Pro-abortion groups from around the country celebrated a “National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers.” The event was organized by a group called “Refuse and Resist!” On the group’s website, it described a “Christian fascist, fundamentalist morality” that has taken over the country. Joining the group was Catholics for a Free Choice, an anti-Catholic front group sponsored in large part by the Ford Foundation.
Kanawha County, WV — Science teachers in the Kanawha County school system unanimously approved recommending the purchase of Of Pandas and People, a science book that espouses an “intelligent design” theory on the origins of the universe. Though the American Civil Liberties Union has often stated as policy that the answer to alleged bad speech is more speech, the West Virginia chapter of the ACLU stepped in and advocated that the book be banned. School officials saying, “it wasn’t a book based on scientific reason and analysis” subsequently rejected the book.
San Francisco, CA — The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of homosexuals dressed as nuns, once again scheduled events on Good Friday and Easter Sunday in downtown San Francisco. Good Friday saw a fetish fashion show, “Hot Cross Buns” that provided “a chance to get spanked.” On Easter Sunday, events concluded with the annual Easter Bonnet and “Hunky Jesus” contest. The “Sisters” receive tax-exempt status for their anti-Catholic activities, as well as full support from local government officials.
New York, NY — One hour before the funeral Mass for Cardinal John O’Connor, CNN interviewed Ann Northrop of the gay group ACT-UP and Kelli Conlin, a pro-abortion activist. Northrop stated, “He [O’Connor] was a bigot and he was very aggressive about promoting his bigotry.” Conlin stated that Cardinal O’Connor was unwilling to “open his mind and hearts” to alleged Catholics who were pro-abortion. The credibility of neither women was challenged by the reporter. Northrop was one of the ACT-UP members who broke into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1989 to disrupt Mass and desecrate the Eucharist. Conlin is a radical pro-abortionist with a long record of anti-Church statements.
The website for Women Leaders referred to the Vatican as a “dictatorship.” The group was among those joining in the “See Change” effort to downgrade the Vatican’s status at the United Nations. The group’s advisory board, which included New York Democratic Reps. Nita Lowey, Louise Slaughter and Carolyn Maloney, as well as former New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, was abolished when the “See Change” effort drew controversy.
Virginia — The Virginia chapter of the ACLU sued the state over a new law requiring a moment of silence during which students would be allowed to “meditate, pray or engage in other silent activity.” The Virginia ACLU claimed the moment of silence was a violation of the separation of church and state. Executive director Kent Willis said the law would be constitutional if prayer was not mentioned. In September, the ACLU went into district court arguing that the schools were endorsing prayer by listing it as an option for students. The district court allowed the moment of silence to proceed. The ACLU is appealing that decision.
Colorado — When the Colorado Board of Education urged schools to post the words, “In God We Trust,” the ACLU announced it would sue if any schools actually posted the motto that has been on U.S. currency since the 19th century.
New Orleans, LA — The Louisiana chapter of the ACLU claimed the new license plates in New Orleans “entangles the state with religion.” The new plates read, “Choose Life.”
Chicago, IL — Over the summer, a religious group called Total Living Network decided to distribute more than 100,000 religious book covers to students in Chicago when they returned to class. The group People for the American Way warned school officials not to endorse the practice. The Norman Lear-founded organization complained that an inscription on the book covers listed the Ten Commandments.
New Orleans, LA — In reaction to a summer-long drought, Louisiana Governor Mike Foster issued a proclamation asking citizens to pray for rain. The local ACLU affiliate protested against “public officials who want to promote their personal beliefs from an elected perch and turn our country into a biblical theocracy not unlike that of a country called Iran.”
Michigan — Television advertisements run by “All Kids First,” a Michigan anti-voucher activist organization, showed a child in a wheelchair and stated that “private schools are allowed to reject disabled students.” The advertising was in error as Michigan law bars discrimination against persons with disabilities whether the school is private or public. After the Catholic League contacted virtually every television outlet in the state, the untruthful ads were pulled from many stations.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched an advertising campaign using a reproduction of the Shroud of Turin, which many Catholics believe to be the burial cloth of Christ. The Shroud was reproduced with the words, “Make a Lasting Impression – Go Vegetarian.” The Catholic League protested the appropriation of Catholic symbols in service to a secular crusade.
Centereach, NY — Mr. Glenn Spencer of the California-based anti-immigration group Voices of Citizens Together spoke to 200 people at the local VFW. Spencer said the rising number of Mexican immigrants is part of a plan by Mexico to “re-conquer” the southwest United States. He said those taking part in the plan included the Mexican government, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the Ford Foundation, Citibank and immigrants rights groups.
New York, NY — Catholics Speak Out — a fringe group of dissenting Catholics with support from non-Catholic donors—published a full-page ad in the New York Times claiming that there is no “monolithic” Catholic teaching on abortion. The Catholic League had its own ad in the Times in response, noting that just “as there are no diverse Catholic teachings on genocide or racial discrimination, there is no legitimate diversity in Catholic teaching on abortion.”
Washington, D.C. — Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC) released the results of a survey of Catholic voters in which Frances Kissling, CFFC president, claimed that 66 percent of Catholics support legalized abortion and 70 percent believe the Catholic bishops should not use the political arena to advance their agenda. Responding, William Donohue pointed out that in studying the results, the survey actually showed that only 6 percent of Catholics agreed with abortion law as it is accepted today and 61 percent say that abortion should never be acceptable or only in rare circumstances. Most media subsequently ignored the survey.
Washington, DC — Soulforce, a radical Christian group that seeks to change Christian teaching on homosexuality and other issues, disrupted Mass, interrupted a meeting of the bishops, then blocked the entrance to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during the annual gathering of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Joined by Dignity, a group that rejects Church teaching on homosexuality, Soulforce claimed that Church teaching “about sexual minorities lead to suffering and death.”
The Catholic League responded by drawing attention to Leather Fest 2000 in New York. Held at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center, it celebrated “20 years of pain and pleasure” by holding workshops on “rope bondage, mummification, fisting, flogging, and others.” The Catholic League noted that “this is what kills gays, not talk on abstinence.”
The Catholic League also said that “to disrupt religious services in a house of worship is the kind of thing that Nazis made famous” and concluded that, the protestors “need our prayers, but they also need to spend some time in jail.”
Baton Rouge, LA — The American Civil Liberties Union threatened to bring legal action against Louisiana Governor Mike Foster over the building of three new prison chapels. The chapels were to be built with private funds. Foster and his wife are co-chairs of the Louisiana Chapel Foundation which is overseeing the construction. ACLU attorney Joe Cook said, “It raises some issues of separation of church and state and favoring one religion. Some of the wardens have made it clear they have a preference for one religion over another—Christianity.”
Broken Bow, NE — The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union asked the city of Broken Bow to remove a nativity scene from the City Square. ACLU attorney Amy Miller of Lincoln asked Mayor Vaughn Lyne to remove the nativity scene, saying she received a complaint from a Broken Bow resident.
Throughout December, activist organizations worked to stamp out the religious significance of Christmas. As December began, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a pamphlet, “The December Dilemma: Guidelines for Public Schools During the December holiday.” The guidelines would severely limit the mention of Christmas in public schools. The Catholic League responded with a parody of the ADL guidelines, called “The December Celebration,” which outlined exactly what is legitimate and permissible in the recognition of Christmas within public schools.
At the same time, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was challenging the erection of Nativity scenes in Lincoln, Nebraska; Lexington, Massachusetts; Lafayette, Indiana and elsewhere.
The Catholic League is does not condone the use of government funds to pay for the placement of religious symbols on public property, but supports the erection of such symbols if done voluntarily with private funding. The Catholic League secured a permit in New York City to erect a Nativity scene in Central Park, as it has done for the last several years. Jews erect a menorah and Muslims place a Crescent and Star.
Mojave Desert, CA — The ACLU targeted the National Park Service over a Mojave Desert memorial to local men who fought in World War I. The memorial was in the shape of a cross. The ACLU threatened legal action saying, “A cross promotes Christian beliefs over others, which is not the role of government.” The park service promised to remove the cross.
San Francisco, CA — The Philanthropy by Design charity group held a holiday party featuring entertainment by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The All Design Industry Holiday Party was held at the San Francisco Design Center/Galleria. When a San Francisco designer who is Catholic, complained, she was told the “sisters,” whose entertainment involves ridiculing nuns and Catholic teachings and practices, had performed at other charity events and “were not a problem.”
Washington County, IN — A settlement between the American Civil Liberties Union and Washington County officials will allow the Ten Commandments to be posted on public property. The settlement allows the commandments to be posted along with other historical documents. The original suit, filed by an Indiana resident, claimed the marker was a shrine in violation of the separation of church and state.
Allegheny County, PA — Americans United for the Separation of Church and State threatened to sue Allegheny County over a bronze plaque listing the Ten Commandments that has hung silently on the county courthouse since 1918. Robert Bronson of Americans United said the plaque is a violation of the First Amendment because it is outside a government building.
Topeka, KS — Topeka residents Mary Lou Schmidt and Darlene Stearns filed suit against Shawnee County Treasurer Rita Cline over posters in Cline’s offices that read, “In God We Trust.” Schmidt, who described herself as a pagan, originally objected back in April. U.S. District Court Judge Sam Crow dismissed the case, calling it “patently frivolous.”
He said the two failed to prove they were harmed in any way nor could they prove their own speech rights were violated. Judge Crow said the lawsuit was “so lacking in foundation” that he ordered them to pay Cline’s legal fees.
Elkhart, IN — A federal appeals court ruled that a Ten Commandments monument on the lawn of an Elkhart municipal building violated laws separating church and state. While lawyers for the city argued the monument had historical significance, the court ruled the freestanding tablet could not be stripped of its “sacred significance.” The original suit, brought by Elkhart residents William Brooks and Michael Suetkamp, was thrown out. It was successfully appealed by the Indiana Civil Liberties union.
Greenville, KY — An attempt to post the Ten Commandments in the Muhlenberg County Courthouse was threatened by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. A nonprofit group asked that the commandments be posted as an historical document. The ACLU of Kentucky had brought similar lawsuits against Pulaski and McCreary counties.
Fort Gibson, OK — Threatened legal action by the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State led Fort Gibson school officials to advise the band director to change the band’s performance. At issue was a high school halftime show featuring hymns and the band marching in the shape of a cross. An attorney for Americans United wrote to the school board and said the songs performed, including “I Saw the Light” and “Gospel John,” violated the Constitution “because it sends a message to both the members of the band and those who attend the football game that the Christian religion is both endorsed and preferred.” Band director Gordon Macklin said, “I was just a band director looking for some good music.”
Olathe, KS — The Olathe Public Library stopped the practice of marking books as “suitable for Christians.” Dick Kurtenbach, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri threatened legal action saying the practice violates the separation of church and state as provided in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Plattsmouth, NE — The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced their intention to sue the city of Plattsmouth in an effort to get a monument of the Ten Commandments removed from a city park. The marker was paid for by the Fraternal Order of Eagles and was originally placed in 1965. The ACLU Nebraska chapter executive director Tim Butz asked the city council to take it down, calling it an illegal “establishment of religion” under the First Amendment.