Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

From the "you're missing the point" department . . .

Today's Star-Tribune has an article about the DFL mailing depicting a priest nondenominational preacher wearing a collar, and Mark Dayton, the DFL candidate for governor, (kind of) condemns the mailing:

"I believe the brochure's picture showing a man of the cloth is inappropriate," Dayton said in a statement. "I believe that it is inappropriate to bring religion into a campaign as this image and others do."

I'm not sure what he means by "as this image and others do."  My own misgivings have nothing to do with the DFL bringing religion into a campaign, but with the message that a reasonable observer might glean from the particular way they brought religion into this campaign.  Dayton subsequently points out that many faith leaders objected to Gov. Pawlenty's budget cuts, so he must not be categorically opposed to religious references in political discourse.  Still, we need to be careful not to allow a particular ham-handed invocation of religion in politics to further contribute to the privatization of religion.


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Oddly the same people who scream about separation of church and state don't mind using, or misusing, the church when it suits them.

Posted by: Fr. J | Oct 28, 2010 11:58:22 AM

I thought it was interesting that some Catholics were sure the ad was a criticism of the Church for opposing abortion, and others were quite convinced it was a criticism of Archbishop Nienstedt's DVD campaign against same-sex marriage. Still others seemed to think it was just intended as a general insult. I suppose the Democrats can be criticized for publishing something that was so ambiguous that it was open to so many interpretations. But it was interesting to me that even when people got to see the other side with all the references to "Preacher Dan," and a picture of him with the button attached to it, some they still insisted the headless image was intended to be a Catholic priest. That is, they didn't take it as ineptitude on the part of the people who made the ad that they used something so ambiguous. They insisted that the Minnesota Democrats intended the image as a slap in the face to Catholics.

Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 28, 2010 1:23:28 PM

Actually, for once I am almost in agreement with Fr. J's take. The ad was in effect saying, "This man doesn't agree with the Catholic Church!" Whereas I am sure they would be quite happy to run an ad against Tom Emmer saying, "This man agrees with the Catholic Church!"

Of course, all of us support the Catholic Bishops when they take our side, and oppose or ignore them when we don't like their position. The Bishops, after all, were fundamentally very supportive of "Obamacare." If Stupak had gotten everything he originally wanted, health care reform would have passed with the blessing of the USCCB. And a lot of conservatives would have been very unhappy about it.

Posted by: David Nickol | Oct 28, 2010 1:30:16 PM