Democrat State Legislator Wants Catholic Church To Shut Up About Politics


WDAY talker Jay Thomas posts this on his Facebook page promoting an upcoming interview with state Senator Tim Mathern who is upset about a political statement Catholics want read in all the state’s parishes.

Contrary to what many believe, organizations with non-profit status like churches can actually talk about politics as long as they stick to issues and refrain from endorsing any particular candidate or political party. I haven’t seen the statement in question yet as when I requested a copy of it I was told it was embargoed until after it is delivered this weekend, but the North Dakota Catholic Conference does maintain this political website which includes guidelines for how to handle politics in their parishes and makes it pretty clear that partisan politics is not their goal.

So assuming that the Catholics aren’t just telling their parishioners to vote the straight Republican ticket or something, what’s the problem?

This is one of the problems with the “non-profit” designation in the tax code. It amounts to the government essentially bribing influential organizations like churches into silence on politics. And many times politicians, like Senator Mathern, treat the prohibition on partisan politics as though it were far more inclusive of other types of political speech than it really is in the hopes of bullying these organizations into staying silent.

Really, though, Mathern’s gripes about the Catholics in North Dakota is just a manifestation of what has become a decidedly anti-free speech bent among North Dakota Democrats. Democrats have attacked Governor Jack Dalrymple, and Public Service Commissioners Brian Kalk and Kevin Cramer, for taking political contributions from those who they regulate (as if the regulated having a say in who regulates them were a bad thing). Democrats are also opposing a legal challenge to a law here in North Dakota that makes talking about politics on election day illegal.

It seems as though, as a party, North Dakota’s Democrats support some very chilling limitations on speech.

Update: The North Dakota Catholic Conference has responded to Senator Mathern’s criticisms. Their press release is below. Senator Mathern has also submitted a guest post to SAB explaining his position.

Press Rel Ttr Voting

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • The Whistler

    Keep your hands off of our churches liberals.

    • $8194357

      They have been messin with doctrines since the very beginning…
      From darwinism to the gay agendas liberalisms..

  • Jay

    No wonder Hoeven beat this clown by 50 points in 2008.

  • zipity

    Mr. Mathern is only tolerant when people in his religion are outspoken. Like the adherents to the Church of Global Warming. Or The Order of Abortion on Demand, or even the leftist church Our Lady of Perpetual White Guilt.

    • $8194357

      Now then…
      There is a big, big TEN X…

    • Gern Blanston

      No, I think he’s just a guilty liberal Catholic who doesn’t want to hear about how his political convictions conflict with his faith; or how his political allies are violating his own religion’s 1st amendment rights. He especially doesn’t want to hear it in his own church. That would be like Michael Corleone having to hear about the horrors of the mob from inside his church.

      • Gern Blanston

        Moreover, he is active in his parish; he is a past parish administrator; a Knight of Columbus. I’m sure he just wants to listen to the gospel and hear what he thinks supports his political leanings without the priest throwing anything contrary out at him – let alone allowing anyone to hear such ‘contrary’ beliefs from a church leader.

  • cylde

    The problem that democrats have with the church is the same as they have with the truth, both must be suppressed in favor of a political agenda.

    • $8194357

      Thats the same problem the communist used to have as well..

  • $8194357

    Funny thing about that..
    Communist of old said the only way America could be defeated was to get Biblical morality out of the culture thus out of politics…
    They have devoted the last 100 years to doing just that with false moral marxist illuminist enlightenment social justice class warfare and secular humanism, huh….

    Take a cause or group radicalize it, claim victimhood, and pass
    unconstitutional protected status class legislations..

    Article 28 should prevent this but the rule of law means nothing to
    cummunists on a mission…

  • ND in MD

    Why is it okay for democrats to speak in “black churches” scaring parishioners into voting for democrats? It is always the same, if the Republican wins, they win put you back in slavery, take your home and cancel MLK day
    Prior to the 1998 elections in Maryland, then President Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson were allowed to speak in “black churches” in Baltimore on Sunday morning scaring people into voting for the democrat governor running for reelection.

    • $8194357

      Most are thinking marxist social justice is Biblical..
      The two just don’t mesh at all..

  • Guest Observer

    Tim Mathern=Communist/Socialist

  • Capt. John

    I served with Mathern when he openly encouraged a nun who lobbied on social issues as a representative of the Church. The Church has every right to speak out on religious freedom when it is attacked by this Pres. Especially true when this Pres. Bends over to allow Muslims an exception to Obamacare taxes. Mathern has always had a twisted logic. The media should really be calling him out on this one.

  • headward

    Liberals bitch and moan about separation of church and state. Now they want to tell the churches what to do. Liberalism at its core. If it doesn’t move the liberal agenda, try to stop it.
    I’m an atheist so I could care less what the churches say nor would I want to prohibit their free speech.

  • Pope Foolumus 1st

    Churches that get involved in politics should be taxed. Actually all churches should be taxed. Churches are just like Fox News they spout made up crap that appeals to the simple minded dingers. Religion has caused more harm on the planet than Rob Port and the Republicans combined. Look at the wars, hate, and misinformation churches have spread. The Catholic Church has been a culprit in destroying the culture of the Indian people all over the world. For these people to spread their lies tax free is a defamation of democracy. Having right wing liars like Rush and Fox is bad enough, but to have tax free guys with invisible sky friends is more than we should have to bear. Giving tax breaks to the rich in and of itself is terrible, but allowing cults like the Catholics and the Mormons to pay no taxes when they rob the ignorant is intolerable.

    • Gern Blanston


    • tony_o2

      Do you feel the same about all religions, or just the ones you don’t agree with?

  • Gern Blanston

    I have sat in the pews of Mr. Mathern’s parish and listened to what I believe is an otherwise liberal priest tell us about the unconstitutionality of the HHS mandate and how as Catholics we should be concerned. I assume this upcoming statement will echo the same sentiments. No direct mention of candidates; just a declaration of the church’s stance on a widely know political issue. The problem for the Libs is that by coming out against the HHS mandate, you are indirectly coming out against Obama and those who think like he does on the issue. That ‘cannot happen.’ Libs are always right and righteous.

  • Senator Tim Mathern

    I will post the full document on my Facebook account- it may be of use in correcting the headline used here. Senator Tim Mathern

    • Tim Heise

      That would be helpful in forming my biased opinion.

    • Guest Observer

      Commie go home!

    • InTheKnow

      After reading the letter and your response, Rob’s original headline “Democrat State Legislator Wants Catholic Church To Shut Up About Politics” is right on the money. No need to correct it Comrade Mathern.

    • Hammer of Heretics

      Senator Mathern, you are ignorant and foolish. Your criticism of the Bishop’s letter is wrong. You do not understand what constitutes a properly formed conscience. You argue the Church has no role in civil discourse. This is not how a real Catholic views the Church’s efforts to help Her children exercise their civic responsibility. The fact is this: no true Catholic can claim adherence to the Democratic Party at this point in time as the Democratic Party espouses stances absolutely contrary to the most basic teachings of the Catholic Church.

      You, sir, have a conflict of interest. You cannot be a democrat and a good Catholic at the same time. You are one or the other. It appears you have chosen to be a good Democrat rather than a good Catholic.

      You need to review your Catechism.

  • Kevin Flanagan

    I wonder what he’s so guilty about.

  • Lynn Bergman

    Once again the common misconception that the first amendment allows government to muzzle those with tax exempt status. So… once again… the first amendment states “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
    Most people mistakenly believe that the constitution contains a requirement for “separation of church and state”, which it does not. That expression was simply that of a former supreme court justice, what we today would term “an individual rant”, even if in his official capacity, similar to that of Chief Justice “Benedict” Roberts in his constitutionally erroneous Obamacare opinion.
    Conservatives everywhere should relish the idea of a challenge to the supreme court of any law that attempts to restrict freedom of speech to those with tax exemptions.
    In truth, the founders early on supported tax exemptions for religious organizations because they knew something most Americans today do not know… that “government” and “society” are not the same thing. Churches give freely of their own parishoners’ “tithes”. Government has first to “legally plunder” taxes from the productive members of society. Bottom line… taxes are not tithes!
    November is coming!!!!!!!!

  • Pope Foolumus

    The moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church goes clear to it’s beginning. Early Popes participated in orgies and every type of corruption including selling indulgences. The Catholic church was involved in many wars and was constantly creating situations that enslaved people and desiccated entire cultures. In recent times the Catholic Church covered up the rape of young boys by priest. Allowing this organization or any of the popular cults to have tax exempt status to spread their hate, lies, and war mongering is a blasphemy on the constitution. The Catholic Church has no credibility, and has successfully demonstrated it’s corruptness for centuries.

    • Hammer of Heretics

      More ignorance from a fundamentalist ignoramus.

  • Capt John

    Woof the cites you use do not indicate that an exception will not be granted. Why are the exceptions even in the law. They should not be. Not for anyone or any religious group. If it is a tax as the US Supreme Court has found no one should be exempt and including it in this law was intended by the drafters. There are no lies as you assert.

  • Neiman

    “churches can actually talk about politics as long as they stick to
    issues and refrain from endorsing any particular candidate or political
    party.” Except liberal black churches that do tell their congregants to vote for specific people and ONLY for the Democrat Party. But that is okay with government and this politician.

  • HG


    Can’t live with ‘em. Only God gets to live without ‘em.