Thursday, September 10, 2009

Maine's Catholic Church to Hold Special Collection to Fight Marriage Equality

The Catholic Church of Maine has stepped up its efforts to fight the state's new marriage equality law by announcing through the Bishop of Maine that it will request all parishes to pass a special collection plate next weekend to raise funds for the Yes on 1/Stand for Marriage Maine campaign, which is fighting to ban same-sex marriage. This despite the fact that the church faces bankruptcy and has been forced to close five churches in the state as of late.

Yes, you read that right - a special collection plate.

Stand for Marriage also is planning a rally next Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center, but parishioners can get free tickets through the church.

This is another step towards blurring the line of legality with the Roman Catholic Church's deep involvement with politics. A couple weeks ago 300 priests in New Jersey were contacted through a letter from the bishop, urging them to speak to their members about supporting the same-sex marriage ban.

Michael Jones of writes about the Diocese of Portland: "This collection should be illegal. There's no way the Catholic Church should be able to hold this kind of political collection, be able to give thousands upon thousands of dollars for an anti-LGBT organization, and not have to report who the donors are. It's an anonymous collection meant to shield the identity of haters, and it's bogus."

I couldn't agree more. With the church holding a tax-exempt status, holding a "special collection" for a political matter is a violation of this status and the church should be stripped of it. It's also a blatant attempt to keep donor identities anonymous, a violation of election laws. (Might I remind you that public affairs official for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Marc Mutty, has taken leave to chair the campaign in opposition to the marriage law.)

But even more detrimental, the church is violating its own beliefs of feeding the hungry and sheltering the poor by deciding to close its own parishes and use its money instead to strip rights away of Maine's LGBT population.

It saddens me to see that the Church is losing its way and setting such a hateful example, going against the core of its beliefs.

Get involved in Maine by supporting the NO on 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign. No matter where you live, there's an opportunity to protect marriage equality.


  1. I think we have to be careful to make a distinction between the Church hierarchy, who practice dubious ethics in this area, and the members of the Church, who are largely supportive of gay rights. Indeed, Catholics are probably the most gay-supportive demographic in the United States. What the hierarchy is doing in Maine is tragic, both because it is probably illegal money-laundering designed to allow people to funnel money into political contributions without reporting their names, but reveals all too clearly the misplaced priorities of those who are running the Church. This will rebound against the Church and drive away a lot of Catholics who are committed to social justice.

  2. What are the “dubious” practices of the Church hierarchy “in this area” you reference? Could you please cite the specific section of the law which you claim the Church is violating as it engages in “illegal money-laundering”? What exactly do you think are the priorities of those running the Church and how do you think they are misplaced?

    Social justice is certainly a lofty goal, but is caring for the sacraments instituted by Christ himself any less lofty of a goal?

  3. Phil said: "Social justice is certainly a lofty goal, but is caring for the sacraments instituted by Christ himself any less lofty of a goal?"

    Taking away the civil marriage rights of gay couples does nothing to care for Roman Catholic sacraments. (Note that not all Christian denominations regard marriage as a sacrament.) Indeed, insofar as divorce is a danger to marriage, then the bishops should be promoting marriage equality, for in Massachusetts after same-sex marriage was permitted, the divorce rate dropped to historic lows.

    Taking up "special collections" for the referendum to prohibit gay marriage is a way to circumvent election laws that require the names and occupations of individuals who contribute to political campaigns. The Church will no doubt face an investigation by the election authorities in Maine and possibly be fined a considerable amount of money.