Bishops Use iPods to Lure Faithful Voters
By Michelle Boorstein
You know competition for American voters' attention has gotten intense when the Catholic Church starts giving away iPods.
Yes folks, it's come to that, in this intense, information- (and misinformation) saturated campaign season. In an effort to get Americans to read their voters' guide, the nation's Roman Catholic bishops announced today that they are giving away a free digital recording device to a randomly-selected person who registers on the guide's Web site.
The bishops' organization -- which essentially represents the Vatican in the United States -- also announced it had put a video quiz about its positions on YouTube and a page about them on Facebook. The video features Steve Angrisano, who the bishops describe as "a dynamic singer ... popular with Christian youth," but who in the staid video comes across a bit more like a caricature of the square Sunday school teacher than he might like:
"The Catholic Church is involved in politics because...?" Angrisano asks as answers flash: A: We have nothing better to do? B: We love going to Washington D.C? or .... C: To defend human life and protect the weak and vulnerable.
Images flip by, from flying clocks (unexplained) to fetuses to people protesting war.
American bishops put out documents meant to guide Catholic voters every four years, but in the past few elections a few individual bishops who have forcefully condemned candidates who support abortion rights have drawn outsized attention.
This year's guide, called "Forming Consciences For Faithful Citizenship," repeats what other guides have said, which is that the church is against abortion, torture and deliberate attacks on noncombatants in war. And the guide acknowledges that Catholic voters have to weigh a range of "intrinsic evils" and pick among candidates who never match up exactly with the Catholic Church on everything.
"There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons," it says.
However the bishops meant the document, the new multimedia push will certainly be watched closely by partisans on both sides, as Catholic voters -- who make up some 20 percent of all voters -- have been narrowly divided in recent years and are now squarely under strategists' microscopes.
It's also doubtless aimed at younger Catholics, who are increasingly Latino. Latinos account for nearly half of Catholics under age 40 in the United States.
Posted at 7:55 PM ET on Sep 17, 2008
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