Category Archives: Religious Freedom

What’s Behind Pelosi’s Attack on Archbishop Cordileone?

Anne HendershottBy | June 17, 2014 | Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. She is the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education; The Politics of Abortion; and The Politics of Deviance (Encounter Books). She is also the co-author of Renewal: How a New Generation of Priests and Bishops are Revitalizing the Catholic Church (2013).

Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the U. S. House of Representatives Minority Leader, and one of the most powerful Catholic politicians in the United States, has recently warned the Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, the Archbishop of San Francisco, to cancel his plans to speak at the June 19 National Organization for Marriage march on the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Calling the event “venom masquerading as virtue,” Pelosi urged Archbishop Cordileone to stay away from the event, and “join us in seeking to promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred.”

Archbishop Cordileone‘s Episcopal heraldic achievement…shield, with its charges, a motto scroll and the external ornaments. The shield…is blazoned…Per fess bendy AZURE and ARGENT: in chief a demi-lion rampant OR, armed GULES, holding in its forepaws a heart of the second; in base, the zodiacal sign of Cancer, all GULES.…demi-lion rampant gold, with red tongue and claws holding red heart…“heart of the lion
[Cor di Leone]…red crab…family trade as fishermen…constellation Cancer…month of July…date of his priestly ordination (July 9, 1982) and date he was named bishop (July 5, 2002). Motto: “In Verbo Tuo”…story of miraculous catch in Gospel of Luke, chapter 5.…Peter put his trust in the Lord and literally takes him at his word: “in verbo tuo”.
Cordileone Coat of Arms

Pelosi has partnered with other self-described Catholics including California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and progressive Catholic activists like Fr. Ray Bourgeois, Marianne Duddy Burk, Mary Hunt, and Jeannine Grammick in protesting in a letter the Archbishop’s appearance at the pro-marriage rally.

And, while the parade of progressive politicians and Catholic dissidents is not surprising, Catholics should be much more concerned about the real power behind Pelosi’s attacks on the Archbishop.

The real story here is the betrayal of the bishops by those like John Gehring, formerly the Assistant Director of Media Relations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who now works at the George Soros-funded Faith in Public Life/Faithful America. It is activists like Gehring who are providing the real power behind Pelosi’s threats.

Faithful America is a 501c (3) organization that has been very involved in political activity during the past few years. Most recently, the group spearheaded a petition drive on Facebook and other social media decrying what they see as Archbishop Cordileone’s “lending the church’s authority to their [National Organization for Marriage] vitriol and hatred—and undermining Pope Francis’s call for a more compassionate church.”

While a tax-exempt organization, Faithful America sponsors political protests that the organization calls “campaigns.” One of their current campaigns is to mobilize citizen opposition to Michael Boggs, a Georgia state judge who is described on the Faithful America website as a “right wing judge who misuses our faith” when he supports the 2nd Amendment and opposes same-sex marriage. Through petition drives, the group seeks to derail his Republican-backed nomination for a seat on the U.S. District Court because “he built a political career by fear mongering about homosexual Boy Scout leaders.”

Most of Faithful America’s causes involve gay and lesbian issues including a campaign supporting the right of an 8-year-old girl to practice an alternative gender identity at her Christian school; attacking World Vision for refusing to hire openly gay employees; and protesting the new teacher contract issued by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that explicitly bans teachers who are involved in same-sex marriages. Furthermore, Faithful America distorts the new contract language, claiming that the Cincinnati Archdiocese will fire a teacher if he or she “attends a family member’s gay wedding,” or “shares kind words with a bullied student.” Continue reading

RELEASED—Pregnant Sudanese Christian Condemned to Death

Search News for “Meriam Ibrahim” within the past hour.

No sooner had Sudanese officials informed the world that Meriam Ibrahim had not been re-arrested and would be freed again after the nation’s courts released her from prison than news reports surfaced that she would be charged with fraud and prevented from leaving the country.

She’s out on bail but facing new charges of document fraud.

Sudan’s national news service SUNA said, the Court of Cassation in Khartoum on Monday, June 23, 2014, canceled the death sentence against Dr. Meriam Ibrahim after defense lawyers presented their case, and the court ordered her release.

“We have confirmed through her attorney that she has been released from prison today,” Tina Ramirez, executive director for the Christian advocacy group Hardwired, told Hardwired has worked closely with Ibrahim’s family and lawyer.

Dr. Ibrahim was whisked away to a confidential location and that her lawyers will be meeting with representatives from the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday.

DrMeriamIbrahimAndDaniel Wani

Daniel Wani and
Dr. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim
on their wedding day

A court in Khartoum, Sudan has issued a death sentence to a mother of two who refuses to renounce Christianity for Islam. Ethiopian Orthodox physician, Dr. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim must nurse her newborn baby for two years before being executed for apostasy, but must receive 100 lashes for “adultery”—for having conjugal relations with her Christian husband—immediately after having had her baby.

The daughter of a Christian mother and a Muslim father who abandoned the family as a child, Dr. Ibrahim was raised as a Christian; she never was Muslim. She could have spared herself death by hanging simply by renouncing her Christian faith.

“We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam,” Judge Abbas Khalifa told Ibrahim, according to AFP. “I sentence you to be hanged to death.”

But Dr. Ibrahim held firm to her beliefs.

“I was never a Muslim,” she answered. “I was raised a Christian from the start.”

Dr. Ibrahim was raised in the Christian faith by her mother, an Orthodox Christian from Ethiopia. She is married to Daniel Wani, a Christian from southern Sudan who has U.S. citizenship, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The death is an “egregious violation of basic human rights,” said Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey’s 4th District, Chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees U.S. policy in Africa.

“This is an affront to religious freedom everywhere,” Smith said. “The refusal of the government of Sudan to allow religious freedom was one of the reasons for Sudan’s long civil war. The U.S. and the rest of the international community must demand Sudan reverse this sentence immediately.”

Dr. Ibrahim is reported to be eight months pregnant. She was convicted under the Islamist-run government of apostasy (the crime of renouncing or insulting Islam) punishable by death in some Muslim-majority countries. According to news reports, lawyers representing her told Amnesty International that religious clerics in court had asked the 27-year-old Thursday if she would recant her faith, but she told them: “I am a Christian.” Continue reading

A Message from Fr. Patrick Lee on religious freedom

Fr. Patrick Lee

My Dear People,

“What I mean is that I believe we are heading for a media and blogosphere circus in which commentary after commentary will reinforce the error that we can promote ‘human rights’ and ‘social justice’ while ignoring the most fundamental right of the most vulnerable people: the right to life of the children in the womb.”

Fr. Frank Pavone

That is a quote from the leader of Priests for Life, Father Frank Pavone. He was commenting on President Obama’s recent visit with Pope Francis. He obviously feared that photo ops and sound bytes and sweet-sounding words would obscure and trivialize the serious differences between the solemn teaching of the Church and the aims of the Obama administration. As Christians, we must not allow that to happen.

President Barack Obama & Pope Francis

We must not be deluded into thinking that because the President expresses admiration for the Pope and stresses their agreement on certain “social issues”, we can relegate the life issues and the religious freedom issues to secondary importance.To quote Fr. Pavone again: “But there is a profound contradiction between Obama’s position in favor of abortion and the Church’s position against it, and my concern arises from the fact that so much commentary makes light of this contradiction, either by saying it’s not important, or by pretending it’s not there.” There is little doubt that the administration intended to make light of and obscure that contradiction so they could continue their under the radar but very aggressive promotion of the culture of death. The administration is attempting to force Christians, especially Roman Catholic Christians to violate their consciences by facilitating the use of contraceptives, abortifacient drugs and sterilizing agents by covering them in their insurance policies. This is a huge infringement of religious freedom. We cannot let our people believe otherwise. We must not be deluded into thinking that because the President expresses admiration for the Pope and stresses their agreement on certain “social issues”, we can relegate the life issues and the religious freedom issues to secondary importance. Continue reading