Nov. 23 Collection Boycott

Catholic commentator Phyllis Schlafly has suggested Catholics should stop donating to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CHD).

The national second collection for CHD at parishes is slated for this Sunday, Nov. 23.

In the Nov. 23-29 issue of the Register, we report on the decision by Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Ala., to instruct that the CHD collection not be taken this year in parishes in his diocese.

The Campaign for Human Development has come under criticism for its longstanding links to ACORN, the community activist group that’s under criminal investigation for allegedly undertaking voter registration fraud.

But critics like Schlafly argue that CHD’s support of ACORN is merely one example of its commitment to funding left-wing activism instead of extending concrete help to the poor.

In a Nov. 13 commentary, Schlafly discusses CHD’s commitment to supporting the community organizing movement that was founded by Saul Alinsky. Alinsky’s approach was based on fostering social discord among Americans on the basis of class, in order to lobby for government support of tax-funded programs to advance leftist political agendas.

Schlafly noted that President-elect Barack Obama was schooled in Alinskyian principles when he worked in the 1980s as a community organizer in Chicago.

Schlafly discussed the Nov. 23 CHD collection, which will be undertaken using pre-printed envelopes that carry this identification: “Campaign for Human Development: The Catholic Church working to end poverty and injustice in America; We’ll turn your dollars into hope for the poor of our nation.”

“The generous Catholics who respond to that well-phrased appeal probably think they are making a Good Samaritan gift to provide necessaries to the down-and-out,” Schlafly said. “Most would probably be shocked to learn that the money donated to the Campaign for Human Development (CHD) does not go for charity but for radical Obama-style community organizing.”

In our report in our Nov. 23 issue about Bishop Baker’s decision to cancel the CHD collection, we noted CHD receives about $9.4 million each year in second collections.

Last month, the Register was the first to report that CHD contributions to ACORN surged dramatically in 2007, at the same time that ACORN ramped up its voter registration efforts.

Bishop Baker has decided that the CHD collection should not be taken in his diocese until questions about whether CHD funding of ACORN was used to fund voter registration fraud are resolved.

“In light of recent concerns regarding funding of the ACORN [Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now] organization by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, we will wait for the result of the [CCHD] investigation into the use of the funds by ACORN before sending contributions to them,” the bishop wrote in a letter to parishioners in his diocese explaining the decision to cancel the CHD collection.

Bishop Baker said contributions to CHD might be reinstated in future years, after its connection to ACORN’s actions is clarified.

In his letter, Bishop Baker requested parish priests to instead collect for the Church in Latin America.

Update: reported Nov. 19 that the Diocese of Charleston, S.C. has instructed that this year’s CHD collection should be redirected to the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Charleston. 

— Tom McFeely