A political video created by a conservative Catholic group has gone viral over the past few weeks. The Advocate and Huffington Post report that Catholics Called to Witness commissioned a video called "Test of Fire: Election 2012." Produced by Creative Lab, the video urges Catholic voters to vote for "life" and "marriage" in November, although it does not mention presidential candidates by name. According to its website, Catholics Called to Witness is a faith-based organization that encourages Catholics to be active in the public square. Its political leanings are decidedly anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, and pro-parental rights.
“Test of Fire” depicts a blacksmith hammering metal words in his forge amidst swelling music, as messages about principles and voting appear on the screen.
"In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. This generation of Catholics must do the same."At first, the blacksmith forges words such as JOBS, TAXES, and ECONOMY as the video discusses issues at stake in the 2012 presidential election. "But some issues are not negotiable," the video asserts as the blacksmith forges new words such as LIFE, MARRIAGE, and FREEDOM. "Forcing the Church to buy insurance that goes against her teachings is a violation of religious freedom," the video insists, reminding Catholics that their votes will be "recorded in eternity."
The message, in a nutshell, is that Catholics have a religious obligation to vote against reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality. One cannot wonder if the video's repeated use of fire imagery is a reference to hell. It's very easy to make the simple minded propaganda connection here, "Vote correctly or you will go to hell."
What two votes can save Catholics from eternal damnation? Demoting the rights of gay Americans and stripping women of their own health-care choices, of course! And by all means, let's enrobe it in the pretense that Catholics have lost their liberty (in fact, their liberty is only constricted when they seek to use public funds for their anti-gay, anti-women agenda). But the Catholic Church is the victim here, we're told, so American Catholics need to rise up!
To me, I see all of the tools of classic fascist propaganda at work here. The all too familiar tactic of casting the oppressor as the victim. The sheer emotional manipulation and the abuse of faith for political ends is all too obvious. The video will no doubt appeal to members of the Religious Right who oppose reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights, but will it resonate with a wider audience? Given that LGBTQ equality is becoming more and more accepted in the U.S., and that most Americans (including many Catholics) support contraceptive use and contraception coverage, I wonder how well “Test of Fire” will be received. You can look at their web site if you wish and judge for yourself whether they violate the separation of church and state.