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Pious Public Relations: Sam Singer Enters The Holy War 

Wednesday, Feb 25 2015
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There's a new contender in the faith-fueled fight between Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and parents, students, and teachers of local Catholic schools. Media relations heavyweight Sam Singer is now representing the embattled Catholics of conscience in the holy war of public relations.

Archbishop Cordileone issued new morality clauses banning teachers from public displays of support for homosexuality and other "sinful acts." The schools in question — Riordan, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, Serra, and Marin Catholic — are resisting with a furor.

Cordileone describes the teachers as "ministers" of the church's principles. This is no surprise to critics of Cordileone, who drew fire for his strident campaigning in support of California's Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage, which was later overturned in court.

In the LGBT-friendly Bay Area, one would think countering the maligned archbishop would be a slam dunk. God only knows why the schools needed Singer, a hired gun with ammo to spare.

Singer is the man who, when a tiger killed a boy in SF's zoo, shaped hearts and minds to sympathize with the tiger. After a Chevron refinery exploded, raining ash upon thousands of soon-choking residents in the city Richmond, Singer started his own newspaper hoping Richmond's denizens would start inhaling pro-Chevron messages.

He also was the subject of SF Weekly's Aug. 26 cover story, "Trust Me: Who Are You Gonna Believe, Sam Singer, or Your Own Eyes?" It's a must-read, if only for its forecasting of how the battle with Cordileone is likely to play out.

Singer's campaign has already begun. LGBT supporters clad in black recently held an Ash Wednesday vigil, a somber, fittingly dramatic affair. The protest bore the signature slickness of a Singer campaign, drawing news coverage across San Francisco, and all the way down to Santa Cruz.

Singer told SF Weekly he hopes the archbishop sees that the "loyalty oath" he's asking of teachers does "not keep with Catholic values." As to how a ragtag bunch of teachers could afford Singer's services, he answered, "Concerned parents are footing the bill."

He didn't take the gig because he himself is religious, necessarily. "I like to say I'm the most guilty, most worried man alive," Singer says, meaning, "I'm half Catholic, half Jewish."

Singer has represented Jesuits, Dominicans, Christian Brothers, the Daughters of Charity, and Carmelite nuns, he says. The common thread among them all is how Sam Singer shapes the story.

Soon, Singer will steer the archbishop's already unpopular anti-LGBT slam into a Singer-defined narrative. Right or wrong, Cordileone probably doesn't have a prayer.

About The Author

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

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