As I write this on June 16, over 8,500 people are “attending” the Facebook event Say NO to the Basilica Block Party, an organized protest against the Catholic Church’s position opposing gay rights. Since annual attendance at the outdoor music festival is in the vicinity of 25,000, if that number actually represented 8,500 lost ticket sales, it would be a huge blow to the event. Co-sponsor Cities 97 tells the Star Tribune, though, that ticket sales aren’t suffering.
“We seem to be caught in the crossfire,” the station’s Lauren MacLeash tells the Star Tribune, which also reports statements from the Basilica denying that any BBP income funds the Church’s political lobbying. “People are barking up the wrong tree,” says MacLeash.
That’s disingenuous. BBP income is earmarked for facility renovation and charitable outreach, but as blogger Nicole Burg tells MinnPost, “If the Archdiocese wasn’t spending all that money on DVDs (in support of the amendment [banning gay marriage]), it could use the money to renovate the Basilica.”
I was raised Catholic, attending Catholic schools from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. I certainly had some great teachers and made some lifelong friends, but I’m no longer a practicing Catholic, and I don’t make financial donations to the Catholic schools I attended. If I had children, I wouldn’t send them to Catholic school—for a number of reasons, but prominent among them is the fact that my children would be taught that some of our best friends are going to hell for being in love.
The Daily Planet will cover the Basilica Block Party with a review and, perhaps, photos. (Our originally scheduled photographer has asked to be excused from the assignment.) It’s an important, newsworthy community event. I wrote our review of the event last year, and would attend again as a reporter, though due to other conflicts I won’t personally be covering the event this year.
The Catholic Church has always been part of the bedrock of Twin Cities culture, and that’s not going to change any time soon. I have a lot of Catholic friends and family members, and I appreciate all the good that the Church does though its charitable outreach programs feeding the hungry and housing the homeless. But I don’t think that protesters are “barking up the wrong tree” when they refuse on principle to buy tickets to the Basilica Block Party. The Catholic Church and our ultraconservative Archbishop Nienstedt are actively campaigning to etch inequality and intolerance ever more deeply into our state laws, and no one associated with the Basilica Block Party should be surprised that those ugly chickens are coming home to roost.
Above: Weezer fans at the 2010 Basilica Block Party. Photo by Jay Gabler.