Much ado has erupted over a political flier mailed out in Senate District 40 (parts of Bloomington and Burnsville) that shows a man in a clerical collar sporting a button that says: “Ignore the poor.”
It was sent by the DFL State Central Committee, in support of incumbent DFL Sen. John Doll of Burnsville. The ad attacks Doll’s Republican opponent, Dan Hall, a non-denominational minister who serves as a volunteer police and fire department chaplain in Burnsville. The ad implies that Hall is more committed to serving the Republican Party than serving the poor.
But the representation of the Roman collar — usually worn by Catholic priests, and occasionally by clergy of other denominations, but not Hall — led to a dustup.
Some apparently took the ad as an affront to the Catholic Church by the DFL Party and much blogging and tweeting ensued. Two Republican lawmakers today called on Mark Dayton, the DFL candidate for governor, to denounce the flier.
Dayton said he knew nothing of the ad, and said the effort to link it to him was desperate.
A Catholic news network, EWTN, has a story about the flier today, noting it:
“…raised concerns of anti-Catholicism. However, the ad in fact targeted a non-denominational Protestant lay minister who is running for the state legislature”
Says the story:
Many Catholic observers took the image to be an attack on the Minnesota Catholic bishops, who with the help of an independent donor have launched a large-scale campaign to educate Catholics on the nature of marriage.
The bishops’ critics, especially homosexual activists, have argued that the money used for the campaign should have been spent on the poor.
However, the controversial “Ignore the Poor” clergyman’s image was simply one side of a flyer from the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee attacking Republican Dan Hall, a non-denominational Protestant running in Minnesota Senate District 40.
In an interview with EWTN, Hall said: “I’ve never worn a collar. It’s a slam on me, but they’re using you guys and it’s sad.”
Hall also responded to the ad’s criticism that he didn’t speak out against budget cuts that many fell hurt the poor:
“The thing is, I’m a chaplain to the capitol,” he commented. “That’s not someone who would stand up and start talking about what governor does or doesn’t do.”
“I grew up in the inner city projects in Minneapolis. I’ve always been helping the poor. I ran a food shelter for 10 years,” he continued, calling the flyers “despicable” and “out of line.”
“For any churchgoing people, why mock our faith?” he asked.
ETWN contacted Donald McFarland, a communications official with the Minnesota DFL State Central Committee, who responded:
“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.”