Are Democrats taking a leap of faith with lit piece?

The Republican Party of Minnesota is ramping up its criticism of their counterparts in the DFL for issuing a campaign lit piece that questions whether a Republican candidate for the Minnesota Senate is committed to the poor. The lit piece, which is below, shows a picture of a man of the cloth with a button that says “Ignore the poor.” The lit piece then questions whether Pastor Dan Hall is committed to serving the poor or the Republican Party. Hall, who is not Catholic, is challenging DFL Sen. John Doll in Senate District 40 which includes Burnsville.

Dan Hall mailer

Republican Party officials and several Catholic groups were swift to criticize the lit piece. A writer on the blog, The National Catholic Register, described it as “The most Anti-Catholic political ad you’ll ever see.”

Republican Party Deputy Chair Michael Brodkorb also worked to link the lit piece to Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Mark Dayton:

“My phone keeps ringing with calls from outraged people upset at @MinnesotaDFL anti-Catholic mailing funded by @Mark_Dayton’s kids”

I’m trying to confirm how Brodkorb can claim that Dayton’s children “funded” this particular piece of literature. Update: Brodkorb said Dayton’s two sons have given $250,000 each to the DFL. Update to the Update: When I asked how those funds were earmarked for this particular lit piece, Brodkorb referenced a profile I did on Bob Perry that said Perry bankrolled the Swift Boat ads. He has yet to answer how Dayton’s kids funded this particular lit piece. In reality, it’s a better link to say that the DFL Senate Caucus paid for the lit piece since they transfer funds to the DFL to send out their lit in MN Senate races. The caucuses do that to save money on postage.

DFL Party spokesman Donald McFarland says the lit piece isn’t mean to be anti-Catholic but show how Hall has distanced himself from the views of others in the faith community.

“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. 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.”

Here’s a link to the second lit piece that McFarland referenced.

Question of the Day: What do you think of this issue?

Update: The MNGOP has scheduled a news conference at 11am in which they’ll call on Dayton to denounce the lit piece. GOP state Sen. Michelle Fischbach and GOP state Sen. Amy Koch will speak at the newser.

UPDATE: Democrat Mark Dayton issued this statement on the lit piece:

“I believe the brochure’s picture showing a Man of the Cloth is inappropriate. I believe that it is inappropriate to bring religion into a campaign as this image and others do.

I believe the brochure’s referencing Leaders of the Faith Community criticizing the damage to GAMC is appropriate. The facts are that members of Minnesota’s Faith Community have been leaders in the fight to stop Governor Pawlenty from denying health care to the poorest and sickest Minnesotans.”

  • Julie Blaha

    I don’t see how this is anti-Catholic: the whole point of the image is to show an obvious contradiction, you’d never see a priest wearing a button like this because we Catholics are committed to helping the poor. This piece highlights one of the best parts of our faith.

    Decrying every nuanced message on it’s superficial aspects is exactly how we are dumbing-down political discourse. If we are too afraid to make a complex statement because people will parse it out to meaninglessness, we will get more of the Incredible Hulk than careful discussion.

    If we want more than just “Me good, he bad” every election, we need to stick to issues, not gotcha’s.

  • Ralph Crammedin

    Does the Republican Party of Minnesota ignore the poor? Let’s find out. The 2010 Republican Platform (http://www.mngop.com/pdfs/platform.pdf) yields a single paragraph addressing issues of poverty: “Reform and Eliminate the Welfare System”

    Here’s how they want to do it: “People in need should be assisted primarily through private charity, including faith-based programs instead of government welfare programs.”

    There will some strings attached, though: “…stop the practice of offering cash incentives for unmarried recipients to bear children, and require proof of legal in-state residency and random drug tests as a condition of receiving aid.”

    With the Republicans, it’s not so much a matter of ignoring the poor. It’s more like don’t feed ‘em and maybe they’ll shape up.

  • BloomingtonMom

    This is not an attack on Catholics or Christians for that matter. It is an attack ad on Dan Hall using his faith to manipulate voters into believing that he is an honest man with the voters best interest in mind. It is unfortunate that negative ads are used during the election process. Rebublicans and Democrats use this strategy and are equally to blame. I agree that we must stick to the issues and not use this method to sway potential voters.

  • Anna

    I think that picture says it all. I’ll say, that’s it’s not just Catholics, but other Christian religions that are being used to bring voters to the Repudlican side with their “moral” issues. Sure, let’s make abortion illegal and not allow gay marriage. But helping people in need? Nah, let’s give tax cuts to the rich. Maybe Jesus would have wanted it that way.

  • Andrew

    Regardless of the intent of the lit piece, I believe it is inappropriate to use Catholic imagery in an attack ad such as this. If you don’t think that this ad uses Catholic imagery (as someone who is Catholic I would say it clearly does) then you should look at the second piece they sent out with a picture of a chapel. The second piece is CLEARLY Catholic because no other Christian faith uses statues of saints the way the Catholic Church does.

    If the DFL wants to portray Dan Hall as anti-poor that’s fine (even though he has worked with the poor almost his entire life), but don’t use faith to do it and don’t use images from the wrong faith.

  • David P

    So they took on a Protestant, apparently Evangelical-leaning, pastor (who I see volunteers with the YMCA and food shelves) with a photo of a generic, collared priest? I don’t know if it’s outright anti-Catholic, but at the very least it’s lazy.

    At worst, it’s a case of “They all look alike to me.”

    Just because he doesn’t follow the Democrats’ short list of approved social work (and apparently religious work) doesn’t make him anti-poor.

  • Jamie

    You missed the point, David P.

    And that’s part of the problem with this piece. A lot of people are going to misunderstand it. Unfortunately, Julie B, if you go beyond “Me good, he bad” there usually IS a lot of misunderstanding. Most of the electorate don’t have time or energy or intelligence for nuance.

  • David P

    No, I’m afraid I got the point.

    There is no nuance here: You agree with the DFL’s extremely narrow view of helping, or you’re “ignoring the poor.” There’s not much to misunderstand.

    And nice one on passive/aggressively calling the electorate stupid. It good to see that Catholics on of different political stripes are upset at this ad, no matter how lazy or dumb you think they are.

  • Jane Yavis

    First of all – SInce when does the collar indicate “Catholic” – The Pastor in Texas that calls for Revolt wears a Collar, the Pastor in Virginia that is running for office wears a collar. Shouldn’t the real question be “are Politically driven Republican Catholics using this as a hit piece on a Democratic candidate”???

    What is even more troubling to me as a Catholic who gives heavily to Charity,,,,,, disapproves of tithing because it is the backbone if Evangelical politics, and has watched politically motivated shills like Bill Donohue from the Catholic League twist every statement he issues into a political format ,,,,,,,, I am sickened by the wing of the Catholic Church looking for a seat on the Evangeical Stage once again using our church to give a green light to the anti-catholic innuendo the right spews all day every day on conservative talk radio.

  • Jane Yavis

    David, as a Catholic, I am offended that the politically motivated Catholic Magazine as well as Catholic League’s Bill Donohue have again become an arm of a the GOP. Look at the mailer,,, this is a man with a Collar – The Pastor from Texas calling for revolution wears a collar, the Pastor from Virginia Running for Office wears a collar.

    Catholics of all stripes know that Collar does not make a persona PREIST,,,, so do those wanting to use faith for political purposes.

    This isn’t about Lazy or Dumb, this is about an arm of the Church that has allowed themselves to be hijacked by the extreme right wing of the Republican party. And that, not the Priest Scandal is what is and will continue to bring our church to its knees.

    It Bill Donohue and all those claiming outrage at the postcard truly believe this is anti-catholic,,, they have an obligation to be equally as outraged at the Pastors from Texas and Virginia – for stepping into politics impersonating a priest.

    That won’t get them the coveted seats on the Stage of Political Evangelicals in January, will it.???? – This is the strangest partnership,,,, It’s like the Battered Partner Syndrome. The Catholics Carry the water for the GOP, then in January, they are pushed under the bus until another election cycle,,,,, but the memory of another seat on that stage makes the the modern day money-changers in the temple.

  • Mom from Bloomington

    This ad is not attacking Catholicism or even Christianity, it’s addressing some of the bad choices made by others.

    Dan Hall believes that homosexuals are pedophiles (he said it on the capital steps to a reporter last year)… he’s a bigot and shouldn’t be allowed to represent the American people. He hates people for being gay… all this is saying is that some of the outlandish views of others will not be tolerated. It’s unfortunate that Republicans picked him to their voice in Bloomington.

    Dan Hall’s campaign is filled with so much misleading information that it’s hard to make heads or tails of it. He stated he was a school principal??? Of his home-schooled children. Does that seriously make him a principal.

    Dan Hall lives off of the charity of others, check out his ministry website. This man scares me!