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Pro-abortion foundation aided evangelical climate effort

WASHINGTON (BP)–A new effort by more than 80 evangelical Christian leaders to combat global warming is being criticized by some pro-life organizations for using funds given by a foundation that regularly supports abortion-rights advocacy.

The Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) has utilized funds that originated with the Hewlett Foundation in an advertising campaign to advance its work against global warming. The Hewlett Foundation, which has generously funded Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other national and international advocates for legal abortion, designated a $475,000 grant to a religious, environmental coalition for ECI.

Concerned Women for America and Operation Rescue took issue with ECI’s use of money from a foundation that promotes abortion rights in its grants. The Hewlett Foundation “is one of the most prodigious and unabashed funders of abortion causes,” and its “significant grant for this initiative … reveals where this effort could lead,” CWA President Wendy Wright said in a written statement. “They would not fund something that contradicts their main missions.”

An ECI spokesman said the coalition of 86 evangelicals who signed on to the statement promoting a campaign against climate change believes in protecting unborn life. Jim Jewell denied use of the money promotes abortion. “The only thing that the grant shows is that there is some agreement that global warming is going to hurt people in the days ahead and that it needs to be stopped,” Jewell told Baptist Press. “To say that the grant says anything else, it really holds no water.”

In a statement released at a Feb. 8 news conference, ECI described global warming as “mainly human-induced” and called for federal legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Though leaders such as mega-church pastors Rick Warren of Southern California and Leith Anderson of Minneapolis signed onto it with denominational, parachurch and university heads, other well-known evangelicals -– including James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission -– did not endorse the statement, citing a lack of consensus among evangelicals about the extent and cause of global warming.

While ECI members hope their statement will gain the endorsement of many more evangelical leaders, it remains to be seen if the news about the Hewlett Foundation’s support will deter that effort.

The Hewlett Foundation, located in Menlo Park, Calif., says on its website it “concentrates its resources on activities in education, environment, global development, performing arts and population.” An online review of its population program grants since 1999 shows Hewlett has continually given to organizations that perform abortions and promote their legal protection in the United States and other countries.

For instance:

— The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the largest abortion provider in the country, or at least one of its affiliates has received Hewlett funds each year, including general support grants for PPFA of $3.6 million in 2001 and $4 million in 2004 and a $1 million gift in 2005 to aid PPFA in its outreach on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

— The International Planned Parenthood Federation, a leading advocate for the liberalization of anti-abortion laws overseas, has been the beneficiary of Hewlett grants yearly, including a $1.35 million donation to IPPF’s European Network in 2000, $1.5 million contributions to IPPF’s Western Hemisphere Region in both 2001 and 2003, and a $4.7 million gift in 2004 for IPPF’s general support.

— The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which the Bush administration has refused to support for four consecutive years because of links to China’s coercive population control program, received $1 million contributions from Hewlett through the United Nations Foundation in both 2001 and 2004. Hewlett also has given to the U.S. Committee for UNFPA.

— The Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal defender and advocate for abortion rights in all countries, accepted Hewlett general-support gifts of $2 million in both 2001 and 2004.

— The Population Council, which holds the United States patent for the abortion drug RU 486, has received funds from Hewlett, including general-support grants of $3.8 million in 2002 and $3 million in 2005.

Hewlett has funded numerous other organizations that promote abortion rights, including the National Abortion Federation, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Catholics for a Free Choice, Marie Stopes International and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.

Operation Rescue decried the ECI’s use of a grant from a foundation that it said supports population control by means of abortion.

O.R. President Troy Newman said in a written release it “is immoral and unethical for Christian leaders to accept money from a foundation that is so dedicated to an agenda that is antithetical to the basic [tenets] of Christian teaching on the sanctity of human life.” Newman called for ECI to return the grant to Hewlett.

Speaking on behalf of ECI, Jewell said the criticisms from CWA and O.R. amount to an “A plus B equals D critique. It doesn’t add up.”

“[The ECI coalition] is a group of people who hold as one of their main social priorities to protect the unborn, and to see that anybody’s funding abortion is disturbing to this group,” Jewell said. “What we do know is that [more than] $400,000 that went to this effort will not be used to kill babies.

“While we do not support all of the interests and grant decisions of these foundations, we are accountable only for the stewardship of funds that we’ve received,” Jewell told BP. “And we accept full responsibility for our use of those funds to focus evangelical concern on the dangers of global warming.”

The evangelicals who signed on to the ECI statement did not participate in the decision to receive funds from Hewlett, Jewell told BP. “I wouldn’t want to hold these leaders responsible for the decisions of other people,” he said.

Jewell said the ECI receives money only from the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). Jim Ball, also an ECI leader, is EEN’s executive director. EEN actually received the funds from Hewlett, Jewell said.

The Hewlett website says it made a Jan. 27 grant of $475,000 to the National Religious Partnership for the Environment designated for ECI. EEN is a part of the religious partnership. Hewlett also made a June 2005 grant of $400,000 to the partnership for its climate and energy program, according to the website.

CWA’s Wright gave the benefit of the doubt to the signers, saying she was “sure that most of the evangelical leaders who signed on have no idea of [Hewlett’s] history and missions.”

“The radical environmental, pro-abortion lobby has learned to adopt language to win over unsuspecting, well-intentioned people,” she said.

The grant that originated with Hewlett has already been spent, Jewell told BP. The funds were used to underwrite an advertising campaign, he said. At the Feb. 8 news conference unveiling the ECI statement, the coalition announced the effort would include ads in The New York Times and Christianity Today, as well as television spots on Fox and CNN and ads on the Salem Radio Network.

Jewell told BP he did not know if research into Hewlett’s other grantees was conducted before EEN accepted the funds.

Phone calls to EEN’s Ball were not returned in time for this article.

BP contacted four evangelical-based, para-church organizations – Samaritan’s Purse, Campus Crusade for Christ, Compassion International and Feed the Children — to ask about their policies on receiving funds from foundations.

Admittedly, the comparison between ECI and the four ministries is far from perfect. ECI is a coalition of leaders from a variety of institutions and organizations brought together to promote a specific goal, one that is not focused on evangelism. The four ministries are longstanding organizations with evangelism as a part, if not the focus, of their mission.

There seemed to be a sense among the four ministries that a foundation that funded efforts objectionable to evangelicals, such as Hewlett’s support of abortion rights organizations, would be unlikely to issue grants to them.

Both Samaritan’s Purse and Campus Crusade were uncomfortable about responding to hypothetical situations, saying such decisions would be based on specifics, according to the DeMoss Group, an Atlanta-area firm that handles both ministries’ media relations.

“Samaritan’s Purse does not do extensive research on foundations offering grant money unless there is an apparent reason to do so,” the ministry said in a statement issued through DeMoss. If it learned a foundation had given to abortion-rights groups, Samaritan’s Purse said it “would make any such decision based on the specific situation as [it] knew it at the time.”

Franklin Graham is the president of Samaritan’s Purse, which is based in Boone, N.C.

In a written statement released to BP through DeMoss, Campus Crusade said its “general practice is to accept funds that people and organizations send in support of staff, projects and ministries, and issue receipts. Campus Crusade for Christ will not discuss specific donors to the ministry, as a person’s, organization’s or foundation’s giving to Campus Crusade for Christ is confidential information. If any donors choose to make such information public, that is their prerogative, but Campus Crusade for Christ will not release such information.”

Campus Crusade, founded by the late Bill Bright, has its headquarters in Orlando, Fla.

Compassion does not screen donors but is “very clear” about its identity, a spokesman for the ministry told BP.

“We’re very up front about who we are, so people who sign on or donate to us are basically buying into what we are all about as an evangelical organization,” said Jay Lees, Compassion’s corporate communications director. “It’s unlikely that anyone would donate to us that would not be extremely clear about who we are and what we are about.”

Wesley Stafford is president of Compassion, which is based in Colorado Springs.

In a statement released to BP, Feed the Children said its mission “is to help hungry children. We don’t believe it would be a wise use of resources to determine the personal or political beliefs of donors. People who are moved to help hungry children usually have very high motives.”

Larry Jones is president of Feed the Children, which has its headquarters in Oklahoma City.

In addition to Hewlett, the ECI also received funding from Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.