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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 19, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 42
Bigots raid the collection plate
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Bigots raid the collection plate

Catholic Church pouring cash into anti-Gay campaigns

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Roman Catholic Church has poured millions of dollars into anti-Gay campaigns between 2005 and the present, and is taking a leading role in funding anti-marriage ballot measures in four states, according to new reports by HRC and the pro-equality Catholic coalition Equally Blessed.

'The Roman Catholic Church and its affiliate, the Knights of Columbus, are leading the charge against marriage equality in the four states where marriage is on the ballot,' HRC said in its report, released October 18.

'Dioceses from across the country are sending money directly from their pews to out-of-state campaigns fighting marriage equality. It's doubtful that the parishioners fueling these contributions have any idea that their money is being used for this discriminatory purpose.

'Ultimately, the Catholic Church and the Knights of Columbus are responsible for more than a quarter of the funding going into the pockets of anti-equality organizations.'

BALLOT CAMPAIGN PUSH
The HRC report also details Catholic contributions funding anti-Gay ballot campaigns in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington.

'Marriage equality opponents across the four states have, to date, raised roughly $4.1 million,' HRC says.

'The Catholic Church's contributions make up 27 percent of that total figure. When you add in the contributions of Church ally NOM, the reality of the coordinated effort becomes clear: the Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, and NOM are responsible for funding nearly 60 percent of all anti-equality efforts in Minnesota, Maryland, Washington State, and Maine.'

In Washington, HRC says, the opponents of marriage equality have raised more than $1.6 million. Of that total, the Church and its ally NOM have poured in over 55% of the funding.

The Catholic Church has donated $260,000 - a figure that includes $250,000 from the Knights of Columbus, $5,000 from the Seattle Knights chapter, and $5,000 from St. Monica Parish. NOM, meanwhile, has given $675,939 to the fight against marriage equality.

MOST CATHOLICS PRO-EQUALITY
According to the Public Religion Research Institute, nearly 60% of American Catholics support marriage equality, and 83% say they do not feel bound to follow their bishops' political recommendations. Nevertheless, the Equally Blessed report shows that conservative Catholics have used the Knights of Columbus, a lay fraternal organization, as shock troops to move their political agenda.

According to the Equally Blessed report, the Knights have bought significant influence within the Roman Catholic Church through large contributions to the Vatican and to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The organization uses that influence, Equally Blessed says, to advance a conservative political and theological agenda, sometimes at the expense of other U. S. Catholics.

Since 2009, the Knights have charged each of their 1.8 million members $2 per year to help fund their 'Culture of Life' initiative, which includes its campaign against marriage equality. Many Catholics who support Knights of Columbus charities in their parish or diocese are unaware of the organization's involvement in 'culture war' issues both inside and outside the church, Equally Blessed charges.

The Knights contributed $1.5 million to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has mounted legal challenges to marriage equality on the grounds that it infringes on religious freedom, and more than $1.1 million to the Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage.

KNIGHTS FUNDED WITCH HUNT
According to media reports cited in the Equally Blessed report, the Knights helped fund an investigation into the work of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the largest group of U. S. nuns. That investigation preceded a further inquest by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which resulted in the appointment of Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain to discipline the LCWR.

The LCWR, many of whose members are strong advocates for economic justice, represents 80% of Catholic nuns in the United States. The Vatican criticized the group for seeming to challenge positions taken by bishops 'who are the church's authentic teachers of faith and morals.'

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, the Knights' chaplain, reportedly called for the investigation into the LCWR. The Knights also contributed $265,000 to the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, a smaller, but more conservative group of nuns.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, a lay Catholic who serves as the executive director of DignityUSA and a leader with the Equally Blessed coalition, noted that the majority of those sitting in the pews every week support equality.

'Our Catholic social teaching calls for us to work for a more loving, compassionate, and justice-oriented world for all,' she said. 'It does not call on us to discriminate against anyone. Unfortunately, the anti-LGBT activities of the Church hierarchy stand in direct opposition to the values of the majority of Catholics.'

PERVERTING SOCIAL JUSTICE
HRC spokesperson Dr. Sharon Groves added that the anti-Gay activities of U.S. Catholic bishops represent a break from traditional Catholic teaching on social justice.

'The Catholic Church's social teaching, when put in action, is one of the most inclusive theological teachings on the planet,' Groves said. 'The Church hierarchy is instead redirecting this teaching in the name of discrimination, and in the process they are tarnishing the very values that so many Catholics hold dear.'

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