The Unitarian-Universalist Community Church of New York, after 10 years of cooperation with and sponsoring events of the Maoist Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), is now concerned that their tax-exempt status may be threatened, internal Church sources say. It comes at a time when persistent RCP presence on the Church has led to a polarizing climate.
In the background is an escalating conflict between the RCP and an alliance of moderate leftists, Israel supporters and pacifist led by Robert Reiss, a church member since 1957 who grew up in the Sunday school. The Church's pastor, Reverend Bruce Southworth, resolutely demurs from challenging the Maoists. When a congregant complained, he said of their persistent presence: “What’s wrong with that?” And, at the May Board of Trustee monthly meeting, Chairperson Lisa Gluck turned to Reiss, who was sitting in spectators section, and said: "We demand to know exactly where you stand on Israel."
Southworth's first act upon coming into leadership of the Church was to take down the massive American flag from the downstairs stage where it had been for as long as anyone could remember. When asked why he did this, he said "I removed the American flag from the downstairs stage because I do not believe in nationalism. I am not a nationalist." He also began to have speakers that reflect a reversal of the Church's long history of support for Israel and Zionism. They include:
- CUNY Professor Leonard Jeffries, who infamously spoke of "a conspiracy, planned and plotted and programmed out of Hollywood, where people called Greenberg and Weisberg and Trigliani and whatnot … Russian Jewry had a particular control over the movies, and their financial partners, the Mafia, put together a system of destruction for Black people," and how "rich Jews were involved in the enslavement process".
- New Alliance Party official Lenora Fulani, who once said that Jews "had to sell their souls to acquire Israel and are required to do the dirtiest work of capitalism—to function as mass murderers of people of color—in order to keep it."
- Alton Maddox, the Louis Farrakhan flack who was disbarred for his role in the Tawana Brawley hoax, who told Church goers: “Black babies are superior to white babies.”
In the early 1990s, Southworth visited F. W. de Klerk's post-apartheid South Africa to support the African National Congress (ANC). When he returned home, the Church pacifists asked him about the ANC's reliance on "Necklacing" -- stuffing people into the center of a gasoline filled tire and burning them to death -- as a means to intimidate their black opponents. Speaking at the pulpit made from wood donated by Mahatma Gandhi's son and a yard from a pedestal with a bronze bust of Gandhi -- all gifts in recognition of the prior pastors' commitment to nonviolence -- Southworth said: "I am asked my opinion of the practice of necklacing. I will not take a moral stand on that."
While the Church has long leaned to the Left, the ideological extremism in issue today is relatively new in the Church. The previous pastor, Rev. Donald Harrington, was chairman of the anti-communist Liberal Party. Another previous pastor, Rev. John Haynes Holmes, was on the board of the ACLU when they kicked the Communists out of the organization and cast the deciding vote to expel Communist Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. One Church member said, "Harrington and Holmes would be rolling in their graves to see the Church playing footsie with the RCP."
The Church used to have thousands of active members, but since Southworth and his allies took over, the Church has been reduced to around 200 members today. Jewish participation with the Church had once been 40%, but this participation has plummeted as radical anti-Zionism has gained influence, consonant with the RCP playbook. Those who stand opposed to these trends are threatened with censorship and possible banishment from the congregation – and have been subject to intimidation and intolerance.
Typical of RCP activities is the constant presence of Joe Urgo, one of the RCP apparatchiks who infiltrated Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in the early 1970s and took part in the infamous 1971 Kansas City meeting in which plans to assassinate pro-War members of Congress were discussed. Urgo is one of the plants RCP puts among the congregants to steer the conversation, identify potential Party recruits, and harass those who don’t agree – including browbeating a black Gulf War veteran for not being anti-American. He openly speaks of overthrowing the U.S. Constitution and sells CDs of fugitive RCP leader Robert “Chairman Bob” Avakian to Church members.
RCP's grip on the Church was flaunted for all to see on April 2nd, when their front group World Can't Wait (WCW) was sponsored by the Church. The event aimed at encouraging an end to the use of Drones, including as a tool of Counterterrorism in Pakistan, and livestreamed it throughout the country. Members of RCP participated openly in the panel discussion, and the moderator was WCW chairwoman Debra Sweet, who at other venues has been seen taking a copy of Mao's Little Red Book out of her bra and waving it aloft. Church money has also been funneled to the Marxist Center for Global Justice in Mexico, which coordinates closely with the Communist Cuban Government.
By contrast, all support for Israel -- even mention of past support for the Jewish state by the Church and former attendees such as Bayard Rustin -- is relentlessly suppressed by the Maoists and their Church Collaborators. And while Capitalism is a constant target of derision (Thomas Piketty's book is being pushed at the Church), sources describe a congregational meeting on the church budget where these same loud anti-capitalists
repeatedly called for greater returns and yield from their investment portfolios. They wanted to make sure the investment advisors to the Church who managed the Church's 11 million dollars receive the "greatest quarterly yields, and dividends be maintained." Indeed, one of the Action for Justice - a church constituent group - members, said "I hope we are using an index fund." This particular member is the most outspoken anti-capitalist of all these people, who often couples his declarations of anti-capitalism with his very vocal attacks on American Democracy itself.
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