Michael Hichborn, American Life League

Author of Soros-funded CCHD defense stands by report despite bevy of omissions and errors

Michael Hichborn, American Life League
By Michael Hichborn

June 24, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On June 11, the liberal organization Faith in Public Life published a report attacking the investigative work of the Reform CCHD Now coalition, which has worked for nearly three years now to promote a thoroughgoing top-down reform of the U.S. Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development after discovering that dozens of its grantees promote activities contrary to Catholic teaching.

Shortly after Faith in Public Life (FIPL) released its report, LifeSiteNews revealed that FIPL’s CEO was on a panel of “pro-choice clergy” at a Planned Parenthood event that focused on how ‘pro-choice’ clergy could “make social change in support of reproductive justice in communities across the country.”  LifeSiteNews also pointed out that FIPL published numerous blog entries defending Planned Parenthood, including this one where FIPL states that it “compiled quotes from faith leaders opposing government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding.” It’s a little more than ironic that a pro-abortion, Soros-funded organization is crying foul over our investigative reporting that profiles pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, pro-birth control and Marxist organizations receiving money from the Catholic Church.

Even beyond the irony, however, the FIPL report is full of glaring errors and omissions that must be addressed.  But before publishing this response to FIPL’s report, I thought it would be important to contact John Gehring, the author of FIPL’s report, in order to give him a chance to address the errors I found in his document. So, I called Mr. Gehring and asked him if he would have time to answer some questions, and he asked me to submit them via email.  I did.  In fact, I sent him all of the information I provide below and asked him if he was aware of these facts when he wrote the report.  This is what he said in reply to my questions:

Michael,

Thanks for your questions. Since the report speaks for itself I prefer not getting into a back and forth on these detailed questions. Here is a statement that you can use.

John Gehring

“The goal of this report is to protect and strengthen the vital work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,” said John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life. “Self-appointed watchdog groups like the American Life League have sought to destroy the reputation of Catholics who serve our Church, demonize social justice leaders and create a climate of fear that hurts effective efforts to empower low-income communities. It is essential to preserve the distinctive Catholic identity of CCHD while also recognizing that if the Church only associates with people who agree with Catholic teaching on every issue, our ability to serve the common good in a diverse society is severely limited. As Pope Francis said in a recent homily, Catholics should be building bridges, not walls. The prominent Catholic leaders who endorsed this report are determined to help strengthen CCHD’s mission at a time when Pope Francis challenges us to confront the moral scandal of poverty and growing inequality.”

I wrote Mr. Gehring back immediately and said, “Just so I don’t misrepresent you, is it safe to say that in light of the facts I sent you, you still stand by your report as it is written?”  Mr. Gehring did not respond. 

What follows is a point by point correction of the errors in FIPL’s report, and in the spirit of intellectual honesty, we call upon FIPL to correct the record.

Land Stewardship Project

The report claims on page 4 that the Land Stewardship Project, a former CCHD grantee, lost its funding because of its membership in two coalitions: Take Action Minnesota and the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits.  FIPL contends that the CCHD denied funding to LSP because the two coalitions of which it is a member “did not endorse the Minnesota bishops’ efforts to fight same-sex marriage.” 

Simply put, this is untrue.  These two coalitions didn’t merely “not endorse” the bishops’ efforts to fight against same-sex “marriage,” but took positions in direct opposition to the Church.  For instance, on March 30, 2006, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits "announced opposition to” the Minnesota State Legislature’s effort to ban same-sex “marriage.” Furthermore, Take Action Minnesota actually hired field canvassers to drum up support for same-sex “marriage.”

The information regarding Take Action Minnesota actually takes on a deeper meaning when page 13 of FIPL’s report attempts to build a story around the Land Stewardship Project’s “Associate Director/Director of Programs/Policy Program Director”, Mark Schultz.  Specifically, the report says:

Mark Schultz grew up a proud Catholic boy on the South Side of Chicago. His faith and family taught him lessons about justice and solidarity with the marginalized that he still carries today as the policy and organizing director of the Land Stewardship Project.  The Minneapolis-based organization, founded in 1982, trains new farmers, challenges large-scale factory farms that have poor records on labor rights, and advocates for more sustainable local agriculture. “My faith is the reason I’m an organizer,” Shultz said.

What the report leaves out is that Mark Schultz is not only a director of LSP; he is also the chairman of the board of Take Action Minnesota, and has been chairman of the board at least since April of 2011, a full month before Take Action Minnesota officially endorsed same-sex “marriage.” Furthermore, in February of 2011, Mark Schultz himself announced that Take Action Minnesota is, among other things, “gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and straight.”

In short, FIPL’s report misrepresented the true nature of the problems with the two coalitions that the Land Stewardship Project was told to leave if it wished to continue receiving Catholic funds.  But more to the point, FIPL completely failed in its attempt to paint a picture that Reform CCHD Now’s investigative report accused LSP of guilt by association by deliberately omitting the fact that Land Stewardship Project’s second in command is also the top dog at Take Action Minnesota.  When all the facts are present, it is clear that the Land Stewardship Project is guilty by participation, not association.

Companeros

The report falsely claims on page 4 that Companeros lost its CCHD funding “because of its association with a statewide immigrant rights coalition that included a single gay and lesbian advocacy group.”  If this were the case, then FIPL’s claims of guilt by association would be correct, but this is not the case. 

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Here are the facts.  Companeros is a member of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), in fact, one of its founding members, and Companeros’ program director, Nicole Mosher, is on CIRC’s board of directors. This means that the actions taken by CIRC directly represent Companeros.  The problem is that CIRC has worked in direct opposition to Catholic moral teaching, which places Companeros in violation of CCHD guidelines.  For instance, CIRC “was proud to actively support the 2011 civil unions bill” for homosexual couples, directly opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, participated in a “gay pride” parade, specifically stated an organizational goal to “build non-traditional Alliances with focus on LGBT, non-Latino immigrant/refugees and Welcoming Colorado supporters,” voiced support for transgenderism, and applauded the recognition of same-sex couples on customs forms.  Incidentally, Companeros itself participated in a CIRC event that had a whole section on the cross-promotion of homosexuality and immigrant issues.

FIPL’s claim that Companeros lost funding due to membership in a coalition that also has a homosexual advocacy group as a member is completely unfounded.  The simple fact is that Companeros is a member of and on the board of an organization that took positions and actions that are in direct opposition to Catholic moral teaching.  This is why Companeros lost its funding.

The Gamaliel Foundation

The FIPL report discusses the Reform CCHD Now coalition’s charge that the Gamaliel Foundation directly lied to the CCHD about its relationship with the Fair Immigration Reform Movement.  In its assessment, FIPL accurately illustrates the fact that Gamaliel was a member of FIRM and that FIRM took an official position in support of homosexuality. FIPL then presents Gamaliel’s claim that Gamaliel left FIRM in 2010 because of this official position and ends with the statement that American Life League alleges that Gamaliel lied about this.  What the report fails to mention, however, is why ALL and the Reform CCHD Now coalition charged Gamaliel with lying when it claimed to have left FIRM in 2010.

As is evidenced in the report published by the Reform CCHD Now coalition, Gamaliel housed several documents on its own website, identifying it as a member of FIRM and as being on FIRM’s executive committee for the year 2011, a full year after it allegedly “severed all ties with FIRM.” Furthermore, a set of FIRM’s own meeting minutes from a monthly conference call identifies Ana Garcia Ashley, Gamaliel’s executive director, as a participant on the call and lists Gamaliel as a nominee for FIRM’s executive committee for the year 2012. Gamaliel has never denied this evidence but attempted to hide it all, and refuses to discuss the discrepancy between its claims and the evidence we noted.

Since John Gehring actually cited Reform CCHD Now’s report on Gamaliel in his own report, I asked him specifically why he left out the rest of the information.  As shown above, he declined to comment on the omission.

WISDOM

On page 18 of FIPL’s report, they attempt to make the case that the Reform CCHD Now coalition “branded WISDOM as an anti-Catholic organization” simply because it is a member of a coalition that happened to show up at a rally “along with some pro-choice groups.”

Not only is this not what the Reform CCHD Now report says, but the entire scenario described in FIPL’s report is patently false.

Here are the facts.  As you can read in our report here, the problem starts with the fact that the Gamaliel affiliate group called WISDOM is a member of and on the board of directors of an organization called Citizen Action of Wisconsin.  Our report, on page 8, clearly identifies Citizen Action of Wisconsin as a participant in a rally that was “mad as Hell” because the state legislature had just voted on a bill that “curbed abortion rights and ended comprehensive sex education in schools.” The point of that citation was to illustrate that Citizen Action of Wisconsin was itself participating in pro-abortion and pro-birth control activities, and according to CCHD guidelines, this would mean that WISDOM cannot be a member if it wishes to receive CCHD funding.  However, it is interesting that FIPL failed to mention the more direct bit, where on page 9 of our report we provided a link from Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s own podcast from July 7, 2011 featuring a representative from Planned Parenthood and statements from Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s own executive director championing same-sex marriage.

FIPL claims it was honestly attempting to defend an injustice done through a false accusation. If this was true, it wouldn’t need to seriously contort the claims made in our CCHD grantee reports, nor would it need to leave out the strongest pieces of evidence. FIPL should be happy to know, however, that honesty is not among the things we are accusing it of.

Conclusion

The distortions and untruths in Faith in Public Life’s “report” make it clear that they are not interested in justice, the poor, or honesty in reporting.  The mere fact that the report’s author refuses to address the glaring inaccuracies shows that he is more interested in furthering an agenda than the truth.  But in addition to the irony that an organization so friendly with Planned Parenthood is rushing to the defense of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the homosexuality lobby group Human Rights Campaign endorsed FIPL’s report, just a few days after it was published.  HRC emphatically claimed that it is unjust “that a network of conservative Catholic organizations would choose to withhold funds from local groups working with the poor because they support marriage equality and the LGBT community.”

All of this leads to two conclusions:

  1. The Reform CCHD Now campaign is having a definitive impact on the lobbying efforts of pro-abortion and pro-homosexual organizations.  There would be no reason for the obvious effort of writing this slick 28-page report and obtaining its long list of endorsers, otherwise. 

  2. FIPL and HRC both make the arguments that in order to help the poor, it is essential for CCHD grantees to join coalitions that support abortion and homosexuality, proving what the Reform CCHD Now coalition has been saying all along: CCHD grantees are indeed members of pro-abortion and pro-homosexual coalitions, and such membership is necessary to advance abortion and homosexuality in American society. 

Michael Hichborn is Director of Defend the Faith, a project of American Life League.


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

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By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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