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Religious Freedom and Voter Guides

June 8, 2012

Below is my latest column, Religious Freedom and Voter Guides. But before we get to that, let me give you some other important updates.

Priests for Life has helped coordinate the rallies for religious freedom that are taking place across the Country today, June 8 at 12 noon. I hope you will be able to participate in your area. Go to www.StandUpForReligiousFreedom.com to find a rally near you. Today ends the nine day novena for religious freedom but we invite you to continue praying with us everyday with the prayers found at www.prayercampaign.org.

On a related note, in preparation for our Nation’s Independence we will have a special novena from June 26-July4 also found at prayercampaign.org. Time is running out to order your prayer cards to get them in time for the start of the Novena.

Additionally, we are trying to gather a team of social networking advocates to help get the pro-life message out beyond our sphere of influence and into the general public. The pro-abortion movement uses social networking very well and we have to do the same. With an important election coming up, we can’t let Planned Parenthood's army of social network advocates turn this election in favor of abortion. With our team we will register voters, activate volunteers for distribution of voters' guides, counteract misrepresentations of Church teaching, and get voters to the polls!

You can team up with me by "connecting" with me on Facebook in a few easy steps:

1. Click this link: http://www.priestsforlife.org/facebook/fbcall.aspx
2. If you aren't already logged into Facebook, log into Facebook when prompted.
3. Click the "Go to App" button so that you will be connected with us!

Once you join the team, I'll e-mail you alerts about critical information that needs to be spread far and wide on social networks – and this is where you come in. In these e-mails I'll ask you to share some links and stories on Facebook – visit the page provided in these messages and then click on the "Like" button to share the page on your wall. It's that simple!

And in the process of signing up, you'll be the first to receive the e-booklet that I just released yesterday, "How to Keep the Fire Burning!" This is being sold on our store, but if you respond to me today or tomorrow, you will be able to download it free of charge!

Finally, July 1st is Voter Registration Sunday, a day when Churches are encouraged to conduct non-partisan voter registration drives. Non-partisan voter registration is both legal and appropriate for Churches to do, and they are simple to do. Find all the information you need at www.politicalresponsibility.com and ask you Pastor to let you do this in your Church.

Blessings,

Fr. Frank Pavone

Praise for Our Work

Fr. Scott Daniels: On behalf of the women we serve, the babies we welcome into this world, our staff and Board of Directors, I wish to thank you for your service to Mary’s Mantle and to our local community. You left many people inspired through your Gospel message of Life. Thank you for committing your life to preserving and cherish the dignity of each life. May the Lord continue to move your Spirit for His glory. It was a pleasure spending time with you...

Religious Freedom and Voter Guides


Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

Priests for Life is proud to have assisted the process by which Americans from coast to coast organized rallies for religious freedom on Friday, June 8. These rallies, along with our lawsuit (and 22 others) against the HHS mandate, will bring about a change.

In making that change, we have to be clear that our religious freedom must be comprehensive, rather than selective. It applies across the board. The US bishops have written in their recent statement on religious liberty,

"Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith?"

When I read this, one of the things I think about are the spiritual works of mercy, among which is to "instruct the uninformed." We share information that will help our brothers and sisters carry out their God-given mission in life.

And one of the ways we do that in an election year is to share information about the candidates and where they stand on the issues.

That is why this year, once again, Priests for Life has produced a voters' guide for the Presidential race, and we are organizing teams of people nationwide to distribute these guides everywhere: on the street corners of their communities, in their organizational meetings, at the workplace, through social networking, and more. (You can sign up at www.PoliticalResponsibility.com).

The bishops have also said in their document, "We need, therefore, to speak frankly with each other when our freedoms are threatened."

Let me, then, speak frankly right here and now, and say that when citizens are intimidated from sharing voter guides with their fellow citizens, that is an infringement of their religious liberty. After all, spreading this information should not be understood only as a partisan activity. It is also an activity motivated by faith, by the awareness that we have a responsibility to the common good to share information that will help others fulfill what the bishops have identified as a moral and spiritual responsibility, namely, " to see beyond party politics, to analyze campaign rhetoric critically, and to choose their political leaders according to principle, not party affiliation or mere self-interest" (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, n. 34)

We cannot do that unless we know where the candidates stand on the issues, and there is no moral or legal reason not to spread that information.

Among the attorneys who advise us at Priests for Life are James Bopp, Jr. and Barry Bostrom, who are among the nation's leading experts on tax law and on what Churches are allowed to do regarding elections. In a letter (full text at www.priestsforlife.org/elections/parkinglots.pdf), they advised us as follows:

"…[T]he distribution of campaign material by others in the church parking lot will not jeopardize the church's tax exempt status. The mere permission of distribution of campaign materials by others in the church parking lot is not regulated by the Internal Revenue Code. The Code and its regulations are designed to limit only the activities and expenditures of non-profit organizations. Distribution of campaign materials by others outdoors, in a public parking lot, is not an activity or expenditure of the church…

Let us, indeed, defend our religious freedom, first and foremost by exercising it, by speaking freely and boldly, and by making a difference in this year's elections!

Comments on this column? Go to www.askfrfrank.com

Fr. Frank's columns are podcast. See www.priestsforlife.org/podcast

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