All the Archbishop’s Men: Church asks Catholics to Pay for Ads to Scare Parents

25 Sep

From this morning’s Star Tribune we learn that All the Archbishop’s Men have taken the “unusual” step of sending a mailing to more than 400,000 Catholics in Minnesota.  In Catholics asked to pay for marriage vote ads,Rose French reports:

All the Archbishops Men: Help us Pay for Ads to Scare Your Kids (Photo Star Tribune)

In trying to reach every Catholic household in Minnesota, the mailing is “unusual” compared to Catholics’ roles in marriage amendment campaigns in other states, said John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron (Ohio), who studies politics and religion.

“I can’t think of anything as direct and as explicit,” Green said. “I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it legally, but certainly I’m sure it’s very controversial. Catholic leaders have been involved in fundraising. I know of examples where they have reached out to parishioners, but I’ve never heard of anything quite this comprehensive.”

Besides asking Catholics to make contributions, bishops are encouraging them to vote yes on the amendment, according to a letter sent to priests and church administrators last week from Jason Adkins, executive director of Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in the state.

The mailing “gives Catholics an opportunity to support the passage of the amendment and asks them to send a contribution to where it will be most effective,” Adkins’ letter states. In an interview Monday, Adkins said the mailing is being coordinated and paid for by his group and will cost close to $100,000.

Church helps finance drive

So far this year, Catholic leadership has been one of the biggest financial backers of pro-amendment forces, directing close to $500,000 in support of it, according to campaign finance records. The Minnesota Catholic Conference said it reported raising $750,000 in 2011. Much of that came in a $650,000 contribution from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which tapped its investments to help fund the marriage amendment campaign.

So what will Catholics be paying for?

I imagine Catholics thinking about heeding His Grace’s plea for cash may want to consider what they’ll be paying for.

I’ve been saying for a while that the Vote Yes will, in the final weeks of the campaign, seek to scare the bejesus out of parents. Preying on parent’s fears that they will lose control over the values their children learn, past campaigns (all run by the same campaign manager) have painted a world where children are taught about boys marrying boys before they are ready to grasp these adult concepts.  Probably the most famous of these past, successful attempts was California’s Prop 8 “Princess” ad:

This ad was incredibly effective for two reasons – it put a seed of doubt with soft supporters of the No on Prop 8 campaign, especially families with young children.  Secondly, the No on 8’s in-fighting and lack of resources meant that the ad was on the air for two weeks without a response, a deadly combination.

In Minnesota, we will have the resources to respond, but we should all think hard about the first problem, about the uncertainty the Vote on Yes campaign will seek to insert into parents’ minds about a world where they’ve lost control over what their kids learn and when they learn it.

What they’ve successfully accomplished in California, Maine, and elsewhere, is feed parental anxiety about uncomfortable subjects and helps people forget that kids learning about love in the home is not the equivalent of having a birds and the bees conversation before you’re ready.  As Kim and John, the couple in Minnesotans United for All Families’ first TV ad, say, “In our daughter’s world, her normal is so different than ours.  It didn’t faze her at all.”

One of my favorite viral youtube videos is of a kid learning about a gay couple being married:

“So that means you love each other.”  Exactly – something so simple even a kid can understand (and explain) it.

Minnesotans for Marriage: Using Kids to Argue that Voting No Will Hurt Kids

Yesterday I asked, wouldn’t it be ironic if the Vote Yes side – which is seeking to “protect” kids, went out of the way to put children in the middle of the very political debate our state is having right now?  I reprinted the letter of Jenny, a mother whose four year-old came home from a Christian daycare with a Vote Yes letter tucked away in his backpack.

Today we have Sally Jo Sorensen of Bluestem Prairie has done us the favor of showing us two of Greater Minnesota examples of Vote Yes Kid Fearmongering.  Check out the entire post at Bluestem, it’s really good. She cites a story in the Faribault Daily News, Faribault Catholic school posts signs supporting marriage amendment:

City ordinance doesn’t address it, state law allows it, and the IRS doesn’t appear to restrict it.

The First Amendment, however, protects it.

But that isn’t keeping a number of locals from voicing their disapproval for signs that showed up in front of a Catholic grade school over the weekend. The Faribault Daily News Facebook page has been flooded with messages from one side or the other since one resident posed the question Sunday evening.

Liz Fritz saw the signs on her way to work Saturday morning. The signs, placed in front of Divine Mercy Catholic School on Third Avenue, promote voting for a statewide ballot question that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The signs tell people to “vote yes” and that marriage is between “one man, one woman.”

“I felt betrayed,” Fritz said. “I went to school there and I know how hard it is to be a third-grader and be told you’re supposed to marry a man but know that that’s not what you’re feeling or thinking. I know how it feels to be different and it just hurts to know the kids going there now are going to be even more reminded of that.”

But Associate Pastor and Assistant School Principal the Rev. Erik Lundgren says the decision to put up the signs wasn’t one taken lightly. A group of local marriage amendment supporters from the parish asked to put the signs up and, since the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has pushed for support of the campaign, school and church officials said yes.

“Being a Catholic is really about living out your faith and we take political decisions very seriously,” Lundgren said. “We are asked to not just shape ourselves but shape the world.”

Fritz’s post spurred debate — by Monday morning more than 50 people had given their input on the issue on the paper’s Facebook page. The discussion jumped from whether or not the signs should be allowed in front of the school to opinions on religion and the ballot question itself.

More Kid Fearmongering From Dear Dear State Representative Mary Franson

State Representative Mary Franson, last seen making national headlines when she compared the poor to wild animals, is Sorensen’s second example of Kid Fearmongering. After Bluestem posted video of a debate between Franson and her opponent last Sunday, the City Pages’ Aaron Rupar wrote about how our dear State Representative declared homosexuality not to be normal, and now national websites like Raw Story and Think Progress have picked up on the story. In Franson: Homosexuality isn’t normal, Rupar writes of Franson’s fear for children in the classroom:

Franson also expressed concern that if the marriage amendment is defeated, Minnesota’s public schools might follow Massachusetts’ alleged practice of indoctrinating students to (gasp!) accept homosexuality as
something normal. . . .

At this point we might be reminded that All the Archbishop’s Men and Minnesotans for Marriage insist that marriage must be held sacred.  The Archdiocese has said marriage must be “protected” because:

In civil society, marriage’s essential public purpose is about providing kids with what they need — both a mom and a dad. Marriage is a reality that unites a man and a woman and any children born from their union. While there are many types of loving relationships, marriage is more.

At this point we might also ponder the fact that Representative Franson is twice divorced–and, therefore, a single mom.  Of course, ever so good at playing the victim, I’m sure she and her chorus will howl, “That’s bullying! How dare you bring her family into this?”

Only we are allowed to judge others, to call some marriages more and some less.

Hell hath no fury like a hypocrite called out.

2 Responses to “All the Archbishop’s Men: Church asks Catholics to Pay for Ads to Scare Parents”

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