Yakima Diocese Will Collect $$$ for Political Campaign to End Marriage Equality

Diocese of Yakima

The Diocese of Yakima, Washington State, has announced that it plans to take up special collections  to support efforts to defeat the state’s referendum to enact marriage equality in November.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports:

“Labor Day weekend marks the official beginning of what the three Catholic dioceses in the state are calling Preserve Marriage Month. In Yakima that means organizing an educational program and fundraising campaign to inform parishioners about Catholic teaching on marriage and church opposition to Referendum 74, which would affirm the state’s same-sex marriage law.

“Bishop Joseph Tyson sent a letter to pastors in all 41 parishes Friday asking that they announce a special financial appeal at Masses sometime during the next two weekends. Money collected will go to Preserve Marriage Washington, a statewide group seeking to defeat Referendum 74.”

The money collected will go directly to a political organization working to repeal the state’s newly-minted marriage equality law.  The dollars will not be considered tax-deductible or a contribution to the church:

Bishop Joseph Tyson

“Bishop Joseph Tyson sent a letter to pastors in all 41 parishes Friday asking that they announce a special financial appeal at Masses sometime during the next two weekends. Money collected will go to Preserve Marriage Washington, a statewide group seeking to defeat Referendum 74.

“. . . . He proposed that pastors suggest not only that parishioners inform themselves and others about the referendum, to be voted on in November, but also that they ‘can contribute to the campaign by using the envelope in this week’s bulletin to make a generous donation to Preserve Marriage Washington.’ “

The envelope reportedly is addressed to Preserve Marriage Washington.

Monsignor Robert Siler, the diocesan chief of staff, said:

“To be clear, this is basically a contribution to a political campaign, and these are not considered tax-deductible church donations.”

Of course, not all Catholics support such a fundraising campaign:

“Dr. Kevin Walsh of Toppenish is uncomfortable with what he views as picking only a few issues from papal encyclicals about social justice and raising them to the level of national causes.

” ‘It’s an example of church leadership using the pulpit for what they see as a moral issue, but it’s isolated. It’s not part of a package to make life better for everybody,’ he said.

“Walsh added,’I think it’s misguided. We should be struggling toward inclusion instead of excluding people.’ “

The diocese has not set a fundraising goal for the collection.  Perhaps that was done as a strategic move so that they don’t end up in the embarrassing position of falling way short of the goal–which would be proof of what polls are consistently showing:  although Catholic bishops oppose marriage equality, Catholic people in the pews are overwhelmingly supportive of it.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry


12 thoughts on “Yakima Diocese Will Collect $$$ for Political Campaign to End Marriage Equality

  1. Conde J.Peoples August 24, 2012 / 10:48 am

    Is there a way The “Church” would loose it’s tax exempt status? Doesn’t this fall under seperation of “church & state” doctrines??

  2. newwaysministryblog August 24, 2012 / 11:14 am

    In reply to Daniel Douglass and Conde Peoples, I’m not a lawyer, but the collection may be legal. Organizations with an IRS non-profit status, such as a church, are allowed to be involved in a certain amount of political activity, especially if it is another organization which is SPENDING the money.

  3. Chris Nunez August 24, 2012 / 11:35 am

    Better use of your concern would be to contact any friends or relatives in the Yakima Diocese and ask them to not put any money in the second collection, or envelopes. Suggest that any second collection money instead be directed to the Boys and Girls Club, or youth sports activities, or the local family services agencies!

  4. Babs August 24, 2012 / 1:00 pm

    I don’t believe that requesting money to defeat a political action will transfer money to the action. I believe the money will be used by the Diocese to pay for the printing of the envelopes and any other necessary printed material to publicize this political action. The Diocese if they enact this move should lose their tax exempt status, it is a political action in my opinion.

  5. R Joseph Owles August 24, 2012 / 2:27 pm

    sigh… yet, not a word about Mitt Romney being an abortion profiteer or starting Bain with money lined to death squads.

    If the Roman Catholic Church wants to use the government to enforce its doctrines on others, it cannot later complain when another religion uses government to impose its doctrine on the Roman Catholic Church. The best way to protect government interference in your church is for your church not to interfere with the government. Separation of Church and State protects the Church, not the State.

  6. Kurt August 24, 2012 / 3:33 pm

    It is legal. On one level, it actually has more integrity than what some bishops are doing — simply writing a check from the diocesan coffers without telling the lay faithful their money is being spent this way. So long as the diocese is not spending any other funds, I would prefer this method where the laity have a say in the matter.

    However, with all other special collections that go to Church funds, it is deliberately set up so the parish sends on the money but not the names of contributors to the second collection beneficiary. Sending the checks directly will let these groups make future appeals to these persons.

  7. Anna August 24, 2012 / 3:46 pm

    Hmmmm…. I don’t recall seeing in the Bible the call to raise funds for a statewide group seeking to discriminate against their fellow man. But a part I do recall is: Matthew 7:1-6 “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Oh yeah and that whole thing about helping the poor and needy. Deuteronomy 15:11 “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Seems the church should be asking for money to provide christian charity which I thought was their philosophy.

  8. Anna August 24, 2012 / 5:38 pm

    “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…….Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”–Matthew 25:35-40 Gotta love Matthew, he gets it.

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