The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


Arrested for praying: case dismissed

posted by jmcgee

Earlier in the week, I posted on the man arrested for praying outside a Planned Parenthood clinic. (There’s also a video of the act that some thought criminal.)

Well, the charges have now been dropped:

This afternoon, in a wake of national attention to the case, the Thomas More Society secured a dismissal of all charges against the first arrestee under the city’s “bubble zone” ordinance, which prevents certain types of picketing activity outside local abortion clinics. Joseph Holland, a Northwestern University graduate student, was arrested outside Planned Parenthood’s Near North Side facility on July 3 after the facility’s staff called the police and claimed he violated the ordinance by praying on the public sidewalk.

“We are pleased that the City of Chicago has dismissed these false and baseless charges against Joe Holland,” said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society executive director and legal counsel. “The First Amendment protects prayer on a public sidewalk in Chicago the same as in any other city in the country. We hope that the city will cease the suppression of pro-life speech under the ‘bubble zone’ ordinance and dismiss the lone remaining case, brought against David Avignone, who was arrested a few days after Joe.”

The “bubble zone” ordinance prohibits approaching within eight feet of a person without consent “for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling.” Witnesses and a video of the incident showed Holland standing stationary and praying, but not leafleting, picketing or sidewalk counseling.

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Panthera

posted August 4, 2010 at 9:29 am


Neither of the men should have been arrested in the first place.
The first amendment to the Constitution protects their right to free speech. Free speech has long since been defined as including the right to prayer. As a Christian, this is pleasing to me, though the irony of people using the first amendment while striving to strip the Constitution of the tenth and fourteenth amendments does stand out.
The truly relevant question is, of course, how many women did these two men help find alternatives to abortion? How many abortions have all the legal protest actions taken by conservative Christians since Roe vs. Wade in front of abortion clinics prevented?
I want to see the appallingly high abortion rate come down. It would be a very good thing if we could work together to find solutions instead of engaging our egos in such skirmishes on one of the two hottest fronts of the culture wars.



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Fiergenholt

posted August 4, 2010 at 10:17 am


Some observations about abortions in general:
–The United States is by no means the country with the highest number of abortions nor does it have the highest per-capita abortion rate. Both China and India are far ahead of us in gross numbers and the Scandinavian countries are probably ahead of us in per-capita statistics
–For many years, the overall number of abortions in the United States has continued to drop after Roe vs Wade.
–Someone noticed that in Kentucky, the number and rate of abortions went sharply up one year and tried to chase down some data to find out why. It turns out that — in that case — there was an absolute inverse co-relation between the economy and the number of abortions. In that specific year, when the economy in Kentucky nose-dived sharply, the abortions went up sharply.
–Somewhere along in that period of time, a very popular and prominent deacon from the Archdiocese of Chicago published an article in their Archdiocesan newspaper insisting that priests and deacons can preach against abortion all they want but the only way the abortion numbers will fall consistently is for priests and deacons to start insisting in their homilies on economic justice for all.
Having said all of that, I am wondering whether this current economic disaster is going to resurrect Kentucky’s experiences of a few years back.



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kenneth

posted August 4, 2010 at 11:32 am


Fiergenholt, I think you hit it on the head here. Unfortunately, the church is not real interested in reducing abortions. They’re interested in getting their way politically, which would mean legislating all of the church’s views on abortion, birth control and sex education. To do as you suggest, the bishops would have to move off their culture war agenda, roll up their sleeves and get serious about their social justice agenda. I don’t mean publishing more flowery position papers. I mean lobbying and bullying and manipulating the political process the way they do now on gay marriage. That, however, would seriously inconvenience their partners/overlords in the Republican party.



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wineinthewater

posted August 4, 2010 at 11:32 am


Panthera,
I think I’m missing something. The 10th Amendment reserves to the states or the people those powers not delegated to the federal government. The 14th includes this reiteration of the Constitution itself:
“nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
How is protesting against abortion, which deprives a human person of the right to life guaranteed by both the Constitution and the 14th Amendment ironic or an attempt to strip the Constitution of the 10th and 14th Amendments. Taking action to protect the right to life is taking action to protect the Constitution and the 10th and 14th Amendments – even against an assault by the Supreme Court, the body entrusted to protect the Constitution.
Or are you conflating all “conservative Christian” issues?



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RomCath

posted August 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm


Dcn Greg-
It is getting a little tiresome to hear the anti-Catholic, anti-Republican, anti-morality tripe on here. Now the Governor of AZ is attacked with the ad hominem being called a racist. Enough is enough.
[RC: I agree. I just deleted it. At the very least, it violates the spirit of my posting guidelines. Dcn. G.]



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Panthera

posted August 4, 2010 at 1:03 pm


Deacon Kandra,
You are right and I apologize. It is enough that the courts reigned her in.
I am a bit puzzled, however – several of those with whom I stand in opposition in the culture wars have made the bold statement here on your blog that they follow Church teachings to the letter on every other dictum except regarding immigration – they have flat out stated that the Church is wrong.
I truly believe this matter is an opportunity for ALL Christians to show our true colors. It is very easy for the hateful to find refuge in the American Catholic church – disguised as wolves in sheeps’ clothing. Their positions so very often line up with those of the Church. To be fair, it is equally easy for those who like the mantle of respectability to be ‘progressive’ Christians when the truth is, they are solipsists, at best.



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RomCath

posted August 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm


This is a thread that began about praying at abortion clinics and has devolved into an immigration debate. Can we keep on topics here?
As for the official Church teaching on immigration see para 2241 of the Cathechism:
2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants’ duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens
It says nothing about letting in everyone and anyone thru open borders in order to committ crimes or transport drugs. There are legal ways to immigrate.



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Panthera

posted August 4, 2010 at 2:20 pm


RomCath,
I defended the actions of these two young men.
Seeing as how you raised the point, may I point out that America HAS no spiritual traditions? We are not a theocracy.
I put the question again: To what extent does all this protesting – note, I am not mentioning the bombings and murders of abortion providers – just civil protests actually prevent abortion?



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pagansister

posted August 4, 2010 at 2:39 pm


Good. Perhaps the men involved will now stand a little farther away from the entrance while praying. That way no one has to worry about the laws regulating the legal distances for those who wish to challenge the women going in and out of the clinics.



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Gene

posted August 4, 2010 at 3:05 pm


They were probably afraid our fearless president might see someone praying in a Christian manner while he is there to celebrate his birthday with his cronies. It would be OK though if the fellow was bowing toward Mecca on a rug on the sidewalk as long as the rug has a NASA symbol on it.



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Ron

posted August 4, 2010 at 3:08 pm


Regarding the position of the Catholic Catechism on immigration:
2241 The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
Note that this does not condone illegal immigration. The problem in the US is that the government fails to promote legal immigration and encourages illegal immigration. Who profits from illegal immigration? Is it the immigrants who must labor for below minimum wages? No, its the employers who don’t report income or pay social security and other taxes. This is why both Republican and Democrat fat cats fail to enforce the law and the borders. Follow the money.



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Rone

posted August 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm


Panthera, I have participated in such protests in the past and have seen women change their minds many times. Remember that many times these women are being pressured by boyfriends or parents to get the abortion. Sometimes it takes little to convince them to follow their instincts and save their child’s life. Abortionists are businessmen and women. They don’t want competition at their doorsteps. They don’t want these women to know that some people think they are murdering their baby.



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Ron

posted August 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm


Panthera,
“…the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them,…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That’s the Declaration of Independence. We believe that we have inalienable rights because they are endowed by our Creator. That is certainly a religious belief on which our government and rights are founded. If we don’t have inalienable rights then the government, religious or atheistic, can grant or take them away.



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RomCath

posted August 4, 2010 at 4:04 pm


“Seeing as how you raised the point, may I point out that America HAS no spiritual traditions? We are not a theocracy.”
I don’t quite get the point of this since I didn’t raise the point to begin with. I thought you lived in Europe so I don’t get the “we” part either.
No, America is not a theocracy–there is no state religion. That doesn’t mean religious values and an acknowledgement of God are not part of our heritage–”endowed by our Creator”; “In God we Trust” (on all money) and “One nation under God” (pledge)–just to name of few AMERICAN phrases.



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Panthera

posted August 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm


Ron,
Speaking as a Christian, I agree with the Declaration of Independence. That does not, however, establish a religious tradition. If the Deacon will permit, I shall be happy to present Thomas Jefferson’s very thorough discourse on the matter.
Deacon Kandra,
Please – if I am not to call the Governor of Arizona a racist, then I don’t see why Gene is permitted to say all those horrid nasty things about President Obama. Thank you.



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romancrusader

posted August 4, 2010 at 11:14 pm


Panthera,
I’m going to be straight up with you! Disagreeing with us is one thing and that’s fine. But we don’t go around stating falsehoods. That’s another one. See the difference? Please stop with your sweeping condemnations about conservatives and the Republicans in general. I’m sick to death of it. Just stop! Think before you post and if you have no intention of having your perspective broadened, then perhaps you really shouldn’t be posting here.



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