Of Politics, Bigotry and Stupidity

A week before the Presidential election in 1884, the Reverend Samuel D. Burchard, a Presbyterian minister, at a Republican gathering denounced the Democrats as the party of “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion”.  James G. Blaine, the Republican candidate, denounced the anti-Catholic remarks three days later, but it was too late and Blaine lost the election.  The memorable phrase helped cement most Catholics as Democrats for a century.

Now the Minnesota Democrat Farmer Labor Party (Minnesota Democrats) are doing their best to help drive Catholics into the arms of the Republican Party with this piece of tripe:

The flyer has a man in clerical garb, wearing a Bible and sporting a button saying “Ignore the Poor”.  The flyer is an attempt to take advantage of religious bigotry against Republican Dan Hall, an Assemblies of God Protestant minister, running for a state senate seat in Minnesota.  It is of course no accident that the man in the flier looks like a Catholic priest.  Anti-religious bigots often have a fixed hatred of the Catholic Church, and if you are looking for votes among haters of Christianity, there is no better way to inflame passions than to awake hatred of the Church.

For a measly state senate seat the Democrat party in Minnesota is willing to inflame hatred of Christianity and Catholics and to risk having their party tarred, and rightly tarred, with the stain of bigotry.  Mind boggingly stupid, even for low life politicians.

Any politician seeking to trod the despicable path of whipping up religious hatreds for votes would do well to read the letter of President Washington to the  Jews of Newport Rhode Island on August 21, 1790, especially this ringing paragraph:

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.

UpdateI:  The use of Catholic imagery in the campaign against Dan Hall is underlined by a second flyer:

The people behind this vile campaign knew precisely the type of bigots they were attempting to appeal to.

UpdateII:  Here is an interview that EWTN did with Dan Hall about this controversy.

20 Responses to Of Politics, Bigotry and Stupidity

  1. Art Deco says:

    It’s an asinine ad, but I would tend to doubt that the progenitor had Catholic priests in mind. Minnesota is chock-a-block with Lutherans:


  2. Donald R. McClarey says:

    I doubt Art if even in Minnesota the first thing that people think of when they view that ad is a Lutheran minister.

  3. Art Deco says:

    Lutherans are a small minority in the country at large but abnormally concentrated in the upper Midwest. Spelunking about I found a datum that fully a third of the population of Minnesota identify themselves as Lutherans. Another quarter identify themselves as Catholics. There is likely a small population of Anglicans and Orthodox in Minnesota as well. That would mean roughly 60% of the population of Minnesota identifies themselves with a denomination where the clergy wear collars, or likely around two-thirds of those who would offer the pollster a denomination if asked. That being the case, the generic image of the clergyman in Minnesota would likely be a man with a collar, and in Minnesota it is Lutherans (not Catholics) who are the mode.

    Still, that’s Hendrick Hertzberg’s image of the clergy. Not too sweet.

  4. c matt says:

    The story says they claim the ad was “taken out of context”!!! The ultimate lamo excuse – that just makes it worse!!! So what is the context that somehow makes it better (context never provided)?

  5. c matt says:

    Hmm…now that I read the alleged context (Disputations has it), I am still not completely convinced that some animosity toward religion (and Catholics in particular) didn’t play a part, but it is possible that gross stupidity and really really really bad judgment had a bigger role.

  6. Phillip says:

    Perhaps it is more a reference to Lutherans. Perhaps, even as the linked AOL story at Disputations notes, it qualifies its message and thus is not anti-Catholic but rather pokes at an implied hypocrisy of a Pentacostal minister.

    I do find the second more difficult. Certainly Pentacostals and probably Lutherans do not have neo-gothic altars with St. Anthony front and center.

    Perhaps they’re clumsily drawing attention to the faith of Hall. Though in the second photo I suspect they are clearly using Catholic imagery. Is that anti-Catholic? Let’s ask NPR 🙂

  7. Tom says:

    Ah, the good old day, when the Dems were the party of rum, romanism, and rebellion… three praiseworthy things!

  8. restrainedradical says:

    To me it looks like the ads are intended to point out that Dan Hall is a hypocrite. I don’t find them anti-Catholic. I think the ads against Dan Webster which criticize him for quoting scripture and the ridiculing of Christine O’Donnell for stating Church teaching are anti-Christian/Catholic.

  9. jh says:

    Thank God for these comments. I thought I was the only one thinking this.

    I don;t see these ads as Anti Catholic. I think in a sense they are quite clever in making trying to make a Catholic Social Justice argument. Now people might disagree with that argument of the application of that argument but it needs to replied to with a Social Justice argument. NOT shrill cries of anti Catholicism.

    THere is plenty of anti Catholicism around that is for sure. But I don’t see it here

  10. Art Deco says:

    The image in the 2d flyer is distinctly Catholic.

    It would not surprise me, however, to discover that the progenitors of this mess could not recognize the difference between a Catholic church and a Quaker meeting house. Using a statue of St. Anthony to make a snide point against a minister of the Assemblies of God seems … confused.

  11. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “I think in a sense they are quite clever in making trying to make a Catholic Social Justice argument.”

    Only if we redefine clever as mindboggingly stupid jh.

  12. c matt says:

    Yes, it is clever – progressively clever.

  13. jh says:

    ““I think in a sense they are quite clever in making trying to make a Catholic Social Justice argument.”

    Only if we redefine clever as mindboggingly stupid jh.”

    Well I don’t see it as stupid. Everyone knopws Catholic Priests and the Church don’t hate the poor. Everyone knows the famous scripture verse is Blessed be the Poor.

    It seems to have worked because everyone is talking about it and the best it appears we can do is shout anti Catholicism without responding back with arguments. Sort of like it is the new racist.

    So I find it effective so far, I hate that but so far the response to this has not been that clever to me

  14. RL says:

    Well I don’t see it as stupid. Everyone knopws Catholic Priests and the Church don’t hate the poor.

    Really? Are you forgetting about all the rhetoric from the left during Obamcare debate? There were lot of accusations about Catholics hating the poor. Silly, ignorant, crazy even, but it is definitely there.

  15. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “It seems to have worked because everyone is talking about it”

    Yes, as an example of raw bigotry. The Democrat opposing Dan Hall has disowned it. If this ad is “working” jh, it is working for the Republicans.

  16. Chuck says:

    Here is another example of anti-Catholic prejudice this election season:


  17. Joe Hargrave says:

    If this were done to Muslims, someone would have been decapitated or blown to bits already, and others would be without jobs, and the whole media would be ablaze with fresh convictions that we are a racist and bigoted country.

    It really is the last acceptable form of bigotry. That’s why I can, only with the greatest of effort, muster anything beyond the level of disgust and contempt to interact with one of these blind hypocrites.

  18. Joe says:

    this is clearly targeted at Catholics since the recent DVD promoting the campaign against gay marriage. An odd position for an eveangelical, but anti-Catholic still sells well in MN

  19. Foxfier says:

    I was sort of on the fence when it was just the collar; the follow-up ad pretty much sealed it.

    They’re either invoking Christianity is Catholic (a dumb move) or they’re attacking the Church. (a REALLY dumb move)

    On a side note: a lot of folks who self-identify as Catholic can’t stand the traditional Catholic stuff like a guy in black with a Roman collar or the shiny, elaborate alcove with the statue. They also tend to be rather liberal… take as you will.

  20. Elaine Krewer says:

    “Certainly Pentacostals and probably Lutherans do not have neo-gothic altars with St. Anthony front and center”

    I have seen pictures of at least one Lutheran church in Central Illinois that does appear to have a sort of “neo gothic” altar or reredos up front (this was a wedding picture of the bride and groom posing in front of the altar, for what it’s worth). I didn’t see any statues, though, and I highly doubt that any Lutheran church would have statues.

    Nevertheless, I am sometimes startled by the liturgical similarities between Catholics and (some) Lutherans… their Sunday services often follow the same cycle of readings that ours do, and I once attended a Lutheran funeral whose order of service was strikingly similar to the Liturgy of the Word/Eucharist that we have.

    Even so, the second ad is definitely anti-Catholic. The first ad probably is also although there are Protestant clergy who wear Roman collars.

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