US Catholic Faith in Real Life

How not to spend $100,000: Church drops (more) big bucks in fight against same-sex marriage

By Scott Alessi | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

The Minnesota Catholic Conference will be devoting $100,000 to a big project this week. No, they won't be building housing or emergency shelters for the homeless as the fall weather kicks in. They also aren't using the cash to beef up food pantries or to provide charitable assistance to folks in need so they don't have to take government aid.

The money will be going toward an effort to promote Minnesota for Marriage, a group campaigning for the passage of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state. But the $100,000 isn't even going toward that effort directly--the money is being used for a direct mailing campaign with the goal of raising even more money to spend on television ads supporting the amendment. The Star Tribune reports that 400,000 Catholics in the state will receive a letter asking for financial contributions to support the ad campaign.

The church in Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune report, has already spent $500,000 in support of the amendment this year, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis gave $650,000 last year toward efforts to ban same-sex marriage. I wouldn't even know what to do with that much money, but the church leaders are asking the faithful to shell out even more dough to keep the campaign rolling before the November 6 vote. According to polls, the state is pretty evenly split on the ballot measure, with 49 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

This news comes on a day when strong opposition to same-sex marriage from the church's leaders is in headlines around the country. Archbishop John Myers of Newark, New Jersey issued a statement saying Catholics who disagree with the church's opposition to gay marriage shouldn't receive communion. A Los Angeles priest was suspended, had his faculties removed, and can no longer present himself publicly as a priest because he supports same-sex marriage (a harsher penalty than many priests found guilty of sexually abusing children received). And Baltimore Archbishop William Lori will host an event opposing same-sex weddings--"a way for the faith community to gather together" and "a time of fellowship," according to a Maryland Catholic Conference spokesperson.

In other words, the church's opposition to same-sex marriage has been made loud and clear. The bishops have argued their case repeatedly, in public, with plenty of fanfare and media coverage. Not all Catholics agree, of course, but you'd be hard pressed to find a Catholic who is unclear on what the church teaches about this issue.

There are plenty of other pressing issues where the church's voice could be louder, worthy issues to spend money on, and important causes for which to conduct a capital campaign. Is it really still necessary then to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars campaigning on the issue of marriage? I think by now we already get the message.