This is the second of two articles about the disastrous consequences of a $50,000 grant from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) approved by Lansing Bp. Earl Boyea in 2017. Readers unfamiliar with CCHD would do well to watch The Vortex: River of Filth to learn about CCHD's troubling 50-year history.
LANSING, Mich. (ChurchMilitant.com) - Even though the diocese of Lansing is eager to eradicate the memory of radical black activist LaShawn Erby's role in shaping Bp. Earl Boyea's comprehensive new anti-racism initiative announced Oct. 11, a close look at events of the last two years illustrates how the Black Lives Matter (BLM) local chapter leader played Boyea "like a violin" to coax him into adopting key points of BLM's racist worldview throughout the diocese.
There are many angles from which to approach the telling of the two-year saga that led to what is formally called the diocese's Response to the 10 recommendations made by the Task Force on Race & Catholic Schools, and Bp. Boyea's accompanying letter introducing the response, the broad points of which a casual reader would not disagree with and would indeed applaud: recruiting minority students and staff, some with scholarships; and workshops on racism for students and parents.
However, the casual reader is the sort who knows neither the gory details of how these two documents came into existence and what the new program may portend for the future.
The objective of this article is to explain that in this situation, as is the case with everything related to CCHD, "the devil is in the details." The details include secrecy, deception, deflection and, for good measure — so that readers know what is the real issue here — blatant advocacy for the wholesale genocide of blacks not only in the diocese of Lansing but nationwide.
A short, sanitized summary of this long and complicated story can be found in ongoing coverage in the Lansing State Journal and YouTube. The summary is that Colin Kaepernick-style protests by four black football players at Lansing Catholic High School two years ago created a firestorm of media hysteria and protests against the bishop and some diocesan schools for alleged racism.
A protest of 150 people on Martin Luther King Day at the Lansing chancery a week later led to the formation by Bp. Boyea of a Task Force on Racism in March 2018. A year later the Task Force announced one recommendation, which was rejected in August (a week after Church Militant's exposé about the radical nature of the proposed anti-racism program) and replaced with the new 10-point plan Oct. 11.
A more accurate description of what happened goes like this: Racism, at least as of two years ago, was not a big problem in diocesan schools, but is an imaginary crisis promoted by race-baiting activists. Graham Couch, the seasoned sports columnist at the Lansing State Journal, opined in one of his first articles about protesting students who came to be known as the LCHS4: The problems he said are "probably not any worse than other predominantly white, relatively affluent private schools. No different than much of society."
The protests were a professional, remarkably well-organized, four-month effort orchestrated by LaShawn Erby, who at the time was being paid $43,000 as executive director of one of Bp. Boyea's most-favored non-profits, ACTION of Greater Lansing. The previous year she made $9,000 as an organizer at the group, which is headquartered at Christo Rey parish in Lansing.
Erby's name appeared in some of the objective news coverage and in some YouTube videos still available online, standing with the students who had reached celebrity status in Lansing — status that extends to today, when they were invited to be guests at the Democratic National Primary Debate in Detroit.
Erby is best known in Michigan as a leader in the pro-abortion movement. She has been a keynote speaker for two of the Women's Marches in Michigan, for which she has been prominently featured in statewide mainstream media. Many posts on her Facebook page illustrate her advocacy for abortion, Planned Parenthood and the whole of the LGBTQi+ agenda.
When confronted with the question last December why Erby was on the payroll of a mostly Catholic non-profit based at a parish, Anne Rivet, chancery CCHD director, first denied Erby worked for ACTION, but agreed it was somewhat mysterious when she saw dozens of Google search results showing Erby described in news articles as executive director of the group.
Then she doubled down and said she had never seen Erby's name or image on the ACTION website in the previous year, even though this reporter saw it on a near-daily basis for at least nine months.
After promising that she would provide accurate information about Erby's presence with the non-profit and other CCHD grants she administers, Rivet never followed through and ignored multiple phone calls and email requests.
And so it continued with official sources who refused to provide any information to this reporter: The USCCB/CCHD official in Washington, D.C. who oversees grants in the Michigan region; Fr. Fred Thelen, founder and chair of the board of directors of ACTION; LaShawn Erby declined to talk after learning the request was from Church Militant; and the ACTION group itself, from an inquiry posted on its website in September, was to the point with a one-sentence reply: "Mr. McNally, We will not release any information to you for any reason and further contact requesting personal details will be considered harassment and reported as such."
Finally, upon the much-awaited departure of the former Lansing Communications Director Michael Diebold in March, the chancery seems to have had an epiphany that honesty — at least partial honesty — is a good policy and has responded to some of many requests from Church Militant about CCHD grants.
Some discussion is in order about the deficiencies of Boyea's approach to the specious claim that he and his school's staff are racists: He has offered nothing that looks like a spirited defense of the schools. On this, I have some expertise, having known Brian Wolcott, the athletic director now at Lansing Catholic High School for more than a decade, beginning when he was principal at Father Gabriel Richard High School (FGR), where one of my sons was graduated in 2008 and where another son has taught for six years.
There is remarkable racial harmony at FGR, and the Lansing State Journal reported that early on, when the LCHS4 got the bug to be mini-Kapernicks, that Wolcott had the situation contained, until the outsiders got involved: That would be LaShawn Erby, who should be given the devil's due; Saul Alinsky would be proud.
Somewhere in the two columns published by Boyea on the topic of racism in March 2018 he could have suggested that while white racism is certainly a sin, no question, there is nevertheless inaccuracy to the idea that all whites are intrinsically racist. He might have added somewhere that militant BLM activists overreach in their advocacy virtually across the board, including that more white cops need to be killed and "fried like bacon"
Dozens of eloquent rebuttals of the general liberal agenda regarding racism put forth by CCHD are available on YouTube and in books by black figures, including Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams and Jason Riley.
Riley and his book, Please Stop Helping Us, would be an outstanding reference material that should be included among the many workshops and programs planned for the diocese of Lansing.
Church Militant reached out to the director of communications for the diocese of Lansing to comment on this article. The following statement was provided for publication.
To be clear from the off, neither Bishop Boyea nor, to the best of our knowledge, any official of the curia of the Diocese of Lansing has ever met with Miss LaShawn Erby, an employee of Action of Greater Lansing for 15 months until January 2018, and we certainly do not share nor endorse her personal manifesto on a range of social issues including her publicly stated views on marriage, family and the sanctity of human life.
During the time of her employment with Action of Greater Lansing, the organization did benefit from funding from the USCCB's national CCHD fund although, by law, these dollars are ring-fenced such that they can only be used to promote the stated charitable aims of the organization and not the personal agenda of any member of staff, if that personal agenda happens to fall outside those stated charitable aims.
That said, the curial leadership of the Diocese of Lansing is presently conducting an internal review as to whether or not the local curia has the capacity — both in terms of staff numbers and requisite expertise — to carry out the required due diligence on local grant applications to the USCCB's national CCHD fund. The review began two months ago and will, most likely, reach its conclusion next month.
Further, the curial leadership also wishes to ensure that any local anti-poverty initiatives either approved or funded via the Diocese of Lansing do not adopt an overly-narrow and, thus, unhelpful view as regards the root causes of poverty in contemporary society including, specifically, a failure to recognize the married family as the foundational unit of civil society and, thus, the decline of marriage and family life as a key cause of poverty and many other social problems.
Meanwhile, Bishop Boyea's recent response to the Task Force on Race & Catholic Schools strenuously attempted to reject all forms of contemporary identity politics while, instead, attempting to root itself in an authentic Catholic understanding of the dignity of the human person which posits that our common humanity, and shared faith in Jesus Christ, unites Catholics of all ethnicities in a way that fosters ever greater unity while also respecting, indeed celebrating, our cultural and national differences.
Hence the invocation of great saintly figures such as Father Augustus Tolton, the former slave who became this country's first African-American priest, who worked himself into an early grave serving the poor and sick of all ethnic communities in 19th-century Chicago and his contemporary, Mother Katherine Drexel, the wealthy white heiress who poured out her life, and family wealth, at the service of the African-American and Native American communities. Her life also reminds us of the Church's long and venerable tradition of conferring pastoral solicitude upon particular ethnic and racial communities.