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In 2008, my son was being confirmed in the Catholic Church. As a consequence, we clocked a lot of pew time for various reasons—special services, required Mass attendance—you name it and we were there.

We asked if he wanted to opt out of confirmation but he didn’t want to be ‘different’ from his friends, all of whom including him attend Catholic schools.  Being different is the social kiss of death for a 13 year old. So I thought, ‘Okey, dokey.’  I will stand by my boy. See below the orange Rorschach blot for more.

Think back to 2008.  The Catholic Church vehemently opposed Obama and flexed its considerable muscle to influence parishioners to vote against him, at least in my parish. Why they continue to be tax-exempt when they blatantly lobby parishioners is beyond me, but I digress.

That year, we heard so many sermons on the ‘unborn’ that my kids and I took to keeping a tally during Mass, then comparing notes afterward to see who found the most mentions. It was kind of like a religious ‘Where’s Waldo’. Each sermon urged us to vote against those who would hurt the unborn.

Next, one anti-Obama parent somehow ‘obtained’ the e-mail list of all school parents and sent us the “Obama is the Muslim Anti-Christ’ chain mail. Yes, I complained to the administration.  Yes, they made the offending party ‘apologize.’ Still, damage done. There were the requisite posters of aborted fetuses in trash cans, despite many parental objections because of their graphic nature.  Then, in what was the dénouement, we got a report card on politicians so we could vote the right way….um, pun intended.

How does a mother cope with this kind of propaganda?  In two ways.  First, I talked to my son and his friends, being careful to listen to their concerns.  Ultimately, they thought the Church was being irresponsible to tell someone not to use birth control or to have a baby, pointing out that a 15 year old girl might not make the best parent.  And they wondered why their pastor kept talking and talking and talking about this issue and nothing else.  See why I stand by my boy??  Push him one way and he engages his brain and thinks back.

However, my personal coping mechanism was a little different.  Frankly, the Church forced me to donate to the Obama campaign, which is probably not what they intended.  Now it’s happening again and I’m irritated.  In 2008, I vowed that every time our priest did the unborn rant, I would contribute $50 to the Obama campaign.  If I had to be a captive audience, I wanted some meaningful way to push back.

Well, based on our tally of unborn mentions, it got quite expensive each week.  I would literally go home, reach an agreement with the kids on the number, then whip out the credit card to donate online.  Eventually, as the election drew near, I dropped to $25 per mention, then to $15 as the priest went more gonzo each week.  Still, we were rock star givers (for us) to the campaign and I’m proud of that.

Fast forward to 2012 and I can see the Church is making me donate again.  This campaign cycle, I’ve broadened my criteria.  And every time the Bishops and Cardinals take some completely asinine stand, it costs me.  I really wish these boys would clean up their act.  In December, Cardinal George, who unfortunately believes he speaks for Chicago Catholics like me, compared LGBT groups to the KKK.  Ka-ching.  The bucks flew out of my wallet.  Now we have the Bishops & birth control debacle.  Double cash reward for that one.

I’ve broadened my giving criteria and now donate to organizations that advance the rights of women, minorities, the poor and LGBT communities. It depends upon the controversy du-jour. I figure since the Church has forgotten these groups, I should try to help out in some small way.

Today the Chicago Sun Times is reporting that Cardinal George has prepared an anti-birth control letter to be read in all Masses this weekend.  I know I said this before, but how is this NOT lobbying? Why are they tax exempt? I don’t go to Mass regularly anymore but I know this is going to hit me in the pocketbook, again.  I think I’ll have to split my donation between the Obama campaign and Planned Parenthood.

I think maybe this isn’t the way the Church wants Catholics to respond.  But, it works for me.

Oh, after the 2008 election, we left that parish and stopped donating to the Church altogether.  We weren’t the only ones to leave and I hear donations are waaaay down, leaving my old parish struggling to pay its bills.  What can I say.  Karma’s a b*tch.

PS.  This is my first diary so apologies if I rambled on!  Thanks for listening.

Originally posted to JAM11 on Fri Feb 10, 2012 at 09:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Permanent Glory and Community Spotlight.

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