By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A leading anti-Catholic organization, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU), is threatening the U.S. Catholic Church with the loss of their tax-exempt status if they continue to warn their flocks against voting for pro-abortion politicians.
In a commentary appearing on Catholic Online, the Rev. Mr. Keith A. Fournier, a Deacon and a lawyer, cites an article appearing on the AU website that attacks Texas Bishops Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas and Bishop Kevin Vann of the Diocese of Fort Worth for a letter they recently issued to their flocks about the upcoming election.
“Bishops are issuing letters telling Catholics they cannot vote for candidates who hold pro-choice views and remain in good standing in the church,” the article says. “Two Texas bishops have released a letter informing their congregants whom they can and can’t vote for and remain faithful members of the Roman Catholic Church.”
While the AU admits the bishops’ letter does not name any specific candidates, “you’d have to be very dense indeed not to get the message.”
The article goes on to accuse: “This is clearly an attempt on the part of these bishops to do an end-run around the federal tax law ban on electioneering by churches.”
What the bishops’ letter does say is completely legal: “To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or ‘abortion rights’ when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible.”
As Fournier explains, the AU is once again misrepresenting the Constitution and, specifically, the “Establishment Clause” which he says is better understood as an “anti-Establishment Clause” because it was intended to prevent the erection of a national church.
“ . . . (P)roperly understood, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution has allowed for a robust diversity of religious expression (or non-expression) and the flourishing of a dynamic model of religious freedom in America. That is, when it is properly interpreted and applied,” Fournier says.
However, what the AU is trying to do is “erect a Wall far greater in scope than the metaphorical wall which has been used in Establishment clause jurisprudence to explain the American notion of separation,” Fournier said. “His notion of a wall would expunge religious expression from the public discourse and impede the freedom of the Church to speak to the great moral issues of the age.”
Fournier calls attacks such as these “one more example of a growing dark cloud on the horizon of religious freedom in this wonderful Nation.”
While he is appalled by the AU’s blatant threats against the Church, he refuses to be intimidated.
“As a Deacon, I will not be bullied,” he says. “As a lawyer, I am also ready to defend against this dangerous threat. I know I am not alone and I call on all Catholic and other Christian lawyers to get ready. If these bullies attempt to take away the tax exempt status of the Catholic Church, they must be strongly opposed.
“Together we must stand up for an authentic understanding of religious freedom, defend our Church and oppose this anti-Christian bullying.”
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