Last week, Herbert Chilstrom, former presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, penned an open letter to Catholic Archbishop, John Niensedt.
Truly, it’s a letter you don’t want to miss. I’ve included just a small excerpt to get you intrigued…
I recognize your authority in formulating positions for your own flock in Minnesota. That is one thing. But for you and others to campaign for an amendment that imposes your stance on all citizens in Minnesota, including other Christians, believers of other faith groups and nonbelievers, is overstepping your bounds.
Chilstrom then goes on to share how time and time again, the church has failed when attempting to force a stand in political waters. He also educates Niensedt on the definition of “republic” and why the separate of church and state is “genius” for America.
Don’t miss out; read Chilstrom’s open letter in its entirety. Then reblog if you think its as awesome.
If you can’t stand up for what you believe, you are not a minister, you are not a priest.
Reverend Mike Tegeder
Source: Star Tribune
A great article from the Star Tribune on Catholic priest, Mike Tegeder. I’ve written about Tegeder several times on this blog. He has continued to take a public stand against the marriage amendment, despite direction from the Catholic Church not to do so.
Jon Tevlin of the Star Tribune digs deeper in this piece on Tegeder and shares several moving quotes, similar to the one I’ve shared here. Tegeder had this to say about Archbishop John Nienstedt:
He’s in over his head. We don’t deserve him, and he doesn’t deserve us.
I’ve also blogged many times about Nienstedt, however, he is on the opposite end of the equality spectrum, doing whatever is in his power to see this mean-spirited amendment pass.
Spend 2 minutes to check out the article on Tegeder. While I’ve appreciated him taking a stand against the amendment, after reading this article, I have a new found respect for the man and I think you will too.
So I lied to you when I said I’d stop posting so much about Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. I mean, I don’t want to turn this blog into the Chris Kluwe fan club, but man, I certainly would sign up!
This time, Kluwe has written an open letter to Archbishop Nienstedt and Pope Benedict XVI. In the letter, he asks several questions:
I read your views on gay marriage in the Star Tribune, Archbishop Nienstedt, and it fills me with great sadness and regret that a steward of the Catholic Church on this Earth feels the need to take a stance of oppression, intolerance, and fear. Surely, is this not what Jesus spoke of when he said, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by his fruit”?
How can we reconcile our version of the Catholic Church as salvation to the sick, the needy, the poor, when we must also bear witness to the Catholic Church as oppressor, tormentor, and executioner? Where, in all of Jesus’ teachings, did he ever say to deny the humanity of other human beings; where did the Son of God proclaim that mortal Man knew God’s will; where, pray tell, did Jesus ever say to harden your heart against those who may not be exactly the same as you?
I say to you – nowhere. Nowhere does Jesus preach hate, or intolerance, or loathing. Nowhere does Jesus say, “You shall deny the humanity of gay people because it makes you feel uncomfortable”. Nowhere does Jesus say, “And the mortal men of the Church shall be the sole conduits of the Word of God, for they are perfect and infallible.” Nowhere, in all of the recorded teachings of Jesus, does it say anything about discrimination or prejudice.
Seriously. The above excerpt is just Kluwe warming up before his kick to win the game! I strongly encourage you to read the letter in its entirety on his Out of Bounds blog.
Chris, if you ever stumble upon this blog, you’ll have to let me know when your next fan club meeting is taking place! ;)
Ok, at some point I’ve got to ask: When does the Catholic Church lose their tax-exempt status?
And before you start saying that I’m discriminating against the church, let the record show that I have been very supportive of all views, including those from Catholic leaders, on this blog (here, here, here and here). However, when Archbishop John Nienstedt speaks out publicly at our state Capitol on this issue, I’ve got to challenge it. Here’s what Nienstedt had to say:
I ask all Minnesotans to join us to vote yes on November 6th… This is wonderful sight, to see clergy from … so many different churches, come together and show their support for our basic understanding of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
According to IRS publication 1828: Tax Guide for Churches and Religions Organizations:
Churches and religious organizations, like many other charitable organizations, qualify for exemption from federal income tax under IRC section 501(c)(3) and are generally eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. To qualify for tax-exempt status, such an organization must meet the following requirements (covered in greater detail throughout this publication):
- the organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other charitable purposes,
- net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder,
- no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation,
- the organization may not intervene in political campaigns, and
- the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy
Check out bullets three and four. If Nienstedt’s speaking out publicly in support of the amendment isn’t enough to convince you that the church is violating these bullets, consider the fact that the Catholic Church has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars shipping out DVDs to Catholics how to vote, gone to high schools to talk about why same-sex marriage is “dangerous to society,” told priests not to speak out against the church’s support of the amendment, and they’ve donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to amendment supporters.
Sadly, these are just a few of the many examples of how the Catholic Church has inserted itself into this election as a way to influence voters and legislation. According to the tax code, here’s what should happen to the Catholic Church:
Consequences of Political Campaign Activity
When it participates in political campaign activity, a church or religious organization jeopardizes both its tax-exempt status under IRC section 501(c)(3) and its eligibility to receive tax-deductible contributions. In addition, it may become subject to an excise tax on its political expenditures. This excise tax may be imposed in addition to revocation, or it may be imposed instead of revocation. Also, the church or religious organization should correct the violation
How about we ask the church to spend their money on paying for excise taxes instead of attempting to forever change the Minnesota state constitution and limit the rights of thousands of committed same-sex couples?
I just came across a great blog post that gives me a lot of hope. In Washington State, Catholic pastors have been given the option to “opt out” of collecting signatures in an effort to repeal same-sex marriage. In fact, Reverend Tim Clark received a standing ovation from his parish when he announced that they would not be gathering signatures. The parish is the sixth in Seattle to opt out of the petition drive.
The standing ovation experienced during one of the Masses says less about me and much more about the health of this parish. I only wished the archbishop [J. Peter Sartain] could have experienced the sustained applause — the ‘sensus fidelium’ — of the people. He needs to listen to this ‘voice.’ That is my prayer.
We need more leaders like Reverend Clark. Thank you for standing up for what you believe to be right.
Unfortunately, in Minnesota, folks like archbishop John Nienstedt have given parishes no option to opt out of supporting the mean-spirited Minnesota marriage amendment. In fact, back in January I blogged about how the archbishop issued a very clear message: If you disagree with the amendment or the church’s support, you had best keep it to yourself.
Kudos to Reverend Tim Clark, his congregation and all of those in Washington State that support equality for all.
While this won’t happen, I love that Catholics for Marriage Equality Minnesota have asked Archbishop Nienstedt and all bishops in the state to withdraw financial support for the marriage amendment. Apparently, Bishop Malone of Maine announced there that the Catholic Hierarchy would take no active role in “fundraising, staffing, advertising, or campaigning against marriage equality” earlier this month. Would be great to see Minnesota Catholics follow suit, however, we’ve already seen their fundraising arm in full action and can expect a lot more where that came from.
Archbishop John C. Nienstedt needs a lesson in the Separation of Church and State. In January, I shared about how the Archbishop was advocating that priests either support the amendment or be quiet about it - otherwise, they would face being dismissed from their ministry.
The Archbishop has also offered parishes a prayer to help “defend” marriage:
Grant to us all the gift of courage to proclaim and defend your plan for marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman…
This is in line with the strategic direction of amendment proponents in pushing the lines of church and state. I keep wondering, when will someone step in and take away tax exempt status and all of the other benefits bestowed on these institutions? In the case of the Catholic Church, their funding of hate is getting old.
I don’t often get mad when I read news articles about gay marriage any more. I’ve seen quite a lot of disappointing messages over the past 6 years. Instead of getting angry, I use the hateful messages people say as a way to educate voters, friends and co-workers.
Today is the exception though. I’m mad. Rev. Mike Tegeder, a Catholic Priest in Minnesota, does not agree with the church’s stance on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. In fact, he’s quoted as saying:
That’s not the way to support marriage… If we want to support marriage, there are wonderful things we can do as Catholic churches and ministers. We should not be focused on beating up a small number of people who have this desire to have committed relationships.
But sharing that message does not work for the Catholic Church. Instead, Tegeder was told by Archbiship Nienstedt that unless he stops opposing the amendment, he would be stripped of his “faculties to exercise ministry” and he would be removed from his “ministerial assignments.”
Now I’m not one to Catholic bash. I was raised Catholic and my father still attends mass every week. But this is just wrong. I hope for Tegeder’s sake that he can come to terms with what he believes and what he is being forced by his employer to say (or in this case, not say).
The Catholic Church continues to wade deeper and deeper into Minnesota political waters. Perhaps they need a refresher on what separation of church and state actually means…
The end game of those who oppose the marriage amendment that we support is not just to secure certain benefits for a particular minority, but, I believe, to eliminate the need for marriage altogether.
Source: Archbishop John Niensedt, December 2011
The Progressive Catholic Voice
I’m saddened to see Archbishop Niensedt turn something beautiful that two people share together – love – into the end of marriage for everyone.