The Knights of Columbus have donated substantial amounts of money and volunteer time towards the passage of Minnesota’s constitutional ban against marriage equality, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
According to the news story by Baird Helgeson:
“The state branch of the Knights has spent months raising money, staffing phone banks and leading seminars urging people to vote for the measure. The Minnesota Knights of Columbus are following a battle-tested formula used in several other states that passed marriage amendments. The local chapters quietly provide fundraising and crucial organizational infrastructure while the national organization pumps millions of dollars into major groups masterminding the effort to block laws around the country allowing same-sex marriage. . . .
“In the last four years, the group has given at least $3.6 million to groups leading marriage fights across the country. Now the group is trying to make its mark in Minnesota, and has directly given more than $130,000 to the fight.
“The Minnesota chapters so far have given at least $31,000 to pro-amendment groups. The national headquarters has given another $100,000.”
The Minnesota State Catholic Conference says it is no secret that the Knights have long been part of their strategy to pass the marriage ban amendment:
” ‘They are part of the grass-roots team, there’s no doubt about that,’ said Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, which is working to pass the measure. ‘We are grateful for the support of the Knights of Columbus.’
“The Knights were involved in the Minnesota marriage issue long before Republicans in the Legislature succeeded in getting the measure on the ballot.
“In 2010, the group created DVDs that carried an anti-gay marriage message from the Twin Cities archdiocese to 400,000 Catholic households — a move that angered many Catholics more supportive of same-sex marriage.”
A number of Minnesota Catholics are upset with the Knights’ involvement in politics:
” ‘I don’t think it is at all clear to the congregations,’ said Greg Seivert, a lifelong Catholic from Mendota Heights. When he was growing up, Seivert said, the Knights ‘were a charitable group that did the work of charity and mercy. This strikes me as a very different role. I would be very leery of contributing in any sort of way with their involvement in this political brouhaha.’ “
Figures about the donations that the Knights have made to various causes show that working against marriage equality is one of their priorities:
“[The Knights] spent $850,000 for wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs for survivors of the Haiti earthquake; it gave money for playgrounds in Europe and for programs that promote peace in the Middle East and Africa. In Stamford, Conn., the Knights bought more than 1,000 turkeys for people in need. In Washington, D.C., the group gave $100,000 to promote programs to better include disabled people in the Catholic Church’s ministry.
“That same year, the group gave at least $700,000 to marriage-related efforts.
“The year before, the Knights gave more than $1 million to the National Organization for Marriage, a driving force behind marriage-related measures across the country.
“In 2008, it gave more than $1.4 million to the group backing California’s Proposition 8, which successfully added a same-sex marriage ban to that state’s constitution.
” ‘They are definitely a force and have been very helpful,’ said Frank Schubert, who ran the Proposition 8 campaign and now is running Minnesota for Marriage, the lead group pushing the marriage amendment.”
The article also points out that national organizations which support marriage equality have also been keeping their eyes on the Knights’ involvement:
“Sharon Groves, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s religious and faith program, said the group’s secrecy is most troubling. The myriad entities shuffling money around to marriage-related groups makes tracking the group’s contributions nearly impossible, she said.
” ‘The Knights are really an organization pulling the wool over the eyes of many Catholics,’ Groves said. ‘They do a lot of important work, but people are being sold a bill of goods, thinking that all this work is helping the needy when really it is going toward some pretty sinister stuff.’ “
Such revelations about the Knights’ involvement against marriage equality is not new, but what is new is how widespread and deep their involvement is. Bondings 2.0 has carried previous stories about the Knights’ work. They can be accessed by clicking on the titles below my signature.
The real question is how rank and file Knights will respond when they learn that the money they have been raising has been going to this type of work, and not to charitable organizations.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry
December 10, 2011: The Minnesota DVDs
February 6, 2012: Following the Knights of Columbus Money Trail
April 5, 2012: Just Say “No” to NOM