OLYMPIA, August 31, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Washington state official has called an Associated Press report misleading for suggesting that the government was banning the Catholic Church from taking collections to support a traditional marriage initiative.
An AP report Tuesday entitled “Catholic churches can’t collect donations to overturn gay marriage law, Washington state rules” was widely cited on homosexual news blogs and other outlets this week. Catholic Church leaders in the state are preparing to take collections in September supporting a “no” vote on R-74, which will appear on the November ballot to give voters a chance to endorse or reject the state’s same-sex “marriage” law.
The report was followed by a Thursday report spotlighting Protect Marriage Washington for supporting the allegedly illegal gift method, with the headline: “Washington anti-gay marriage law group encourages ‘bundling’ donations.” The second article noted that state officials planned to send a letter to church officials and Protect Marriage on the issue.
But when Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman for the state’s Public Disclosure Commission, was asked whether the agency had ruled against the Catholic Church’s planned collection, she responded, “Oh gosh, no.”
“The headline is kind of misleading, in my opinion,” said Anderson, the same official cited in the AP’s original report. Anderson told LifeSiteNews.com on Friday that the law means no one collecting from the pews can be employed or recruited by the Catholic Church. “Whoever’s doing that has to be an individual person,” such as a volunteer for Protect Marriage, she said.
That, according to the executive director of the Washington state Catholic Conference, was the plan all along.
“We have not been out of compliance. We can hardly be out of compliance when we hadn’t done anything,” Sr. Sister Sharon Park told LifeSiteNews.
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Park said that attorneys had already reviewed state law to make sure the Protect Marriage collections would be in compliance, noting that Washingtonians “probably have one of the strictest public disclosure laws in the country.” Park said the letter she received from state officials later this week simply informed them of the law.
“The strange part was, we only read this in the press. The press contacted us and we said, ‘What?’” she said.
One source pointed to a blog article in Seattle’s prominent alternative newspaper The Stranger, where LGBT activist Dan Savage is editorial director, that had questioned the legality of the campaign one day before the first AP story was published.
Traditional marriage campaigns, normally the financial underdog, have benefited significantly from Christian pew collections.
Financially, Washington’s traditional marriage effort currently lags behind its opponents by more than a 12-to-1 ratio, with Washington United for Marriage garnerning over $6 million so far.
David Hains, communications director for the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte, said that North Carolina bishops donated of their own resources to Amendment 1, which enshrined marriage in the state constitution this year. Although bishops there did not use Sunday collections for the marriage effort, Hains said, the Catholic Church in America uses the power of the pews to support issues “all the time.”
“No bishop or issue can support say a candidate, but they can do things to support issues,” he said. “Having collections to support issues is nothing new in the Church.”