Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The following are the closing comments by Deacon Mike Manno on the April 28 edition of Faith On Trial in reference to Dowling Catholic High School, West Des Moines:

I think we need to make a comment on this Dowling matter – and I make this from a very personal viewpoint, my father, who died 44 years ago this week, was on the committee that decided to build the New Dowling, in fact on his death bed he made his final donation to the school.

I was very proud of the school a few weeks ago when it stood on principle and refused to acquiesce in a staged event that challenged the school to hire a man who publically opposed Church teaching on sexuality and marriage.
At the time, I warned that this would not go away. And it hasn’t. Just last night students from Valley High School appeared before the West Des Moines School Board and demanded that Dowling be prohibited from playing its home games at Valley Stadium – the reason: Dowling’s discriminatory hiring policy.

However, over the weekend, Dowling authorized the creation of a gay-straight alliance at the school. That’s not what Dowling called it, but that is what the students who asked for it called it. The student organizers are making contact with the Iowa Pride Network, which celebrates sodomy and other sexual perversions that the Church has condemned since the time of the apostles. It is also affiliated with One Iowa, an organization that has pushed gay-marriage and is a force behind forcing bakers, photographers, florists and others to celebrate gay-marriages and fining and penalizing them if they do not, as we have just seen.
We have reported on these folks for almost two years. They have no respect for our religious liberties and their foot soldiers either by ignorance or design distort the teaching of the Church and turn our dogmas and beliefs into proofs of hate.

Authorizing the club was an act of false compassion. It dilutes our teaching and sends a mixed message to those who truly wish to follow the teachings of the Church. It also allows the camel’s nose into the tent.
We’ve seen this story before.

Let me know what you think at

Monday, April 27, 2015

This week: Gay-marriage bullies and the Supreme Court

Martin Cannon, Jr.
Tomorrow the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the issue of whether or not so-called same-sex marriage will become the law of the land.  On hand to discuss what’s at stake in this case will be Martin Cannon, Jr. of the Omaha branch of the Thomas More Society.  Martin has been an outstanding legal advocate for marriage, life, and free speech and has been involved in many notable cases involving these issues. 
After Martin, Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll will welcome Kelsey Harkness, a news producer at the Daily Signal and the producer of the short clip on the Oregon baker (above) whose family is being forced into bankruptcy over the refusal to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian marriage. The state is recommending a $135,000 fine and Kelsey will comment on how the state has arrived at this figure, as well as the efforts by gay activists to close a “Go Fund It” account
Kelsey Harkness
that was established to help the baker’s family pay the find.  Hint: it is because the baker committed a “hate” crime.

While the Supreme Court hears arguments, we’ll ask the question, “Who are the real bullies?”
Join Deacon Mike and Gina every Tuesday at 9 a.m. (CDT) for Faith On Trial on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming at  The program is re-broadcast every Tuesday at 9 p.m.

Underwriting Faith On Trial is Attorney Rick McConville of Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055 and Confluence Brewing Company off the Bike Trail just south of Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road, where there is entertainment every Thursday in the tap room.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Who is sponsoring the campaign against Archbishop Cordileone?

Archbishop Cordileone
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been under attack for his recent actions to strengthen Catholic identity in archdiocesan schools by insisting that faculty uphold Church principles. Recently a group of “Catholic parents” hired a high-profile public relations guru to counter the archbishop’s efforts.

And now a group of prominent area residents, claiming to be Catholic, have placed an open letter to the Vatican in the San Francisco Chronicle attacking the archbishop who has “fostered an atmosphere of division and intolerance” and asked Pope Francis to remove him from office.
Who are these “prominent Catholics” who are so offended by the archbishop’s call for
Lisa Bourne
Catholic schools to remain Catholic? Lisa Bourne of LifeSiteNews has identified them and found that they are big donors to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal), her party, and pro-abortion andpro-homosexual marriage groups. Lisa will join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday to discuss what she has reported and to reveal the relationship between these “prominent Catholics” and other groups and individuals who actively oppose Church teachings.
In addition to Lisa, our research associate Stephanie Crowley will review the movie “Monumental,” a story of America’s beginnings. Presented, produced, and starring Kirk Cameron, the movie follows this father of six across Europe and the U.S. as he seeks to discover America’s true “national treasure” – the people, places, and principles that made America the freest, most prosperous and generous nation the world has ever known.
Join Deacon Mike and Gina Tuesday at 9 a.m. (CDT) for a lively conversation of these and other issues affecting our religious freedoms.  Faith On Trial is broadcast on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streams on every Tuesday.  The program will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m.
Faith On Trial is underwritten by Attorney Rick McConville of the law firm of Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-4531055; and Confluence Brewing Company, just off the Bike Trail just south of Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road, Des Moines, where there is live entertainment in the tap room every Thursday.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Iowa high school discriminates against Students for Life club

Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society call on Hampton-Dumont High School to respect students’ First Amendment rights
(April 16, 2015 – Hampton, IA) – Principal Steve Madson of Hampton-Dumont High School has received a demand letter from Students for Life of America’s law firm, the Thomas More Society, on behalf of student Isabell Akers and Students for Life of America. The letter charges that Principal Madson has unconstitutionally discriminated against Isabell by denying her the right to form a Students for Life club at Hampton-Dumont High School. 

Kristan Hawkins
“High school administrators have no right to discriminate against pro-life students,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, who was Tuesday’s guest on Faith On Trial. “On the contrary, high school students have the right to form Students for Life clubs to educate and inform their peers on the tragedy of abortion and to help those facing unplanned, crisis pregnancies. We are thankful for brave students like Isabell, who reached out to Students for Life of America and for our attorneys at the Thomas More Society for their help to make Isabell’s Students for Life group an official, school-based club, with the same rights as her peers.”  

Isabell Akers, a senior at Hampton-Dumont High School, attempted to start a Students for Life club when she was a sophomore, but she met resistance from school administrators. After a series of delays and denials, the school eventually allowed Isabell’s club to meet periodically in the spring and fall of 2014, but not to advertise or host events. As Isabell will soon graduate, she tried once again in February to acquire school club status for her Students for Life club, to leave an established club in place for future high school leaders. However, the principal once again denied Isabell’s application, claiming that the Students for Life club is too “controversial.” 

“I wanted to spend my high school career educating my fellow students on the beauty of human life and providing resources to girls at my school, but instead I have been fighting for my First Amendment rights,” said Isabell Akers, senior at Hampton-Dumont High School. “By forbidding our Students for Life club from putting up posters and not letting us be included in the yearbook with other clubs, the school administration has been treating us like second-class citizens.” 

“The pro-life students are simply asking for equal treatment,” said Jocelyn Floyd, Associate
Jocelyn Floyd
Counsel of Thomas More Society
. “Here the school is trying to claim that its lesser treatment is justified because Isabell’s club doesn’t tie in with the school’s curriculum—but neither do most of the  school’s other clubs, such as the book club, mock trial, or SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving). By law, Hampton-Dumont High School administrators must give their pro-life students the same opportunities as they give all these other school clubs.”

As Thomas More Society states in their demand letter, the District’s refusal to officially recognize the Students for Life club as a proper student organization constitutes a violation of the students’ rights under both the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. All students who wish to form non-curricular clubs must be treated equally, even if the clubs they wish to form are religious or political.

Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society request that the principal promptly approve the Students for Life club at Hampton-Dumont High School.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Some high schoolers in Fargo, North Dakota are waiting to see if a pro-life club will be treated equally with other school clubs.

Are pro-life student clubs treated the same as other student organizations? In Fargo, ND, the answer apparently is “no.” The district’s superintendent has yet to respond to a demand from Students for Life and its legal representative, the Thomas More Society, on behalf of two students.
Brigid O'Keefe, North High Sophomore
Brigid O’Keefe of Fargo North High School, Katie McPherson of Davies High School, who were denied permission to start pro-life clubs at their respective schools.  In a letter to the district, Students for Life charges that the district has unconstitutionally discriminated against pro-life students by denying the students’ right to form Students for Life groups at their schools.

“Denying high school students the opportunity to start a club because it promotes the pro-life message is outright discrimination,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, and Tuesday’s guest on Faith On Trial.

“Since administrators have refused to allow students at Fargo North or Davies to start their Students for Life clubs and educate their peers on the tragedy of abortion, Brigid, Katie, and their pro-life classmates had to seek assistance from Students for Life of America and our
Students for Life's Kristan Hawkins
attorneys at Thomas More Society to get their clubs off the ground.”

At Davies High School, sophomore Katie McPherson has been trying to start a Students for Life club since September 2014. For months, the school administration would not approve the application or assign the club a room for meetings.

At Fargo North, sophomore Brigid O’Keefe found an advisor and submitted her application to start a Students for Life club in February 2015. School administrators put Brigid and other prospective club members through extensive questioning, including questions about their religious affiliations, before denying the club.  After the students asked for reconsideration, the administrators turned the matter over to the District.

“I started a book club last fall and had no problem getting approved. But when my friends and I applied to start a Students for Life club, the administrators wouldn’t approve our application as a student organization,” said Brigid O’Keefe. “We want to share with our peers the pro-life message of respect for all people at any stage, and make a positive impact on our community. But because the school won’t allow us to be an official school club, we can’t.”

The District decided to classify the pro-life clubs as “outside agencies” rather than approving them as official school clubs, meaning that the pro-life clubs cannot use the school name in their clubs’ names, cannot host events, and cannot put up posters at school to advertise or spread their message.

“Public schools are required by law to treat all student groups equally,” said Jocelyn Floyd, Associate Counsel of Thomas More Society.  “However, the School District and administrators at Fargo North and Davies High Schools are treating pro-life students as second class citizens, forcing them to abide by a policy that was designed to protect students from exploitation by businesses, not to censor the students’ own free speech.”

Join Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll Tuesday morning at 9 (CDT) for a lively discussion of this and other legal matters with Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins.

Faith On Trial is supported by Attorney Rick McConville of Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055 and Confluence Brewing Company, just off the Bike Trail at Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road, Des Moines.

Iowa Catholic Radio is heard on KWKY 1150 AM as well as 88.5 and 94.5 FM and streams over the internet at  Faith On Trial is heard every Tuesday at 9 a.m. and is re-broadcast at 9 p.m.

ADF sues IRS for covert deal against churches: Tax agency fails to produce records, missed legally required deadline months ago

WASHINGTON Alliance Defending Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Internal Revenue Service for failing to produce records on its secret deal with an activist group to investigate churches. Federal law requires the tax
agency to produce the records that ADF requested under the Freedom of Information Act in July 2014, but the IRS missed its legally required deadline months ago and has continued to stonewall the request.

Judicial Watch attorneys are representing ADF in the lawsuit over the FOIA request, which asked that the IRS produce documents related to a legal settlement in which the agency apparently adopted new protocols and procedures for church investigations. ADF is requesting the same information already provided to Freedom From Religion Foundation, which struck a deal with the IRS to end the lawsuit Freedom From Religion Foundation v. Koskinen.
“Americans deserve to know what the IRS is up to,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “The agency’s unwillingness to produce these records only furthers the perception that it makes secret deals with activists that it wishes to hide from the public. The IRS’s delays make no sense because we only asked for the same information that it already provided to Freedom From Religion Foundation. The IRS has forced us to file this lawsuit just so we can obtain what the agency is already legally obligated to produce.”

“The Obama IRS seems oblivious to the federal court’s orders to provide full information,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “With the help of a compromised Justice Department, the IRS has engaged in prolonged stonewalling. The IRS thinks it can toy with a federal court, Congress, and the American people. For over two years, the administration has been hiding information on the IRS’s targeting of Obama’s political opponents. It is certainly in the public’s interest to know what the new IRS guidelines are for investigating a basic First Amendment right.”

In July 2014, a Freedom From Religion Foundation press release announced it had reached a settlement with the IRS in its lawsuit against the agency. As the release revealed, “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 FFRF press release mentioned the ADF-sponsored “Pulpit Freedom” movement as a motivation for its lawsuit, which urged the IRS to enforce what’s known as the “Johnson Amendment” against churches. Currently, the Johnson Amendment authorizes the IRS to regulate sermons and requires churches to give up their constitutionally protected freedom of speech in order to retain their tax-exempt status.

“The IRS cannot condition tax-exempt status on the surrender of a constitutionally protected freedom,” explained ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley, who heads the Pulpit Freedom effort. “Churches don’t have to give up their freedom of speech to remain tax-exempt any more than they have to give up their protection against illegal search and seizure. Nonetheless, behind closed doors, the IRS appears to be sharpening its procedures for monitoring sermons and performing additional audits. It should stop playing games with the American people, who can only assume by this continual and illegitimate secrecy that the agency has something to hide.”

The lawsuit Alliance Defending Freedom v. Internal Revenue Service was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Several members of Congress, at least one state attorney general, and a number of concerned organizations have also asked the IRS to come clean on its settlement with FFRF.

Monday, April 6, 2015

RFRA: bigotry disguised as religious freedom or necessary protection of one’s faith?

Nothing has stirred more controversy in recent weeks than the passage of Indiana’s version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). On one hand the supporters of the act claim it is necessary for religious freedom in the United States.  The other side claims it is discriminatory and bigoted, much like shown in the Facebook posting on the right.

Caleb Dalton
Tomorrow on Faith On Trial we’ll separate fact from fiction with Alliance Defending Freedom litigation counsel Caleb Dalton.  He will discuss with Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll the true facts about RFRA, what it does, and more importantly, what it does not do.  After Caleb our media critic Todd Erzen will comment on the media reaction to the Indiana law and whether or not the media reporting has been fair. Caleb is a graduate of Regent University School of Law where he graduated cum laude.

Since joining ADF in 2013, Caleb has provided strategic support for marriage and family initiatives. His legal efforts have focused on affirming freedom of conscience for individuals in marriage and family litigation. Todd is a former reporter for the Des Moines Register and is a regular contributor of FOT.

Join Deacon Mike and Gina for a lively half-hour Tuesday at 9 a.m. (CDT) on Iowa Catholic Radio, KWKY 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM and streaming live on  The program is re-broadcast at 9 p.m. Faith On Trial is underwritten by Attorney Rick McConville of Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC, 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-253-1055 and Confluence Brewing Company, off the Bike Trail just south of Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road, Des Moines, where there is live entertainment in the tap room every Thursday.