A National Council of Churches (NCC) official has refused to allow the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) to examine the council’s financial records. The records earlier were made available to two staff members of the United Methodist Reporter.

The IRD, a research organization known for its attacks on the NCC, had tried to obtain information regarding NCC grants made to outside organizations. IRD research director Kerry Ptacek said a staff member in the NCC’s office of information set up an appointment for him to view the financial data. He said the appointment was subsequently rescheduled and then canceled by Warren Day, the NCC’s information director.

Day told Religious News Service that the IRD received treatment different from that given the United Methodist Reporter because that newspaper serves the largest denomination in the NCC.

Ptacek said he believes the NCC refused to let him see the books because the IRD had charged that NCC grants were going to pro-Sandinista groups in Nicaragua. He said he tried to gain access to financial information that was not contained in data routinely made available by the NCC. Several months earlier, United Methodist Reporter staff members were allowed to examine a large computer printout of NCC financial data. The United Methodist Reporter published a series of articles in the wake of reports nearly two years ago in Reader’s Digest and on CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes” alleging NCC support of leftist causes.

After the Reader’s Digest and “60 Minutes” reports, Ptacek said NCC officials made such statements as “our records are open” or “our books are open.” In response, Day said, “I have not found this sort of thing in writing.” Day said the highest elected officials of NCC-member bodies and heads of those denominations’ finance offices have access to the NCC’s books. But he added that access is not routinely given to “any self-appointed group on the outside.”


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