Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Latest Questionable Conduct by the AFSC

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has apparently been blemished.

Is this latest occurence or disconnection, likely due to a lack of oversight, due to a bureaucracy of non-change, due to ongoing and unquestioned staff size, or due to a lack of direct financing by the declining members of the Religious Society of Friends?

The membership decline of modern day Quaker Friends may be the manifest evidence and or the result of political polarization – to the ‘left’ from what was once a religious group which relied upon diversity of opinion and experience to maintain integrity of self-governance. A recent study by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM: Who We Are) says that almost of all of its members are politically 'liberal'.

Now potential financial and governmental malfeasance within the American Friends Service Committee might be a sign that the few remaining politically polarized Friends, cannot properly oversee their 'institutions' any longer. The AFSC, now largely a communications committee of non-Quakers, may have become or is becoming the de facto mouthpiece for the Quaker Church considering its 500+ employees, and its $43 MM annual operating budget. The Editor of QiN has also noticed its substantial public relations efforts, and of affiliating itself with what is left of Friends' membership, when expedience calls.

Money – in the large budgets, the large trust funds, and small group of wealthy donors to support the large staff of our Quaker 'institutions' - is either a cruel mirror to our own malfeasance of governance, and or it is part of the problem. Consider the example of Major League Baseball, where the modern exponential infusion of advertising and licensing money has sadly made the sport just another part of the entertainment business. This metaphorically might be similar to how AFSC began as part of a humble and volunteer Quaker faith, but is now sadly over-grown to something co-opted by politically larger forces, requiring more money to support more paid employees - but out of the realm of the living but declining Religious Society of Friends.

A reasonable Friend, as the Editor considers himself to be, in a mirror universe, would be as observant and vocally critical of any Quaker organization if it were polarized to the 'right' and show evidence of corruption. The lack of integrity, we know - is exclusive to no country, nor political party, nor status, nor level of wealth, nor ethnic group. Of late, even the Quaker religious faith, once a politically diverse, growing and thriving church, and a bastion of transparency, simplicity and integrity, has been sullied as it declines in membership, and has become politically polarized - with 'activism' as its reason-to-be.

"As a Jew", according to one journalist with whom I've corresponded, "I’m very aware that political activism is a way of replacing genuine religion with feel-good gestures."

Please see Integrity.


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