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Minn. archdiocese plans anti-gay marriage committees in every state Catholic church

Archbishop John Nienstedt sent a letter to every priest in the state at the start of October urging them to put every Catholic church in Minnesota to work passing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

“It is imperative that we marshal our resources to educate the faithful about the Church’s teachings on these matters, and to vigorously organize and support a grass roots effort to get out the vote to support the passage of the amendment,” the letter read. It went out on Oct. 4 to every priest in the state.

The archbishop said it wants priests in every parish to identify a “church captain” in order to create an “ad hoc committee” in every church in the state. The “church captain” is a component of the Schubert Flint strategy used in 2008′s divisive Proposition 8 battle in California.

The strategy mirrors a similar one used by conservative Christians in California to pass Proposition 8 and end marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Schubert Flint was a public affairs firm at the heart of California’s successful push by conservative Christians to repeal marriage rights for that state’s same-sex couples. In a post-mortem, the firm wrote about it’s use of church captains:

“We built a campaign volunteer structure around both time-honored campaign grassroots tactics of organizing in churches, with a ground-up structure of church captains, precinct captains, zip code supervisors and area directors; and the latest Internet and web-based grassroots tools.”

Schubert Flint has been active in Minnesota, in particular during the 2010 gubernatorial election when it created a series of ads attacking DFL and Independence Party candidates for their support of rights for same-sex couples.

According to Nienstedt’s letter, the church captains will be organized by the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic church, which will in turn report to the Minnesota for Marriage coalition for statewide efforts. Minnesota for Marriage is made up of the Minnesota Family Council, MCC and the National Organization for Marriage.

“A major issues will be placed before the State of Minnesota in the November 2012 election. a constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Nienstedt wrote. “The sanctity of marriage and vital role of the family is at stake. It is a firmly-held teaching of our church that a marriage is a union of a husband and a wife, and that they together are the ones suited to be a father and a mother.”

He added, “To define it otherwise is a detriment to the common good of society.”

Here’s the full letter from Nienstedt:

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