The Democrat-Farmer-Labor Party has just responded to the ad that, at first blush, seemed anti-Catholic, to say the least, and which was picked up on several blogs--including this one. It seems that it was not a hoax, as some suspected, but the first part of a two-page ad, that well...here's Dotcommonweal on the case:
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.
My apologies too, for the "anti-Catholic" label. Still, the use of Catholic imagery (how many nondemoninational lay chaplains look like that?) was bound to be confusing. "Anti-wise," as Grant Gallicho says, is more on the mark. Anti-clear, too. And most likely not likely to win over many Catholics in the end.
Finally, another update, also courtesy of Dotcommonweal:
“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.”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.
Oh brother. What gives? A free copy of my latest book to anyone who can sort this thing out, and explain why this odd Catholic imagery is being used. Perhaps the DFL doesn't know the difference between the interior of a Catholic church and a nondenominational church. For my part, I think of the words of General Allenby to T.E. Lawrence in the movie "Lawrence of Arabia," when Allenby was asked to explain a complex political matter. "I'm not a politician...thank God."
James Martin, SJ