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Exploring the other vote-yes ad campaign

savage pacer ad
This pro-marriage amendment ad appeared in the
Savage Pacer on October 13.

Have you seen the latest ad campaign on the proposed amendment to Minnesota’s constitution banning same-sex marriage?

No, not the TV ads the vote-yes and vote-no campaigns have spent millions on, in an attempt to get their messages into your living room. I’m talking about the plain black boxes running in a number of community newspapers in Twin Cities suburbs and Greater Minnesota enumerating reasons to vote in favor of the amendment.  

I hadn’t seen them, either, until a reader sent me a copy of one that ran in the Savage Pacer Oct. 13 enumerating “common sense” arguments for voting yes. The reader who sent the clip had done more than a little Googling to try to figure out who had placed the ad, to no avail. Perhaps a “professional journalist” could figure it out?

Alas, unless a devoted MinnPost member wants to make a largish donation so we can open a Bismarck bureau (and fund the 4,000 or so things ahead of that on our wish-list) this one may go into the category of campaign oddities that will never be fully explained.

“Marriage has to do with sexual expression and when sexual expression is between a faithful husband and a faithful wife, diseases will not filter into society,” the ad explains. “We all need to recognize our fear of not being politically correct and exercise our freedom of speech and expression to inform youth about the dangers of same-gender sexual expression,” it continues, directing readers to a YouTube video, “Shocking 2010 [Centers for Disease Control] Update about Homosexuality, HIV and AIDS.”

The link leads not to footage of epidemiologists or public-health officials talking, but of two animated bear-like creatures standing in a cartoon barnyard. In a robot voice, the first, dressed in a striped shirt and shorts, says that he’s glad to have run into the other one.

“Since we last spoke and you told me you had same-sex attractions for men and you are struggling to accept that you are homosexual or possibly to go to reparative therapy and work through those issues, there has been a major new development,” he says, adding that the CDC has announced that one in five gay or bisexual men is HIV positive.

“How can that be?” his rainbow-striped friend reacts in horror. By the end, the maybe-gay bear is reconsidering, and questioning why no one warned him. (The CDC did indeed report this infection rate, but there’s a lot of associated statistical fine print the animated bears don’t delve into.)

The video’s provenance is as shrouded in mystery as the identity of the person or group who bought the print ads, identified at the bottom of each as, “Sponsored by Concern for Children, P.O. Box 115, 200 Margaret St., Almont, N.D., 58520.”

There is no group by the name Concern for Children registered with the Minnesota Board of Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure, or with the North Dakota Secretary of State. There is a group by that name registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c (3) nonprofit, but it is an adoption agency in Ohio.

Almont, population 122 as of the 2010 census, is a wide spot in the road some 30 miles west of Bismarck. County tax rolls show no taxable structure at 200 Margaret St. The closest Google images are of the intersection at 300 Margaret St., where there is a vacant lot and what appears to be a tiny white church so quaint it could be used as a set in a “Little House on the Prairie” remake, quite likely St. Mary Queen of Peace.

Several online rosters of churches list 200 Margaret St. as the address of a Wesleyan Church, but the associated phone number has been disconnected. The staff at the protestant church’s Indiana headquarters identified three North Dakota churches but could not find any record of an Almont congregation.

martin luther vote yes ad
jordannews.com
The pro marriage amendment ad running on jordannews.com
and on various Iron Range news sites.

Another ad placed by the mystery advertiser, running on news sites throughout the Iron Range, and sites like jordannews.com is headlined, “Martin Luther would want you to vote yes on the marriage amendment.”  “The leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) have, and continue to willfully and wantonly misrepresent Martin Luther in thought, word and deed as they silence opposition with various bullying approaches that supposedly represent love.”

An ad placed in the Shakopee News Oct. 4 also takes on ELCA, depicting it as having strayed from Lutheranism’s core beliefs. It’s entitled, “Marriage = One Man + One Woman = Vote Yes!”

In addition to communities throughout Minnesota, Concern for Children has advertised in Washington state, where voters also face a gay-marriage-related referendum.

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Comments (6)

There Is Not a Stripe of Lutheran Church

Alive today that has not strayed so far from the church that Luther founded but as to be unrecognizable to him.

But that's not a bad thing. The world in which we live would also be unrecognizable to Luther. Based on what Luther, himself, sought to accomplish in breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church in order to make the Christian faith more accessible to the common people of his day,...

and the way he adapted ancient forms to make them more understandable and, therefore, more meaningful to those who sought to be faithful to the God of Jesus Christ,...

and the way he cast aside many ancient traditions and positions of the Roman Catholic Church based on his own interpretations of the Bible, especially the Gospels and the letters of Paul,...

interpretations which differed in very substantial ways from those handed down to him by the Roman Catholic Church in which he was raised and trained,...

I can't help but think Luther, being the strongly progressive pragmatist that he was (for his own time in history),...

would be highly disturbed and frustrated that some of his protestant descendants now take his own thoughts, ideas, ideals and his interpretations of scripture to be timeless truth,...

as chiseled into granite as were those of the Roman Catholic Church he felt compelled to leave in order to develop his new forms of faith and faithfulness.

I suspect that, when faced with those most "conservative" branches of the Lutheran Church, Luther would find them so resistant to his efforts at reform that he would feel compelled to initiate a new Reformation against those who claim to be his most faithful descendants.

Well, I'm convinced ...

Well, I'm convinced ...

So am I

There is no rhetoric more powerful than cartoon bears.

You shall not bear false witness...

His Words, not mine. If you have to lie about who who are and what you represent, you are not going to win over many converts.

The ad department of the newspapers should look at these a little closer before publishing -- while this is different than news, your our credibility is at stake here.

There are so many misconceptions

The papers should verify who placed these ads with are emotional and very questionable before publishing. What a mess! Marriage has never made the couple or others immune to straying and the passing on of social diseases. History is full of it. And accurate and clear sexual information does more to protect people than the old fashioned attitude that no information was the best, and if someone knew something about sexual physiology they, perforce, must not be a virgin. Happened to me with one of the first persons I dated in college. (I had read a book on home practical nursing that was in the house I grew up in.)

Pretty sad politics

Probably written by one of the IL, MO or IN Congressmen that made the various crazy comments about rape.