RI Catholic Priest Tells Lawmakers Who Approved Marriage Equality He Will Campaign Against Them in Church

The email:

Dear RI Senators who voted for “marriage” between members of the same sex,

       Yesterday was a very sad day for our little state of Rhode Island.  I’m still shocked that each of you took it upon yourself to take the place of God and redefine what He has established.  Marriage has always been understood as the union between one man and one woman.  This is a 5,000 year old fact!  I’m wondering what you will do when a mother comes to you and asks to be married to her son, or a cousin wants to marry her first cousin, or when a man wants to marry 2 or 3 women, or a human being wants to marry his animal?  What will you do, now that you have decided that Marriage is no longer a sacred union between one man and one woman?

        For those of you Senators who are baptized Catholics, I invite you to go to the Sacrament of Confession to receive God’s Mercy and Forgiveness for your grave sin of voting against God yesterday, so you’ll be able to receive Holy Communion again in the Catholic Church.

        For those of you who claim to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, I also invite you to repentance in your own faith tradition; and to those who claim no religious affiliation, I pray that you also see the error of your ways.

        Your decision yesterday will have a lot of consequences on those of us who hold God’s definition of Marriage between one man and one woman.  Already my Pastor from my hometown of Westerly is being accused by a confirmed lesbian, of violating the tax exempt status of the Catholic Church for telling his parishioners to contact Senator Algiere about his upcoming vote – unfortunately, Senator Algiere, you betrayed your own Catholic Faith and your constituents in voting for sodomy yesterday.  Also, my little niece Giana was coming out of school the other day when her fellow 4 year old classmate remarked to her that 2 women could marry.  Thankfully, my niece told the little boy the TRUTH that this isn’t the case, that Marriage is only between one man and one woman.

        I’m praying for each of you, that you turn back to God.  I’m also going to let my Parish know exactly how you voted, so come re-election time, you will not be re-elected.

Fr. Sistare
St. Rocco Church
Johnston, RI

Comments

  1. Jack M says

    He’s gay all right.

    I wonder, do the Founding Fathers have to come out of their graves to take care of this current issue of the Church repeatedly trying to meddle in the affairs of the State?

  2. Chris says

    In my opinion, Lana Del Rey is god. I’ll pray to her to cure his gayface.

    If he buys ‘Young & Beautiful’ on iTunes he will be forgiven for being a bigot and closetcase.

    X.

  3. QJ201 says

    Seriously what has to happen for our elected officials to yank the non-profit status of religious organizations. If an non-religious 510c3 organization published such a letter they’d get their non-profit status yanked.

    501c3’s can comment on “issues” but not specific candidates nor can they engage in propaganda against specific candidates or issues.

  4. HadenoughBS says

    I agree with Steve’s comment. No US politician will EVER lobby to get tax exempt status pulled from any church or religious institution. The fairly accepted concept of separation of church and state is a joke when it comes to religious figures honoring it or the IRS changing the tax status of churches. It’s not going to happen so we might as well live with it and figure different ways to attack these hate-filled homophobic and/or racist and/or anti-woman and/or anti-Semitic religious organizations.

  5. Ernst Rhoem's Ghost says

    I doubt that the priest’s e-mail constitutes “meddling in the affairs of state.” Read the e-mail. He did not ask his parishioners to do anything. He merely said he would inform them of how the legislators voted. He then expressed the opinion that doing this would lead to their defeat in the polls. But that is not meddling in the state. The dissemination of correct information cannot be construed as meddling. For you anti-religiion types to prevail, the Catholic Church itself would have to declare an OFFICIAL policy telling people how to vote. E.g. “According to Catholic Faith it is sinful to vote for Democrats.” And even then, the Supreme Court would have to decide if freedom of religion trumps or is trumped by separation of Church and State. In the past, the court has held that a Church can express any belief it wants. E.g. the Mormons can SAY that plural marriage is God’s will. Westborough Baptist Church can SAY that the US is damned. None of this changes their tax-free status, nor should it. As long as the priest merely informs the congregation about voting records, he is safe.

    It is highly improbable that the founding fathers would want to abolish the tax immunity of Churches, since they are the ones who established it.

  6. Onnyjay says

    C’mon folks, fatuous comments aside, doesn’t it strike you as pathetic that one of the Catholic church’s eunuchs presumes to speak for God and tell other people what they must do, say, and believe, and how they should vote? The medieval mindset of the RC and fundamentalist churches has turned them into an irrelevant laughingstock.

  7. candide001 says

    @ghost you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations

    Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

    Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

    On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”

  8. candide001 says

    @ghost you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations

    Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

    Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

    On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention.”

  9. Mary says

    For all the folks here who keep saying that the church should lose it’s tax-exempt status: how do you know that this priest is not aiming for just this? A serious call to have tax-exempt status removed ignites the Christian Right and immediately gives them millions (yes, millions) of new allies. I say you’re being played here. This priest knows what he’s doing. Every Catholic politician knows that the church’s teaching is on homosexuality. It is YOU his statements are aimed towards. He’s relying on you to react emotionally.

  10. leprechaunvict says

    Whatevs. Like most sane Catholics, most of his parishioners will yawn with their mouths closed and go on supporting marriage equality anyhow. I’m not Roman Catholic, but most Catholics I know take a very laid-back pick n choose attitude to their church. Which drives the leadership crazy but hey you can’t have everything.

  11. THurts says

    Isn’t it time that our legislators remove the Tax Exempt status for all churches that get involved in political discourse? This would be all churches.

  12. CPT_Doom says

    The Catholic Church recognizes the relationship of Newt and Callista GIngrich as a “marriage.” This despite their relationship beginning as an adulterous affair while Newt was legally married to another (with whom he had an affair while married to yet another woman). This affair went on for SIX YEARS, yet the Church decided his first two marriages didn’t really happen (so his children are bastards) and they could recognize an immoral relationship as a “marriage.” How dare Mr. Sistare or any other Catholic question anyone else’s morals?

  13. Brian1 says

    I don’t think this parish priest understands the lowly position he occupies. He’s a priest of one little parish in one little city in one little state. How does he think his Woonsocket parishioners are going to defeat the 25 senators that have nothing to do with his city?

  14. jamal49 says

    Actually, Ernest Rhoem’s Ghost is correct. The First Amendment simply states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…..”.

    Our modern-day understanding of a “wall of separation between Church and State” is not written in the Constitution but comes from correspondence of Thomas Jefferson who was more fearful of government giving precedence to one religion over another, not whether a Church or its parishioners could openly state a political opinion or even advocate a political preference in an election campaign.

    The few times that the Supreme Court has ruled in cases regarding religion, those rulings have been more about pushing back the state from interfering in establishment of religion or giving precedence to religion. No ruling has ever addressed directly whether a church is prohibited from advocating a political position.

    To litigate such a case in the federal courts up to the Supreme Court would not be easy because the First Amendment also guarantees a right to freedom of speech and of the press. It would be difficult find the grounds to initiate a lawsuit against a priest who simply states that such-and-such representative voted for or against marriage equality. Further, even if the priest said to his parishioners to not vote for those candidates who voted for marriage equality, it would be difficult to make the case that a breach of the “wall of separation” has occurred.

    From the mid-1980’s onward, The Christian Coalition–started by Pat Robertson of The 700 Club and Jerry Falwell of Liberty Baptist Church (among others)–began and continues to print “Voter Guides” which are distributed in churches nationwide during election seasons. They advocate no position but they do have a checklist of those elected politicians and their votes on issues.

    As yet, there has been no clear case to dispute whether any church can be prevented from mentioning how a political representative has voted or even to advocate that the church’s parishioners deny their vote to a politician whose voting record on certain issues contradicts that church’s religious teachings.

  15. noteasilyoffended says

    If ONE church lost it’s tax-exempt status, I believe it would send a lovely chill over others that might think of mixing politics and religion any more than it is. Stop saying this won’t happen and lawyer up to MAKE it happen.

  16. antisaint says

    I stopped in at a large evangelical megachurch around the time that Bush was reelected the second time. the pastor of the congregation had written a letter to local paper, which was published published, in which he endorsed President Bush. he made sure not to mention anything about being a pastor in the letter. he also made sure not to tell the congregation who to vote for, but he did mention to the congregation that he had written this letter, and the conversation should read it. And that they should “make the right decision.” The law seems kind of easy to dance around, but even then, it seems to me that this priest went too far. most churches seem to take that rule very seriously.

  17. says

    Churches/501 (c)(3)’s, to maintain tax-exempt status, can supply Voter Guides informing how various candidates voted on various issues. They can also speak about issues (such as marriage equality) and have opinions on them. They can criticize candidates for taking certain positions or applaud candidates for taking other ones. What they can’t do is get directly involved with the campaign of a particular candidate or endorse a particular candidate. Of course many churches push right up against the boundary, because they can get away with it. Normal 501 (c)(3)’s have to be very careful, cause they get busted.

    As for this priest, well, he’s got at least 2 problems. Nothing he says will change the reality of marriage equality in Rhode Island. Except for the possibility of a vulnerable equality supporter or two losing their seats, it’s all hot air. And when he says his niece was telling the truth by saying that marriage is only between one man and one woman, he is lying. Get thee to confession, Fr. Sistare!

  18. Joe Bua says

    He’s on Twitter. Go tell him what you think. And most recently he’s been fighting with Jenna Fischer from The Office about abortion.

    @FrBrianSistare

  19. says

    @ERNST RHOEM’S GHOST said:”It is highly improbable that the founding fathers would want to abolish the tax immunity of Churches, since they are the ones who established it.”

    This is simply not true, since churches were only added to the IRS section 501 (c) 3 tax code in 1954. And a democrat, Lyndon Johnson initiated the action when he was President. To keep the status, the IRS requires all 501(c)3 organizations – from museums to social service agencies – to not engage in direct political activity. Even sharing information can not constitute more than an insubstantial amount of their time and resources.

  20. bernard law says

    Is he going to rape the children of the lawmakers?

    That is what many Catholic priests did to punish children. Its a common practice in the religion.

  21. jjose712 says

    Mary: I don’t think so. I lot of catholics here in Spain think that the estate must stop giving money to the church.
    The people who will be outraged are exactly the same that are outraged about gay marriage right now

  22. Randy says

    If churches keep pushing this vocally, and IRS keeps ignoring it, does this mean that any nonprofit (i.e. ours) can take explicit stands for or against particular candidates?

  23. Jul Her says

    TRAVIS! Why can’t I like awesome comments that match my exec thought, Serious case of the gay face and no amount of facial hair will take it away. Lol!

  24. Jul Her says

    Oops @TRAVIS Why can’t I like awesome comments that match my exact thought, Serious case of the gay face and no amount of facial hair will take it away. Lol!

  25. says

    IF the e-mail is real, and IF this priest does what he says, then complaints must be lodged with the IRS. The only way to get them out of our bedrooms, even if we have to kick a priest out first, is to hit em in the wallet!

  26. Rexford says

    Back in 2004, the IRS investigated and threatened to take away a very liberal Pasadena, California Episcopal Church’s tax exempt status for a sermon given right before the presidential election that was against the Iraq War. Some three years later, the IRS dropped the case. The same thing would probably happen here.

    But since he’s given everyone notice that he intends to do this, it would probably be more effective if a bunch of pro-equality Catholics filled the pews, and when he started his hate sermon, they’d rise, put on rainbow sashes, and stand silently in defiance. I’m guessing many parishoners might actually join them.

  27. Ernst Rhoem's Ghost says

    You anti-religion types seem to think that the IRS can simply do whatever it wants. Have you noticed what happened when it tried to persecute the Tea Party? The IRS regulations are not the last word. The IRS can literally be destroyed by Congress.

    As to the founders not wanting Churches to be tax exempt, you forget that taxes were collected from the beginning of the Republic. The IRS is not the only agency that collects taxes. One moron said the IRS should tell the Churches, “Here’s the tax bill for all the buildings you own.” NEWS FLASH! The IRS DOESN’T TAX real estate! It doesn’t tax your house. It doesn’t tax the Wal-Mart where you shop. No, the authority that taxes real estate has been in business since the beginning, and it has always exempted Churches. It did this because the founders did not want to tax the Church. The Founders were pro-organized religion.

  28. Bill says

    @Ernst Rhoem’s Ghost: the rules forbidding 503(c) organizations from political activities (defined as activities that favor one candidate over another) have been around for a long time.

    BTW, you might want to read http://www.techyville.com/2012/11/social-media/irs-says-churches-violated-their-503c-status-by-telling-parishioners-to-vote-for-president-obama/ – an article titled, “IRS Says Churches Violated their 503(c) Status by Telling Parishioners to Vote for President Obama.”

    If this guy wants to use his church as part of a partisan campaign, it is only fair that he lose his tax-exempt status – otherwise the government would be providing an advantage for one candidate over another based on religious beliefs.

  29. says

    @Ernst, you’re bringing in a lot of extraneous, as well as very dubious information.

    Churches can do many things around political issues, but they cannot endorse particular candidates, show bias toward particular parties or candidates, or contribute financially to them. Facts. Those of us involved with 501(c)(3)’s know these rules because, like Churches, we must follow them to maintain our tax-exempt status.

    The IRS didn’t try to “prosecute” the Tea Party.

    One doesn’t have to be anti-religion to understand this; the Churches understand the rules–can find them posted myriad places–and they know exactly how far they can go. Because they are so rarely prosecuted, they also know they can push them, like Fr. Sistare seems bent on doing, though it won’t have the slightest effect on marriage equality in RI.

    That’s the ultimate take-away: He may keep his tax-exempt status, but he’s lost the war on equality.

  30. Ninong says

    Instead of worrying about Rhode Islanders having marriage equality, he should be worried about the scandal created by Benny shacking up with Bel Giorgio in retirement right there in the Vatican gardens.

  31. angelina says

    I don’t think this priest can do what he says he will do. The Vatican had already issued a memorandum on such actions and speech from the pulpit about two or three years ago.

    In short, the memo states that: no priest can issue a personal or political statement from the pulpit on the grounds that the Church and State are separate and the pulpit is a platform to spread the Word of God. It is not for politicizing and other hate-ladened speech.

    And as for the practices and beliefs of other religions, faith, etc. Goodness, even in elementary we were already taught never to hold judgement or to force upon others the Catholic Faith for it is unethical and therefore immoral.

    I guess he did not get that memo? Our priests certainly did, and stated so from the pulpit. I guess this priest is not as well informed as he thinks he is.

    I am Roman Catholic but I am well aware of how many priests use the pulpit to spread their own personal beliefs (and unfortunately, personal gain). And after what the Holy Father just said about homosexuality, I guess he did not see that news report or listen to what his Pope had to say either.

    What really disturbs me is his judgemental tone and his almost “cursing” words on the actions of politicians. Again, this priest seems to lack in terms of education regarding how to word a statement that seemingly come from the Church but is actually his own personal opinion. Curses like what he wrote is anathema to the Church and Faith. (To Curse or to hold to a curse, not the language per se)

    Tsk tsk.

  32. Willie says

    Churches are evil. Religion is evil. PERIOD.
    Challenge religion EVERY chance you get. I devote my life combating and challenging religion and it’s worked in getting MANY people in my life to reject religion. It’s my civic duty.

  33. Bob says

    I KEEP MAKING COMMENTS ON TOWLEROAD THAT GAYS SHOULD PICKET CATHOLIC CHURCHES
    — I don’t get a lot of agreement, but Father Hitler is sort of proving my case

  34. Bob says

    THANKS TO
    Give him a call: 401.942.5203
    POSTED BY: BRENT46
    –I left a message suggesting that their priest does not understand the separation of church and state, and is probably upset by a priest separating his legs when he was younger, and he should go to hell

  35. says

    I think it is disgraceful the way the Catholic Church wants “Special Rights” to engage in politics while hiding behind tax exempt status.

    Since HRCC is a multinational corporation that does accumulate wealth I believe it, and the rest of the Jesus industry, should pay taxes just like any other business.

    We already let them get away with selling a product that is completely fictitious.

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