Religion and Rights

A friend of mine who is a lawyer and a student of the U.S. Constitution sent me this little note. I think it is worthwhile to spread this information and let people have a weapon in an argument about God and country:

“There can be no justification by the Supreme Court to ever determine that the Founding Fathers of this country and each and every state did not acknowledge God. There is no doctrine of constitutional construction that supports a separation of the people of this nation from God. A public recognition of this truth does not violate any so-called separation of church and state. The original decision written by Justice Felix Frankfurter was flawed. The Constitution reads: ‘Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion,’ which is vastly different than his reference to the First Amendment, wherein he wrote that the Constitution read: ‘Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion.’ Changing that one word has created a monster that is being used to shut down our nation from acknowledging God as the source of all our good.”

I am going to try to get as many people as possible to read this bit of wisdom.


Liberty, Maine

More Girl Scout Boycotts

In the March 21-27 edition of the Register, you included a caption under Media Watch titled “Girl Scout Boycott Works.” Unfortunately, I have discovered the exact opposite is true.

Though Girl Scouts in Waco, Texas, broke their ties with Planned Parenthood, similar relationships are present nationwide. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this ordeal is the fact that Girl Scouts of America openly acknowledges these relationships.

Our Girl Scout troop has been sponsored by a Catholic parish for 10 years. When we learned about the connection between Planned Parenthood and Girl Scouts in Waco, Texas, from a local newspaper, we decided to research the matter further. We found a statement by Girl Scouts’ chief executive officer Kathy Cloninger, which aired on national television as part of a “Today” show interview.

In response to the boycott in Texas, Cloninger said, “We have relationships with our church communities, with YWCAs and with Planned Parenthood organizations across the country to bring information-based sex education to the girls.” This so-called information-based sex education has been known to include booklets that mention “nine good reasons that women have abortions.”

I realize many Catholic parishes throughout the nation sponsor Girl Scout troops. CYO offers many opportunities for scouts to integrate their Catholic faith into scouting primarily through religious-medal programs. I encourage parishes to research and discuss this matter.

Though our council claims uncertainty of its own ties to Planned Parenthood, we feel that to wear a Girl Scout uniform, recite the Girl Scout Promise and Law and serve in the name of Girl Scouts shows support for a morally corrupt organization. The mane of Girl Scouts intermingled with that of Planned Parenthood blatantly disrespects the values and beliefs pro-life individuals.

After 10 years together, our troop came to the decision that as a group of Catholic young women we could no longer in good conscience participate in Girl Scouts. Perhaps the way for pro-life girls and parents to get their message across would be to boycott membership as well as cookie sales.


Bremerton, Washington

Open Letter to John Kerry

Dear Sen. Kerry:

I am a lifelong Democrat and a Catholic. I fervently desire an alternative to the destructive domestic and global policies of our current president, and I fear the consequences for our country if he is re-elected. … But I'm disturbed by your position on abortion.

I think it's been a terrible mistake for the Democratic Party to champion what the Pope calls the culture of death. I'm not naïve enough to think that all or even most committed Republicans are pro-life in the true sense; I believe it's politically expedient for them to espouse the pro-life cause, but I doubt they want more poor children, especially black or Latino children, around. After all, Medicaid paid for abortions up until very recently, which pretty much tells the story. Still, it's no less expedient for the Democrats to champion legal abortion. To conflate the willful destruction of human life with women's and human rights is cynical at best. Why isn't our party actively seeking alternatives to abortion?

I'm wondering how you reconcile being Catholic while remaining committed to abortion rights. Abortion is the easy way out of social problems that would take time, money and committed policy study to fix, but isn't it our duty as Catholics to follow the social teachings of the Church and address those issues?

Please understand that I'm not writing to you as a right-wing, one-issue Catholic zealot. I grew up in a progressive, post-Vatican II family. I'm also a woman who has had an abortion. I can tell you firsthand that it is not the solution, and I believe women have been betrayed by the Democratic Party's fervent insistence on a woman's “right to choose.” It has hurt the Democratic Party more than helped it to espouse abortion rights — the proof is in the results of the 2000 and 2002 elections: Most Americans support pro-life candidates. The right to abort is not really a right at all, and it should not be the issue in an election on which so much else rides. What we really need is the right to raise our children without fear of poverty or neglect. I believe it's your responsibility as the de facto Democratic nominee to explore alternatives to abortion on demand.

Is there not some way that you can begin to turn toward the real support of life? I hope you will consider it and address these issues.


New York, New York

Palestinian-Christian Voice

In your story “Holy Land Christians Decry Assassination” (April 4-10), you stated that Christians observed the three-day mourning period declared by Yasser Arafat for Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. One deluded Palestinian Christian even stated that Yassin — who planned many massacres — was “not a violent man.”

What are Catholics in North America to think? It is hard for any of us (Americans included) to transcend our national allegiances, but the tacit support by Palestinian Christians for those who use mass murder as a political tool is disturbing.

Given the horrible oppression of Christians under Islamic rule, one wonders if Christians living under the Palestinian Authority are free to disagree with Arafat. If, for instance, the coffee-shop owner you quoted were to point out that only under Israel's control has Jerusalem been open to all three monotheistic faiths, what would happen to him?

Perhaps if the Latin patriarch were not perceived as a good friend of the terrorist Arafat, Palestinian Christians might develop an independent voice.


Catholic Friends of Israel