It's hard to turn on the television these days and not be bombarded with political ads. Specifically, negative ads.
I've always been fascinated with campaign mud-slinging from Willie Horton to Swift Boats to Dukakis in a tank, there have been some classic ones over the years. Granted, "classic" can mean tinged with racism, mean-spirited, half-truths, etc. But, still, it's an interesting window into what moves or fails to move the human soul.
I did play an active role in a political attack piece back in the (pre-seminary) day. Some of you know that I worked on and ran political campaigns for a living for 3 1/2 years after I graduated from college. I worked on the federal, state, and local levels in several states across the country -- everything from city council to U.S. Senate.
After I made the conscious decision to leave politics, I had one last hurrah as a consultant doing "opposition research" for a state senate candidate in Maryland. He was running against a long-serving, do-nothing, back bench incumbent and we knew he'd missed a number of votes over his many years. So I was dispatched to Annapolis to spend a couple of weeks painstakingly researching his record.
It turned out it was worse than we could have imagined -- he had missed literally thousands of votes including ones on key issues. So the campaign sent out a direct mail piece (pre-internet age) in the days just before the election with nothing but an empty chair on the cover. Inside were the details but the message was clear and effective -- and the reformer went on to win the seat.
After the election, the losing candidate sued us -- I had to give a deposition for the first and only time in my life -- but there were no grounds. It was all true and the case was thrown out.
Anyway, this has naturally made me think about what negative ads would look like in bishop elections. So, for your enjoyment, I've written a few scripts. If you're IN an episcopal election right now, consider going negative against your fellow nominees. I'm certain it would be well-received among convention delegates.
Soft on Sacrament
Did you know…
Nearly 1/3 of his baptismal candidates eventually become atheists? [picture of children dancing around a may pole]
Fr. Carter often delegates the early service on Sunday morning to his cadre of curates? [image of cassock-wearing cleric snoring in bed]
58% of the weddings he officiates end in divorce? [picture of bride and groom torn in two]
The Rev. Bob Carter. Soft on Sacrament.
Give it Away Now
Mother Joanne Bond loves to spend other people's money. [background music: "Give it Away Now" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers]
As a parish priest she never tithed, yet pleaded for others to increase their pledge every single year.
Now she wants to be your bishop and has said she'll work to increase the diocesan assessment for all parishes. Why? To give it away to "the poor."
If you consider the diocesan assessment just another "tax," you cannot in good conscience vote for Mother Bond. Keep Bond where she belongs: on Diocesan Council.
Mother Joanne Bond. Just another tax and spend liberal cleric.
Angel of Death
He might call this "pastoral care." We call it killing the church. [ominous organ music]
If Fr. Simpson is elected bishop, churches will die and parishes will become little more than funeral factories. [black and white picture of pre-labor movement, industrial revolution era factory; cut to picture of mass grave]
We need a bishop, not an angel of death. Don't let Fr. Simpson kill your grandmother [picture of sweet grandmother knitting in rocking chair]. Her blood will be on your hands.
Sing a New Song
[grainy video of priest butchering the singing of the sursum corda] It's been said that those who sing, you'll be the one praying twice -- for her to stop singing.
We expect horrible noises during the Blessing of the Animals when a pack of dogs attacks the lone hamster. But the church is not a zoo [picture of cock fighting] -- screeching from the altar each week kills the soul and defames the sacrament.
Don't let the words of the Exsultet at the Easter Vigil be changed to "This is the night…that will never end."
If Mother Stanley is elected, the money in the diocesan budget dedicated to the poor will instead be spent on ear plugs.
We've come too far to elect a tone deaf bishop who insists on singing.
Don't let Evensong become…Evensuck