Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Obama executive order discriminates on basis of religious beliefs, U.S. bishops say

By CNS Staff*   

Archbishop Lori

Two chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on Monday lamenting the discrimination against those with religious beliefs found in President Obama’s executive order which failed to include religious freedom protections while banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity among federal contractors.
"In too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fireable offense," Obama said, according to USA Today. "So I firmly believe that it's time to address this injustice for every American."
Bishop Malone
Writing at the National Catholic Reporter, Fr. Thomas Reese suggested that Catholic Relief Services, Catholic hospitals, and Catholic schools and colleges could eventually be impacted. “There is little doubt that if the administration is successful dealing with contracts, grants will soon be on the firing line,” he wrote.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, issued a statement decrying the “unprecedented and extreme” executive order.

According to the USCCB, the bishops said in their statement:
In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination.  With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent. As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.
 More specifically, the Church strongly opposes both unjust discrimination against those who experience a homosexual inclination and sexual conduct outside of marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman.  But the executive order, as it regards federal government contractors, ignores the inclination/conduct distinction in the undefined term “sexual orientation.”  As a result, even contractors that disregard sexual inclination in employment face the possibility of exclusion from federal contracting if their employment policies or practices reflect religious or moral objections to extramarital sexual conduct.
The executive order prohibits “gender identity” discrimination, a prohibition that is previously unknown at the federal level, and that is predicated on the false idea that “gender” is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex.  This is a problem not only of principle but of practice, as it will jeopardize the privacy and associational rights of both federal contractor employees and federal employees.  For example, a biological male employee may be allowed to use the women’s restroom or locker room provided by the employer because the male employee identifies as a female.
The bishops pointed out that many states have passed similar legislation, but most have included exemptions for religious employers. “The executive order is an anomaly in this regard, containing no religious liberty protections,” the bishops said in the statement. “In this way, the order, which is fundamentally flawed in itself, also needlessly prefers conflict and exclusion over coexistence and cooperation.”
Last month, a number of religious leaders and academics, including some with ties to Catholic colleges, publicly urged Obama to include religious freedom protections in the order.
*Originally published by Catholic Education Daily
 an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society

Monday, July 21, 2014

Assisted suicide and euthanasia next on FOT

Alex Schadenberg
One of the world-wide attacks on life is in the movement to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia.  Currently, physician-assisted suicide is legal in five states: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico. Laws permitting euthanasia are being enacted around the world. For example, Belgium which legalized euthanasia for adults 12 years ago has recently passed legislation permitting the euthanasia of terminally ill children.  And in Canada, Qu├ębec has re-introduced a bill to permit euthanasia in that province.

Tuesday, Deacon Mike and Gina Noll will discuss this world-wide danger with Alex Schadenberg, executive director and international chair of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition. 
Don’t miss this important conversation Tuesday morning at 9 (CDT) and re-broadcast at 9 p.m. only on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 and streaming at IowaCatholicRadio.com.  Iowa Catholic Radio, KWKY Des Moines, Iowa, brought to you by our underwriter Attorney Rick McConville of Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC, West Des Moines, 453-1055.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Next on Faith On Trial: Can a judge order a priest to violate the seal of the confessional?

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge and one of its priests has been fighting an attempt by litigant to compel the testimony of statements made during a sacramental confession.  This is an extremely interesting case since the litigant trying to elicit the testimony of the priest is the penitent herself, a girl of 12, who told the priest about being molested by an adult parishioner.  There are several interesting legal questions surrounding this case: First, does the priest-penitent privilege belong to the priest or to the penitent? In most cases of privilege, the privilege belongs to the disclosing party; thus, for example, the attorney-client privilege may be waived when the client consents.

Second, do the state mandatory reporting laws concerning child abuse apply to a priest who hears of it in the confessional?  And finally, what about Canon Law that provides “The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray in any way a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.” Canon 983 §1.
Msgr. Larry Beeson
The priest involved and the diocese state that the priest will not testify under any circumstances.  The Louisiana Supreme Court has just ruled that the priest might be compelled to testify and sent the case back to the trial court for its determination (it had earlier ruled that the priest could be so ordered).

Can the courts trample over the seal of the confessional?
Tuesday we will have a discussion of that with Deacon Mike Manno, who is an attorney, and Monsignor Larry Beeson, a canon lawyer who listeners will recognize as the chaplain for Iowa Catholic Radio.

Join Deacon Mike and co-host Gina Noll tomorrow morning at 9 (CDT) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on IowaCatholicRadio.com  for an interesting discussion of this case. The program will be re-broadcast at 9 in the evening.
Faith On Trial is the only program of its kind on Catholic radio and is underwritten by Attorney Rick McConville of Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC, 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 453-1055 or on-line at csmclaw.com.  FOT is on every Tuesday at 9 and 9.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Quiner's Diner blog posts Deacon Mike’s letter to the editor on the distortions of the Hobby Lobby decision

Tom Quiner
Our good friend, Tom Quiner, posted Deacon Mike’s letterto the editor of the Des Moines Register today in his great blog, Quiner’s Diner.  Tom is a social and fiscal conservative who embraces capitalism generally and supply side economics specifically. He has also been a frequent contributor to the Register.

He also believes in American exceptionalism and the American “Creed,” which declares people have fundamental rights that flow from our Creator.

Tom and his wife, Karen, founded Breakthrough Marketing. His company writes, designs, and prints brochures and collateral marketing pieces along with designing Content-Managed Websites and eMagazines.

He is also a passionate composer and playwright.  He has written and produced six musicals, all with faith-based themes including The Pope of The People, a musical based on the life of St. John Paul the Great. Check out his blog where you can subscribe for his frequent updates.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Patriotic sisters, recording artists, authors, next on FOT

We are doing something different tomorrow on FOT.  Our guests are sisters Stacie Ruth
The Stoelting Sisters
and Carrie Beth Stoelting of Cherokee, Iowa, who are on a mission to shine the bright light of Jesus to the world though their ministry, Bright LightMinistries, and are the co-authors of Unite the USA: Discover the ABCs ofPatriotism.

Unite the USA confronts today's issues head on; it explains how you can actively make a difference to help our country get back on track. With 101 ways to take action now, Unite the USA explains how to stand up for our military and veterans, freedom, and faith in Jesus Christ.
The sisters are also recording artists, who sing Christian, inspirational, and patriotic songs for audiences nationwide. The duo has recorded two albums, Heavenly and In God We Still Trust. They have sung for top leaders and they have appeared on FOX News, CBN News, American Family Radio, etc. Together, they infuse audiences with positive patriotism and faith in God. They were featured in a recent Des Moines Register article which you can view here.

Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday at 9 a.m. (CDT) on Iowa Catholic Radio, 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM for a very interesting conversation.  The program re-broadcasts at 9 p.m. and streams on IowaCatholicRadio.com.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Federal court quashes harassing subpoenas requested by CAIR

Three weeks ago, Robert Muise, co-founder and senior legal counsel for the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), was our guest and he discussed the issuance of subpoenas by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to those who opposed the construction of an Islamic center in their neighborhood.

Robert Muise
Yesterday, a Michigan federal judge granted a motion filed by (AFLC) requesting that the court “quash” harassing and burdensome subpoenas issued by CAIR to Ms. Zaba Davis, a private citizen who received the subpoenas because she publicly expressed her opposition to the construction of an Islamic center in her neighborhood.  And in a rare move, the judge also awarded AFLC its attorneys’ fees and costs for having to bring the motion.
In 2012, the Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor (MCA) requested that Pittsfield Township, Michigan, rezone a parcel of land to build an Islamic School and community center.  The Township denied the request, citing infrastructure and traffic concerns.  Nevertheless, CAIR, which bills itself as “America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization” but is widely known in government circles as a Muslim Brotherhood front group, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Township on behalf of the MCA, alleging that township officials denied the MCA’s rezoning application out of discrimination against Muslims.

The MCA’s rezoning request was opposed by a group of Township residents who live in the neighborhood of the proposed development.  The residents expressed concerns about the traffic congestion that would be caused by the construction of a school and community center in their neighborhood.  Pursuant to their rights protected by the First Amendment, these private citizens circulated and submitted to their elected Township officials a petition expressing their opposition to the rezoning and several of them spoke out at public hearings held by the Township to discuss the matter. 
As a result of the citizens’ involvement, CAIR served harassing subpoenas on a number of these citizens, demanding that they produce private emails and other documents, and in some cases, appear for a deposition.  In one instance, Township resident Zaba Davis and her husband came home to find several papers jammed in the crack of the front door of their home.  The papers included subpoenas demanding the production of personal emails and other documents and a subpoena commanding Ms. Davis to appear at a deposition.

In response to CAIR’s abusive discovery requests, AFLC, which is representing seven of the targeted private citizens, filed a motion to “quash” and for a protective order against CAIR.  The court granted the motion yesterday, ruling that the subpoenas violated the First Amendment and caused undue burden. 
Robert Muise, commented: “Private citizens have a fundamental First Amendment right to publicly express to their elected officials their personal views.  CAIR’s ruthless attacks demonstrate that its objectives are dangerously at odds with the Constitution.  Consequently, this ruling was important not only for our clients, but for all private citizens who want to speak out against CAIR.”

Robert Muise and AFLC also represent Fr. Frank Pavone and Priests for Life in their lawsuit against the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Six more religious groups win emergency relief from HHS Mandate

Hobby Lobby decision leads to protections for non-profit religious institutions
On the same day the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed religious freedom for the Green family, founders and owners of Hobby Lobby stores, two federal courts issued decisions making clear the court’s decision will also reach broadly to protect non-profit religious organizations.
In two more quick wins for religious freedom Eternal Word Television Network and five Catholic institutions in Wyoming were granted last minute relifef from two federal courts of appeals. The rulings came one day before these institutions would be forced to violate their deeply help religious convictions or pay crippling fines to the IRS on July 1.  Pending the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty asked the Eleventh Circuit to step in to protect Eternal Word from being forced to provide potentially life-terminating drugs and devices that violate their teachings.
“Thanks to the courts’ decisions, Eternal Word can now freely practice what they preach. The death knell is sounding for the HHS Mandate,” said Lori Windham, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund and counsel for Eternal Word. “The ruling in Hobby Lobby and then these two rulings in quick succession show that the HHS Mandate is on its last legs when it comes to religious non-profits. The sad part is that it has taken almost three years of litigation to get to a result the Administration should have supported in the first place because it is the right thing to do. Government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing nuns to violate their religious convictions.”
Thirty-three years ago, Mother Angelica, a cloistered nun, founded a small television network in her monastery garage with a mission to spread the teachings of her Catholic faith. Today, Eternal Word has become the largest religious media network in the world, transmitting programming 24 hours a day to televisions in more than 230 million homes in more than 140 countries and territories. Eternal Word is also a religious shrine and pilgrimage site for millions of Catholics seeking daily mass and worship. A Catholic network whose sole purpose is to spread the word of God, Eternal Word must fight for the right to remain faithful to the very Catholic message it advances.
The five Wyoming Catholic entities are the Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne, Catholic Charities of Wyoming, St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, St. Anthony Tri-Parish Catholic School, and Wyoming Catholic College. They are represented by the Jones Day law firm.
In his concurring opinion in the Eleventh Circuit decision protecting Eternal Word, federal appeals court Judge William Pryor called the Government’s arguments “Rubbish.”
And finally, last night, the Supreme Court entered a temporary injunction protecting Wheaton College while the government responds to Wheaton's application for an injunction pending appeal.
The seven religious institutions that obtained protection today join the 80%+ of HHS legal challenges that have resulted in favorable rulings supporting religious freedom. There are currently 100 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate.