Searcy, AR – Police Chief Jeremy Clark refused to remove a small white cross that sits outside his private entrance to the police station, despite being pressured to do so by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The small cross was placed there with permission from the previous police chief. The crosses were made by volunteers at a local Methodist church and can be seen throughout the town.
Rhinelander, WI – The University of Wisconsin-Extension announced it had complied with demands from the Freedom From Religion Foundation to end the tradition of placing Bibles in guests’ rooms at the campus conference center. “We reviewed the concern raised about the placement of Bibles in our guest rooms and decided to remove them. We want to make sure all guests are comfortable in our lodging,” said Bill Mann, the University’s conference center director.
Whitefish, MT – The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a lawsuit opposing a shrine to Jesus that has existed on Big Mountain since 1953. The U.S. Forest Service, which owns the land, issued a permit to the Knights of Columbus to erect a statue of Jesus overlooking the mountain’s ski run. The government has protected the rights of the Knights to maintain the statue, calling it a “historic” monument. A federal district court approved the shrine, a ruling that FFRF’s lawsuit seeks to overturn.
When the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops filed an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought by a privately owned business, Hobby Lobby, that challenges the constitutionality of the Health and Human Services mandate, several organizations which have traditionally opposed the bishops lined up with their own brief on the opposing side.
BishopAccountability.org, a media outlet that allegedly monitors priestly sexual abuse, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a “victims’ group,” and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist entity, did not want the owners of Hobby Lobby to win. These are groups whose stated objectives have nothing to do with the issue, but their real goal surely did: they wanted to weaken the moral voice of traditional religious organizations.
Seven “Catholic” organizations joined with others to oppose Hobby Lobby: Catholics for Choice, a pro-abortion, anti-Catholic entity; CORPUS, Women’s Ordination Conference, and Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual reject the Church’s teachings on ordination; DignityUSA and New Ways Ministry reject the Church’s teachings on homosexuality; and the National Coalition of American Nuns is pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage.
Levy County, FL – Local officials rejected American Atheists’ application to install a 1500-pound granite bench adorned with secularist quotes on the county’s courthouse lawn. The bench was meant to counter a Ten Commandments monument already at the courthouse. The county board that rejected the atheists’ bench said that it did so because the quotes inscribed on the bench were incomplete, thereby violating the county’s guidelines for monuments. American Atheists planned to take the matter to court.
Prior to the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ pontificate, the “victims’ groups” – Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and BishopAccountability.org – proved to be two of the most hate-filled activist outlets in the nation.
SNAP condemned the pope for doing “nothing—literally nothing—that protects a single child, exposes a single predator or prevents a single cover up.” Not a single example, anywhere in the world, was cited of the pope’s alleged delinquency.
Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org condemned the pope for his “tired and defensive rhetoric,” saying the pope’s rigorous, and wholly justified, account of the Catholic Church’s reaction to sexual abuse was “breathtaking.”
Ames, IA – Iowa State University’s Hotel Memorial Union removed the Bibles from the nightstands in each of its 52 rooms after receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). FFRF sent the Hotel Memorial Union a letter claiming the Bibles were “unwelcome religious propaganda.”
Bladensburg, MD – The American Humanist Association filed a federal lawsuit demanding that a 40 foot tall cross-shaped World War I memorial be removed. The memorial, which was installed in 1925 by the American Legion, commemorates 49 residents who died during World War I. The Humanist group claimed that the cross-shaped memorial violates the First Amendment. The town’s administrator defended the cross and said “there are community members that would be disturbed if the cross were removed.”
Colorado Springs, CO – The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) filed a complaint after a cadet at the Air Force Academy placed a biblical verse on a whiteboard outside his room. After receiving the complaint, Air Force officials removed the inscription. In response to the removal of the quote, other cadets staged a “revolt” and began posting their own verses from the Bible and other religious texts on whiteboards outside their rooms. Mikey Weinstein, president of MRFF, demanded that the Air Force take action to remove the new religious inscriptions and punish the offending cadets. Weinstein threatened to take the Air Force to court over the matter, and suggested that punishments could include having a cadet’s pay docked, expulsion, or even jail.
March 19 – 21
On March 19, two days after New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, Bill Donohue asked officials at the Heritage of Pride parade, New York’s annual gay march, if he could enter with his own unit, “Straight is Great.”
Donohue’s gambit was a ploy: gays had objected to the house rules of the St. Patrick’s Day parade barring any unit from honoring anything but St. Patrick—they sought to march under their own banner (the parade also bans pro-life Catholics from marching under their own banner)—so Donohue sought to test their house rules.
The ensuing controversy validated Donohue’s point: he objected to their rule requiring him to attend gay “training sessions” as a condition of marching. When he refused, they replied that the rule was “mandatory.”
Donohue was welcome to march in their parade provided that he followed their rules and attended the “training session.” Just as the gay parade has rules, so does the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Gays were welcome to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade provided that they blended in and did not promote any political cause.
Madison, WI – The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) demanded that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker remove a Twitter post he made that included “Philippians 4:13.” According to FFRF, that verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” was “disturbing” and “seems more like a threat or the utterance of a theocratic dictator than a duly elected civil servant.” Governor Walker refused to remove the tweet and his spokesperson said he was inspired by the verse and chose to share it.
Madison, WI – A permit was issued for the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to install a display in the Wisconsin state capitol. The display, installed during Holy Week, read “Nobody died for our ‘sins.’ Jesus Christ is a myth.” FFRF sought permission to install the display after Concerned Women for America installed an Easter display complete with a cross and pro-life materials.
Monmouth County, NJ – Although the Supreme Court ruled that students could opt out of saying the Pledge of Allegiance in 1943, the American Humanist Association (AHA) filed a lawsuit challenging a New Jersey law that requires the Pledge to be recited in school each day. The AHA objects to children being subjected to hearing the words “under God” as part of the Pledge. Their lawsuit sought to prevent the Pledge from being said at all. “Public schools should not engage in an exercise that tells students patriotism is tied to a belief in God,” said an AHA attorney.
In the past, the courts have repeatedly upheld the use of “under God” in the Pledge.
Pismo Beach, CA – A decision was made to cut out invocations prior to the Pismo Beach City Council meetings. The invocations were mostly delivered by a volunteer chaplain who was a local Pentecostal minister. The Freedom From Religion Foundation and Atheists United’s San Luis Obispo chapter filed complaints alleging that the prayers led by the unpaid pastor violated California’s civil rights laws. In addition to ending the invocations and firing the chaplain, the City agreed to pay a symbolic $1 to each of the plaintiffs and their $47,500 legal fees.
April 22 – 24
Seattle, WA – Planned Parenthood staged two “Bar Nun Bingo” fundraising events, which mocked nuns, and were led by the demonstrably anti-Catholic gay group, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Despite Planned Parenthood receiving more than half a billion in tax dollars each year, this was certainly not the first time that the pro-abortion group demonstrated its anti-Catholic roots.
Parkersburg, WV – Parkersburg South High School’s wrestling team’s motto is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The motto was displayed in the team locker room, on the team website, and on t-shirts worn by the wrestlers. As a result, a local atheist contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation who in turn demanded that the school remove any reference to the Scripture verse. The school agreed to paint over the motto in the locker room and remove it from the school website. The school, however, could not stop the wrestlers from wearing the t-shirts with the verse, as the school could not limit students from personally expressing their religious beliefs.
The Military Association of Atheists and Free Thinkers made a request to the Defense Department for the inclusion of humanist chaplains. The Catholic League would have no objection to counselors for atheists in the military, but the use of the word chaplain reveals that this was a ploy to challenge the rights of religious persons, especially Christians. The use of the word chaplain refers to members of the clergy, making an atheist chaplain an oxymoron.
The Navy rejected the atheists’ application, but did so due to the “highly competitive nature” of the application process, and not the absurdity of having a humanist chaplain. The Navy did not comment on the legitimacy of the application.
Cambridge, MA – The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club invited members of the Satanic Temple to perform a “Black Mass” at an on-campus bar. Although the event was eventually canceled hours before it was scheduled to take place, it was clear that the event’s purpose was to mock Catholics and the Mass, as well as trash the Eucharist. (Originally the Satanists said they were going to use a consecrated Host, but they later withdrew that claim and said they would use symbolic bread.) The independent student club that sponsored the event initially tried to present it as an educational activity. After Catholics from across the country expressed their outrage, including two statements by the Catholic League, and intervention from the Archdiocese of Boston, the student club decided to withdraw its sponsorship.
Note: Harvard University’s response to the planned “Black Mass” is chronicled in a separate entry in the Education section of this report.
Columbia, MO – A monument dedicated to two Boone County men who died while serving in Operation Desert Storm was installed in 1992 outside the county’s courthouse. The granite slab included their names and an ichthus symbol carved into the stone. After receiving a complaint from Americans United, county officials feared a lawsuit and decided to remove the religious symbol from the privately funded memorial. Unable to alter the stone monument, a plaque that read “Dedicated 1992” was placed over the ichthus.
Boston, MA – The anti-Catholic group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was chosen as the Grand Marshal of Boston’s Gay Pride Parade. The group is made up of homosexual men who dress as nuns. They describe themselves as “a leading-edge order of queer nuns.” As Grand Marshal, they were given a prominent place in the parade and were included in honors and other events that occurred before the parade.
Washington, DC – Among the counter-protestors at the second annual March for Marriage was a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The man, dressed as a nun, identified himself as “Sister Missionary Position.” He declared that people shouldn’t be allowed to believe in traditional marriage and handed out pamphlets that mocked the mysteries of the Rosary. The pamphlet was titled “Rosary of Five Sorrowful Clerical Errors” and included attacks on Pope St. John XXIII and priests.
Salina, KS – Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group, sent protestors to picket the funeral of Father Kenneth Walker. Father Walker was murdered while coming to the aid of another priest who was being attacked at their parish in Phoenix. The Westboro Baptist Church has a history of picketing the funerals of soldiers killed at war.
San Francisco, CA – A “nude activist,” Gypsy Taub, planned to march naked through San Francisco to the National Shrine of Saint Francis. She claimed that Saint Francis was a nudist. The purpose of her naked march was to protest a nudity ban and the treatment of other nudists by the police.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) took out a full page advertisement in the New York Times. In the ad FFRF takes out its vengeance on Catholics by trotting out the old canard that Catholics are not independent thinkers (unless they disagree with the teachings of the Church). The occasion for the outburst was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case affirming religious liberty. Here is a sample of its invective:
“DOGMA SHOULD NOT TRUMP OUR CIVIL LIBERTIES. ALL-MALE ALL-ROMAN CATHOLIC MAJORITY ON SUPREME COURT PUTS RELIGIOUS WRONGS OVER WOMEN’S RIGHTS.”
All the Jewish judges on the high court voted in the minority, but only an anti-Semite would conclude that their Jewishness determined their vote. Similarly, only an anti-Catholic would conclude that those who voted in the majority did so because of their Catholicity.
Orange County, FL – A judge dismissed a Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) lawsuit against the Orange County School District after the school district agreed to allow FFRF to distribute atheist materials to students. FFRF filed the lawsuit after the school district allowed a Christian group to distribute Bibles to students who wanted them.
Washington, DC – Protestors from Code Pink gathered outside the Capitol building to express their dismay over the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, and to show their support for the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act which was designed to gut the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The protestors held signs that read “KEEP YOUR ROSARIES OFF MY OVARIES.”
Searcy, AR – Steven Rose, the owner of Bailey’s Pizza, posted a 10 percent discount on his restaurant’s Facebook page for anyone who brought in a copy of a church bulletin. A week later he received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation alleging that the discount constituted an “act of discrimination” and a violation of the Civil Rights Act. Rose likened the discount to a marketing tool or coupon and refused to end the promotion.
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is ill-named: it is a gay rights group that often disrespects the human rights of those with whom it disagrees. This burst of intolerance occurred when it attacked David Tyree, the New York Giants’ hero in the 2007 Super Bowl. HRC president Chad Griffin blasted the Giants for hiring Tyree as its Director of Player Development.
Tyree’s sin? He believes, as does most of the world, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. He also believes that homosexuals can change their orientation; he knows men who have. His sentiments are grounded in his religious convictions. Anyone is free to disagree with him, but to condemn a man for espousing such positions shows contempt for his twin First Amendment rights: freedom of speech and freedom of religion. In short, it is un-American.
Dissident Catholics at the editorial board of the National Catholic Reporter attacked the composition of the Catholic Church and the Synod of Bishops for being nothing but a “tiny representation of humanity, celibate and exclusively male.” In the eyes of the editorial board of the Reporter “humans are reduced to the level of baboons.”
Bloomfield, NM – A federal district court judge sided with the ACLU and ruled that a monument of the Ten Commandments had to be removed from the lawn in front of City Hall. The monument was installed in 2011 after a city council vote in 2007 that allowed historical displays on the lawn provided that they were paid for and installed by private individuals.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a complaint with the U.S. Navy’s Exchange Command, which is responsible for running base lodges. According to FFRF the Navy’s practice of placing a Bible in guest rooms was a violation of the Constitution and amounted to “a government endorsement of that religious text.”
The Bibles, which had been donated to the Navy, were removed from the guest rooms. However, after the Bibles were removed several groups and many veterans expressed their outrage with the decision. This led to a reversal of the policy and the Bibles were returned to the rooms while the Navy considered creating a formal policy on the matter.
Liberty, IN – The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Indiana state officials objecting to a statue of a solider kneeling on one knee by a cross. The monument for veterans and those who had lost their lives in battle was set to be installed in the Whitewater Memorial State Park. The monument was donated and no public funds were used in its creation.
Brevard County, FL – A member of the Central Florida Freethought Community applied to deliver the prayer or invocation at a meeting of the Brevard County Board of Commissioners, however the commissioners voted not to allow the atheist to do so. The board said the prayer “typically invokes guidance for the County Commission from the highest spiritual authority, a higher authority which a substantial body of Brevard constituents believe to exist.” The atheist group did succeed in delivering the invocation at five other meetings throughout Florida.
Jackson, MS – The American Humanist Association sent a letter to the Jackson Public School District demanding that all religious activity, including prayers and sermons, be eliminated from within the district. The request came after a faculty member complained that a Christian reverend delivered an invocation at a faculty convocation. The minister was accused of praying and making biblical references in his remarks.
Midlothian, TX – Two dedication plaques at Mt. Peak Elementary School and Longbranch Elementary School were covered up because they contained references to God. Both plaques read “Dedicated in the Year of Our Lord 1997 to the Education of God’s Children and to their Faithful Teachers In The Name of the Holy Christian Church – Soli Deo Gloria.” The school district’s superintendent decided to cover the plaques after receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
August 28 – September 25
Danielsville, GA – Two atheist organizations wrote to the Madison County School District complaining about a new stone monument outside the football stadium at Madison High School. First on August 28, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) wrote calling the statue “divisive and illegal” because it included two biblical verses.
The American Humanist Association followed up with their own letter on September 25. They were particularly outraged that since the monument had been installed earlier in the year, the student-athletes had developed a tradition of touching it for good luck before their games. They demanded that the monument be removed or that the religious inscriptions be removed, despite the fact that they are etched into the stone. The school district said that it would investigate its options.
The Council for a Strong America (CSA) pressured Catholic educators to adopt Common Core, bashing the Cardinal Newman Society, a respectable Catholic education not-for-profit, for opposing Common Core in the process. CSA received $1.7 million from the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core, however its Florida office hammered the Cardinal Newman Society for making “strident attacks” on the program. CSA wanted to compromise the independence of Catholic schools in deciding for themselves whether to accept or reject Common Core.
Creech Air Force Base, NV – An atheist airman refused to take the Air Force’s reenlistment oath because it contained the phrase “so help me God.” The American Humanist Association threatened a lawsuit if the airman was not allowed to reenlist without omitting the phrase or without the opportunity to take a secular oath.
State College, PA – Following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Penn State removed the Bibles from guest rooms at the Nittany Lion Inn and Penn State Conference Center Hotel.
Orlando, FL – Kathleen Oropeza is the president of Fund Education Now, a Florida activist group that is anti-school voucher, anti-charter schools, anti-testing, and pro-union. Her outfit filed a lawsuit contending that the state constitution mandates “high quality” public education, and that funds distributed to other schools deprive public schools of the monies they need to succeed. The state circuit judge handling this case was Angela C. Dempsey, a Catholic. Oropeza wanted Dempsey to recuse herself because of her alleged bias.
Oropeza’s claims are not only without merit—they smack of bigotry. Dempsey was accused of supporting Catholic Charities, speaking at Catholic schools, and contributing to Catholic causes. This is a classic case of religious profiling. Oropeza’s gambit is also ethically and legally objectionable.
Madison, WI – The Supreme Court of Wisconsin responded to the 2011 grievance filed by the Catholic League against attorney Rebekah M. Nett. We asked that she be investigated for making stridently anti-Catholic remarks against United States Bankruptcy Judge Nancy Dreher, and others. As a result of the Catholic League’s complaint she lost her license for a year.
The formal complaint we lodged cited the following:
- Nett filed a memo written by her client, Naomi Isaacson, which said, “Across the country the court systems and particularly the Bankruptcy Court in Minnesota are composed of a bunch of ignoramus, bigoted Catholic beasts that carry the sword of the church.”
- The memo called U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Nancy Dreher “a Catholic Knight Witch Hunter.” [Note: Dreher is not Catholic.]
- The memo called one bankruptcy trustee “a priest’s boy,” and another a “Jesuitess.”
- For her part, Nett called Dreher and other court personnel “dirty Catholics,” adding that “Catholic deeds throughout the [sic] history have been bloody and murderous.”
Oklahoma City, OK – There was to be a “Black Mass” performance at the Oklahoma City Civic Center on September 21, using a consecrated Host. But on August 21, after Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley succeeded in getting a judge to issue a restraining order, on the grounds that the Host had been stolen, the attorney for the Satanic group returned the Host to a Catholic priest. The archbishop then dropped his lawsuit.
When we learned of this scheduled performance, we issued a news release on July 2 calling attention to what a “Black Mass” entails. We quoted directly from the website of the Satanic group: “The consecrated host is corrupted by sexual fluids then it becomes the sacrifice of the mass. The blasphemy remains intact along with corruption of the Catholic Mass.” The person who was to lead this obscene event was Adam Daniels, a registered sex offender.
Daniels’ group, Dakhma of Angra Manyu, still held a satanic event at the civic center, but without the consecrated Host they were unable to stage a real “Black Mass.” Daniels also had to make other modifications to the planned ritual “so that a public viewing can occur without breaking Oklahoma’s laws based on nudity, public urination, and other sex acts.”
Note: The event was held at the Oklahoma City Civic Center, a public venue. See the government section for information about the City’s response to this event.
Washington, DC – A wave of crazed Protestant activists attacked Catholic churches in Washington and Maryland. They shouted anti-Catholic slogans with bullhorns, passed out vile literature attacking the teachings of the Catholic Church, harassed parishioners going to Mass—they even stormed churches prior to the beginning of Mass.
Aside from the Washington Post, the media expressed no interest in this story. Why is that? Were those on the left unmoved because they greet anti-Catholicism with aplomb? Were those on the right unmoved because they do not want to rupture the Catholic-evangelical relationship? Neither reason is persuasive. Bigotry must be condemned, and this is doubly so when the basic right to attend religious services without intimidation is jeopardized.
It is sad but true that there are still pockets of anti-Catholicism in the Protestant community, especially among those aligned with conservative causes. No alliance in the culture war is worth looking past this problem and that is why Catholics need to stand fast against attempts to brush instances like this aside.
Denver, CO – Catholics for Choice, a pro-abortion organization, launched a campaign against a proposed amendment that would include unborn human beings under the definition of a child in the Colorado criminal code. Catholics for Choice misrepresented itself as to imply that they were speaking on behalf of the Catholic Church against the amendment. The Colorado Catholic Conference, comprised of the state’s bishops, responded saying that Catholics for Choice “does not speak for the Catholic Church” and they “work to mislead the public.” The bishops further state “when it comes to statistics, Catholics for Choice only chooses those findings that agree with their dissent from Church teaching” and “it is our hope that one day Catholics for Choice will take the time to acquaint themselves with basic Catholic teachings.”
The American Humanist Association announced that it joined with 51 other member groups of the Coalition for Liberty and Justice to send a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor urging the federal government to ensure coverage for contraceptives following the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. In issuing their press release about the letter, the American Humanist Association included an image of birth control pills next to a rosary.
Mt. Vernon, TX – The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a formal complaint over a “pervasive religious endorsement” in the Mt. Vernon Independent School District. Among the issues FFRF protested were quotes painted in the hallways at Mt. Vernon High School. One quote from Ronald Reagan read “Within the covers of the Bible are the answers for all the problems men face.” Another quote attributed to Thomas Paine said “Reputation is what men and women think of us, character is what God and angels know of us.”
Grand Haven, MI – The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) wrote to city officials requesting that a 48-foot cross be removed from a piece of public property on Dewey Hill. The city manager responded noting a local policy established in 2013 that made Dewey Hill a ‘free speech zone’ and therefore welcomed any kind of religious display. The ADL would not reveal who filed the complaint and the City refused to remove the cross.
A new group, “Remove the Grand Haven Cross,” was formed specifically for the purpose of protesting the cross. Members of that group revealed that they had contacted the ADL.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State also objected to the cross and requested to install displays on Dewey Hill promoting atheism, pro-choice and gay rights issues.
Clarksburg, WV – The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) objected after the Harrison County Commissioners voted to appropriate $1000 towards a social function hosted by the Catholic Immaculate Conception Men’s Group. The event featured a performance by John Angotti, a Christian musician who provides “inspirational music and faith witness to all ages.” The men’s group had raised about half of the $3000 needed for the event when the commissioners voted to help cover the costs. FFRF sent a letter to the commissioners demanding that they rescind the donation and recover the funds from the group.
Louisville, KY – In September, Fr. Ronald Domhoff was placed on administrative leave after he was accused of sexually molesting a minor. In December he was cleared of all charges and returned to active ministry. What happened in the interim is the real story.
The accuser said he was molested between 1985 and 1989 at a local Catholic high school. The priest was investigated and subsequently cleared by the Louisville Metro Police Department Crimes Against Children unit. The archdiocese conducted two investigations: one by the Sexual Abuse Review Board and one by a private investigator. Both exonerated the priest.
Here is what the Valencia, California law firm of Owen, Patterson and Owen said when Fr. Domhoff was charged: “Our client is willing to share details of his abuse with the press in order to encourage other victims to come forward.” Attorney Gregory Owen added, “These monsters must be found and punished.” The law firm asked other alleged victims to contact them, not the police.
As it turns out, the monsters who should be punished are these lawyers. The Archdiocese of Louisville contacted the accuser asking him to provide the details that his lawyers promised, and neither he nor his attorneys provided a scintilla of evidence.