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Intersection of Life and Faith

YWCA Says 'Adios' to Feminist Leader After Six-Month Stint

  • Fred Jackson and Jody Brown Agape Press
  • 2003 22 Oct
YWCA Says 'Adios' to Feminist Leader After Six-Month Stint

The YWCA has fired its chief executive, ultra-feminist Patricia Ireland, saying the organization "proved to be the wrong platform" for her views on women's issues.  But one pro-family group calls the announcement "pure spin."

Patricia Ireland's dossier attests to her radical and feminist leanings: ten years as head of the National Organization for Women (NOW), arguably the most visible and successful feminist organization in the U.S.; defender of abortion on demand; organizer of numerous efforts on behalf of homosexual rights; prime mover behind the NOW's "Global Feminist Program."

Given the Christian roots of the YWCA (ywca.org), Ireland's appointment six months ago understandably raised a storm of controversy.  Many questioned how it could hire someone who has championed so many anti-Christian views, primarily abortion.

So why the change of heart?  According to a YWCA spokeswoman, the organization proved to be the "wrong platform" for her advocacy of women's issues and social justice.  The spokeswoman declined to be specific about what advocacy by the former NOW president turned out to be wrong, citing "confidential personnel matters."

But Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) (traditionalvalues.org) tells The Washington Post that the Ireland appointment generated a huge cry of protests from "soccer moms" across the country -- a protest that manifested itself in cutting off donations to the YWCA.  Lafferty adds that she found moms and grandmothers just became increasingly concerned with the thought of dropping off their daughters and granddaughters at the YWCA where they would be "taken care of by lesbians."

"Patricia Ireland is wrong, and all this murky talk about 'wrong platforms' is pure spin," Lafferty says in a press release.  "She is a liberal extremist, and the soccer moms dropping their kids off at the local Y don't want any part of her and her strange friends."

Since Ireland's appointment in May, TVC had conducted a nationwide campaign to remove her, and had published a special report entitled "Patricia Ireland's New YWCA Mission."  Lafferty says in recent months, she has been using every opportunity she could during television and radio interviews to describe Ireland as "a bisexual who never met an abortion she didn't like."

In the Times report, Ireland says her release caught her by surprise because both she and the YWCA still see eye-to-eye on "many of the issues the right wing was upset about," such as abortion and homosexual rights.  And she says she doubts that campaigns against her, staged by groups such as Lafferty's, had anything to do with her firing -- although those campaigns are "among the possibilities."

Perhaps one of those campaigns "among the possibilities" was that mounted by OneMillionMoms.com and OneMillionDads.com.  Soon after Ireland was appointed as head of YWCA, the two activism websites contacted their members, urging them to log their concern with the YWCA Board of Directors.  The group reports today that their campaign resulted in more than 125,000 e-mail messages being sent.

Don Wildmon, founder and chairman of the American Family Association (afa.net), which sponsors OneMillionMoms and OneMillionDads, says he is pleased to know the leaders of the YWCA listened to their contributors.  He describes Ireland as "a lightening rod for controversy," and says the organization made the right choice by removing her "radical ideology."

The YWCA has named Dorris Daniel-Parkes as interim director while a search for a new president is conducted.

© 2003 Agape Press.