AMERICANS UNITED SEEKS TO MUZZLE FREE SPEECH
Catalyst December Issue 2001
Following election day, Americans United for Separation of Church and State accused the bishops of New Jersey of interfering in the electoral process simply because they voiced an opinion on abortion that the radical group abhors.
The bishops in the Garden State had urged Catholics to “use their voting privilege to reflect a choice of candidates who respect and sustain the dignity of all human life.” This was enough for Americans United to say that the pro-life candidate for governor, Bret Schundler, benefited from an “implicit endorsement.”
Americans United took specific aim at Archbishop John Myers. They said the new archbishop “is well known in the Catholic Church for his hardline approach to politics.” They mention that while serving as bishop in Peoria, Illinois, Myers issued a pastoral letter saying it is “morally illicit” for Catholics to vote for pro-abortion candidates.
The Catholic League wasted no time jumping on this issue with a news release. “The latest outburst by Americans United for Separation of Church and State,” we said, “shows how little respect it has for the Constitution of the United States and how downright hypocritical it is.” So as not to be misunderstood, we warned, “Catholic bishops do not check their First Amendment right to freedom of speech at the church door.” This was followed by the comment, “Indeed, they have every right to address any public issue they want which is precisely why this attempt to intimidate them will fail.”
Then, drawing attention to the hypocrisy involved, we offered the following: “Americans United is led by Rev. Barry Lynn, a minister in the United Church of Christ. His religion teaches him the value of abortion. Since 1970, his religion has maintained a strong pro-abortion position. Indeed, he himself has boldly proclaimed in public his support for abortion rights.”
We closed our statement by pointing out how unprincipled Barry Lynn is: “Now according to the principle he judges New Jersey bishops by, he and his religion are in violation of the Constitution. But, of course, there is no principle involved, just politics as usual. We are delighted that Americans United is upset with Archbishop Myers. That’s a good sign and another reason why the new archbishop has won our support.”