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November 10, 1995     The Message
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November 10, 1995

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The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana -- Taking the time to make a difference-- - What is the reason for the season? I laughed aloud when I read the news release a few days ago, but I have been thinking about it ever since. The Fellowship of Merry Christians has given its 1995 Scrooge Award to the Legal De- partment and Retail Support De- partment of the U.S. Postal Service in Washington, D.C., for collaborat- ing on a policy banning the use of decorative signs or messages say- ing "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" in post office lobbies. The Fellowship is encouraging people to protest the ban by greet- ing mail carriers and postal clerks with a hearty, "Merry Christmas!" during the Christmas season. And the Fellowship urges people to say, "Happy Hanukkah!" on Dec. 18, the first day of Hanukkah. The suggested actions could certainly inject the postal surroundings with a degree of human, religious expression. Freedom of speech is a right we proudly claim. I have to say, however that I am not entirely without sympathy for the stand taken by the postal service. On one hand, it seems absurd for the postal service -- in the middle of mountains of Christmas mail -- to refuse to acknowledge the reason for all of the mail. On the other hand, the mixture of Americans By PAUL R. LEINGANG EDITOR is certainly changing. We, the peo- ple, come from many cultures and traditions, not all of them Christian and Jewish. The postal service, along with many other institutions serving the. public, is trying to treat everyone fairly by not paying any attention to traditions -- even if they are major traditions within the popu- lace. The people who run the postal service have not asked my opinion, but if I ever had the chance, I would tell them it is okay to put up Christ- mas and Hanukkah signs. They can put up other signs, too, acknowledging the birth of the Bahfi'a'llh, founder of the Bahfi'i faith. I would mtjoy, too, their help in reminding me that some families and individuals in our midst are observing the month of Ramadan. It is okay by me if they use postmarks noting the summer solstice, or pointing out the days when certain planets are in alignment. To be consistent, I would understand, it is only proper and right to acknowledge the richness and complexity of reli- gion, culture and tradition in America. What is the alternative? To continue to strip away anything that appears to be of religious ori- gin? If that is the case, then the postal service has . to shut down every office in the city of St. Paul, and move them all to Minneapolis. And no more mail will be addressed to "offensive" St. Louis, or San Francisco, or Corp nine-digit ZIP codes or maybe 18- or 27- codes will be acceptable. But wait! Aren't we using Arabic our ZIP codes? Some one better call the general to explain that we have a little here. * * * Here are some realistic suggestions: If you judge the Advent and Christmas to be important in your life, then be not press your faith. Start at home. Is your home a place where Jesus is sent? Or is it a "Winter Wonderland" at the year? Whose pictures are on your wall? Talk with your kids, or with the other who live in your house or apartment. pressions of sincere religious belief. When does your family express outside the home? Take the time to home and your neighborhood. When the stops at your house, is there any sign home where Christians live? Questions and comments are Christian Family Movement, P.O. Box Iowa 50010. Washington Letter Can Catholic church get politicians to accent the pos BY OATRECL ZAPOR Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) Of all the political trends that pundits and pollsters see in recent elections, no two ought to be more in- compatibld than campaigns purportedly rooted in reli- gious faith and those based on "go-for-the-throat" hos- tility. Yet both styles are thriv- ing, sometimes in the same campaign. With the release of a statement on political responsibility Nov. 5, the U.S. Catholic bishops are hoping to influence voters and politicians to raised the level of debate in 1996. The "art of the negative" was the primary direction of advertising during the last few campaign cycles, according to Sonia Jarvis, a George Washington Univer- sity professor specializing in race, politics and media. "The tone of political dia- The MESSAGE 4200 N, Kentucky Ave. Evansville, IN 47711 Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville Published weekly except last week in December by the Catholic Pres of Evansville Publisher .............. E3isrop Gerak:l A. Gettelfinger Editor ....................................... Paul R. Leingang Production Technician ............... Joseph Dietrich Advertising .............................. :.,,.Paut New,and Staff Writer ............................. Mary Ann Hughes Address all communications to P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 Subscription rate: $15.00 per year Single Copy Price: $.50 Entered as 2rid class matter at the post office in Evansville, IN 47701. Publica- tion number 843800. Postmaster: Return POD forms 3579 to Office of Publication 1995  Pres o Evan logue has become 'destroy your opponent by negatives,'" said Ms. Jar:cis. The tactic grew in popularity because .voters re- spond to it, often by voting against a candidate, rather than for whomever is flinging the mud, she said. Ms. Jarvis was a panelist at a late-October National Press Forum discussion on political rhetoric in the democratic pro- cess that included a Republi- can political consultant, a Democratic speechwriter, a pollster and the Washington bureau chief for the San Fran- cisco Examiner. They all lamented that Campaigns have taken such a negative turn, but they found little reason to expect the trend to change. \\; As Republican political con- sultant Mike Murphy put it: "One of the hardest things in politics is to get a positive ad that people believe." Meanwhile, the influence of organizations like the Chris- tian Coalition with its empha- sis on "family values" was sig- nificant in the 1994 congressional election, pan- elists agreed. And after the Recycling postage stamps To the Editor: We all are conscious today of waste, no one wants to throw things away when something useful can be done with them: The Oblate Fathers have a use for cancelled postage stamps especially foreign commemora- tive issues. We sort them and sell them to collectors to jelp the missions at home and over seas. Please ask your readers success of the Million Man March in Washington Oct. 16, the Nation of Islam may be a force in future campaigns. But the religious tone taken by many candidates doesn't neces- sarily sync with what most Americans think of as religious values. "When I see religion in poli- tics it is consistently associ- ated with nastiness," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Harris and Associates, a public opinion research firm. Hostile campaigning and re- ligious tests for candidates were among the targets of the latest political responsibility statement of the U.S. Catholic Conference. "Too many candidates and political professionals engage more in tactical combat than civil debate, seeking to reduce support for an opponent rather than gather support for their own cause," noted the state- ment released Nov. 5. "Sound bites and symbols, war rooms and attack ads are replacing civil debate and the search for the common good." to save cancelled postage stamps to help us provide Bibles, Rosaries, food and med- ical supplies fot the verious Missions of the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate have around the world. We would appreciate stamps on paper with a small border sent to Oblate Stamp Bureau. To Mr. Charles Malachosky, 1669 Meriline Street, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 44221 Father Daniel E. Crahen O.M.I Rooted in Catholic social teaching, the statement cites papal and U.S. bishops' docu- ments on a variety of issues, discusses political responsibili- ties and lutlines questions for voters and candidates to con- sider in making election choices. "Our call to political respon- sibility is neither a partisan nor a sectarian appeal, but a call to reinvigorate the demo- cratic process as a place for de- bate about what kind of society we want to be, about what val- ues and priorities should guide our nation," it said. "This kind of political re- sponsibility does not involve religious leaders telling people how to vote or religious tests for candidates. These would be, in our view, pastorally inap- propriate, theologically un- sound and politically unwise." University of Notre Dame government professor David Leege told Catholic News Ser- vice in a telephone interview that such statements by the bishops are increasingly impor- tant because constitute an impo vote in national As the., Catholic teaching ment with some in each party's form and is with each party in While the likely to change minds, it should encoura tive to certain campaigning gets said. "It is strate for the bishops to ment like this between religion has been claimed Since the paigns of the gregationalist churches, have had a U.S. politics, But the the 104th "Christian See Bishop's sch The following activities and events are schedule of Bishop Gerald A. Gettelfinger: !i:i! :i !i! i i:ili :i :i:: :: Sday, Novi 19, 3 p,m: .... : : :