Frances Perkins Prevails

Frances Perkins, U.S. Secretary of Labor during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, has won a posthumous honor: victory in the 2013 bracket of Lent Madness.

Lent Madness invites Christians to choose among 32 people — some designated as saints and some under consideration for the Episcopal Church’s calendar — for the Golden Halo award.

On March 1 a Washington-based website, The Daily Caller, reported that a Labor Department official had encouraged employees to vote for Perkins.

“A top Obama administration Department of Labor (DOL) official sent an email to Department employees March 1, as workers were fearing furloughs as a result of sequestration, urging them to vote in an Episcopal Church-themed online game called ‘Lent Madness,’ prompting outrage from Department workers who perceived the email as being in poor taste and a possible violation of separation of church and state,” Patrick Howley wrote.

“Carl Fillichio, senior adviser for communications and public affairs at DOL, sent an email from his government computer and official email account system to instruct DOL Office of Public Affairs employees to vote in an online religious gaming contest on an unsecured website.”

“I was amused to see the Daily Caller’s coverage of the alleged controversy of Lent Madness voting by Department of Labor employees,” said the Rev. Scott Gunn of Foreword Movement, which has sponsored Lent Madness since 2012. “Sure, it’s not the best use of U.S. government property or employee time. But it’s an entirely sensationalist — and therefore, I think, humorous — attempt to generate a mountain out of a tiny mole hill.

“Lent Madness is primarily about giving people a glimpse into the lives and the witness of saints. In studying their lives, we see how God has one extraordinary things in the lives of ordinary men and women. This might inspire us to believe that Christ’s light could shine forth in our own lives. So, I suppose, there’s no such thing as bad PR for the saints.”

Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Schenck, an Episcopal priest and rector of St. John’s Church in Hingham, Massachusetts. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints, Lent Madness was born on his Clergy Family Confidential weblog.


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