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U.S. Senate Candidate Ron Johnson: Protector of Pedophile Priests

Ron Johnson, the Religious Right and Tea Party backed GOP challenger to incumbent U.S. Senator Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) seems to care more about the powerful institutions such as insurance companies and the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay than the child victims of pedophile priests.

Johnson made himself clear while testifying on behalf of the Diocesan Finance Committee in opposition to the Child Victims Act. This bill would, had it been enacted, have removed the statute of limitations for childhood victims of sexual assault thus allowing them to file civil law suits against the alleged perpetrators. The views of finance committee member Johnson are now raising serious questions about candidate Johnson.

Over the last week I have been following Jud Lounsbury’s Daily Kos diaries on Johnson. Johnson’s opposition to embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights makes him a natural ally for über-conservative members of the Catholic hierarchy and the Religious Right. Beyond that, he is a millionaire businessman who opposes government functioning as a guarantor of the rights of individuals against moneyed interests as Lounsbury shows, step by step.  As Johnson stated in his testimony:  “I think it is extremely important to consider the economic havoc and the other victims [the legislation] would likely create.”

Lounsbury then  surfaced what may be  Johnson’s underlying intentions:

…the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that while Johnson was testifying, the Green Bay Diocese was attempting to kill a law suit against them, arguing that the victims had exhausted the time limits of the statute of limitations.

In abuse cases, statutes of limitations have a different consequence than other actions where a potential plaintiff openly sits on his right to file suit (i.e.,, a dispute over property boundaries or for the specific performance of a contractual term). As one of the bill’s sponsor put it:

Most sexually abused children are molested by family members or authority figures, and the pressure is strong not to disrupt their own home, school or church. Young victims often are threatened by adult perpetrators if they reveal the crime, and the shame and confusion children feel is frequently enough to keep them silent.  As adults, it may take victims years to come to grips with their experience and build the courage they need to identify their abuser and begin civil or criminal action. By the time they’re ready to do so, the statutes of limitations may have expired; it may be too late for justice to be done.

Writing this past June in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, columnist Daniel Bice noted that “Johnson, a Lutheran, sided with Catholic Church leaders in opposing the so-called Child Victims Act before a state Senate committee in January. The bill failed to win approval.”  Bice wondered, “Why did a guy considering a run for statewide office decide to jump into a controversy that cuts across party lines? What upside could there be?”

Bice couldn’t answer that, but he observed:

In an interview last week, he [Johnson] said he was first contacted on the issue by Deacon Tim Reilly, director of administration for the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay. Though a Lutheran, Johnson is a big backer of Catholic schools and was serving on the diocese’s finance council at the time of his testimony.

The proposal would have eliminated the statute of limitations for future victims of child sex abuse and opened a three-year window for past victims.

It was opposed by the insurance industry and church organizations, including the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which argued the bill could bankrupt it. The measure had the support of several police organizations, social workers and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

Candidate Johnson seems more interested in protecting the Church and the insurance industry than the victims of pedophile clergy placing the interests of powerful institutions  before the  well-being of children.  These institutions and their advocates like Johnson apparently believe that even child rape is okay as long as you can get away with until the statute of limitations runs out. Indeed, they not only seek exemption from the rules that apply to everyone else, but to ensure that they have friends in high places to ensure that that continues to be the so.

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40 Responses

  1. Frank,

    Statutes of limitations are designed to prevent stale claims from being presented. After the passage of many years, it is difficult, if not impossible, to defend against false claims of abuse, and there is generally little or no evidence of true claims.

    For example, for a number of years, there was a theory in vogue called “repressed memory syndrome”. Supposedly, a person who has repressed memories could have the sexual abuse brought to light by a competent therapist. This process turned out to be extremely unreliable. Neither the therapist nor the client was able to differentiate the repressed memory from the suggestive influences of the therapist. However, many people were accused and convicted before the problems with this theory came to light.

    Evidentiary procedures and statutes of limitations in sex abuse cases are already some of the most liberal (and thus questionable) of all criminal processes. Extending the statute of limitations further has great potential for mischief, without offering much hope of arriving at the truth. (This doesn’t even consider the limited penal value of punishment years and years after the offense.)

    In my own parish, a 40-50 year old allegation was made against our pastor. If there had not been a statute of limitations in effect, the accusor would have been able to use this as an opportunity to extort money or damage the reputation of the pastor. As it was, no civil or criminal action could be brought. The allegation was nevertheless investigated by church officials. The allegation was found to lack credibility.

    In other words, these type of statutes protect all of us – the innocent and the guilty. It is unfortunate that the guilty may escape the consequences of their actions in criminal or civil court. But, compared to the consequences of prosecuting innocent persons, that is a small price to pay.

  2. David:

    You say:

    In my own parish, a 40-50 year old allegation was made against our pastor. If there had not been a statute of limitations in effect, the accusor would have been able to use this as an opportunity to extort money or damage the reputation of the pastor. As it was, no civil or criminal action could be brought. The allegation was nevertheless investigated by church officials. The allegation was found to lack credibility.

    As an attorney who has practiced administrative law for over twenty years, I can tell you that institutions that have their own internal tribunal system are often skewed towards the agency they serve; the same goes for the Church. That is why New York (like most states) has a judicial proceeding to review the internal decisions of an administrative tribunal.

    Better to have an impartial system to review such claims even if it be many years later. This is especially true of the Church which sadly as little or credibility in policing past examples of pedophile activity.

  3. Frank,

    It might make some sense to have a civil authority which can review the claims. However, opening up the statute of limitations raises the real prospect that the result is going to be biased in favor of finding of guilt where none exists. When there isn’t much evidence, fact-finders tend to substitute their own biases in place of the evidence.

    Even assuming that an impartial system could be established, and even assuming that the allegations could be established (most likely by a confession), what is the appropriate “justice”, especially if it comes 40 years later?

    In the particular case that I cited, it is difficult to tell if the allegations lacked credibility because of the lack of evidence, the inherent untrustworthiness of the accuser, or whether the facts showed the allegations to be without credibility. However, those problems are going to exist no matter who is investigating. If there is going to be a bias, it should certainly be in favor of the accused rather than in favor of the accuser. There is no way to prove that something didn’t happen. Hence, the accuser has to carry the burden.

  4. Great article, Frank. It’s important to keep showing the political connection between the US Catholic Church and the Republican Party and the mutual aid they provide to each other.

    • Betty,

      I thought the conservatives were supposed to be the conspiracy theorists.

      • Conspiracy theorists?

        David, this alone shoots down that claim. As does Robert P. George, the late Richard Neuhaus ( who used to whisper in GWB’s little ear) and many others.

      • Frank,

        Your premise that the statute of limitations issue is somehow connected to pedophile priests borders on the absurd. There are plenty of sound jurisprudential reasons for limiting the time to bring claims. You know it; I know it; and I think your readers know it.

        There might be a connection between Republicans and the Catholic Church, but the money doesn’t flow the other direction. Republicans like the Catholic Church because of its more traditional values. I don’t doubt that Republicans use big money to try to influence conservative Catholic voters. So?

        Have you read Benedict’s Truth and Charity? It reads like a Democratic manifesto on social causes. Issue after issue reads like a Democratic playbook – labor unions, capitalism, environment, etc. So?

        Groups like the Knights of Columbus aren’t Republican operatives, and it isn’t even worth a conversation to entertain such silly concepts. The KC’s have the right to be involved in politics just like any other group of people, if that is what they choose to do. I don’t necessarily agree that it is good for organizations associated with the Church to taint the organization pursuing political goals. But, you and I don’t get to decide that. The KC’s do.

        In my opinion, the bill’s sponsor is engaging in political pandering by suggesting that we open up the statute of limitations.

        • David why is it silly to think the KC under Carl Anderson is not being used as a front group for the Republican party. Anderson worked for Jesse Helms for god’s sake, and then St Ronnie himself. Did he change his stripes somewhere a long the way? Didn’t he bring in the suddenly Catholic Newt of the three marriages as a headliner for the KC pro life conference?

          I think this particular pig of yours isn’t going to fly even with a ton of lipstick.

        • Bill,

          The statute of limitations issue has nothing to do with Catholics, the KC’s, or any other conspiracy theory. It has to do with what is just in cases where sexual abuse is alleged.

          The KC’s have been around a long time. On some issues, many of their members share the same views as the Republican party or Republican party members. Big deal. Many of their members share Democratic views also.

          • David, the organization to which you belong, the Knights of Columbus, has and uses powerful influence that goes way beyond the “views” of its members.

            Your organization has, in recent years, spent millions of dollars to attack the gay citizens of the U.S. Your organization is assisting in a brazen political attack on the gay community of your own state now, a brazen political attack masquerading as religious and therefore using the non-profit status of religious groups to shield its funders. Not only has your organization brought politics right into the church and right up to the altar, it has sought to turn the church itself into a political organizing machine for one political party — and to use its gay brothers and sisters as objects in the political battle to make the Catholic church an arm of the Republican party.

            The leader of your organization is a Republican political activist who has moved your organization in recent years into overt support of that particular political party. This activity is parallel to the activity of the Chamber of Commerce, which is also headed now by a Catholic political activist with strong ties to the Republican party, and which is also diverting huge sums of money, under the guise of non-profit activity, to advocacy for that particular political party.

            Correct me if I am wrong, but you are also the president of your local chapter of the Chamber of Commerce, or you were its recent president?

            It’s dishonest for us to talk about all these issues without having all the cards on the table. What the Knights of Columbus are doing to their gay brothers and sisters is simply reprehensible, and has perceived ill effects on gay people and their families. By spending huge sums of money to remove the right of civil marriage from gay citizens of California, you have attacked families — including families that have children — that need the legal protection of marriage in order to live with dignity and peace. And to raise children in dignity and peace.

            The fact that your organization is using these families to score political points for a particular political party — including in your own state — makes this behavior even more repugnant. Historians will one day look back at this behavior and ask how those engaged in it could imagine that they were doing something moral, or something that truly reflects a faith tradition which calls us to remember that at the end of our lives, we will be judged on the basis of what we did to the least of our brothers and sisters.

            I do not buy the argument that those enmeshed in these Republican-activist political organizations masquerading as religious (or as community-oriented non-profits) are not also enmeshed in the damage these organizations are doing to real flesh-and-blood human beings. To brothers and sisters.

            I do not buy that argument any more than I would buy the argument that all those who went along with the Nazi ideology and with Nazi organizations in Germany in the last century were somehow not responsible for the damage that the Nazis did to Jewish people and other minority groups in the Nazi period. We are our friends. We are those with whom we choose to associate. Pares cum paribus facillime congregantur.

            And when those with whom we have chosen to link our own lives harm others, or engage in immoral or criminal behavior, we ourselves are tainted by that association, unless and until we denounce the behavior of our associates and distance ourselves from them. This is one of the most fundamental moral axioms of life in human communities — or so I was taught from childhood to believe by those who shaped my character, such as my grandparents.

          • Bill,

            The DVD produced and distributed in Minnesota is a long, long way from a brazen attack upon gays. It is decidedly religious in tone, except for its political advocacy of a political solution to the gay marriage debate. It is quite clearly a battle being waged by people associated with the Church and the Knights of Columbus. However, it is a political solution that has broad public support. It is understandable that some folks, mostly conservative, would want the law to remain the same.

            There is no Republican influence, nor even a claim to Republican influence. In fact, I don’t even know if the Republican Party of Minnesota has a position on a constitutional amendment in favor of codifying the current law into the constitution.

            Let me repeat something that I am sure you know – There is no RIGHT to gay marriage; there is no RIGHT TO STRAIGHT MARRIAGE. Civil marriage is a legally recognized contract. It has nothing to do with rights. The government could, if it deemed it appropriate, refuse to recognize any civil marriage.

            What the Knights of Columbus and others are trying to do is keep the law from changing. I don’t agree with attempts to make the law into a constitutional amendment for a variety of reasons. The most critical is that the Constitution is designed to spell out our liberties to be free from government, not put laws beyond the reach of legislators, judges, or government regulators.

            My general political leanings are of little importance on this issue. I generally agree that civil marriage should be opened to other people. It seems to me that civil marriage is, by definition, just a contract. Sexuality is irrelevant.

            The push for gay marriage in its present form, is a necessary, but in some ways, a lamentable development in the evolution of civil marriage. It is lamentable partly because the gay marriage movement offered the promise of restoring the true meaning to marriage. But, like no-fault divorce, the promise has too often been simply an empty void.

            I wish we were talking about the intrinsic value of marriage, and how the government can support committed loving relationships – including mother/child and father/child. But, alas, we are not, cannot, and will not.

          • David, I respect your right to believe the world is flat rather than round, if you wish to do so — as long as you don’t seek to impose that belief on the rest of the world as obligatory for all, and to use coercive force as you do so.

            Choose, if you wish, to regard the activity in which you’re involved as harmless. I will keep working along with others to combat the harm and to call those engaged in this malicious political crusade immoral.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but Knights of Columbus wearing sashes haven’t been prevented from receiving the Eucharist recently in the Minnesota parishes in which those wearing rainbow sashes — that is, gay Catholics and those in solidarity with them — have been?

            Persist, if you wish, as well, to deny that the United Nations regards marriage as a human right, and that a number of legal opinions issued by judiciaries in the U.S. use the same language.

            We will both answer at the end of our lives for what we choose to believe (and to ignore) and how we choose to act on the basis of those beliefs. The question the Lord will ask us at the end of our lives is not whether we defended the pope and the magisterium, or whether we were Catholic or not.

            It’s what we’ve done for the least of his brothers and sisters.

            As long as you not only support but are actively involved in the group now disseminating these videos — and giving millions of dollars to the attacks on your gay brothers and sisters to score points for one political party — I’ll take anything you say about these issues, and, astonishingly, most of all, your denial of any harm your organization is doing, with a grain of salt. I will not and cannot hear justifications for the mean-spirited anti-gay political videos sent out in Minnesota by the Catholic bishops of your state by an active member of the Knights of Columbus who lives in Minnesota.

            Sorry. That’s how things stand. We are those with whom we are affiliated. And in conversations like this, these affiliations mean a great deal, if we expect the conversation to go to levels of honesty that transcend silly rhetorical sword-crossing.

          • Bill,

            You are going to have to listen to the DVD before we can discuss its contents.

            I’m with you on allowing gays and lesbians to marry – just not for the reasons you suggest. The First Amendment of the Constitution grants us all the right of free association. We all have the “freedom to marry”. That doesn’t mean that the government has to legally recognize every and any association of people as being entitled to government benefits or recognition.

            There are many uncharitable words being said and uncharitable deeds being done on both extremes of the debate. I think Frank’s post is an example of the type of words that moves the discussion in unhealthy directions. Unfortunately, those types of words do tend to be politically productive.

          • Excuse me, David. But I have listened to the DVD.

            What I won’t listen to is moral posturing from a member of an organization that has helped disseminate this video, and which, in recent years, has funneled millions of dollars into mean-spirited attacks on a vulnerable minority to help a political party score points.

            For me, you’ve entirely lost moral credibility because you are not only a member in good-standing of the group engaged in this behavior, but you actively assist and defend the group. I conduct my moral life according to the principle, “By your fruits you shall be known.”

            If the Knights of Columbus want to restore moral credibility, please feed the hungry, heal the sick, shelter the homeless, and defend and welcome the immigrant brother and sister. Stop the attacks on your gay brothers and sisters. And don’t shame yourself by trying to claim the moral high road as long as those attacks continue. You’ve lost the high ground a long, long time ago.

          • Bill,

            I listened to the DVD. I didn’t hear any hateful messages. I don’t remember any “mean-spirited attacks”. It might be wrong-headed; but it wasn’t mean-spirited.

            I am not claiming to have any moral high ground. Nor am I claiming to agree that the Knights of Columbus should have funded this effort. However, as far as political messages, it is one of the kindest commercials for a political cause that I have seen in this election season.

            For your information, the Knights donate millions of dollars and provide hundreds of thousands, perhaps over a million volunteer hours for many Catholic causes, including those which you mention, and many which are socially unpopular.

            Then again, I don’t see the issue as being a Catholic/non-Catholic, gay/straight issue. The question is whether the government should grant the same rights of contract to all adults that it now grants to only oppositely sexed couples. Today, the argument is only about whether same sexed couples should be permitted to marry.

            However, 20 years from now, I bet the same sexed couples who are lovingly committed to each other will be standing on the same side as the Knights of Columbus arguing that marriage should be defined by the love and commitment two people, and only two people, not related to each other, can express for each other.

          • I listened the DVD, too, David.

            And what I heard in it as one of those being attacked by this campaign is quite different from what you heard.

            Or didn’t hear, as the case may be.

          • Bill,

            Can you cite the specific place or words that you are talking about?

          • Sorry, David, I won’t play that game.

            A video targeting a vulnerable minority to score political points for one particular party is in and of itself morally abhorrent.

            Add to that the use of Catholic magisterial teaching by political leaders like Mr. Paladino in New York to continue attacking the minority at a moment when young members of the minority are committing suicide at epidemic rates, when several members of the minority are just tortured in a state in which the Catholic political leader makes his hateful remarks, and one has to wonder how some Catholics can continue defending the hate rhetoric and the isolation of a vulnerable minority for attack.

            For an alternative (to yours) view from a practicing Catholic, you may went to read Michele Sommerville. Here’s her take on the organization you keep defending, and to which you belong, and its immoral behavior:

            There are many layers to the sin of homophobia that the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church commits. Most people within and outside the church know, for example, that the Vatican preaches homophobia and does not consecrate same-sex marriages.

            But many Catholics do not know that hundreds of thousands of their charitable dollars to groups like Knights of Columbus are currently being used to bankroll the fight against legislation that would make civil gay marriage legal.

            So, no, I won’t play the semantic back-forth game with you, because it is a game. It’s a game designed to keep moral truth at bay, to twist information in a way that seeks to defend the indefensible. And it’s a dishonest game, when one of those playing it doesn’t avow his real reason for playing this game, and all the commitments that lead him to play it.

            Meanwhile, I have important work to do simply finding ways to live gracefully through this time in which some members of this church keep spewing forth toxic garbage that makes the lives of some young gay and lesbian people appear not worth living, as they look at their futures. I intend to keep listening to God and responding to God’s presence in my life, even when some members of my own community conspicuously fail to embody God’s love for me and my kind of people, and when members of my own community let me know in no uncertain terms and repeatedly that they consider their own humanity worth more than mine.

            That’s one of the gifts I can try to give to young people seeking self-worth and hope for the future: to respond to what I know to be God’s call even when God’s people sometimes betray everything the gospels mean, at this point in history, in their savage treatment of their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. No time for games in a world like this.

          • Bill,

            I don’t understand how analyzing the actual words can be considered a game. Surely you don’t believe that analyzing the words of the Scriptures is a game. Why would you be afraid to look at what the DVD actually says? Perhaps there are points with which you can agree. Perhaps there is some common ground.

            Is there any dialogue when the discussion is always focused upon how much you dislike the Vatican, and dislike the Knights of Columbus, and dislike Midwestern Germans, etc.?

          • Excuse me, David, but you’re putting words into my mouth. I never said I was afraid of anything.

            The only thing I fear is facing the Lord at the end of my life, being asked how I treated the least of my brothers and sisters, and having nothing honorable or true to say in response.

            And so I don’t choose to waste my valuable time and energy in useless semantic games which can’t go anywhere, when those engaging in the games don’t intend to engage in honest conversations, but to thwart productive conversations that might go somewhere meaningful.

            I live with a Midwestern German, by the way. Have done so for going on 40 years. I don’t dislike the Knights of Columbus or the Vatican. I dislike immoral attacks on vulnerable minorities, and attempts to divert productive conversations to dead ends.

            We are all moving towards one goal, aren’t we? At the end of our lives, we’ll all face the Lord and account for our lives, and, in particular, for what we’ve done to the least of his brothers and sisters. Perhaps you and I both would be best advised to spend as much of our valuable time and energy as possible towards that end. If you believe that your active involvement in the Knights of Columbus and Chamber of Commerce are moving you productively to that end, then blessings be with you.

          • Bill,

            I don’t think you do your cause a service by refusing to engage in a discussion about what the perceived enemy is saying. I think the DVD supports your cause more than it hurts it.

          • David, I appreciate your opinion, and I take it into account.

            We’ve obviously formed very different responses to the DVD. But, then, you belong to the group disseminating this DVD.

            And I belong to the group the DVD is using as human cannon fodder in a political game designed to score points for political leaders who do not intend the group to which I belong any good at all.

          • Bill,

            I don’t have any direct association with the people who made the DVD or who are distributing it. And, you have nothing to do with whether Minnesota should adopt an amendment to its constitution.

            The DVD is an attempt to remind Catholics that the teaching of the church is that the union between a man and a woman is a sacred contract. That is hardly using gays as cannon fodder. While I don’t agree with the Knights and their attempt to instruct voters on how to vote, my objection is based upon the corrupting influence of the politics.

            I would remind you that in states that have put the matter to a vote of the people, every one of the states has rejected the idea that marriages between same-sexed individuals should have equivalent legal status as to opposite sexed individuals. It is not as if the Knights are lone wolves howling at the moon.

          • David, I must be mistaken about your active membership in the Knights of Columbus. Otherwise, I confess I can’t make sense of your assertion that you “don’t have any direct association with the people who made the DVD or who are distributing it.”

            And your criterion for political concern — it begins and ends at the boundaries of a state — seems counter to that used by the Catholic bishops and Knights of Columbus today. The Knights, to which I thought you belonged, gave a hefty sum of money to remove the right of civil marriage from gay citizens of California, and bishops around the country, including a number in Minnesota, sent money from their dioceses to assist in bashing gay citizens of Maine.

            By your criterion, the rest of the world should ignore rising anti-semitism in Nazi Germany, since what goes on within the boundaries of a nation ought to be left entirely to the deliberation of its own citizens.

            As to your last comment, whenever people are permitted to vote on the rights of a targeted minority, they always and predictably vote to deny those rights. It took federal action to end segregation, when state after state voted with huge majorities for years and years to remove rights from African-American citizens. The fact that majorities assault the rights of minority groups makes that behavior no less shameful — indeed, it’s far more shameful for people who claim to represent religious ideals to concur in and actively assist with such prejudice and discrimination.

          • Bill,

            I belong to the Knights of Columbus. And, I belong to the Catholic Church. And, I am an American citizen.

            I didn’t participate in the distribution of the DVD; I didn’t participate in the sex abuse of minors; and I didn’t have anything to do with the invasion of Iraq.

            Nevertheless, I belong to these organizations, and I will take some responsibility for addressing the wrongs committed. In reviewing the DVD, the only complaint I have is that the Knights are politically naive. The Constitution is designed to protect our freedoms from government interference. It isn’t designed to protect society from itself. If a constitutional amendment were to pass, which is extremely unlikely, especially in a state as liberal as Minnesota, it would quickly be ruled unconstitutional.

            Nevertheless, the Knights have the right to try, if they wish, to pass such an amendment. That is how a free country works.

            I think you and I both know that the Knights are not doing this because they hate gays. It is a little silly to even suggest such a thing. They are worried about the institution of marriage – which should concern us all.

          • David, thanks for your reply. I tend to conduct my life according to different principles.

            If a group to which I belong and contribute financially does something that violates my moral principles, I withdraw from it and stop funding its immoral behavior. I don’t go around saying, “Well, it’s a free country and they’re standing over there while I stand over here.”

            I decide that my membership in and financial support of the group engaging in immoral behavior touches on my own character, as long as I remain associated with it. And that I lose the right to profess that I have some other agenda, as long as I support the agenda of the immorally acting group to which I belong by remaining a member of it and contributing financially to it.

            As to your concluding remark about what I “know” re: the Knights and their agenda for me as a gay person, I’d propose that you stand for a day in the shoes of a group whose rights are being taken away, and which is being used as objects in a political game, and then ask whether these actions felt like love or hate to you.

          • Bill,

            The Knights’ actions don’t touch on my character. If you want to judge me by my association with them, please feel free to do so. I don’t leave a group because I disagree with them. That is the coward’s way.

            Wouldn’t it be worse if I left the Knights of Columbus just because I believe that their DVD production is politically and spiritual unwise? What about all the good work that they do?

            No. I’m not interested in being drawn into your dislike of the Knights or your claims of their “immoral” behavior. They aren’t trying to deny gays anything. They are trying to make sure that marriage doesn’t become trivialized as just another government program. In my opinion, they are going about it all wrong. Civil marriage has become trivialized, and churches face the danger of having their beliefs become saturated with the civil definitions without a concern for the accuracy of the claims.

            If or when the Knights ask for my opinion on waging a political campaign, I will tell them. In the meantime, I will give you my opinion – you could further your cause (especially with the Knights and other more conservative groups) by indicating what your cause has in common with the Knights rather than by the constant name-calling and claims of immoral behavior.

            Not only do the Knights do a lot of good, but they also believe, as you do, that loving committed relationships are part of God’s plan.

          • David, if you don’t mind, I’ll respond to the tail end of your previous comment, to which I didn’t respond previously.

            You say, “They are worried about the institution of marriage – which should concern us all.”

            And so, in a society in which divorce is far and away the most significant threat to the institution of marriage, the Knights of Columbus are spending millions to remove rights from gay citizens? And lobbying, along with the bishops, for legislation reflecting their unique religious views, while not lobbying for legislation to outlaw divorce.

            Something seems strangely askew here. The motivation of the Knights seems to be far less about preserving the sanctity of marriage than bashing their brothers and sisters who happen to be gay.

            If you belong to and support such an organization, that’s your choice. As I’ve said before, you and I both have to answer before the Lord at the end of our lives for the choices we’ve made and the company you kept. I have enough business trying to deal with my own challenges to keep hearing the words about the least among us.

            And so I leave you to your own business of listening in your own life, and I wish you well and send my blessings, such as they are, your way.

          • Bill,

            It doesn’t either of us any good to speculate about the other’s motives. I think you and the Knights are heading down the wrong path, beating each other up on the way, and both claiming the righteous path.

          • Thanks, David. And blessings. I’m not interested in guessing at folks’ motives. More interested, instead, in assessing the effects of their behavior, especially in the groups to which they belong, which often behave, as St. Augustine observed, like latrocinia attacking their brothers and sisters.

            I wish you well as you deal with the challenges in your own life and I with the challenges in mine while we listen to that mandate from the Lord we both serve — to remember that what we do the least of our brothers and sisters, that we do to Him. You’ll be in my prayers, and I hope I’ll be in yours.

          • Bill,

            I don’t understand this “effects of their behavior” argument that you keep using. Are the Knights somehow responsible because you misinterpret, perhaps intentionally, what they are saying?

          • David, please see the last line of this posting about Vince Vaughn.

        • Bill,

          I still don’t get it.

          I don’t know if :

          A) you are subjectively offended by the DVD,
          B) the DVD is objectively offensive, or
          C) both A) and B).

          Given that you don’t want to talk about the contents of the DVD, I would assume that B) isn’t true.

          • David, I’m surprised you can’t (or won’t) see the key point in this exchange: targeting a vulnerable minority to score political points in a partisan campaign on behalf of a single political party is immoral behavior.

            It’s unworthy of the Catholic church and its leaders. And in light of yesterday’s announcement that the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis will now be closing 20 churches and many parishes — while it accepts millions, as far as anyone knows, to carry on this partisan political activity — it’s impossible to read the gospels and justify such behavior.

            Because we’ll be asked at the end of our lives whether we’ve fed the hungry, visited the prisoner, cared for the sick, clothed the naked, sheltered the homeless, and welcomed the stranger — not bashed the gays and put them in their place. The gospels have a tremendous amount to say about those works of mercy, and not a word to say about homosexuality.

            The organization to which you belong and which you keep defending and supporting is engaged in anti-gospel and immoral behavior.

          • Bill,

            I see your point. The only problem is that your point isn’t true. The Knights aren’t targeting gays or lesbians; they are targeting the institution of marriage.

            The DVD attempts to reach the broader issue of what marriage is, both spiritually and legally. Presently, that issue has come to the surface in the form of gay marriage.

          • “Presently, that issue has come to the surface in the form of gay marriage.”

            Interestingly enough, David, recent polls show Catholic voters not very interested at all in this topic. And in Minnesota, where your political video campaign vs. gay marriage is rolling out now, the issue of gay marriage was hardly raised at all in the election cycle, until the bishops of Minnesota chose to raise it and make it an issue.

            While divorce is far and away — and no one denies this — the major problem confronting those who want to preserve the sanctity of marriage.

            But instead of spending millions from an unknown donor to combat divorce and change laws permitting divorce, the bishops of your state and the Knights to whom you belong spend millions to attack gay brothers and sisters and to call for a constitutional amendment to force civil law in your state to conform to Catholic notions of marriage.

            Something seems wrong with this picture. Morally wrong. Rotten to the core, morally speaking. And I respect your right to defend this moral rottenness, if you so choose.

            I can’t and won’t do so, and I’ll keep pointing out the truth, because I know to Whom I must answer at the end of my life, and what He will ask me when I meet him.

          • Bill,

            I agree that divorce is probably the most corrosive factor in destroying the sanctity of marriage. Inherent in the idea of civil divorce is the idea that the government is the Lord and Creator of marriage, and hence, the Lord and Creator of divorce.

            There is little doubt in my mind that once gay marriage becomes sanctioned by government that the concept of marriage as nothing more than a contract between adults will be become the accepted understanding of marriage. The last thread of sanctity is wrapped up in the man/woman idea. There will be nothing left once that is gone.

            Frankly, I don’t think there is any way to restore the sanctity back into civil marriage at this time. Only when civil marriage loses all sense and meaning of the sacred will people long for the days when being married meant a commitment, not only to each other, but a commitment to the children born of the marriage.

            The problem with the DVD is not that the Knights are wrong. The problem is that the DVD is wrong-headed.

          • Thanks, David. Whatever you need to tell yourself.

          • Bill,

            You are welcome.

  5. I agree Betty and want to give kudos to Frank for this article. It is getting disheartening to watch the shenanigans of a group like NOM, and now certain of the Republican/Tea Party candidates and know that they have the voice they have precisely because of the money of folks like the Koch brothers, and established charitable groups that are now run by Republican political operatives. Groups like the Kof C.

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