What Would Jesus Say About Election-Law Violations?

A Catholic Bishop's Attempt to Fund an Anti-Gay Election PAC Goes Too Far, the State Says

What Would Jesus Say About Election-Law Violations?

At Sunday masses in September, from their respective pulpits, Catholic priests in Central Washington must ask everyone in the pews to stuff specially made campaign envelopes with a "generous donation." Then, church staff will mail the haul to Preserve Marriage Washington, a PAC trying to reject same-sex marriage on the fall ballot.

That was the decree of Joseph J. Tyson, the Catholic bishop in Yakima, who sent out the instructions on August 17. "Please place unopened envelopes into the addressed security envelope, and mail them to Preserve Marriage Washington," said his letter to clergy.

But state election workers say that Bishop Tyson's orders cross the line.

The church cannot act as an agent that collects money and sends it to a PAC, says Washington State Public Disclosure Commission spokeswoman Lori Anderson. That sort of activity is informally called "bundling," Anderson explains, and it would violate a state law that concerns collecting contributions on another's behalf. "They can hand out those envelopes," Anderson says, "but they can't collect them and send them in."

Like Archbishop J. Peter Sartain in Seattle, Bishop Tyson is launching an all-out campaign to turn sermons into political rallies. He followed up his fundraising letter with a blog post on Thursday, August 23, telling priests to reserve their Sunday masses in the first weekend of October to read his anti-gay campaign statement. You must "clear your parish calendars of any other items that day," the bishop said.

How does a tax-exempt religious nonprofit legally engage in campaign activities that are typically not tax-exempt? According to the IRS guide for religious organizations, it is legal in small doses, provided it's not a "substantial" part of the church's activity. But while limited campaigning from the pulpit may be legal for federal tax-exemption purposes, their activity has certainly concerned the state.

Anderson says that an election worker "is going to contact the Catholic Church... and see that they are complying."

Meanwhile, Washington United for Marriage, the PAC attempting to approve a same-sex-marriage law, has reserved $5 million worth of airtime for television commercials as the November 6 general election approaches, says campaign director Zach Silk.

Anti-gay Preserve Marriage Washington is lagging far behind. The group has raised a relatively scant $438,000—and has made no ad reservations, sources say. But, of course, the group is expected to receive an infusion of cash before Election Day from the National Organization for Marriage and the Catholic Church. recommended


Comments (10) RSS

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Seattle's Bishop Sartain should also be investigated by the government. It shouldn't be legal to insist that parishes sign and distribute petitions against marriage equality.
Posted by ww on August 29, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
The RC Church in the USA has become a shamless ally of the anti-civil rights GOP. How dare these fraudster bishops attempt to fund groups that would marginalize tax paying American citizens who are Gay. All these RC dioceses with right-wing bishops who publicly or slyly interfere with our democracy should lose their tax exemptions.
Posted by Vox Populi on August 29, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
So when will the GOP and Right Wing Neo Fascists be officially disbanded?
Posted by auntie grizelda on August 30, 2012 at 1:12 AM · Report this
So when will all these GOP and right wing extremists be officially disbanded?
Posted by auntie grizelda on August 30, 2012 at 1:14 AM · Report this
stoompy 5
The Mormons wont be far behind. They took the lead role in repealing California's marriage law spending $millions$ and are currently working to overturn the law legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland. Maybe they split the battle up where the cathlics attack head on and the mormons do counter offenses to repel any laws of tolerance that may have passed. Probably a bad oman if mormon Mitt Romney wins.
Posted by stoompy on August 30, 2012 at 4:17 AM · Report this
Occupy Seattle 6
Wow, after watching all that voter suppression in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas (I am sure I am missing other states), I can't say I am surprised. And what does our magical underpants Sec State Sam Reed say about all these election violations? I say magical because he's had the gift of invisibility for years. Has anyone actually seen that ghost? Does he know that our democracy is for sale, right in our own state? Or, just maybe, he's our Karl Rove, the evil architect behind all the fucked-up-ness of our state. (evil grin)
Posted by Occupy Seattle on September 3, 2012 at 1:34 AM · Report this
Seattlebcc 7
I'm a Gay and a catholic. Remember folks the views of church leadership are not necessarily the views of the priests in the parishes. Frankly I could care less about gay marriage with so many othe BIG issues on our plates. I say let the parishes have their day. As much as I hate to admit to it, the church as an institution is fading and and It's death roar is coming off like a squeak!
Posted by Seattlebcc on September 4, 2012 at 6:54 AM · Report this
Texas10R 8
"Probably a bad oman if mormon Mitt Romney wins."
That is either brilliant wordplay or delicious serendipity.

The only possible embellishment: drop the middle "m" in "mormon".
Posted by Texas10R on September 5, 2012 at 8:33 AM · Report this
A marriage is a blessed civil union not a union itself. If your married in the church thats the sacrament of holy matramony! Marriages started in the 9th century to hide the fathfull from being murderd for being christans. young couples would sneek out and have their civil unions blessed.Their names were protected and kept secret till the 18th cetury thats 900 years. (THAT WAS THEIR COMMING OUT)Why do you think they would stop protecting it now!!!
Posted by oneMALEopinion on September 6, 2012 at 7:52 PM · Report this

WHEN CHRIST RETURNS TO EARTH, he will weep, then shake his head and say, “Why did you select one group of God’s children to separate from the flock and shame?

Why have you sacrificed principals and family to adhere to outworn laws of two thousand years ago? You mistakenly superimpose onto the Modern Age antiquated conventions of the emerging culture of man 100 generations past -- a painful anachronism now unnecessarily shouldered by the innocent.

I left you thinking you would take the love I shared with you to share with ALL people. Instead, you take a book of paper and ink, aged, disputed, and altered over time, and you make that book more important than LOVE itself. You deny rights to loving couples, and judge and punish them for being what God made them to be.

You single out God’s children, harmless and unsuspecting, and prevent them from enjoying friendships and comradery. You bully others into such desperation, they take their own lives. You defy reason, intuition, and emotion. You withhold love from your own child, to pray the gay away. You chant dogma that contradicts human nature, though you, too, see the injustice and humiliation you now promote. And all this you do in the name of God!

You travel a muddy road downhill in the dark.

I light a different path to a place where people treat others the way they themselves want to be treated… the place where LOVE resides. See the light ahead? Follow me.”
Posted by Carol Anne on September 22, 2012 at 9:03 AM · Report this

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