Handing out political leaflets outside of church after Sunday Mass

For a lot of you, this will be hard to believe, but any members here in the Philippines will verify that this is true.

Anyway in the Philippines, during election campaign time, volunteers or workers for political candidates go to churches and after Mass, just outside of parish grounds (like right outside the gate as people pass through) they hand out leaflets for their political candidates.

Full disclosure: I come from a political family and have done this too. I was never comfortable with it and eventually it gnawed away at my conscience enough where I just couldn’t do it anymore. But here’s the thing – the priests are actually okay with it. The priests I asked say that it’s okay just as long as it’s outside of church grounds.

I still find it really wrong because even though you’re not actually on church grounds, you are taking advantage of the church and of Sunday Mass. To me it’s almost like the money-changers at the Temple. It seems irrelevant if it’s outside of parish grounds, because you’re still making use of the parish and taking advantage of Mass. If I handed out, say, advertisements for Toys r Us just outside of a school after class, I’m still taking advantage of the school even if I’m not on its property.

Am I being scrupulous? Really it astonishes me that the priests are fine with it. I’m no neophyte either, I have a theology degree and a Vatican knighthood. I’m hardly naive nor inexperienced. Still it bothers the heck out of me and I’m amazed that nobody else there looks at this like it’s a huge violation of what’s God’s.

I’m imagining the bulk of you will probably tell me I’m right. Just wondering if anyone will tell me it’s okay and would have sound reasoning convincing me that it’s fine to do.

I voted it’s OK, and I base that largely on my belief in the American idea of freedom of expression. A person may walk along a public sidewalk or property and hold any sign, or hand out any leaflet (which is voluntarily received), or proclaim any speech, and it is a protected right under the United States Constitution. And I believe this is in full agreement with Catholic theology.

A person may not block or obstruct a public right-of-way, and must generally be moving (otherwise, certain “loitering” laws may apply).

In the United States, it is not unheard of for protestants (or others) to place leaflets (usually Jack Chick pamphlets) under the windshield of parked cars while Mass is in session, and the cars are on Church property. I am not aware of any jurisdictions in the United States where this is unlawful, since a Church parking lot is considered publicly accessible. It is the same right that someone has to come onto your own property and knock on your door (or leave a leaflet or advertisement hanging on your doorknob) unless your property is fenced or gated.

Of course, the same protections would apply to Catholics who wished to place Catholic Answers tracts under the windows of protestant cars during their services. If only…

Personally I think this is OK, as long as they are outside the church and not inside the grounds. Asking someone to read something about a political candidate isn’t an offensive thing to do. You can always refuse the leaflet or throw it away unread.

As long as all the candidates’ supporters have the same opportunity, it shows the church isn’t involved and it’s a simple case of people being opportunistic. They know that people who go to church regularly are more likely to take their civic responsibilities more seriously than some other people!

Thank you for your response. I do precise points of view like yours that have sound logic though differ from mine, it makes a discussion so much more interesting.

It’s not really any different than someone handing them out standing outside the door of a mall. They’re simply taking advantage of a situation where a lot of people will be walking by. It doesn’t mean anyone’s going to necessarily vote for them. :shrug:

I suppose it’s not really much different than someone handing them out standing outside the door of a mall. They’re simply taking advantage of a situation where a lot of people will be walking by. It doesn’t mean anyone’s going to necessarily vote for them. And as someone else said, anyone not interested simply won’t take one. That said I’m really not sure as I would likely be one of the people not interested in the pamphlet regardless of who is handing it out, therefore I didn’t vote. :shrug:

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