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Missouri Family E-News

July 26, 2011

Judge Blocks Attack on Catholic Charities



An Illinois judge has blocked action by Illinois state officials to terminate foster care and adoption services contracts with Catholic Charities.


Circuit Judge John Schmidt issued an injunction against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, ordering the agency to continue foster care and adoption placements with Catholic Services.  He cited the irreparable harm to families the state action would cause.


"We're not going to be removing children from homes," said Judge Schmidt in his order.  "I can't be any clearer.  This action has the appearance of gamesmanship."


The Illinois social services department announced it was suspending its contracts with Catholic Charities because of its refusal to place children in the homes of same-sex "couples."  Catholic Charities has maintained Biblical teaching and Catholic doctrine that homosexual conduct is sinful, and that such an environment is harmful to children.  


The aggressive action by state officials follows the passage by the Illinois Legislature of a new law creating "civil unions" for homosexual couples.  That law, falsely labeled the Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, was passed with assurances that it would not impact the social services of religious organizations.


Attorneys for the Catholic dioceses of Springfield, Peoria, and Joliet filed suit against the state, alleging religious discrimination.

"This is a great win for the 2000 children under the care of Catholic Charities, protecting these kids from the grave disruption that the state's reckless decision would have caused," said Peter Breen, legal counsel for the Thomas More Society.


"We will continue the fight until all young people are guaranteed their right to receive the high-quality adoption and foster care that the Catholic Church has provided for over a century to Illinois children," Breen added.


Penny Wiegert, director of communications for the Rockford Diocese, expressed dismay that state officials would attempt to force Catholic Charities to violate its religious beliefs.


"The law of our land has always guaranteed its people freedom of religion.  We simply cannot compromise the spirit that motivates us to deliver quality professional services to families by letting the state define our religious teachings."

Judge Acts to Protect Worship Services


A federal judge has ordered a group of homosexual activists to pay damages to a Michigan church for disrupting the worship services of that congregation.


U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell has ordered twelve members of the group "Bash Back" to pay a total of $2500 in damages to Mt. Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan.  The judge also threatened members of the group with future fines of $10,000 if they disrupt church services again "anywhere in the United States."


Members of Bash Back infiltrated Mt. Hope Church in November of 2008.  During the service members of the group began shouting blasphemous statements and tossing condoms around the sanctuary.  The group unfurled a profane banner, and orchestrated a scene of lesbians kissing each other in front of the pulpit.  As they exited the church, the group pulled all the fire alarms.  


Following the attack, Bash Back boasted on their website that they had "bashed" a "well-known, anti-queer megachurch," and that "this pack of wolves will continue to bash back."


The church's attorney, Dale Schowengerdt of the Alliance Defense Fund, says that the judge's decision sends a clear message.   "The use of violence, threats, and other criminal behavior to advance a political agenda should never be acceptable in America."


"We filed suit to stop Bash Back from invading churches, disrupting worship, and terrifying adults and children who attend worship services.  The court's order sends a message to any other groups contemplating such tactics that they will not succeed."


David Williams, a spokesman for Mt. Hope, says the church "believes what the Bible says to be the truth.  Mt. Hope Church strives to follow Jesus' example of loving the sinner but not the sin while helping people change their lives for God's glory."

Speaker Tilley Names Committee to Study Missouri Families

Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley has announced the creation of a special committee to study how the state of Missouri can support the traditional family unit.  The Speaker has established the House Interim Committee on Strengthening Missouri Families.  Tilley says he appointed the committee because he believes "a strong family unit is the key to helping Missourians reach their potential."

"Government certainly can't solve every problem but we can work to ensure our policies are conducive to strengthening the family unit and providing a support network that will help parents and children successfully meet some of the challenges they may have little chance to overcome on their own," Representative Tilley said in a prepared statement.

Speaker Tilley observed that the divorce rate in Missouri has consistently been higher than the national average, with more than half of all marriages ending in divorce.  "We can't sit idly by and allow the family structure to be weakened to the point that most marriages have no chance for success.  We have to recognize that families represent the essential building blocks for our communities and our state, and that without strong families, we will never be able to reach our potential."

Tilley instructed the committee to not only make policy recommendations to promote strong families in Missouri, but also to evaluate current state government policies which may be harming the family structure in our state.

The Speaker has appointed Representative Scott Largent of Clinton to lead the 21-member interim committee.  Representative Largent is the current chairman of the House Committee on Children and Families, and has been a good friend of the pro-family and pro-life community.

"This is an issue that Representative Largent is passionate about...I know he will be a strong guiding voice for the committee as they develop common sense solutions that will help strengthen the family unit and give our young people a much better chance for success."

Representative Largent had this to say about his assignment:  "As a Legislature we often look for ways to fix problems in our state while failing to look at the cause of these problems--trouble at home.  The cost of a weak family structure, both economically and socially, is something we as a state cannot afford.  We have to take a long, hard look at our policies to ensure they are meeting the needs of Missouri families so that our young people are supported and nurtured in a way that allow them to reach their vast potential."

Representative Lindell Shumake of Hannibal has been appointed Vice-Chair of the interim committee.  Since being elected to the Legislature, Shumake has placed major emphasis on reducing the incidence of divorce.

Representative Randy Asbury of Higbee welcomed his appointment to the committee.  "Strong families are essential to the future of Missouri and especially to the education of our children.  Strong, healthy families provide the foundation for thriving communities, states and our nation."

The Interim Committee on Strengthening Missouri Families will be holding hearings around the state in the coming months.  Speaker Tilley has instructed the committee to provide him with a final report by the end of the year in time for next year's legislative session.

Other members of the committee in addition to Representatives Largent, Shumake, and Asbury are:  Representatives Steve Cookson, Mike McGhee, Keith Frederick, Rick Brattin, Paul Curtman, Wanda Brown, Kent Hampton, Melissa Leach, Paul Fitzwater, Thomas Long, Ward Franz, Stacey Newman, Gail McCann Beatty, Kevin McManus, Jeanette Mott Oxford, Ben Harris, Paul Quinn, and Ed Schieffer.
We commend Speaker Tilley for making this subject an issue of priority attention for the Missouri Legislature.  Please be praying for the members of this interim committee as they go about their work in the months ahead. 

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