Well the IRD was successful in it's mission. It was able to create the sort of pressure for punitive action that has led to Rev. William Melnyk's resignation as priest in his Pennsylvanian parish. The Philadelphia Inquirer pointed to pressure from "national Christian groups and Internet bloggers" but as Blogopotamus! has pointed out, the start of this storm was the IRD.
But the fact that it led to resignations and punishments is due to the silence of progressive Episcopal groups and the local bishop Charles Bennison. Since the IRD's campaign against liberals in the mainline will continue, some thought needs to be given on how to respond more appropriately, in a way which protects folks, not leaving them out to dry. There ought to be groups willing to come out in support of the targets of the right in the church, or this scenario will simply repeat itself.
One of the interesting things about the IRD and conservative groups in the mainline is that their tactics don't change when dealing with the various denominations they are seeking to silence or take over. One key area has been to take over the boards of the denominations. In the Presbyterian Church, we get this from Presbyterians for Renewal: "is this not a good time, then, to look long and hard at the funding, the composition, and the utility of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, arguably one of our most theologically unbalanced groups?" From the Methodists the IRD has it's sights on the General Board for Church and Society which they claim is controlled by the "far left".
Both groups represent protestant liberal views on the social and economic problems which plague this nation. I hope that liberals take note, whether they are religious or not, on what role this could play in terms of shaping our nations' political debate. Most evangelical groups take a definite conservative stance on most issues of the day. The goal of some on the right, is to convince the country that any expression of religion in this country is always conservative. When there are mainline organizations that raise issues like poverty and war from a liberal religious perspective, the right's ownership of religion in our nation's discourse is threatened. Some of the power the right has is their percieved monopoly over religion.
These mainline social witness groups are key for democrats who are trying to figure out a way to connect faith and progressive politics. And it's a threat to the right, thus the efforts to shut down the voice of the mainline. Such mainline organizations are able to respond to questions of war, poverty, and economic injustice in a way which reflects moral concerns and language. They are in a good position to begin the process of widening our sense of morality so that it encompasses all of our corporate life together in society and in the life of congregations. That's why secular liberals have a stake on what happens to the battles in the mainline.