Monday, July 28, 2014

Court rejects atheists’ attempt to remove Ground Zero Cross from museum

Cross’s spiritual role at Ground Zero has historical significance  

Recognizing the important role that religion plays in society, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order on Monday rejecting the effort by American Atheists, Inc. to force the National 9/11 Museum to remove the Ground Zero Cross from its display or to include a plaque honoring atheists alongside the Cross. 
“This is an enormously important and common-sense ruling,” said Eric Baxter, Counsel for
the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, who filed a brief supporting the Museum’s right to display the cross. “The Court draws an important distinction. Even though the Ground Zero Cross is unquestionably a religious symbol, and holds deep religious meaning for many people—particularly those who found hope and inspiration in its discovery—the government does not violate the Establishment Clause by recognizing and educating others about the actual role played by religion in our history and culture.” 

The Court’s order recounts the tragedy of 9/11, and the horrific circumstances under which the rescue workers labored to find survivors and discusses how the discovery and subsequent use of the Cross in religious rituals became “a symbol of various positive expressions” including “a symbol of ‘hope, faith, and healing,’ of ‘the human spirit,’ and of ‘how people will care for each other at the worst moment in their life.’” “The history of 9/11 would not be complete without including the impact the Ground Zero Cross had in inspiring rescue workers and Americans generally,” said Baxter. “Displaying the cross in a display about ‘Finding Meaning at Ground Zero’ is perfectly appropriate.” 

Tired of sex and violence on TV? So is the Parents Television Council, next on FOT

Melissa Henson
This week we’re going to cover a different story: that of the almost non-stop assault on decency by the television networks and cable channels.  This week’s guest is Melissa Henson, director of grassroots education and activism for the ParentsTelevision Council. The mission of the Parents Television Council is to protect children and families from graphic sex, violence and profanity in the media, because of their proven long-term harmful effects; and to provide a safe and sound entertainment media environment for children and families across America.

Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll to learn what dangers for your family, and especially your children, are lurking inside you television and how you can become a more effective advocate for media decency. We’re on live at 9 a.m. (CDT) on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming on  The program will be rebroadcast at 9 p.m.
KWKY Des Moines, Iowa; Faith On Trial is underwritten by Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC, 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, Iowa, 453-1055 or at

Thursday, July 24, 2014

IRS promises atheists it will intrude on churches

Atheist group says tax agency has agreed to new protocols,
 procedures to settle lawsuit

Alliance Defending Freedom asked the Internal Revenue Service Tuesday to release all documents related to its recent decision to settle a lawsuit with an atheist group that claims the IRS has adopted new protocols and procedures for the investigation of churches.

ADF submitted the Freedom of Information Act request after learning of the IRS’s agreement with Freedom From Religion Foundation in a press release the group issued on
July 17 concerning its lawsuit Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Koskinen, which accused the agency of failing to investigate churches the way the atheist group would like.

“Secrecy breeds mistrust, and the IRS should know this in light of its recent scandals involving the investigation of conservative groups,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “We are asking the IRS to disclose the new protocols and procedures it apparently adopted for determining whether to investigate churches. What it intends to do to churches must be brought into the light of day.”

The IRS claims it is temporarily withholding investigations of all tax-exempt entities because of congressional scrutiny of its recent scandals, but no one knows when it will decide to restart investigations based on any new or modified rules that it develops.

According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation press release, “The IRS has now resolved the signature authority issue necessary to initiate church examinations. The IRS also has adopted procedures for reviewing, evaluating and determining whether to initiate church investigations.”

“The IRS cannot force churches to give up their precious constitutionally protected freedoms to receive a tax exemption,” explained ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley. “No one would suggest a pastor give up his church’s tax-exempt status if he wants to keep his constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure or cruel and unusual punishment. Likewise, no one should be asking him to do the same to be able to keep his constitutionally protected freedom of speech.”

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  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  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  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.