Saturday, November 17, 2007

Why is One Southern Indiana publicly endorsing a fundamentalist right wing agenda?

I'm taking the day off on Saturday, but you have homework.

Compare and contrast these two mission statements.

From the One Southern Indiana web site:

One Southern Indiana is the combined Economic Development Council and Chamber of Commerce for Floyd and Clark counties on the Indiana side of the Louisville, Kentucky metropolitan area. One Southern Indiana proactively works to grow our regional economy through business attraction, retention and expansion; through encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs; and through providing government and workforce advocacy, business education, networking opportunities and other business services to our investors. We are one vision, one voice for business.

From the web site of ROCK, i.e., Reclaim Our Culture Kentuckiana:

Are you concerned about ...

The moral decline in our culture
Growth of sexually oriented businesses
Pornography and obscenity
Efforts to push expressions of faith out of the public arena
Attacks on marriage
Culture of death (abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, etc.)
Humanism and relativism

Go to ROCK's web site and watch the video, where you'll hear numerous phrases like, "The mission of ROCK is consistent with the mission of Christ.”

Now, recalling that 1SI chairman Kerry Stemler has indicated that his group is "on board" with ROCK, although not in the "front lines," answer these questions:

What does ROCK's theocratic advocacy have to do with economic development, and why is Stemler giving 1SI's imprimatur to a very specific and exclusionary Christian advocacy group?


See also:

R.O.C.K. on, One Southern Indiana ... but first, please answer these inconvenient questions.

One Southern Indiana: Much to answer for, and most (perhaps all) of it at taxpayer expense.

Photos: No torture for a downtown bridge.


Jeff Gillenwater said...

It's important to remember who serves on 1SI's board of directors, the people ultimately responsible for the group's policies. Member organizations, too, should consider and respond to how their dues and other support are being used.

It's difficult to believe that Kerry Stemler had prior authorization to pledge support for R.O.C.K. and their discriminatory stances but, if no one speaks out (and I don't mean behind closed doors in a 1SI meeting), their silence will equate to approval.

John Manzo said...

Hmm, forgive me, but this does seem like a leap.

I am not a fundamentalist and I don't have a radical agenda and I'm absolutely for a separation of church and state. I think anyone who knows me, knows this.

My sense is that 1SI is supportive of ROCK's efforts to combat the sex industry in the region. The XXX place in Clarksville is not an asset to anyone. Neither is the porn store on Main Street in New Albany nor the massage parlor on State Street. If I had my preference, I'd love to see these places gone. In doing reading, there is a great deal of exploitation of women in the sex industry and so I see no need to weep for them when their presence is not wanted in the communities.

Where I would agree with Kerry Stemler and 1SI is that these places DO inhibit economic growth and I would see that they would approve of ROCK's actions. Kerry Stemler also made it clear, however, that he is taking a step back from them as their agenda goes way beyond 1SI's.

I actually like the current billboard that ROCK has up there now. It's a big improvement on their last effort.

If 1SI starts speaking out about the 'moral decline in our culture,' I'll change my opinion.

As an aside, I love these people and groups who speak of the 'moral decline in our culture,' as it presumes some facts not in evidence.

First, it presumes that cultures were ever truly moral. I don't believe that any generation is any more or less ethical than those who were there before them. What people notice or worry about is different. In the 1950's we didn't see gay rights advocates, although the percentage of gay people was the same then as it is now.

Here is what we did see.

Rampant domestic violence. No man worried about beating his wife in that era.

Rampant sexism.

Rampant racism.

If ignorance is truly bliss, there are lots of happy people running around.

G Coyle said...

Just for the sake of argument, what if someone wanted to open a Christian porn shop...say, something with a name like SONG AND DANCE OF SOLOMAN? Would that change the debate?

John Manzo said...

Hmm, a Christian porn shop. I once preached a sermon why I don't like using the word "Christian" as an adjective. This way you can avoid Christian breath mints and Christian porn shop designations.

Of course, right after I preached it we sang a song with the phrase "Christian love" in it. A person who I truly appreciate pointed out that my hymn choice contradicted my sermon. :-)

Jeff Gillenwater said...


I can see your point but I have to disagree.

If Kerry Stemler had pointed to another discriminatory group, say the KKK, and said that 1SI was on board them because of their efforts to find missing children (which in the past has taken the form of passing out fliers) but couldn't be on the front lines with them because of the racial overtones, would your response be the same?

What's clear is that 1SI, as an organization actively soliciting tax dollars from this and other area communities, needs to be publicly questioned on this issue which is, unfortunately, just another in a long list of questionable practices.

They tell us they're a unifying voice and then use tax dollars to provide a platform for a highly partisan Bush stump speech.

They tell us they support smart growth but then make the bridges project their biggest priority.

They tell the world our current transportation infrastructure is one of the best reasons for new businesses to locate here and then use their newsletter to encourage current businesses to testify that they want to leave because our transportation system is so bad.

They tell us they have a strong preference for redeveloping the urban core and then focus their resources on outward expansion and greenfield development.

They tell us they want to help area workers and then take an anti-labor stance.

It's a long list, John, and, for reasons I don't fully understand, a great number of powerful people in this community choose to look the other way. If this region is ever going to make progress, we have to do better than that.

Christopher D said...

As much as there are those who find porn shops offensive to their beleif structures, there are as well those who find the overgrown mega-churches that are welcomed into cities with open arms and "financial incentives" just as offensive.
I have to admit I find smut huts disgusting, and enable some freaks to cross the line between fantasy to act said fantasy, and POSSIBLY leading to sexual assualts on women, young girls, young boys, sheep and the likes.
But I also subscribe to the thought of "to each their own". Which is why you will not find me patronizing our local porn n' goes, or for that fact protesting them, I choose to ignore them.
Much in the same way I do not attend, nor protest staduim style churches with seating for thousands and operational budgets in the millions of dollars.
Though one may "right" and the other "wrong", they both cater on some level to a particular gluttony and perversion.

All4Word said...

Jumping in late, of course, but I have to say, John, that Stemler did not sufficiently distance himself nor One Southern Indiana from the R.O.C.K. agenda.

My impression from media reports is that Mr. Stemler strongly supports R.O.C.K. and may be a member of that group.

That does not disqualify him from being president of the mega-chamber, of course. He clearly issued a 1SI hug, though.

Where was Stemler two years ago when CFP drew 85 people to an outdoor rally and film screening to draw attention to the deleterious effects of Wal-Mart on communities like our own? Would those 1SI predecessor organizations have been content to see Stemler joining hands with Constituency for Progress to demand corporate responsibility from the world's largest retailer? And why or why not?

The issue is not whether one supports porn purveyors or not. That reduction of the issues is a classic technique of the right wing. If you are opposed to government compulsion to pray in public meetings, then you are against God. If you support basic human and employment rights for homosexuals, then you are trying to destroy marriage. If you support the environmental responsibility, then you love trees and animals more than humanity.

I'm sick of it and I'm glad to see Stemler and One Southern Indiana being called out. Stemler did not sufficiently hide his gleeful endorsement and his attempt to cover was laughable. Unless and until he issues a strong retraction and clarification, he deserves to have the heat turned up.

ecology warrior said...

This is the same right wing group that wants $90,000 from the city council to promote economic development in New Albany.

Their mission is to promote E.D. in the entire Clark/Floyd region not espouse a political agenda.

This is also the same group that wants to give developers carte blanche to build without considering the infrastructure and environmental issues that uncontrolled development brings.

Hopefully the new city council will continue to reject their request for funds.