DFL responds to questions about ‘Ignore the Poor’ campaign postcard

| October 27, 2010 | 9 Comments

Joan Deluney, parish secretary at St. Bonaventure in Bloomington, said she was shocked and offended when she received a postcard around Oct. 22 depicting what looked like a priest wearing a button that says, “Ignore the Poor.”

“I thought, ‘I can’t believe they are doing this with a priest.’ Then I thought, ‘Well it may not be Catholic, it may be geared toward the Lutherans because they wear the collar, too,’” Deluney said, adding that she also thought it might be an attack on Archbishop John Nienstedt for his support of a DVD initiative in support of traditional marriage.

“That was my first reaction,” she said. “That was before I looked at the back.”

What she saw on the other side was an ad criticizing Dan Hall, the Republican candidate vying for the state senate seat now held by Democrat John Doll in District 40, which encompasses parts of Bloomington and Burnsville.

The ad criticizes Hall, a non-denominational minister who has served as a volunteer chaplain at the state capitol and for several organizations, for not speaking earlier this year against budget cuts that many felt hurt the state’s poorest citizens.

Donald McFarland, communications director for the DFL State Central Committee, said Hall was the only target of the ad.

The ad showing a clergy member with a collar is one of three political ads that feature religious symbols; one includes an angelic figure and another features what appears to be a chapel.

When asked if the mailing’s creators considered how offensive the images could be to Catholics and other faith groups and if an apology might be coming from the DFL Party, McFarland said, “Everything that I had to say, I said in the statement I sent. I don’t have anything to add to that.”

McFarland sent the following e-mail to The Catholic Spirit:

“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.”

Hall told EWTN Catholic news network that he has never worn a collar, so the image in the postcard is inaccurate.

As for the claim that he didn’t speak out against budget cuts, he said. “I’m a chaplain to the capitol. That’s not someone who would stand up and start talking about what the governor does or doesn’t do.”

He also told EWTN that he grew up in the inner city projects in Minneapolis and ran a food shelter for 10 years.

Despite the intentions of the DFL Party, Deluney and bloggers throughout the Christian community say they have been offended.

“I hope that it wasn’t intentional,” Deluney said, “but it was in very poor taste.”

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