MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Minnesota’s 400,000 Roman Catholic households are scheduled to receive a letter this week from all of the state’s bishops, urging them to donate money for television ads asking voters to say yes to a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage.
John Green, a political science professor at the University of Akron (Ohio), said that the mailing is “unusual” compared to Catholics’ roles in marriage amendment campaigns in other states.
“I can’t think of anything as direct and as explicit,” Green said.
“I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it legally, but certainly I’m sure it’s very controversial. Catholic leaders have been involved in fundraising. I know of examples where they have reached out to parishioners, but I’ve never heard of anything quite this comprehensive,” he added.
The Star-Tribune reported that, in addition to asking Catholics to make contributions, bishops are encouraging them to vote yes on the amendment, according to a letter sent to priests and church administrators last week from Jason Adkins, executive director of Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in Minnesota.
A new poll commissioned by the Star-Tribune published Sunday, shows slightly more Minnesotans favor the November ballot initiative seeking a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, but that support falls just short of the 50 percent needed to pass the measure.
Church parishioners are being asked by church leadership to make a financial donation to Minnesota for Marriage, the chief group campaigning for passage of the marriage amendment November 6.
The call for money comes in the wake of the release last week of two commercials by the main group opposing the amendment — one of which takes issue with the Catholic Church’s stance on gay marriage.
Like other religious groups weighing in on the marriage amendment, Minnesota Catholics are heavily divided over the measure.
The Rev. Grant Stevensen, faith leader for Minnesotans United, said in a statement released Monday that his group has been contacted by thousands of Catholics statewide who are voting no on the amendment.
Many of them are “very concerned and hurt by the amount of money and energy the archdiocese is spending to further this divisive amendment. It’s obvious the Catholic Church is incredibly divided over this amendment, and a letter like this is only going to further isolate and pull Catholics apart,” reported the Star-Tribune.
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