not to counter Archbishop Nienstedt to confuse voters. (UPDATED)
Updates throughout: Apparently the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party recently sent this [PDF] to prospective voters. On the front it features a priest person in a Roman collar wearing a button that reads “Ignore the Poor” (and holding some kind of holy-looking book, or possibly a datebook, or possibly an instruction manual on how to overthrow Minnesota’s democratically elected government). On the reverse, it criticizes GOP candidate Dan Hall, asking, “Who in God’s name would deny health care to the poor?” Presumably the postcard is intended to push back on Archbishop Nienstedt’s anti-gay-marriage mailing. Dan Hall has worked as a chaplain, and attends a nondenominational church that’s associated with the Assemblies of God. Instead, the DFL has successfully impugned the charitable efforts and concerns of the Catholic Church in general, and its priests in particular, all while reinforcing the notion that Democrats not only don’t get religion, they harbor animosity toward it. I think that’s what the kids might call a messagefail. Not sure what’s on the other side of the postcard, or if it even matters, but I think it’s safe to say that whoever came up with this idea is in the wrong line of work. (H/T Stella Borealis.)
DFL spokesman Donald McFarland has issued the following statement:
The ad is part of a two-piece mailing that highlights and criticizes the policy views of Dan Hall, a preacher who is the Republican candidate for the Minnesota Senate. I enclose both sides of both pieces. I understand that some Republican bloggers have taken one image from the first piece, and claimed that the mail is somehow anti-Catholic. But the text explicitly criticizes Preacher Hall for distancing himself from policy views that have been taken by the Catholic Archdiocese, by the Lutheran Synod, and other leaders in Minnesota’s faith community. Dan Hall is willing to enlist God and religion in his campaign when it helps him — but in fact, his views hurt the poorest and sickest among us, and this mailing holds him accountable for those views.
You can see the second mailing here. It also refers to Hall as “Preacher Hall” (I can’t find any evidence that Hall refers to himself that way). Why the DFL would use the image of a man in a Roman collar to depict a lay chaplain who is a member of a nondenominational church remains mysterious. At least we can dispense with the claims that the mailing is anti-Catholic, although it may be anti-wise. My apologies for jumping to conclusions.
Another update: “I’ve never worn a Roman collar,” Dan Hall told me. “No one in my church does.” Asked why he thought the DFL would use such an image, he said, “I have no idea. You’re offending all kinds of church people, whether Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish.” Hall explained that, probably as a result of this dustup, he’s received a great deal of media requests, concluding, “In the end, it’s probably going to help me.”
Still another update (the last, I hope): That isn’t the only Catholic-looking image the DFL is using in its campaign mailers. Check this one out. What is that, a side chapel? And St. Anthony? Might be a good time for the DFL to say a little prayer to him. Maybe he can help them find their common sense.