Archive for the ‘First Amendment Rights’ Category

Fr. Frank Pavone Cheers Supreme Court’s McCullen v. Coakley Decision – “A Victory for Free Speech”

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Staten Island, NY – Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, applauded today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision declaring Massachusetts’s law prohibiting pro-lifers from coming within 35 feet of an abortion clinic to be unconstitutional.

“The bubble zone of government imposed silence around abortion clinics has burst,” Fr. Pavone declared.  “Today’s decision is a huge rip in the veil with which the abortion lobby has tried to cloak the truth about what abortion is and what abortion does to women.  And the truth is that abortion destroys lives – physically and emotionally.

“The Supreme Court has struck a victory for free speech, for the Constitution, and for women and their babies.”

Fr. Pavone added, “I was happy to speak with Eleanor McCullen the other night in regard to this case and look forward to continuing to stand with her and so many other activists around the country who go to these abortion facilities day in and day out.

Alveda King, niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and full-time director of African American Outreach for Priests for Life, stated, “It was wrong for governments to protect segregationists who denied the rights of others and denied the truth of equality.  It’s wrong for governments today to protect abortionists who deny the rights of babies and deny the truth about abortion to women.  The truth will not be ‘bubbled out.’  Let my people go!”

Bryan Kemper, Priests for Life Youth Outreach Director, said of today’s ruling, “The SCOTUS decision to strike down the Massachusetts bubble zone is a victory with great impact for pro-life youth. More and more youth are joining the fight to end abortion every day and outreach to abortion mills is an important aspect of this battle.”

Priests for Life will issue a more detailed statement about this decision after having analyzed it more fully.

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.

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Today’s Pro-Life Reflection

Monday, June 10th, 2013

homicidebrownshirt

These reflections are taken from the book “Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day” by Fr. Frank Pavone which is available for purchase at: ProLifeReflectionsForEveryDay.org

“It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak “(2 Corinthians 4:13-14).

Reflection: A Virginia High School senior was told he could not wear a sweatshirt that read, “Abortion is Homicide.” However, after he sought legal help, the school allowed him to wear it.

The best way to defend our free speech rights is to exercise them without fear.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, you inspire the faithful to speak courageously the words of life. Open our lips to speak boldly, even when that speech may upset others. Give us grace to defend our rights without fear. Amen.

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Can the Government Veto a Sermon?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Friends,

Lots happening this weekend… It’s Respect Life Sunday (and we have resources at ProLifePreaching.com), it’s Life Chain Sunday (and I’ll be participating in one in Detroit… I hope all the Life Chain organizers are ready to collect names, numbers, and emails of the participants to help engage them throughout the year!), it’s the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization (Priests for Life was pleased to send input to the synod on the connections between new evangelization and the pro-life movement) – but what I want to focus on for a moment here is that it is also “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”

Here’s the question: May the government filter, edit, or veto the contents of a sermon?  No court has ever heard a case regarding whether the Internal Revenue Service can do so. Yet every day – and especially in these weeks prior to an election – preachers act as if their sermons have to be vetted and approved by the IRS.

Indeed, the IRS issues guidelines saying that in order to retain its tax exemption, Churches and other organizations set up as “501 (c)(3)” entities must avoid any intervention in a political campaign.

But this restriction is not in the Constitution. In fact, it only goes back to 1954, to a provision that has no legislative history and has never been challenged in court.

And the result of the restriction, and the ambiguity often surrounding it (because the IRS says that all the “facts and circumstances” have to be taken into account to determine exactly when a preacher has “crossed the line,” therefore meaning in practice that you may not know that you’ve crossed the line until after the fact), what in fact happens is that speech is chilled and pastors do far less than they are able to do.

Since 2008, therefore, pastors across the nation have begun to rise up with a simple message: No government interference in the pulpit! They have decided, on a designated weekend, to preach sermons outside the usual restrictions of the IRS, and have sent those sermons to the IRS. The hope is that this will lead to a court case that can clarify whether the restrictions are in fact even constitutional.

In 2008, some 33 pastors did this. The IRS did not respond.

In 2009, some 84 pastors did this. Again, only silence from the IRS.

In 2010, a hundred pastors engaged in this project. The IRS raised no complaint.

Last year, 539 pastors sent in their sermons challenging the IRS restrictions. And nothing but silence came from the IRS.

This year’s numbers will surpass all the previous years.

It seems clear that the IRS does not want the 1954 restrictions subjected to court scrutiny. We will report more of what happens as a result of this Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Stay tuned!

Fr. Frank

 

 

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Priests for Life applauds latest lawsuit against HHS mandate

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Number of lawsuits, including that of Priests for Life, now Nine

New York, NY — Father Frank hailed the newest lawsuit — the ninth to be filed against the Health and Human Services mandate on contraception, sterilization and abortifacients — as another sign that opposition to this unjust mandate has just begun.

O’Brien vs. Sebelius is a lawsuit brought by an individual or private employer not affiliated with any religious institution or organization.

“We are very happy that a private business owner recognizes that this mandate affects virtually all health care plans and all employers, across the board and across the country,” Father Pavone said. “In our own lawsuit, Priests for Life vs. Sebelius, which was the fourth of the nine filed so far, Priests for Life is opposing this mandate as employers, not as a religious group. Religious freedom is not a right just of religious groups; it’s a right of every American.”

Attorney Charles LiMandri filed the Priests for Life suit Feb. 15 in Brooklyn Federal Court. The suit seeks injunctive relief from the HHS rules – first on behalf of Priests for Life, and then extending universally since all organizations and companies will be affected by the tyrannical HHS decree.

Fr. Pavone observed, “Priests for Life is fighting this mandate on all fronts: mobilizing the Churches, educating the public through the media, supporting legislative solutions, organizing nationwide rallies for religious freedom to take place this Friday in over 100 cities, and being among the first to challenge the mandate in Court. We are grateful for Cardinal Dolan’s recent remarks pointing to the importance of the lawsuits as perhaps the best way of solving this problem.”

See here for the full text of the Priests for Life lawsuit.

To read a summary of all nine lawsuits currently pending, visit: priestsforlife.org/hhsmandate/hhs-lawsuits.pdf

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An American Takeover of America

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Senator Roy Blunt, who sponsored the amendment in the Senate that, had it received a few more votes, would have protected conscience rights of employers, said, “This is a debate that might be settled at that building across the street,” referring to the Supreme Court.

Indeed, as of this writing, eight different lawsuits have been launched against the Obama administration to block the unjust HHS mandate. I am proud to have authorized the fourth of these eight, Priests for Life vs. Sebelius, filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York on February 15, 2012. Ours was the first lawsuit filed subsequent to the so-called “accommodation” announced by the President on February 10, hence signaling to the administration in no uncertain terms that we did not consider his “accommodation” helpful at all.

The eight lawsuits so far, arranged by the date they were filed, are as follows:

November 10, 2011 Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius
December 21, 2011 Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius
February 9, 2012 Eternal Word Television Network v. Sebelius
February 15, 2012 Priests for Life v. Sebelius
February 20, 2012 Louisiana College v. Sebelius
February 21, 2012 Ave Maria University v. Sebelius
February 21, 2012 Geneva College v. Sebelius
February 23, 2012 Bruning v. Sebelius (This is the one whose plaintiffs include the states of Nebraska, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.)

You may want to share this list with your local media, since some outlets continue to get the count wrong.

Though freedom of religion has been the theme most central to this debate, a common theme in these lawsuits is likewise freedom of speech. To quote from the Complaint we filed (which you can find on our web site), “The…mandate compels Priests for Life to provide education and counseling regarding contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and abortifacients…[and hence]…to engage in speech that violates its sincerely-held religious beliefs.”

Freedom of speech, in other words, by giving you the right to say what you want to say, necessarily also contains the right to not say what you don’t want to say, and it doesn’t matter if you are forced to say it yourself or to pay someone else to say it.

The Complaint also states that we have filed this suit “to protect the rights of all Americans.” Freedom of speech and freedom of religion do not belong only to religious groups, but to everyone. The other side wants to frame this battle as just a sectarian issue — most particularly a Catholic issue.

During the 2000 elections, a reporter said at a Priests for Life press conference at the National Press Club, “Fr. Frank is calling for a Vatican takeover of America.”

As I said then, I am not calling for any Vatican takeover of America; I’m calling for an American takeover of America! It’s fine to say we stand with our religious leaders, but let’s make it clear that they and we are standing with our Constitution and our great nation, rooted in God’s gift of freedom.

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Let Us Speak Without Fear

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

In America, we enjoy the freedoms of the First Amendment — very broad freedoms that, among other things, give us the right to proclaim whatever message we want on the public streets and sidewalks in any city, town, or countryside from coast to coast.

This freedom is designed to enable us to protest injustices that are allowed by the government, and to communicate our message to our fellow citizens even without controlling the media of mass communication. We can hand out literature, say prayers, hold signs, and even bring a podium onto the public sidewalk and preach from morning to night.

Moreover, this speech is protected no matter how offensive it is. The fact that others get upset or angry does not take away our freedom to speak. Let’s do so without fear!

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