Monday, Feb. 07, 2005

Howard and Roberta Ahmanson

The Financiers
Money makes the Word go round, and this wealthy, conservative Republican couple takes a dizzyingly ecclectic approach to funding evangelism. The projects that savings-and-loan multimillionaires Howard and Roberta Ahmanson have paid for over the years through Fieldstead & Co., a private philanthropy in Irvine, Calif., form a cornucopia of faith-based activism, including an institute linked to the antievolution intelligent-design movement and a study of social endeavors by Third World Pentecostal churches. The couple have been accused over the years of having an extremist agenda, mostly because a onetime pet charity, the Chalcedon Foundation, advocates the Christian reconstructionist branch of theology that says gays and other biblical lawbreakers should be stoned. Howard distanced himself from those views and resigned from the foundation board years ago.

The couple, both 55, now are warning powerful conservative Christians about the pitfalls of hubris in the aftermath of their victories over liberals last November. Says Roberta: "Christlike humility and [improving] the lives of human beings should be the goals."