If you vote for Obama you will "put your own soul in jeopardy," says Bishop David Ricken of The Catholic Diocese in Green Bay, WI

Bishop David Ricken of the Catholic Diocese in Green Bay, WI went for the hard sell in a letter to his Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Here's an excerpt:

I would like to review some of the principles to keep in mind as you approach the voting booth to complete your ballot. The first is the set of non-negotiables. These are areas that are “intrinsically evil” and cannot be supported by anyone who is a believer in God or the common good or the dignity of the human person.

They are:

1. abortion
2. euthanasia
3. embryonic stem cell research
4. human cloning
5. homosexual “marriage”

These are intrinsically evil. “A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program that contradicts fundamental contents of faith and morals.” Intrinsically evil actions are those which have an evil object. In other words, an act is evil by its very nature and to choose an action of this type puts one in grave moral danger.

But what does this have to do with the election? Some candidates and one party have even chosen some of these as their party’s or their personal political platform. To vote for someone in favor of these positions means that you could be morally “complicit” with these choices which are intrinsically evil. This could put your own soul in jeopardy.

Read His entire letter here

Is Bishop Ricken going to start paying taxes? From the ACLJ's "Political Speech & Non Profit Tax Issues":

In exchange for the receipt of tax-exempt status, I.R.C. § 501(c)(3) absolutely prohibits churches and other tax-exempt organizations from campaigning for or against a candidate for public office. If a church participates or interferes, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign for or against any candidate for public office by publishing and distributing certain written material or making oral statements regarding the candidate, then a church can lose its tax-exempt status for violating the campaigning ban. I.R.C. § 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(iii). Quite simply courts have interpreted 501(c)(3) to ban any degree of participation or intervention in a campaign for public office. Ass’n of the Bar of N.Y. v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue, 858 F.2d 876, 879 (2d Cir. 1988).

But maybe warning someone that they will put their soul in jeopardy if they vote for Obama isn't considered participating in a political campaign?

(Thanks, Mark!)


    1. I hate when I come late to the good posts.  I’m pulling that dick move of replying to first comment just to get up top (sorry, really) but I have just a few relevant points:
      1.  this is standard catholic voting ethics, and almost word for word the same document the USCCB (US conf of cath bishops) has been issuing since before 2008.  I’m pretty sure they would’ve lost the tax exempt status by now, and this also means
      2.  This is not news, many, MANY catholic bloggers and pundits and religious (priests, bishops, nuns, etc) have been saying the same things in this letter for YEARS
      3.  As much as folks at boing would like to think this is a romney endorsement, many people are using the reasoning contained as a reason to NOT for for Romney as he isnt pro-life either (still would allow for abortion for rape and incest – thus supports intrinsic evil).

      Further, the only really sinful thing is if you knowingly vote for a candidate because they support intrinsic evil.  You can vote for Obama (I just did) if you support him for the likelihood he can do more good overall, and despite the intrinsic evils he supports.

      If a dude with no animal control background who is terrified of dogs runs as the “pro-life dog-catcher” because he opposes abortion, you’d be entirely reasonable to vote for the pro-choice dog catcher with years of animal experience.

      same way one can easily reason (even if you are against all abortion) Obama supports abortion, but Romney won’t do shit about abortion either way because he’s a lying sack of crap trying to take those evangelicals for their votes.  Obama will at least do much more for the poor, so I will vote for him.

  1. As an antitheist, my “soul” and “salvation” are irrelevant with regard to my vote. Just as irrelevant as your lying and bullying, Bishop. Maybe an end to your tax exempt status will change your tune or better yet, silence your foul mouth.

    1. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you didn’t read the linked, two page letter… or even the summary.

      First, with regards to tax exempt status, I doubt it’s in jeopardy, if for no other reason than because there are no names, nor names of parties mentioned in the letter. “Some things are evil, complicity in evil puts ones soul at risk, unnamed parties have made evil acts a key to their platform, so for your soul’s sake, we encourage you to vote against people belonging to parties who seek to do evil.”

      Now as to the spirit of law, not just the letter: they’re still within their rights. They are directly speaking against abortion, embryonic stem cell research, assisted suicide, etc. and encouraging the readers to vote against those things and the people who support them. These are issues, and it is their constitutional right to speak on them, just as it is your constitutional right to call him a bully, then accuse him of having a foul mouth. (Although what specific passafe you consider “foul”, I can’t exactly tell. Unless “yours in Christ” is considered some sort of threat where you’re from.) If anything, it is to be expected, since a major federal law is attempting to change how church organizations govern themselves and their staff.

      And even though you have no belief in a soul or some afterlife judgment, I would always hope you remain informed and vote your conscience. That is what the Bishop encourages his parishioners to do: remember the dignity of man and the sanctity of life, and keep that in mind when you vote.

      I know that these are sensitive subjects, and foci of great passion. That makes it all the more important to be able to discuss them civilly, without accusations of bullying and thinly-veiled bigotry.

      1. “If a church participates or interferes, directly or indirectly, in any political campaign…” This seems an awful lot like indirect interference; the letter is chock full of indirect reference. 

        1. I would have to consult a lawyer with expertise in this situation to be sure, but to me it seems like “direct interference” would be the sort unlawful interference like barring people from a polling place, whereas “indirect interference” would be more like political machinery/coercion of votes. This is certainly not the former, and does not read like the latter.

          The first paragraph of the linked ACLJ document actually explains pretty clearly that speaking on issues (as opposed to specific candidates) is not prohibited, and is defended by precedent. Like any other group of people, religious groups have the right to a [composite] opinion.

          Whether you even see a story in this letter at all depends two factors: 1) whether or not you’re aware that pretty much every Bishop in America has written at least three of these in the past two years, and 2) whether or not you read his statement as some sort of veiled threat.

          As a Catholic and member of the intended audience I can’t read it as such, and — as margaretpoa noted — the “threat” would be completely meaningless to any other group. There is a reason he uses the awkward “quotation marks” around “inherently evil” and “complicit”; because he is referring to specific meaning from theories on moral philosophy. If anything, it reads like a Catholic school book report.

          This is what you might call “a non-story”.

      2. You missed the entire point of my comment. His dogma, your dogma is not relevant to me. Your opinion on choice, and the Bishop’s opinion of the status of my “soul” is not relevant to me. Both his rant and your scorn are nothing more than attempts to force your dogma into public policy which affects my life. That is unacceptable, as is your attempt to use your dogma as a cudgel to try to force me to behave in a way which you and your shaman find acceptable. The fact that I oppose that is not bigotry but resistance to bigotry. Yours and your shaman’s. Your opinion means less to me than how much my cat enjoys her breakfast tomorrow. I think the reason you are so frustrated with me is because of how very irrelevant any of your absurd, puerile beliefs are to my life.

      3. I think that poster did read it, and found it double-speak.

        But it isn’t enough double-speak, it violates both the letter and spirit.

        The letter opens by announcing that it is in reference to the upcoming presidential election in particular and other races in general.

        The letter specifically references the government and a particular act of that government, these identify the candidate and party. (and goes on the misinterpret the act, it’s intention and it’s effects, using these misinterpretations to threaten while blaming the government for the threat. )

        The vote recommendation/demand is in quotation marks. 

        This is a bit of pre-internet trickery, dude shows his lack of sophistication. Quotes with no attribution is distancing, a false way to claim the words are of another. It worked well in the days of Dewey and Britannica but it doesn’t pass muster these days. A quick search demonstrates that the words most likely originated with the letter, it’s writer, or organization. 

        The rest is a quackery of complaint over separation of church and state. 

        It ends with Romneyisms, unqualified complaints regarding the economy, which can only be made while ignoring unemployment rates, which is the specific complaint.

        The letter writer lacks faith. Period. Else he could conduct himself without subterfuge. His prayer should be sufficient if his faith were, regardless of the outcome of the election.

        1. “His prayer should be sufficient if his faith were, regardless of the outcome of the election.”

          The notion that “religion is a fine thing, so long as you keep away from people, places, organizations, and the world at large” seems to be the exactly the sort of dangerous abridgment of rights he decries in his “quackery of complaint”.

          And the notion that faithful prayer alone changes the world is just a pleasant superstition of the lazy. Why not argue “let us just pray for the poor… surely God will then secure food for them, if it be his will.” It’s the sort cartoon logic some contrarian might believe that religious believe, but it just doesn’t reflect reality. A creed must be lived, or it is not a creed.

          1. If he can’t influence his flock with his prayer and faith lived to the exclusion of what is in that ridiculous letter then he should pay his taxes, then he won’t have to try and be clever about ignoring rules he has agreed to follow.

            He needs to give unto Caesar or stay the fuck out of the curia the way he said he  would when he filed with the Feds.

            Latched onto the last bit, because you know he was coercing voters.

          2. You think prayer is what? It is religious service and in the context of the bishop’s role it is leading that service and includes all aspects of his guidance. 

            I hope you are just ignoring what the word means in order to make a silly semantic argument, that or you are just defending the Bishop’s political jerrymandering for fun and not from any conviction you hold.

            The Bishop can preach against those things he attempts to use as his arguments, if his words ring true then his flock will know what to do without his indicating which candidate and which party to vote for or against and underlining those instruction with  threats to withdraw service to the community.

            You can claim otherwise, but the clear, stated intent of the letter is to influence the presidential election, with his letterhead and position within the Diocese, which files 990s for -all- of it’s activity. Those documents bear his name as well as all the other bishops and their bookkeepers.

            If he has a problem with being included on those forms let him say so. The fact of his identifying the party and candidate by function and deed (sitting government, sponsor and  signatory of the HHS) instead of manning up and naming them just make him a coward AND a hypocrite.

            It is all well and good in my book, I know a rearguard action when I see one. The candidate that the Bishop is campaigning against is the likely winner and in all likelihood most of the “good” Bishop’s parish will be a part of securing that second term.

      4. After reading this letter and the law, it is clear that the bishop is just enough on the edge of violating IRC §501 that a case could be made. The Diocese should be warned at the least that their size and stature does not grant them the right to flout the law.

        That said, the case should be made against this bishop and not the entire diocese, though the previous cases of pastors telling their flock how to vote do not make me hopeful.

        Oh, and for the record, if you truly care about the sanctity of life then you would realise by now that the stance of anti-choice forced-birthers is one that has little to do with the sanctity of life.

      5. Right, as long as he unethically skirts the letter of the law while clearly violating the intent of it, what is the harm!  I mean, TECHNICALLY all he’s doing is an intrinsically evil act, not an intrinsically unlawful one.  PHEW.  Problem solved then I guess.  

        Good thing there is no “directly or indirectly” clause, or this might count as indirect interference.

      6. To me, the “foul language” comes with the notion is that anybody who believes in God or the dignity of man or the common good cannot support homosexual marriage. 

        That is extremely foul to my sensibilities, that we should deny people fundamental rights and a chance to be happy just because of the gender they’re attracted to.  It should be foul to everybody’s.  If not, you are “intrinsicly evil”.  Most of the other stuff, I disagree, but I can at least see where they’re coming from (even if it clearly goes against the Bible, where causing an abortion is not considered the same as killing a person). 

        As to your “radical notion”, in another post (that I can’t reply to directly) that religious people should have the same rights as non-religious people, I would happily agree, if you would work with me to support the notion that they have the same responsibilities: that is, their organizations should pay taxes.

        If they want to play by special rules, it goes both ways.

      7.  While you make a lot of points I agree with, it does get old reading so many smartypants comments on Boing Boing. There’s nothing fundamentally flawed enough in margaretpoa’s comment for warrant your snarky opening sentence. We get it — you’re smart. Doesn’t make you look smarter to put the smackdown on people unnecessarily. 

        1. There is smart and there is cunning. As WhyBother has taken the stance that the Bishop is not attempting to influence voters to vote for or against a particular candidate, when that is the Bishops clear and stated intent, by utilizing technicalities, which ultimately fail, his work here today falls squarely in the cunning, or trolling variety.

      8. “remember the dignity of man and the sanctity of life,”

        I always do, and in doing so, I will always vote for whomever the Catholic Church likes least.

    2.  You are a mere antitheist? Shame on you! I am an Atheist Supremacist. I believe the faithless can never be truly free until we atheists seize the commanding heights of the world economy, and so many other positions of power in governments around the world that none can threaten us.

      But our reign will be merciful. We will let the faith-heads play their strange LARP games in their churches and in their lives. But they must NEVER have a chance to decide what gets taught in our schools or what human beings capable of sexual consent can do with their bodies.

      Don’t you understand? The liberation of humanity requires that we CRUSH all faith traditions. No mercy until after we win.

  2. If I vote for Romney and eventually die and go to Heaven, will people like Bishop Ricken be there?  Because that may also influence my vote.

  3. News flash: preachers are dumb. I’m sure that a Baptist minister saying something similarly stupid about Romney is just a Google search away. Lucianne.com or BoingBoing … same difference.

    1. Although, technically a Baptist minister doesn’t have the power to ensure that someone who votes against them goes to hell.  A Catholic Bishop does.

      e.g. http://global.christianpost.com/news/bishops-excommunicate-lawmakers-who-legalized-abortion-in-uruguay-83866/

      1.  The RC bishop has no more power regarding your salvation than does a Presbyterian pastor.  Matthew Chapter 23 describes the Roman hierarchy quite well; they are the modern Scribes and Pharisees.  Where is their condemnation of sins against the earth?  They tell you to vote for someone who will destroy many more lives through the destruction of the ecosystem than will be lost through abortion.

      2. No, a Catholic Bishop does NOT have the power to send you to Hell. That is the province of God. The Bishop’s job is to ensure the Word of God is taught properly within his parish & to oversee the operation of the parish. And it is entirely possible to vote your conscience and still enter Heaven, though the power of Confession, in which personal sins are absolved.

        So, to sum up: Bishop Ricken can kiss my ass.

    2. Actually, no. The hard core right wing fundamentalists hate Obama so much that they are keeping their normal opinions on Mormons in check.

    3. Well darn.  I wonder if it was the years of training in ancient languages, history, and sociology that made me dumb, or the rite of ordination itself?  I am so bummed I missed the news flash.  I guess it’s okay, I was probably too dumb to understand it.

  4. The bishop should ask himself whether, in this comic dance of bursting decadence and withheld permissions, sweetness can win.

  5. The number of things Christ had to say about anything on the Bishop’s list: zero

    The number of things Christ had to say about helping the poor and the sick: plenty

    Maybe the Bishop needs a refresher on just who Christianity is named after.

    1. These days, being a “Christian” apparently means selctively enforcing Leviticus. I ask that type of “christian” why they aren’t waiting outside of every Red Lobster and Joe’s Crab Shack with a machine gun. No satisfactory answer so far.

      1. It’s easier to hit home. Ask every “Christian” woman if she’s physically touched a man during her period or any “Christian” man if he’s laid with his wife during her period. Cherrypicking verses as a foundation for religious belief opens the doors for cherrypicking verses to point out hypocrisy. 

        1.  I commonly ask religious homobigots how often they badmouth LGBT persons over bacon sandwiches or sausage McMuffins on Sunday morning. Also, “How can (they) watch pro football when the OBJECT is to gain possession of the flesh of a pig on the Sabbath?” Trust me, these kind of questions do nothing to endear me to them but as that’s the point, I’d say mission accomplished!

          1. Wouldn’t working on Sabbath be an even worse sin that the pro players are doing? That’s in the 10 commanments, so you can’t even argue that Leviticus isn’t enforced anymore for Christians. (Of course you can then argue about which day should be the Sabbath.)

      2. What is the point of the quotes around the word Christian?  Is it disguise the fact that somewhere among the 73% of Americans who identify as Christians there might be some who don’t meet your ridiculous stereotype?  At least the Bishop put a few moments’ thought into his stupid hateful memo.

        1. The POINT of the quotes around the word Christian is because Leviticus was in the Old Testament, which has exactly zero to do with Christianity, except for the fact that the two share a deity. The New Testament was supposed to supplant the Old, yet too many “Christians” go around quoting the parts of Leviticus that justify their hatred, (like the “thoughtful” Bishop), while ignoring the fact that Jesus, (you know, the Christ in “Christian”), said exactly nothing about choice, gays or many other things that warranted torture, enslavement or death in the Old Testament. Too many “Christians” feel it’s okay to lie, (breaking an Old Testament commandment), or crush people underfoot to accumulate wealth, all the while hypocritically calling people like myself names and pretending to lament the disposition of my “soul”. Maybe you can tell me what Jesus said about that in the sermon on the mount, since you’re so much more knowledgeable than myself. You may think you’re talking to a rube but that’s what you get for making stupid assumptions. So I eagerly await your rebuttal and your
          defense of a “Christian” selectively enforcing only those parts of the
          Old Testament which support his philosophy but none of the rest of it, while pretty much ignoring the contents of the New Testament in it’s entirety.

          1. I’m not particularly interested in defending the Church, except to point out that there any number of Christians who are wonderful people, who neither molest children nor protect those who do, who have never participated in an Inquisition, and don’t protest at the funerals of service men and women.  Further, many actually do some of the things Jesus specifically told them to do, like feed the hungry and care for widows and orphans.  My point was that your post read like a stupid generalization, and that if you didn’t mean Christian when you wrote “Christian”, you should try to find some “words” to express what you actually “mean”.

          2. Quotes used that way denote insincerity in the subject.

            No disclaimer is necessary to protect your feelings, because good Christians who practice without selectively ignoring or enforcing tenets to further political agendas to only their narrowly applicable benefit are not indicated.

            You aren’t defending Christianity when you attack it’s critics.

          3. Fair enough. If you take ‘These days, being a “Christian” apparently means selectively enforcing Leviticus’ as the definition of “Christian” then the rest kind of makes sense. Humpty Dumpty would be proud.

          4. except to point out that there any number of Christians who are wonderful people, who neither molest children nor protect those who do, who have never participated in an Inquisition, and don’t protest at the funerals of service men and women.  Further, many actually do some of the things Jesus specifically told them to do, like feed the hungry and care for widows and orphans.

            Funny, I just replaced ‘Christi’ with ‘Hum’ in the above. It made no difference.

          5. That’s the easy direction. Now try replacing ‘humans’ with any of Republicans, Democrats, teenagers, feminists, Samaritans, etc. as appropriate.

  6. The Church excommunicated doctors performing a life saving abortion on a 9 year old girl.

    The same church never excommunicated king Leopold II, intellectual author of the atrocities in the Congo in the first decade of the 20th century, where 5 to 10 million people died. Leopold is buried in a chapel.

  7. Honestly, I don’t really understand this rule. It’s okay if religious people say that they know which food you have to eat on which day of the week to get into heaven, but they can’t tell you which tax plan is the better one? This does not make sense…

    1. It’s ’cause the “what’s kosher and what’s trayf” affects only that particular set of believers, while “which laws should be enacted” affects the entire population.

      This is why the establishment clause is a big deal – if a religion gets to put its stuff into law, then it’s taking on the role of a state religion. 

      1. Yep.  If it’s forcible molestation, then children’s bodies “secrete a certain secretion” to protect themselves (read tears).

  8.  One party has chosen these?   Hmmm… He must be talking about the Gay Embryonic Nazi Clone Anti-Fetus Party.  I wasn’t gong to vote for them anyway, so I think he’s getting all worried about nothing.

  9. In the “instrinsically evil” list, the bishop forgot to mention homesexual atrocities by Catholic priests against young boys. How convenient.

    1.  As someone who was a victim to such crimes I wish to argue against your use of the word homosexual. Despite being raped by clergy as a child I consider them sexual assaults and nothing to do with homosexuality.

      Further to that, I have homosexual friends (both gay and lesbian) who I would trust children with. Clergy of the Catholic church? Not so much.

      I do find it awful that in the cases of assualt by clergy members on vunerable people the churh consuls forgiveness. But for couples of the same gender who are consenting adults who love each other, it’s seen as the end of the world.

      My reading of the New Testament may be faulty but in my eyes if Jesus came back he’d be railing against the hypocrisy of his church in much the same was as he did with the Pharisees back in the day.

    2. Whoops — your homophobia is showing! 

      Or do you describe the far more numerous sexual assaults on little girls by men as “heterosexual atrocities.” If so, I withdraw my accusation of homophobia.

    3. Which candidate is running on a pro-pedophilia platform? I thought this letter was about specific policies that the candidates are supporting.

  10. This letter had a profound effect on me. I’m now ABSOLUTELY against the cloning of Bishop David Ricken… and have completely reversed my stance against euthanasia.

  11. Nothing like a supposed celibate male virgin in a dress whose religion is all but synonymous with kiddie-diddling to tell me what’s moral. Sometimes I think the Bolsheviks had the right idea.

    1. You mean having the former (Orthodox) seminary student Joseph Stalin come to power? And reopen many of the churches closed under Lenin’s rule? Really, despite the catch phrase “godless communism”, they weren’t nearly as secular as they get made out to be — heck, Communist Poland generated a pope, for crying out loud.

      1.  Yeah, because saying the Bolsheviks might have had a good starting point means that they really meant to talk about where Stalin took them.

        How conversational of you. Not at all axe grindey.

      2. Communist Poland never did successfully sell the “godless” part to the population.  The “give the means of production to the workers, or at least to their Communist Party bosses” and “obey the soldiers and secret police” and “Better to have Yet Another Russian Army than Yet Another German Army” parts went over better, though the unions did get to take the means of production away from the Party bosses around the time the Pope got elected.

  12. I like the old deadly sins better. Greed, gluttony, sloth, lust; great sins! What are rebels supposed to do with this “intrinsically evil” garbage? Do the young counter-cultural types all start getting married and studying biology?
    One thing’s for sure, hell is going to be a lot more hellish with all the people whose only sin was support for good medicine.

  13. Okay, as someone who was forced to attend 12 years of Catholic schools and 18 years of Catholic church services by my parents, I have no love for the international criminal enterprise that is the RCC. 

    However, the bishop’s letter didn’t mention Obama or any other candidate by name, and thus stayed within legal bounds. While it’s fine to argue that the law should be tightened up –– or better yet that religion groups should be taxed as a matter of course –– it’s very misleading to imply that he broke the existing law by claiming that his Invisible Sky Wizard would be pissed at someone who supported a candidate who held a certain set of positions.

  14. I don’t think this

    In the new plan, only Catholic people can be treated by Catholic institutions.

    or this

    This mandate also places Catholic business owners in a very precarious position in that they, too, will have to pay for those medical “services” which violate Catholic teaching.

    are true.

    If the church wants to deny people care it can do that freely. What it should not do is blame that decision on others. Nor can the church, as an employer, get involved in decisions about the provision of services to employees. Isn’t there something about bearing false witness in their book?

    I am disappointed but not surprised to see how little attention the poor merited in his message. Income inequality, greed, the kind of issues that are much more in keeping with Christ’s teachings seem to have fallen behind sexual health for at least one celibate cleric.

    1. They actually are true, though the first comment is horribly phrased. The issue spoken of is that church organizations would have to be conducted like any other employer, which means they have to financially support (among other things that the curch doesn’t care about) contraception. Even if everybody they hire and serve is Catholic. In other words, the sort of private establishment that’s within it’s rights to kick you out for eating meat on Friday (fun fact: that’s not actually forbidden) now may have to help pay for you voluntary sterilization first.

      This is the sort of delicate politic arrangement a President might have to massage and deliberate on at length, particularly to appease such a large block of long-time Democratic supporters as the Catholics… you know, provided he isn’t trying to railroad something half-formed through before the opposition picks up seats.

      While medical reform is long overdue, the hamfisted process guaranteed things would break. Ask anyone, “Catholics voting Republican”, is something broken.

      1. The explanations I have heard are at odds with yours. As best I can recall, any church that wants to employ laypeople ― either outside the faith or simply those who have not taken holy orders ― must offer the same healthcare benefits to all. Charlie Pierce took issue with a similar stance from a different bishopric ― see http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/bishop-daniel-jenky-14328505 and http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/religious-freedom-tax-repeal-act-10520565
        He has been following this for some time ― https://www.google.com/search?q=clan+of+the+red+beanie&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari#sclient=tablet-gws&hl=en&safe=off&client=safari&tbo=d&q=clan+of+the+red+beanie+esquire&oq=clan+of+the+red+beanie+esquire&gs_l=tablet-gws.3…2363.10201.0.10599.…1ac.1.RxfHhzB_JIQ&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.&fp=a793aef29a901853&bpcl=37189454&biw=768&bih=900

      2. >> “kick you out for eating meat on Friday (fun fact: that’s not actually forbidden)”

        that’s right, too many Irish Catholics were going to Hell for eating corned beef when St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday.

        had to create the Corned Beef Indult to prevent a drunken exodus. I feel bad for those who ate corned beef before the Indult was created: “Didn’t get the memo? Watch out Potato-head, that first step is a doosy!”

  15. Eh, threatening your soul over who you vote for seems like such a non sequitur when you can just seek forgiveness right afterward.

    Chuck Norris, on the other hand, offers 1000 years of darkness for voting the wrong way. Now that’s how you do histrionic threats! Go big or go home!

  16. “These are areas that are “intrinsically evil” and cannot be supported by anyone who is a believer in God or the common good or the dignity of the human person.”

    Oh feh.  I believe in *lots* of gods and I support all these things.

    If the Bishop can find one place in the bible that forbids stem cell research, and can also defend why it’s okay to ignore all the well-known places in the bible that forbid shellfish or mixed fibers, and can *also* adequately defend the enforcement of his religion upon people who are not of his religion, and can *also* rationally explain why gay people in a dedicated relationship can’t get married, and can *also* explain why someone in extreme pain with no hope of recovery have to be forced to suffer, and can *also* explain why anyone seriously thinks human cloning is an actual issue in the 2012 Presidential election, and can *also* explain why unwanted children should be born and then not actually taken care of and supported by a social safety net, and can *also* explain why these issues are more important than protecting the environment or income equality…

    …then I’ll shake his hand and vote for Jill Stein like I was going to anyway.

    1. Thank you.  I was going to post something very similar.  No, it’s not a well-reasoned argument, or even particularly mature, but, “Go fuck yourself” neatly sums up my reaction to this pompous asshole and his ilk.  Now if you will excuse me, I need to go find a married gay couple who are in need of an abortion and provide the embryonic stem cells to someone engaged in human cloning research.  Then maybe I’ll go euthanize some bishops…

      Seriously, though – if the ACLU or someone similarly legally educated and willing to take on difficult tasks is willing to pursue the removal of tax-exempt status from those who hide behind their religion while attempting to manipulate our election process, put me down for a couple grand in support of the effort.

  17. “or the dignity of the human person”

    Thanks for clearing up you don’t see me as human or a person.  I was worried there for a minute that you’d given up passing up judgement on others and instead decided to let god handle that like it said in your book of halfassed stories you can pick and choose from to believe.

  18. You know what’s intrinsically evil?

    Raping young boys that were in your charge.
    Covering it up and dispersing offenders to different parishes to escape detection.
    Denying it and withholding apologies for decades.
    Having to be sued before you render funds in compensation.

    Going to third-world nations and preaching against birth control, with the effect of proliferating AIDS and keeping the population in grinding poverty.

    Having an institution that discriminates against women for centuries.

    Well, and, inculcating dogmatic, nonsensical lies for centuries.

  19. So the letter is a mealy-mouthed weasel-worded “don’t vote Dem” screed.  And the Church is famously opposed to grotesque wealth, right back to “eye of the needle” and all that.  Surely that means a good godfearing member of this chap’s congregation should vote a minority candidate or abstain? 

    1.  Eh, I always thought that the ‘eye of a needle’ quote sounded odd. Turns out that it is not referring to a sewing needle at all! A needle was a part of the wall which surrounded most larger cities. The ‘eye’ was essentially a gate in that needle apparently made so that humans could pass through, but not camels. Who wants dirty camels in the middle of a city?

      1. Sure it was.  From wikipedia:

        “The “eye of a needle” has been claimed to be a gate in Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its baggage removed. This story has been put forth since at least the 15th century, and possibly as far back as the 9th century. However, there is no evidence for the existence of such a gate.”

        This is apologetics.  It’s called “apologetics” because the point is not to fight fair or find out the truth but to defend (the current interpretation of) Christian dogma tooth and nail.

      2. Since the original (usually mistranslated quote) is “easier for a rope to pass through the eye of a needle”, the gate thing is a retcon.

  20. To be fair, I’m not sure how any Christian could conscientiously participate in electing anyone into power with a nuclear arsenal without jeopardising their soul.

  21. >> “To vote for someone in favor of these positions means that you *could* be morally “complicit” with these choices which are intrinsically evil.”
    >> “This *could* put your own soul in jeopardy.”

    could = uncertain

    He doesn’t even know! or is it a threat he has no power to enforce?

    if you vote for Obama, a holy piano will fall on your head while you’re simultaneously having sex out of wedlock, eating a pastrami sandwich and watching a baseball game (which is the worst possible time to die salvation-wise)!

    Fear, it’s what Jesus would have bred.

  22. Agreed. Only used “homosexual” in the same context as the good bishop. Just thought it was worth noting that he left all his pals off the “instrinsically evil” list.

  23. If the Catholic Church really cared about these issues and wanted to make it clear, they would excommunicate any Catholic politician who voted for any of this “intrinsically evil” stuff.

    The fact that they have not shows that they value the tax subsidies their various institutions receive far higher than they do their self-styled moral integrity.

  24. Oh look, they’re on Twitter: https://twitter.com/GreenBayDiocese.  I wonder if they’ll respond: https://twitter.com/MartyMcCabe/status/264743023181713408

  25. The list of intrinsically evil seems lopsided to me.  Murder of actual people is missing, for example.

    I’d like them to have the guts to come right out and say it: abortion is a greater “sin”/crime than murdering an adult human being.

    I mean, they’re wrong, but at least have some gumption.

  26. They get away with it by not naming names. They never say “Obama” or “Democrats”, so they cannot be accused of actively campaigning for one party or candidate.

    1. He specifically said “one party” though: “Some candidates and one party have even chosen some of these as their party’s or their personal political platform.”

      1.  He does indeed. But he doesn’t name that party, therefore he cannot be accused of actively campaigning for that party.

  27. The IRS guidelines DO NOT absolutely forbid churches from politicing.  Read the damn publication.  
    QUOTE: “In general, no organization, including a church, may qualify for IRC section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). An IRC section 501(c) (3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.”

    See the language there?  “In general”, “substantial”, “some lobbying, but not too much lobbying.”

    The language is so vague, and is wide open for interpretation.  I think it’s basically a big CYA tool for the Feds to point to. Entire doc can be downloaded here:  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf

    1. From the pdf:

      Under the Internal Revenue Code, all IRC section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.

    2. ?? Lobbying and Ledge ain’t an election be. 

      It would be indefensible to disallow any organization access to governance, esp. redress or protections that legislation often addresses. Restrictions imposed are based on the type of organization and it’s related stated purpose. 

  28. I find this letter to be wholly satisfying, because, if the electoral college predictions hold, then Obama’s win will represent a clear triumph of reason’s triumph over impassioned irrationality.

    1. So it’s not just me noticing the depth of the emotional responses the conservatives have been going for since…. well, since 9/11.

  29. Too bad the bishop himself comes from an institution of evil, where a surprising high amount of members practices and covers child abuse. 

    From whatever angle you look, that bishop is on the wrong side. 

    There is nothing bad in homosexuality, it is a personal decision and in fact it is a positive development for our society (less reproduction). 

    And Abortion is nobodys business except each individual pregnant woman’s – a personal decision, no one else has any right to interfere.

    1.  Er, homosexuality is not a ‘personal decision’ any more than heterosexuality is. I mean, how many people just wake up one day and decide, “I think I’ll be a heterosexual”. It don’t work like that.

  30. If the Catholic Church INSISTS on getting involved in politics, then they need to be taxed.  IRS, where are you?.

  31. Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, I was considered a good Catholic girl. I then I began to ask the nuns and priests questions, questions that made them very uncomfortable. I am now a much older, not so very good Catholic woman deemed so by men like the Bishop from Wisconsin. I am confident that when I die, the life I have lived will be fairly judged based solely on whether I was a “good person” rather than the earthly pettiness of men and women, those consumed with only passing out guilt and damnation and not teaching the doctrine “judge not least ye be judged!.”

  32. Gosh-durn it, EVERYONE’S getting in the politics business! Why just yesterday, I got a call from this shady-looking fellow endorsing Romney.

    P.S. It turns out he has a conflict of interest. He did backup vocals on Mitt Romney’s debut album, “Romney and the Neocons – World War 3”.
    (Sorry, the artwork isn’t available yet.)

    If Romney wins, the album is sure to sell better and he’ll get more royalties.

  33. I’ll take my chances Bishop. A suggestion: maybe you should concentrate on getting rid of all those child molesting priests before you tell us we’re going to hell just because we’re voting for Obama.

  34. I’ll believe that atheism is a religion.when the IRS tells me I can deduct my ACLU and AUSCS dues as religious contributions.

  35. Funny thing is…I’ve read all these comments with all the usual Christian-bashing yet no one has gone to the trouble to just point out that Christians can do a pretty good job of bashing each other.  After all, according to good Christians, Catholicism is not a Christian religion.

    See:  http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0071/0071_01.asp and comments at http://www.chick.com/information/religions/catholicism/

    YMMV, depending on how you want to define words, especially around here where people seem so willing to define anything to mean anything as long as the resulting snippet of snark sounds cooler than the one immediately prior.

  36. Can we just stop it with religion already? Why do we still feel it’s ok to talk to some imaginary man in the sky?

    Why do we humor people who still cling to beliefs that are just wrong?

    1. Don’t fault people what gets them through the night. But when they cross that line, beat them back with sticks.

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