Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Lenten Purple "Blatant Attempt" to Appeal to Swing Voters
As midterm congressional elections begin to heat up, a midwestern Catholic diocese was accused of wielding undue political influence on its parishioners though decking the Church in purple, the traditional color of repentance during Lent.
Proving that the practice of naming certain states red (Republican) and blue (Democratic) has hit the mainstream, political strategists from both sides of the aisle decried the use of moderate "purple" (see map and vestments, above) during the Lenten season.
"This is outrageous," argued Sam McKinnon, a political strategist affiliated with the Democratic party at a news conference. "This subtle attempt of the Church to position its members to think purple, rather than blue, must be seen as a blatant attempt to overcome the separation of Church and State. I strongly encourage the local Church to undress its churches immediately, for the sake of American democracy."
A Republican strategist, Susan Connell, stated at the same conference, "For once, I am in agreement with my Democratic colleague. The Church must stop trying to advise people how to think. We want Americans to 'think red' when they vote in November, and this purple influence muddies the political waters. Freedom of religious expression is protected by the constitution, but media-driven colors are another matter altogether."
When asked whether they were aware of the Catholic teaching on liturgical theology, McKinnon responded he had a friend who was a recovering Catholic, and Connell said she had researched the matter extensively on the web. When pressed with information about Lent being observed through purple vestments and draperies to call to mind a spirit of repentance before the crucifixion of Christ, they both shook their heads.
"This can't be spiritually based--we know there is a political edge to this," Connell said. "We've found that this isn't the first time the Catholic church has used colors to form its congregants. I believe there is one day that red is actually used..." Pentecost, the reporter interjected. "Yes, whatever. But then depending on the parish, some use blue for an entire month in the winter..." Advent? asked the reporter. "Right, while others resort to that purple again. Frankly, this will not stand. We believe the diocese should be color-free in its worship space. It's really the least they can do."
And what of the political slant of the color that is used most of liturgical year? asked another reporter.
"Which is?" asked McKinnon warily.
The color drained from their faces. "We'll see the diocese in court," they announced.