GoFundMe douses pitch for flag-burning priest — but conservatives pick up banner
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Supporters of the Rev. Paul Kalchik took to GoFundMe last week to raise more than $16,000 for the Catholic priest who claims he’s been forced into hiding after burning an LGBTQ-friendly flag on the grounds of his former Avondale church.
But the popular online fundraising website pulled the plug on the campaign for violating its terms of service before Kalchik saw a penny, so his backers switched to a conservative crowd-funding site — and now have collected more than five times as much money.
As of Thursday afternoon, over 1,300 people had chipped in about $86,300 on FundingMorality.com — a nonprofit that touts “funding moral values in a secular world” — for the “legal defense” of the controversial priest who was removed last month from Resurrection Parish by Cardinal Blase Cupich.
The new campaign is sponsored by Church Militant, a conservative Catholic news website that has rallied behind Kalchik since the Sept. 14 flag-burning and his removal a week later.
Kalchik defied Cupich’s order last month by burning the banner, which featured an LGBTQ rainbow cascading down over a cross, during a closed exorcism ceremony.
Church Militant is aiming to raise $100,000 “to help a good man in need, and to send a clear message to GoFundMe against its denial of campaigns that stand for biblical principles.”
A GoFundMe spokesman said the original campaign was launched Oct. 1 and shut down Oct. 6.
“This campaign violated GoFundMe’s terms of service. It has been removed and donors have been refunded,” he said.
The site prohibits campaigns supporting “the legal defense of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism, or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity.”
Funding Morality was founded by the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness “as a result of the denial by other ‘crowd funding’ platforms to profile persons of faith who would not compromise their moral and biblical convictions.”
The $86,300 raised for Kalchik dwarfs other campaigns on the site, which include an $8,000 drive to help a Denver man hire an editor for his book about gay conversion therapy; another seeking $6,500 in scholarships for anti-abortion medical students; and a $50,000 campaign to help Mark Judge “rebuild his life” after Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
Kalchik has not responded to requests for comment from the Chicago Sun-Times since his removal on Sept. 21.
Since then, he has claimed that he’s in hiding to avoid being committed to a mental institution by Cupich, and to avoid being “tarred and feathered by the rabid homosexualists of the North Side of Chicago.”
The priest told Church Militant last week that he was “floored” by the contributions.
“It is phenomenal to see how much people are giving to ensure that justice is rendered on my behalf. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Kalchik was quoted as saying.
A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago declined to comment on the fundraiser.
Cupich wrote in a Sept. 21 letter to parishioners of the church at 3043 N. Francisco that it had “become clear to me that Fr. Kalchik must take time away from the parish to receive pastoral support so his needs can be assessed.”
The archdiocese noted “this decision has been in motion for some time and is not directly due to the flag-burning.”