RNC asks for parish directories

Published July 23, 2004 2:06PM (EDT)

Apparently undeterred by condemnation from religious and lay people of a recent Bush-Cheney appeal to Pennsylvania congregations to help Bush get re-elected, Republicans now want Catholics to invade the privacy of their friends and neighbors by sneaking copies of their parish directories to the RNC.

"The Republican National Committee has asked Bush-backing Roman Catholics to provide copies of their parish directories to help register Catholics to vote in the November election, a use of personal information not necessarily condoned by dioceses around the country."

"In a story posted Thursday on its Web site, the National Catholic Reporter said a GOP official had urged people who attended a Catholic outreach event in January to provide parish directories and membership lists to the political party."

"'Access to these directories is critical as it allows us to identify and contact those Catholics who are likely to be supportive of President Bush's compassionate conservative agenda,'' wrote Martin J. Gillespie, director of Catholic Outreach at the RNC. 'Please forward any directories you are able to collect to my attention.'''

" ... Parish directories often contain personal information about church members, including names of family members, home addresses and phone numbers. Iverson said she did not know if the GOP had sought similar directories from other religious organizations or how many Catholic directories it received in response to Gillespie's request."

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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