It's Not Your Mother's YWCA

CRISIS Magazine - e-Letter

May 8, 2003

Dear Friend,

You probably remember the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) from when you were a kid. Maybe you took swimming lessons there, or attended a summer camp program -- maybe you even got job training or day care at one of their facilities. The YWCA has a long and distinguished history of providing help through its programs to young women in need -- and to the community at large -- in a Christian context.

But things have changed at the YWCA... in fact, you probably wouldn't recognize it today. They still provide outreach and programming for young women, but that third element of their identity -- "Christian" -- seems to have been forgotten altogether.

The YWCA has been running away from its Christian heritage for years. But in the last few days, things have taken an even more ominous turn.

I'm referring, of course, to the newly-hired CEO for the YWCA.

Patricia Ireland.

Yes, THAT Patricia Ireland. The openly bisexual, militantly pro-abortion Patricia Ireland. The former National Organization of Women president of 10 years has assumed command of the YWCA, and while she seems eager to begin her job and take the organization in a new direction, it's pretty obvious that the new direction will have nothing to do with its Christian past.

As I mentioned earlier, the YWCA's slow drift from Christianity has been going on for some time now - close to 20 years. And now, the faith of their founders has become an embarrassment. The YWCA homepage conveniently avoids any mention of its Christian legacy, focusing instead on their outreach to women and minorities. Their causes are heavily political these days, as they weigh in on everything from Title IX debates to the war in Iraq.

But again, not a word about Christianity.

Perhaps the biggest sign that changes are ahead is the fact that the YWCA is moving its national headquarters to Washington, DC. It's an obvious choice for those who want to be more politically active, as Ireland herself acknowledged:

"The relocation of our national headquarters to Washington, D.C. allows us to have a stronger and more effective voice for change. New initiatives on the grassroots level and in the nation's capital will target policies that adversely impact women and girls, and people of color -- especially those on the economic margins of our society."

Sounds like the YWCA of our youth has been hijacked by a more politically correct ideology than Christianity. But really, do we need another NOW in miniature? What made the YWCA (and organizations like it) stand out was its commitment to Christianity when others were all too happy to shed that identity.

Oh, how things have changed.

And speaking of groups who like grabbing attention, it looks like Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) is at it again. This time, they're campaigning for new members, asking their current members to encourage friends to join. Their hope is that higher numbers will be more impressive to the media and will provide evidence that they're the "authentic" voice of Catholics in America.

Well, I decided to start a little campaign of my own. It seems that CRISIS has been nominated as a sort of counterweight to VOTF, and we certainly don't want their influence spreading. Since I always like to keep you abreast of the latest VOTF situation, I want you to ask one friend to sign up for our e-letter. VOTF thinks they're the voice of the Church because they have the numbers to prove it -- well, I say it's time we show them what numbers can do.

Please forward this around and encourage your friends to sign up. It's free after all.

Talk to you next week,


P.S. I did want to mention one organization you SHOULD support...the New York C.S. Lewis Society, which has been around for 30 years. They're holding a weekend symposium celebrating the 60th anniversary of the classic Lewis work, The Abolition of Man. It'll be held on August 8-10 on Long Island. You can get all the details at