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> Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland contributes $529,666 to anti-gay marriage campaign, Can anyone justify this?
Guest_AK_WDB_*
post Oct 25 2009, 12:49 AM
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Nate Silver has posted a few articles about the upcoming ballot initiative to ban gay marriage in Maine. The vote is on Nov. 3, and the general conclusion is that it will probably fail. The most recent post, however, has some very interesting statistics about the fundraising activities of the "Yes on 1" and "No on 1" campaigns.

I'll let you read the rest, but here's what caught my eye: The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has contributed $529,666 to the group "No on 1: Stand for Marriage Maine". This accounts for over 78% of the group's in-state fundraising, as well as over 20% of its total fundraising (most of the rest came from the National Organization for Marriage).

$529,666 is a lot of money. At the 2000 census, the city of Portland had a population of 64,250, of whom 14.1%, or approximately 9,059 people, were living below the poverty line. I bet $529,666 in charitable contributions from the Roman Catholic diocese could have made quite a bit of difference in those people's lives...and I bet most of those people are worrying more about how to pay their bills than whether or not gay marriage is legal.

I don't know how the Catholic Church's fundraising structure works - perhaps RM could enlighten me - but I assume that the majority of its funds come from member dues. Do the members of the Catholic Church in Portland want their money to be going toward church expenses and charitable activities, or toward an anti-gay marriage campaign? Maine is not a very religious state, and I suspect that it's a state where not all Catholics are vehemently opposed to gay marriage.

Now, let me be clear: I don't have any problem with organized religion playing a role in society. But I have a pretty big problem with an organization that is granted special status by the U.S. Constitution and laws due to its supposedly spiritual and charitable nature using its funds for explicitly political purposes. As far as I'm concerned, any church that engages in this kind of activity should be immediately stripped of its tax-exempt status, and its leaders should not be granted exemptions from hate-speech laws and other such regulations. What does it mean to be a religious organization, anyway?
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Guest_JSK_*
post Oct 25 2009, 03:42 AM
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This reminds me, I must send in my ballot on monday in support of increased domestic partnership rights.
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Guest_AK_WDB_*
post Oct 25 2009, 04:09 AM
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...Is anyone going to discuss this further, or am I just so eloquent and correct that nothing more needs to be said? tongue.gif
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Guest_C.Haines_*
post Oct 25 2009, 04:13 AM
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QUOTE (AK_WDB @ Oct 24 2009, 11:09 PM) *
...Is anyone going to discuss this further, or am I just so eloquent and correct that nothing more needs to be said? tongue.gif

pretty much that, in my opinion.
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Guest_Research Monkey_*
post Oct 25 2009, 05:40 AM
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QUOTE (AK_WDB @ Oct 24 2009, 05:49 PM) *
$529,666 is a lot of money. At the 2000 census, the city of Portland had a population of 64,250, of whom 14.1%, or approximately 9,059 people, were living below the poverty line. I bet $529,666 in charitable contributions from the Roman Catholic diocese could have made quite a bit of difference in those people's lives...and I bet most of those people are worrying more about how to pay their bills than whether or not gay marriage is legal.

I don't know how the Catholic Church's fundraising structure works - perhaps RM could enlighten me - but I assume that the majority of its funds come from member dues. Do the members of the Catholic Church in Portland want their money to be going toward church expenses and charitable activities, or toward an anti-gay marriage campaign? Maine is not a very religious state, and I suspect that it's a state where not all Catholics are vehemently opposed to gay marriage.

Now, let me be clear: I don't have any problem with organized religion playing a role in society. But I have a pretty big problem with an organization that is granted special status by the U.S. Constitution and laws due to its supposedly spiritual and charitable nature using its funds for explicitly political purposes. As far as I'm concerned, any church that engages in this kind of activity should be immediately stripped of its tax-exempt status, and its leaders should not be granted exemptions from hate-speech laws and other such regulations. What does it mean to be a religious organization, anyway?


One point of note, the most recent figure posted by the Maine website for Public Campaign Finance says $554,454.47 was donated by the Church.

On the first paragraph: fo' shizzle. I would like to point out that by no means are the Catholic Churches of the world slacking off in volunteering or donating. The Catholic Church's Knights of Columbus volunteer more than the Red Cross (you read that right), but still. That money could do a lot for a lot of people, and like you've said, Catholics tend to be a pretty heterogeneous voting block.

On the second one:

The term "member dues" make me laugh a little bit. In a normal diocese (group of parishes overseen by a bishop), all funding for the group of churches comes from the charitable contributions of the parishioners within the diocese. Not only does the Vatican NOT fund diocese (even, controversially, when a diocese finds itself facing millions of dollars in legal fees and settlements), but it does not accept any responsibility to "bail out" bankrupt diocese. Now, the Vatican DOES reserve the right to oversee and reject various diocese financial actions, such as the declaration of bankruptcy or the sale of real estate over a certain amount.

In an article you can find here, the author points out:

QUOTE
You might look at item #4 and say, well, that’s a religious organization, all right, but it’s an in-state religious organization. All that money given by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, you might say, reflects in-state preferences.

You might say that. But you’d be wrong.

Only one contribution to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland for use in relation to Ballot Question 1 can be definitively traced to a Maine source: a $250 contribution from “The Lyons Family” of Freeport, Maine.

$41,120.74 given to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland for use in relation to Ballot Question 1 are identified as coming from “Unitemized Contributions,” and the source of these contributions is not reported.

$133,375.03 for use in relation to Ballot Question 1 (the same-sex marriage repeal referendum) are cited as coming from “General Treasury Transfers,” and it’s not reported whether the money in these transfers came from out of state or not.

But let’s be generous. Let’s imagine, unrealistically, that ALL of these funds came EXCLUSIVELY from sources within the state of Maine.

Even if that were true, only 44.9% of the money used by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland in relation to Ballot Question 1 during the 3rd Quarter of 2009 would be coming from in state. At the very least, 55.1% of the money used by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland in opposition to Ballot Question 1 is coming from sources outside the state of Maine.

Who are the out-of-state sources of that money — that 55.1%, some $214,550.00 — given to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland? Without exception, they are either out-of-state Catholic organizations, or out-of-state Catholic bishops, or out-of-state Catholic priests. The Catholic Church is funneling money from other states to fund the effort to outlaw same-sex marriage in Maine.


This website has a fairly obvious bias, but this does not affect the numbers, just two facts:

1. The money does not reflect any organized effort by a very large number of Catholic diocese to collaborate to fight gay marriage, nor would it even be possible that the Vatican sponsored or coordinated such a scheme.
2. It is possible that there is a flow of money from non-Catholic organizations that could theoretically be funneled through this particular diocese.

On the third paragraph, I'm pretty much in agreement.
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Guest_AK_WDB_*
post Oct 25 2009, 05:54 AM
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I didn't mean to say that the Vatican or Catholic Churches in general were responsible for this flow of money. What I did mean to say was that the diocese of Portland is acting in an inappropriately political manner. From your post, it appears that the diocese is not actually taking its parishioners' contributions and using them to fund the anti-gay marriage campaign. That's good, I guess - but the diocese is acting as a sink for out-of-state political money, which means it is serving an even more blatantly political purpose than I originally thought. I consider that to be a violation of the implicit trust put in it by its own parishioners and by American law.
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Guest_Research Monkey_*
post Oct 25 2009, 06:05 AM
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QUOTE (AK_WDB @ Oct 24 2009, 10:54 PM) *
I didn't mean to say that the Vatican or Catholic Churches in general were responsible for this flow of money. What I did mean to say was that the diocese of Portland is acting in an inappropriately political manner. From your post, it appears that the diocese is not actually taking its parishioners' contributions and using them to fund the anti-gay marriage campaign. That's good, I guess - but the diocese is acting as a sink for out-of-state political money, which means it is serving an even more blatantly political purpose than I originally thought. I consider that to be a violation of the implicit trust put in it by its own parishioners and by American law.


Right, my post was just saying "they're not robbing the citizens of Portland, they're overtly acting as a political organization."
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Guest_BigTS_*
post Oct 25 2009, 06:25 PM
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The Catholic Church is one of the most reactionary organizations in the world - this isn't a big thing compared to the fact that they're currently pursuing an indirect genocide in Africa by way of their de-facto pro-HIV-transmission policy. I knew a lot of people that went to Catholic school here that had to go to DC for the March for Life as part of their graduation project.
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Guest_Research Monkey_*
post Oct 25 2009, 10:32 PM
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QUOTE (BigTS @ Oct 25 2009, 11:25 AM) *
The Catholic Church is one of the most reactionary organizations in the world -


Actually, this is very true.

QUOTE (BigTS @ Oct 25 2009, 11:25 AM) *
this isn't a big thing compared to the fact that they're currently pursuing an indirect genocide in Africa by way of their de-facto pro-HIV-transmission policy.


Is Panama pursuing an indirect genocide because it exists in a region prone to Malaria?

Intent is not a part of genocide that you can really remove from the definition.

QUOTE (BigTS @ Oct 25 2009, 11:25 AM) *
I knew a lot of people that went to Catholic school here that had to go to DC for the March for Life as part of their graduation project.


Again on the theme of decentralization which the Church is a fan of, that could happen at any private school because it's private. The Pope isn't all up in everyone's grill about marching for stuff.
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Guest_Widget!_*
post Oct 25 2009, 10:59 PM
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QUOTE (Research Monkey @ Oct 25 2009, 03:32 PM) *
The Pope isn't all up in everyone's grill about marching for stuff.


This is a false statement.
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Guest_BigTS_*
post Oct 25 2009, 11:12 PM
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He is a man of tremendous cultural influence. If you invest a lot (financially and charismatically) in putting down birth control, then I'd say you are partially responsible in restricting access to contraceptive devices that could have prevented the spread of HIV.
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Guest_Jonesy_*
post Oct 26 2009, 12:14 AM
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Umm technically the church doesn't have "dues". You just get bullied into paying.
I won't comment on anything else because I know too much about the church to say anything nice about it
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Guest_Research Monkey_*
post Oct 26 2009, 02:12 AM
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QUOTE (Widget! @ Oct 25 2009, 03:59 PM) *
QUOTE (Research Monkey @ Oct 25 2009, 03:32 PM) *
The Pope isn't all up in everyone's grill about marching for stuff.


This is a false statement.


When has the Pope told you to march for anything?

He hasn't informed me, so I'm concerned is all. I wouldn't want to miss the Holy See's chain e-mail or anything.
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Guest_Research Monkey_*
post Oct 26 2009, 02:31 AM
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QUOTE (BigTS @ Oct 25 2009, 04:12 PM) *
He is a man of tremendous cultural influence. If you invest a lot (financially and charismatically) in putting down birth control, then I'd say you are partially responsible in restricting access to contraceptive devices that could have prevented the spread of HIV.


They also put a great deal of financial and charismatic effort to telling people not to have sex until marriage. Believe it or not, abstinence has been scientifically shown to stop HIV from spreading.

There are four possible outcomes of a matrix that we could set up based on attitude towards sex and contraceptives. Listed, they look this this:

1. No pre-marital sex, no contraceptives: Very low chance of spreading HIV.
2. Pre-marital sex, no contraceptives: Dangerous risk of spreading HIV.
3. Pre-marital sex, with contraceptives: Very low chance of spreading HIV.
4. No pre-marital sex, with contraceptives: Angst and loneliness?

The Catholic Church promotes the first option, which I would think you would criticize as being unrealistic ( in a secular society I would agree) in favor of the third option. The outcome is the same, however.
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Guest_Widget!_*
post Oct 26 2009, 02:38 AM
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QUOTE (Research Monkey @ Oct 25 2009, 07:12 PM) *
QUOTE (Widget! @ Oct 25 2009, 03:59 PM) *
QUOTE (Research Monkey @ Oct 25 2009, 03:32 PM) *
The Pope isn't all up in everyone's grill about marching for stuff.


This is a false statement.


When has the Pope told you to march for anything?

He hasn't informed me, so I'm concerned is all. I wouldn't want to miss the Holy See's chain e-mail or anything.


It was that same night that the Pope said I was a "poopyhead". tongue.gif
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Guest_BigTS_*
post Oct 26 2009, 03:15 PM
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QUOTE (Research Monkey @ Oct 25 2009, 10:31 PM) *
QUOTE (BigTS @ Oct 25 2009, 04:12 PM) *
He is a man of tremendous cultural influence. If you invest a lot (financially and charismatically) in putting down birth control, then I'd say you are partially responsible in restricting access to contraceptive devices that could have prevented the spread of HIV.


They also put a great deal of financial and charismatic effort to telling people not to have sex until marriage. Believe it or not, abstinence has been scientifically shown to stop HIV from spreading.

There are four possible outcomes of a matrix that we could set up based on attitude towards sex and contraceptives. Listed, they look this this:

1. No pre-marital sex, no contraceptives: Very low chance of spreading HIV.
2. Pre-marital sex, no contraceptives: Dangerous risk of spreading HIV.
3. Pre-marital sex, with contraceptives: Very low chance of spreading HIV.
4. No pre-marital sex, with contraceptives: Angst and loneliness?

The Catholic Church promotes the first option, which I would think you would criticize as being unrealistic ( in a secular society I would agree) in favor of the third option. The outcome is the same, however.


The outcome is reactionary, because it creates an environment where its acceptable to punish adults for consensual sex. Even without those kind of laws it still stigmatizes it, discouraging people who want sex from fulfilling their legitimate need. It creates shame, secrecy, and self-hatred.

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Guest_AK_WDB_*
post Oct 26 2009, 04:15 PM
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Hmm...I'd have to agree with you that the Catholic Church acts irresponsibly by refusing to accept condoms as a potential method of stemming the spread of HIV, but I don't think it's quite as evil as you're suggesting, just misguided. Honestly, most people in those parts of the world are probably too worried about putting food on the table for their families to have much energy to spend worrying about "shame, secrecy, and self-hatred." It sounds like you're going for a fully liberal society even in the poorest parts of the world, which is one heck of a goal, and charity isn't the best way to accomplish it anyway.

And why is "reactionary" supposed to be such a pejorative word?
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Guest_BigTS_*
post Oct 26 2009, 09:48 PM
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QUOTE
And why is "reactionary" supposed to be such a pejorative word?


A position that is reactionary is one that does real damage to society-if it is applied, it helps entrench and reinforce oppressive institutional norms in material practice. In other words, it legitimizes a system that deprives people of their civil and human liberty.

I'd argue that what the diocese did was subsidize a campaign to protect the heterosexual monopoly of marriage. This would allow the state to continue to deny certain legal and spiritual needs to couples on the basis of their sexuality.

This post has been edited by BigTS: Oct 26 2009, 09:52 PM
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Guest_AK_WDB_*
post Oct 27 2009, 01:15 AM
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QUOTE (BigTS @ Oct 26 2009, 01:48 PM) *
QUOTE
And why is "reactionary" supposed to be such a pejorative word?


A position that is reactionary is one that does real damage to society-if it is applied, it helps entrench and reinforce oppressive institutional norms in material practice. In other words, it legitimizes a system that deprives people of their civil and human liberty.

I think of "reactionary" as simply conservative or preserving the status quo, which is not always bad.

QUOTE
I'd argue that what the diocese did was subsidize a campaign to protect the heterosexual monopoly of marriage. This would allow the state to continue to deny certain legal and spiritual needs to couples on the basis of their sexuality.

Of course, I agree...although many other groups do so as well, and my particular complaint was that it used its special status as a religious organization to engage in political activity.
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Guest_Research Monkey_*
post Oct 27 2009, 06:54 AM
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QUOTE (AK_WDB @ Oct 26 2009, 09:15 AM) *
Hmm...I'd have to agree with you that the Catholic Church acts irresponsibly by refusing to accept condoms as a potential method of stemming the spread of HIV, but I don't think it's quite as evil as you're suggesting, just misguided. Honestly, most people in those parts of the world are probably too worried about putting food on the table for their families to have much energy to spend worrying about "shame, secrecy, and self-hatred." It sounds like you're going for a fully liberal society even in the poorest parts of the world, which is one heck of a goal, and charity isn't the best way to accomplish it anyway.


No one has ever accused a religious institution of being pragmatic or utilitarian...
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