Alms for the media consultant? Catholic dioceses nationwide fund political fight in WA state

When parishioners in far flung Catholic dioceses from Portland to Denver to Toledo to Newark and points in between pass around the collection plate on Sundays, I suppose they expect their charitable donations to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and care for the sick—or at the very least pay off the hundreds of millions of dollars of legal settlements stemming from decades of covering up child sexual abuse on the part of priests. But I’m guessing very few of the faithful expect their charitable donations to end up buying TV ads opposing a ballot initiative here in Washington state.

But that’s exactly what is happening as the Catholic Church has started pouring in hundreds of thousands of dollars from dioceses and archdioceses across the nation to fight I-1000, Washington’s Death with Dignity initiative modeled on the very successful measure in neighboring Oregon. In fact, over the last few weeks alone, I-1000’s opponents have hauled in over $70,000 from out-of-state dioceses, five of which are involved in a total of 28 criminal investigations, 86 civil lawsuits and 56 additional accusations of child abuse. And if history is any indication, the bulk of the no campaign’s money will ultimately come from the Catholic Church, as it has in nearly every other state where this issue has come before voters.

I fully appreciate that the Catholic Church is consistent on issues concerning life, opposing capital punishment as vocally as it opposes abortion and measures like I-1000, and they certainly have every right to spend their money on behalf of the causes that they support. But parishioners also have a right to know how their money is being spent, and I bet if they knew that some of it was being used to buy political ads in faraway Washington state, those collection plates might not fill up quite as readily.


  1. 1

    Broadway Joe spews:

    Sorry, but the Catholic church is sadly out of step with modern society. Hell, their grasp on reality is tenuous at best.

  2. 2

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Agreed. The Catholic Church needs to integrate itself into the 21st Century. That means married priests and women priests for starters, and a thorough house-cleaning of the priests who can’t keep their hands off the altar boys and girls in the choir!

    Once Catholicism reforms itself, maybe the other major religions of the world will take the hint and stop the violence and insanity “in the name of God!”

  3. 3

    Broadway Joe spews:

    And because I get the BBC World Service on my satellite-radio, their rebellious cousins of the Anglican church are on the brink of shattering under the assault of ultra-conservatives opposed to the ordination of openly gay clergy here in the US. Another denomination out of touch with the modern world. And the conservatives’ leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria would probably be best buds with ol’ Reverend Hutch, the shepherd of the influx of gay-bashing Eastern European ‘Watchers on the Walls’.

  4. 4

    ByeByeGOP spews:

    If the religious idiots would spend a little more time trying to LIVE with dignity, maybe they’d see the need to die with dignity.

  5. 5

    rhp6033 spews:

    This is a tough one for me.

    I don’t dispute that the Catholic Church is entitled to take a stand on this issue. It is clearly related to it’s moral/spiritual teachings regarding the sanctity of life, which the Catholic Church teaches can only be taken by the creator of that life, God.

    They can preach from the pulpit the basics of their beliefs, without violating their 501(c)3 non-profit status. I also think their priests and congregants can stand on the street corners and argue their points, and/or pass out leaflets to the same effect.

    But I’m generally opposed to political campaigning in a church because it tends to create the impression that people with different political viewpoints aren’t welcome there. Also, engaging in politics tends to be more harmful to the church itself, than to the political process. Likewise, the use of church funds should not be used in a political campaign.

    So as I said, this one is a hard one for me. The fact that the initiative is not related to a specific political party, but goes to the heart of the religious teachings of the church, is a complicating factor. I’ll have to muse on this one for a while.

    But I can agree that at the very least, the church should have a separate collection for this purpose in which they clearly identify where the money is going.

  6. 6

    erika goldstein spews:

    In the name of God a multitude of sins are committed. This just adds to the list. I wish all the money the church spends would really help someone in need. So all this so people can sing and kneel in church and listen to someone pontificate. Money, Power, and Sex rule the world(this comes under the heading of power and money.

  7. 7

    joel connelly spews:

    Why don’t you have the cojones to identify the pro-1000 press release for which you are shilling?
    Why don’t you have the character to discuss all the out-of-state money that has poured into the I-1000 coffers?
    Why don’t you have the ethics to discuss who has donated it? The pro’s have raised $1.4 million, the anti’s are still below $350,000.
    Ah, but the Catholic Church has to be the target.
    Given your reasoning, teachers should be informed and approve of every dollar the WEA is donating to candidate . . . and machinists at Boeing should approve of every political activity by Local 751.
    The reasoning of your post tracks almost precisely with an Evergreen Freedom Foundation legal brief.
    Anti-Catholic bigotry is apparently socially acceptable among those who define themselves as “progressive.”

  8. 8

    proud leftist spews:

    As a good Lutheran, I believe the Catholic Church could once again use 95 theses tacked to the door. Not just for this little blip, but Benedict and the direction of the Church? C’mon.

  9. 9


    Why don’t you have the character to discuss all the out-of-state money that has poured into the I-1000 coffers?

    How much of that money is coming from people who have owed settlements to molested children?

    I-1000 supporters aren’t attacking the Catholic Church, we’re defending ourselves from it.

  10. 10

    ArtFart spews:

    8 I think the jury’s still out regarding Benedict. Not many have yet recognized the radicalism of his flat-footed declaration that there need be no conflict whatsoever between faith and reason. Once that sinks in (and such things often take a while) history may look back on us and all generations who preceded us, and sigh at what utter fools we all were.

  11. 11

    proud leftist spews:

    Reconciling faith and reason is, of course, a most challenging proposition. I try every day, and probably miss most days. Naturally, any good existentialist stays at the task, no matter the unlikelihood of ever quite reaching the goal line. Hey, it’s all in the trying, right? And, I’m going to guess that those who follow us will most certainly see as fools. (Please refer to that which is stated above.)

  12. 12

    physicianassistedlogic spews:


    Listen Fat-lock, why don’t you actually be freaking honest with your readers and explain that the 1.4million you keep trumpeting while youre being intellectually dishonest with them WAS SPENT to get on the ballot? Oh that’s right, you’re shill for the opposition.

  13. 13

    GLC219 spews:

    @7 – Joel Connelly,

    Why don’t you have the balls (they’re under there somewhere) to admit that you’ve been letting the anti-1000 forces write your column for you?

    Why don’t you recognize that you are a huge hypocrite for claiming to be pro-choice but letting the anti-choice extremists hijack your brain and your column to impose their views on Washington?

    Why don’t you look at the priorities of the church hierarchy and, as a good Catholic, question whether they should be funding political campaigns or funding charities and paying funds to the families that have been abused?

    Lee @9 is right. Jesus protect us from your followers.

  14. 14

    joel connelly spews:

    GLC: You are low on the totem pole of human life, as well as a public liar, an anti-religious bigot and a coward (hiding under anonymity).
    In addressing your hate post, one item after another:
    –Nobody write my column for me, as anybody at Drinking Liberally can attest. Instead of smearing people anonymously, I seek out and listen to those with whom I disagree.
    –As to the priorities of the church hierarchy, the Catholic Church runs the largest social/health service network in this state outside the federal government.
    As a health provider, don’t they have a legitimate interest in an assisted suicide initiative?
    And, finally, a question for you: Why is anti-Catholic bigotry considered socially acceptable — at least on this site — while derogatory comments about gays, Jews, women, African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans would be instantly and justly condemned?

  15. 15

    sparky spews:

    @7 Joel

    As a teacher, I am pissed that WEA has endorsed Dave Reichert over Darcy Burner because of their differing opinions on an issue that would never be decided at the federal level anyway. I am pissed that a portion of my dues have gone to support him. At least people in church can make the choice of whether or not to put money in the collection plate. I have no such choice. You are certainly within your rights to feel that this issue is against your beliefs, but I know for a fact that not all Catholics are against I-1000 and they have the right to know where their money is going. I doubt the Catholic church is the only body involved-I almost sure that the Pentecostal churches are busy trying to defeat this as well.

  16. 16

    physicianassistedlogic spews:


    Wrong again shill. They have a RESPONSIBILITY TO THOSE WHO’S LIVES THEY DESTROY not to spread their rigid, medieval ideology with their money.

    My guess is that the little boys who got diddled by their priest might be entitled to damages more than a very small segment of the WA population is entitled to impose their will upon the rest of us.

    while i recognize that this is what the church is all about this is not a theocracy my friend.

    also, its not assisted suicide anymore than getting shot by the police and killed is police-assisted death.

    as a shill for the opposition i know its important for you to continue to be intellectually dishonest with your readers and use that term even when you know a thurston county judge ruled that its a loaded term and does not describe what is before the voters in november.

    i guess that’s why you’re not a journalist — you dont have any ethical standards or integrity. You’re just a fluffer for the national right wing evangelical movement that’s come to washington to impose their ideology.

    good luck with that by the way.

  17. 17

    joel connelly spews:

    physicianassistedlogic: Were you wearing a white hood over your head and burning a cross on your lawn as you did recent post?

  18. 18

    GLC219 spews:

    @ Joel – so this is you listening? I’d hate to see you irrational and pissy.

    BTW, I was raised Catholic, still know my catechisms, but I grew up and learned how to think for myself. You should try it.

  19. 19

    Jane Balough's Dog spews:

    1000, and they certainly have every right to spend their money on behalf of the causes that they support. But parishioners also have a right to know how their money is being spent

    You mean sort of like how the unions hide what they do with their money from their members who pay dues??? Wow. Maybe lead by example first then whine. Just a thought. roof roof.

  20. 20

    physicianassistedlogic spews:


    Look! Something shiny! i’m distracted from all of the points I made in my previous comment by you’re bomb throwing!

  21. 21

    sparky spews:

    Doggy…fact is, we often vote for a lot of what our money goes to. Not everything, but a lot. This endorsement decision came without a vote, and is unusual for WEA, since very few Republicans in office support public schools. It doesn’t matter, though, because we are voting for Darcy. And many of us have taken advantage of get-togethers after hours to spread the word about the comparison. We know about Sheriff Big Hair, and we know about Darcy, and we know which one is for helping kids.
    EEF could at least try to look like they are consistent.

  22. 22

    YLB spews:

    I’ve been pretty quiet on this initiative because when it first came out I went groan… yet another intiative that might motivate the right wing to turn out in numbers and/or force a knee-jerk reaction from swing voters.

    If this puts Dino Rossi (R-BIAW) over the top, I blame Elmer Fudd, er, Booth Gardner.

    In my opinion, the timing was terrible!

  23. 23


    Joel, nothing in that comment constituted anti-Catholic bigotry. It’s not bigotry to point out that Catholic priests have a very bad track record in the child abuse department, and it’s not bigotry to point out that the church has both archaic beliefs (no birth control, no female priests) and strong theocratic tendencies. The former is fine if the rules stay within the church heirarchy, but the latter is a very big problem when it seeks to impose the rules outside of their domain.

  24. 24

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    “Instead of smearing people anonymously, I seek out and listen to those with whom I disagree.”

    Look, connelly, you are a public figure, so this argument is utterly disengenuous, a red herring, a mot bon mon, a piece of crap….need one go on here?

    Other than apparently having a thinner skin than that nutter Billy Donohugh, you raise a couple of good points…anti-catholic bias is, alas, not one of them.

    And by the way, unions do have to report their political donations, and are very regulated in this regard. Member contributions to union political activity is voluntary. And furthermore, you might not believe this, union members can actually vote on who gets to run the union. Unfuckingbelievable, huh? However, when a member checks the box and sends the dough, they know to what purpose the money will be spent… precisely Goldy’s point.

    If you want to argue about whom has contributed to what…try getting more specific, not hysterical.

    With all due respect, your humble reader,


  25. 25

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    PS, joel. I am of the opinion that David should have never written this post.

    So it goes.

  26. 26

    dutch spews:

    Joel, Thank you for your posts here and trying to put some sanity into it.
    And in the spirit of HA lingo I can only say: Lee, you are an asshole.

    So Goldstein posts both here and at Hffington, but where is the proof that the money really is coming from
    a) the catholic church and
    b) the collection plate.

    None that I can see…yet everyone of the idiots here is jumping at the change to beat up on the biggest charity organization this country as ever seen. All you point to are the few priests (yes, few in relation to the overall population and number of priests) who have molested children. While this is moraly wrong, legally wrong and the hiding of it was wrong too, it has nothing to do with the points made by Joel.
    Would you as the wonderful progressives and moral gatekeepers of this nation also reject anything you get from the Teachers Unions or related sources ? How many teachers have committed crimes against their students, many known, more unknown.

    Just wondering

  27. 27

    Jane Balough's Dog spews:

    Doggy…fact is, we often vote for a lot of what our money goes to.

    Who cares. Government unions should be outlawed. All they are is legalized extortion. The dems get a lot of their fuding from people who would never give them nickle otherwise. By the way public screwls don’t work primarily because of the WEA. Pouring more money in them is a waste.

  28. 28

    Jane Balough's Dog spews:

    The biggest difference between unions and the Catholic church is that you don’t have to be Catholic to go to church but you do have to pay dues to the WEA to get a job as a tax payer funded public screwl teacher. Can you spell EXTORTION kids. So much for your freedom of choice.

  29. 29

    Jane Balough's Dog spews:

    Now if the WEA allowed you to pay your dues by providing them a receipt of a political donation to a party of your choice it wouldn’t be so obnoxious. It would only be extortion with a small e.

  30. 32

    Steve spews:

    Anti-Catholic bigotry? Sorry to go slightly OT here, but maybe this media guy Joel Connelly can explain to me how it is that the media jumped all over the church and its pedophile problem while now we have the Republican party and its pedophile problem and not a single media outlet or person has ever connected the dots and said, “Hey, the Republicans have a serious problem here.” Tell me, why is this subject taboo? It’s certainly lurid enough for today’s media, if not something to be informed about. Why the church and not the GOP?

    If you ever decide to write about it, try thinking, “atmosphere of fear and repression = GOP”, and it’ll all start to make sense to you. If that doesn’t do it, try thinking “flys to shit”.

  31. 33

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Conservatives To McCain: Ridge ‘Kiss of Death’

    Pro-lifers across the country are stunned by news reports that McCain is considering Tom Ridge as a possible running mate. Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor and current Secretary of Homeland Security, is pro-choice.

    Phil Burress, an Ohio anti-abortion leader, said, “That choice will end his bid for the presidency and spell defeat for other Republican candidates” because pro-life evangelicals would refuse to vote.

  32. 34

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Watergate-Era Restrictions On Domestic Spying To End

    McClatchy newspapers reported tonight that Attorney General Mukasey plans to rescind Watergate-era restrictions on the FBI program known as COINTELPRO, which spied on “American political leaders and organizations deemed to be subversive” in the 1950s and 1960s.

    The new rules will permit domestic intelligence collection, eliminate distinctions between “terrorism” and “criminal” cases, allow FBI agents to “conduct surveillance based on a tip,” expand their access to databases, and allow agents to profile persons as potential “terrorists” based on their ethnicity or race.

    The article also states the FBI apologized today to 2 newspapers for secretly obtaining reporters’ phone records “without following proper bureau procedures.”

    (Quoted under fair use.)

  33. 35

    FricknFrack spews:

    @ 7. joel connelly

    Why are you so defensive? Because most people recognize that YOU are merely a shill for the Catholics? I stopped reading your junk column some time ago for that very reason.

    Your lack of balance & impartiality does a disservice to your readers. Too bad someone doesn’t check into whether the anti-I-1000 folks are paying joel connelly for all the free advertising he’s supplying them.

  34. 36

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @35 What’s wrong with being a shill for the Catholics? I’m a shill for truth, freedom, and the American way of life.

  35. 37

    FricknFrack spews:

    @ 36. Roger Rabbit spews:

    @35 What’s wrong with being a shill for the Catholics? I’m a shill for truth, freedom, and the American way of life.

    With all due respect Mr. Rabbit true Patriot that you are, you don’t write for one of the two major newspapers in the Seattle area. That gives the appearance and confers some sort of weight that Joel’s shilling “opinions” might be expected to carry. A single column on the subject might have been one thing, but his repeated columns just showed his personal involvement to be unbalanced and out of whack.

    Thought it was funny that while Joel was lobbing his free advertising for the anti-I-1000 folks, they were still raking in signatures – far more than was needed – to make the ballot. Guess there must be other folks that don’t buy into his theocracy beliefs either.

  36. 38

    Seattlejew spews:


    Goldy and lee wsould never tolerate a similar atatck on free speech if it came from “th other side.” If the Church were defending immigrant rights, they would be all huzzahs!

    As many of you know, I am notorious critic of the Church, but any one who does not respect the GOOD the church does based on its moral principles is dead wrong.

    Goly, can you spell “Solidarity?” When Lech Walessa and John the 23rd said that Catholics must stand up to fascism, “solidarity” meant more than just the namje of a polich labor movement. It evoked respect for the political activities of the church!

    So, go ahead and cavil. Disagree with them on this issue .. that is fine. This church above all others has had too little need to examone its institutional errors and accept its flaws. BUt when it is acting out of moral consistency it is somply bigotry to hand “pedofilia” around the bishop’s cross.

  37. 39

    Seattlejew spews:

    “Is Dignity a Success?”

    OK, I admit it. I beleive in the right of each of us to die. I would normally suport something like I-1000. But I will vote against it. Why?

    1. Lee Thehim’s fanatic support for this scares me. This bill strikes me as part of a canonical, predetermned, and illogical view of liberalism that strikes me as dangerous as the similar canon of the right.

    My grandmother would have used a Yiddhish prase to describe such thinking … Pfehh!

    2. Demonizing the catholic church or Joel’s stance asa Catholic is contemptible.

    OK .. all that is reactive and emotional. Let me try to raise some hard ass, liberal issues about this idea:

  38. 40

    Seattlejew spews:


    1. Is there a need? Under current law, a physician has wide freedom to make patients comfortable when they are dieing. It is entirely legal to accelerate death, if the price of prolonging life is suffering. The key moral difference is simple: it is one thing to alleviate pain and suffering, it is quite a different thing to intentionally kill another human being.

    To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence that under our current system there are people unable to get this sort of relief because the law prohibits actions by their doctor.

    2. The law RESTRICTS existing rights. Currently a terminal patient may come to her doctor complaining that the cancer hurts and the prospect of loss of, life is depressing. The doctor may offer drugs that relieve these symptoms with the explanation that this will shorten life.

    Under I-1000, this act may become illegal. For one thing this decision appears now to require some formal document, a “liscence?” For another, the decision must be backed up by at least one more physician. Finally, the patient may need to be evaluated by some psychologist or social worker.

    Having just been through the painful death of my own father, I can tell you adding that extra burden to my family would have been maddening.

    3. Hippocrates

    Many of us (I am an MD) took an oath to never take life. Maybe to some folks an oath like this is lightly taken, but I and other docs take it very seriously.

    Bottom Line:

    a. there is no demonstrated demand for I-1000,
    b. current law deals with most of this already, without requiring physicians to violate their oaths.

  39. 41

    Steve spews:

    @40 Regarding your point in #3, you had previously posted the oath. However, I wondered then (and failed to ask or otherwise inquire), is there any debate in the medical profession as to the interpretation of that particular line in the oath? In electrical engineering we disagree a lot about the intent of code passages. How’s it stand with you folks? Are you all on the same page? Can you direct me to any place to learn more of any debate taking place?

  40. 42

    Aaron spews:

    @39: I think I’m with you. Personally, I’m okay with suicide in some circumstances that I never hope to confront myself. However, this campaign smells wrong. Why is so much energy being devoted to a topic that will change things for a relative few that are unlucky enough to confront such circumstances? There are so many much more pressing topics (healthcare in general) that effect so many more, not just at end of life, but quality throughout.

    Today, now, with the issues we have before us, this seems like an example of what is wrong with our state intiative process. Our ballot is becoming a proxy for interests well beyond the grass roots of this state. I realize many people feel passionate about being able to determine how they will end their lives, and I expect this initiative will pass with a wide margin. But I remain unconvinced that this topic should get the priority it is getting right now. For cripes sake, remember the children!

    And I do think the attack based on Catholic money going towards this campaign as somehow being out of line because of the issue of priest pedophelia to be a hit below the belt, so to speak. Is the church not supposed to have a political voice while paying damages? If I were sued and bankrupted for something I did, should that preclude me from making a political finacial contribution while paying restitution? I say no.

    And by the way, I personally know for a fact that Joel speaks from personal conviction. He writes honestly and sincerely, and with very tempered malice to the extent it exists at all.

    Not so many commenters here, all in all a pretty mean discourse. Joel has a far thicker skin that do I; I’d be really pissed by now as some of the nasty shit that has been written above.

    Kudos to Joel for being willing to write from his heart, even when his position is unpopular here in Seattle.

  41. 43

    Steve spews:

    @39 I can’t address your fear expressed in point #1, of course. I disagree with the second sentence. I’d say it’s much more a libertarian than liberal issue at heart.

    I agree, of course, with #2. However, I hope that we can agree that there is a distinction to be made between demonizing the church and criticizing the church.

  42. 45

    Gloria spews:


    1. There is a need. Doctors currently do provide a wide range of pain care, and often will wink and nod about how much morphine is too much. I-1000 would end the underground practice of hastening death, and allow doctors, patients and their families to have an open and honest discussion about it. Look at Oregon – after 10 years of death with dignity it’s now rated as having the best pain care and the best end-of-life care in the nation.

    2. You’re just wrong on that one. I-1000 would take back-alley wink-and-nod death practices that doctors currently use and bring them into the open – with safeguards like waiting periods and witnesses, and “formal documents” like a written request. That protects the patient, and ensures that it is the patients wish that is being carried out.

    3. Hippocrates Hypocrisy. Doctors speed death all the time and you know it. Ventilators get removed, percentages of successful surgeries get weighed, and, as you say in your point 1, doctors give medication and tell patients that it will shorten their life (wink, wink, nudge nudge).

    The bottom line is that bringing these practices into the open, and allowing terminally ill cancer patients and their families to actually talk about them honestly with their doctors will improve care – just like it has in Oregon.

  43. 46


    Gloria, don’t waste your time. You’re arguing with an insane bigot who still hasn’t read the law and continues to make one false claim after another. Just let the crazyperson be.

  44. 47

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    46. Lee spews:
    Gloria, don’t waste your time. You’re arguing with an insane bigot

    Since you included a link, let me quote from the comments-

    As for your name calling, that really doies seem to go on and on. I must admit it is hard NOT to reciprocate. Casting names at others is a very macho thing to do and I must admit my male pride is hurt by not fighting back, I have thought of renaming you “boobelah” or “hionkey” but do not see what that would do except fed my ego.

    Gloria, which one sounds more mature, someone that always resorts to name calling those they don’t agree with or someone that doesn’t.
    To be fair, I’m sure lee believes in being fair, here’s a link to seattlejews webpage.
    Here are a few words from his blog…

    To be a bit more specific, I have never accused Lee of racism or anything of the sort. I have even introduced Lee to some folks I know in the Black community because I think Lee’s ideas about drugs have a lot of merit and would hope he could help get some things done.

    Seattlejew was helping lee, even introducing him to some folks in the black community.

  45. 48


    Thanks Marvin, but I think the link I added is quite clear. SeattleJew is very, very good at playing the victim card. He has a tendency to see anti-Semitism under every rock and considers people like me, who can be objective about these issues, as a self-hating Jew.

    He does exactly what Al Sharpton does within the black community. Hope you can wrap your puny little brain around that one.

    Jump, Marvin, jump!

  46. 49

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    48. Lee spews:
    SeattleJew is very, very good at playing the victim card.

    Must be something about being a victocrat that makes one become a democrat.

    He has a tendency to see anti-Semitism under every rock

    Unlike the ha hooligans that see goat sex under every rock. Say, I wonder if goat sex is why stevie hides his true identity?

    considers people like me, who can be objective about these issues, as a self-hating Jew

    I feel it’s a little more than you being, cough cough, objective.

  47. 50


    Must be something about being a victocrat that makes one become a democrat.

    Well, hopefully, idiots like SeattleJew and Al Sharpton stop embarrassing the Democratic Party.

    Unlike the ha hooligans that see goat sex under every rock.

    Only if you’re under that rock too, goat boy.

    I feel it’s a little more than you being, cough cough, objective.

    You wouldn’t cough so much if you weren’t sucking off that goat while you comment.

    Jump, Marvin, jump!