Goals” of the United Nations.
The official conference brochure explained, “The phrase ‘Point 7 Now’ refers to the commitment made by developed countries through the 2002 Monterey Consensus to increase foreign aid to poor countries to 0.7% of a developed country’s national income.” It added, “The United States is currently at 0.2%.” The difference, according to Jeffrey Sachs of the United Nations, is $65 billion a year. As we have repeatedly pointed out, from 2002 to the target date of reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, this adds up to $845 billion more in foreign aid spending for the U.S.
“We are asking our federal legislators for real and effective support for increasing the amount of aid that the United States provides so that the MDGs can be implemented and the goal of eliminating the worst of the world’s poverty can be accomplished by 2015,” stated the official conference literature. “Specifically, we are lobbying the Senate to pass the Global Poverty Act of 2007 making support of the MDGs official US policy. We invite you to be part of this effort.”
Conference organizers distributed a letter signed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Cal.) declaring her support for increasing the foreign aid budget.
One of the key presentations of the “Point Seven Now” concept at the event was given by George Wesolek, Director of the Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco. A “legislative analysis” was provided by David Gist, legislative advocate for the Bread for the World organization. The Master of Ceremonies was Dr. Mike Duffy, the director of the Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought at the University of San Francisco.
Platform for Obama?
It turns out that this event, held in February, was just the forerunner to a larger conference of liberal and left-wing religious movements that are shaping up to be among Barack Obama’s major supporters.
The Lane Center is one of several co-sponsors of the upcoming July 11-13 Convention for the Common Good, which will feature a presidential candidates forum, as well as a speech by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. Sweeney is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, a group of longtime backers of Barack Obama. The AFL-CIO is expected to announce on Thursday that it is officially endorsing Obama for president.
The “common good” convention is being convened by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and NETWORK, a “National Catholic Social Justice Lobby” that claims to have 100,000 members. The complete list of sponsoring organizations includes Pax Christi USA; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Center of Concern; Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good; NETWORK, A National Social Justice Lobby; Sisters of Mercy; National Catholic Rural Life Conference; Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; Ignatian Solidarity Network; US Catholic Mission Association; Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Oblates of St. Francis De Sales; AFL-CIO; Franciscan Mission Service; Franciscan Action Network; Catholics United; Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice; University of San Francisco, Lane Center for Catholic Social Thought.
It says a “Platform for the Common Good” will be ratified at the convention and then “sent to presidential candidates and both national political parties as a way to influence the debate over the defining moral and political issues of our time.”
The official list of RSVPs for the February 20 Bay Area Interfaith Leader’s Luncheon were:
Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California
Mr. Kique Bazan, Associate Director, University Ministry, University of San Francisco
Rev. Paul Chaffee, Executive Director, Interfaith Center at the Presidio
Ms. Sally Coates, Executive Director, Episcopal Charities
Rev. Jerry Coleman, SS Vice President, Corporate Ethics, Daughters of Charity
Reverend James DeLange, SFIC Chair
Ms. Julia Dowd, Associate Director, Lane Center
Dr. Mike Duffy Director, Lane Center, University of San Francisco
Dean Roderick Dugliss, The Episcopal School for Deacons
Elder Donald Frew, Wiccan Community
Rev. Canon Charles Gibb, Executive Director, United Religions Initiative
Mr. Iftekhar Hai, United Muslims of America
Fr. Bill Justice, Archdiocese of San Francisco
Reverend Masato Kawahatsu, Senior Minister Japanese-Am. Rel. Fed. and San Francisco Konko Church
Mrs. Alice Kawahatsu, San Francisco Konko Church
Ms. Terry Kraus, Director of Membership Services, Congregation Emanu-El
Dr. William Lesher, President, World Parliament of Religions
Professor Lois Lorentzen, Professor and Chair, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of San Francisco
Msgr. Robert McElroy, Pastor, St. Gregory’s Church
Most Rev. George Niederaurer, Archbishop, Archdiocese of San Francisco
Mr. Michael Pappas, Executive Director, Interfaith Center at the Presidio
Fr. Mario Prietto, SJ Rector, USF Jesuit Community
Mr. Sam Ruben, United Religions Initiative
Ms. Rita Semel, S.F. Interfaith Council
Reverend Edwin Sohn- Lutheran, Mo. Synod CNH Dist.
Mr. Joseph R. Symkowick, Partnerships Office, CRS
Rev. Sumner Walters, Episcopal Diocese of California
Mr. George Wesolek, Director, Public Policy & Social Concerns, Archdiocese of San Francisco
Provost James Wiser, Provost University of San Francisco
Rev. Shari Young, Associate Pastor, St. James Church