Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What is the IRD?

I thought it might be fun to do a little truth-telling about the IRD, Jim Berkley's employer. I only want facts. There are questions many folks have. Some are easier to answer than others.

  • What is the IRD?
  • Why does it exist?
  • Where does it receive its funding?
  • What is in it for the benefactors?
  • How much did it receive and spend in 2007 and since its inception?
  • How does it spend it?
  • What are its goals for the PC(USA) and other mainline denominations?
  • How does it implement these goals?
Perhaps we could have this be a group research project. If you know of websites, blogs, books, and so forth that provide information about the IRD, send it to me. If you are afraid of posting publicly (and I understand why as Rev. Jim loves his discipline), e-mail me privately at

I will make an attractive IRD resource link list on the sidebar.


  1. This links to an article on the way IRD operates within mainstream church organizations. Sorry, but I don't know how to post active links.

    "The IRD's Tactics Are Even Repugnant To Themselves"
    By Steven D. Martin Fri Dec 14, 2007 at 06:17:33 AM EST
    topic: Battle For Mainstream Faith

  2. "Media Transparency" reports that IRD has received $5,040,000 through 78 grants since 1985. This site names the funding agencies, dates and dollar amounts.

  3. Thanks Rastus! Good stuff.

    I wish I had some new numbers. They have been very stingy (and understandably so) with allowing their revenue to be made public.

  4. John,

    Here's a crackerjack source of IRD info:

    Why speculate when you can go to the direct source?

    Jim Berkley
    Director of Presbyterian Action

  5. Thanks, Jim. It is the first one on my list of links.

  6. My guess is that is only going to reveal what the organization wants to reveal. My question is, does that web site contain any information about funding sources?M

  7. It's not how much the IRD receives and from whom, but who they channel donations to. For a small fee you can make the introductions and connections that channel millions.

    Meenan from Hollywood Pres showed for example how even a pastor can do it. You siphon off the donations themselves directly to separate funds. In his case it drove the church nearly bankrupt, but no laws were broken. Only trust.

    The Layman does the same. So they have an operating budget of +/-2 M$ according to IRS filings (last I checked, it's been a while). But they channel a whole lot more by brokering the proper handshakes, and that is a lot harder to track. People engaging in activities they endorse suddenly find themselves receiving donations from anonymous benefactors. Organizations they endorse end up with nice operating budgets funded by direct donations that would never have otherwise materialized.

    It's a neat system. Flawless really. It looks no different than a tabloid newspaper, protected by the 1st amendment.

    "Follow the money" is a very powerful tool. But you have to follow all of it to really make sense out of what is happening.

  8. Since Jim Berkley claims that everything that the IRD does is completely transparent, I am sure he would be happy to answer a simple question.

    Was the IRD (or its UCC arm, the Biblical Witness Fellowship) involved in any way with the IRS complaint that was recently filed against the UCC?

    Yes, definitely? No, definitely not? Or--you don't know for sure?