Catherine Shenton

Mamie Till: refusing the coverup

Catherine Shenton
By Catherine Shenton

October 19, 2013 (Unmasking Choice) - I knew that I could talk for the rest of my life about what had happened to my baby, I could explain it in great detail, I could describe what I saw laid out there on a slab...  and people still would not get the full impact. They would not be able to visualize what had happened, unless they were allowed to see the results of what had happened. They had to see what I had seen. The whole nation had to bear witness to this. - Mamie Till-Mobly in The Death of Innocence

By the summer of 1955, Mamie Till was a hard-working single mother of a teenage boy. They lived in Chicago. Mamie often worked long hours and her son, Emmett, tried hard to help with errands and chores around the house. He wanted to spend the end of the summer in Money, Mississippi visiting his cousins. After lengthy discussions with other family members, Mamie—somewhat reluctantly, because of concern for her son's safety—agreed.

On August 28, 1955, Mamie received a phone call: Emmett had been abducted in the middle of the night. No one knew where he was. Three days later she received another call: his body had been found. He was dead. Emmett had whistled and/or said, “Bye, baby!” to a white woman working in a grocery store. In response, Roy Bryant (the woman's husband) and John Milam (Bryant's half-brother) took Emmett from his uncle's home, beat him beyond recognition, shot him in the head, tied his naked corpse to a cotton gin fan with barbed wire, and threw him in the Tallahatchie River. He had been identified only by the ring he was wearing.

The local sheriff wanted the body buried as quickly as possible. Mamie fought to have it returned to her in Chicago. It was returned in a sealed coffin, with orders that it remain sealed. Mamie insisted that it be opened. She wanted to see her son. She decided there must be an open casket funeral. “Let the world see what I've seen,” she said.

This was not an easy decision for her. “I couldn't bear the thought of people being horrified by the sight of my son,” she said in an interview many years later, “But, on the other hand, I felt that the alternative was even worse. After all, we had averted our eyes far too long, turning away from the ugly reality facing us as a nation.”

Tens of thousands of people walked past that open coffin and saw Emmett's mutilated body, and in sharp contrast, a smiling photo of him the previous Christmas that his mother placed next to it. Photographs of Emmett's body were published in magazines across the United States. People were outraged. Something had to be done.

Historians cite the story of Emmett Till as a major catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement in America. The face of one of the victims was made visible. The depth of the ugliness of the injustice that was so commonplace was brought to light, and people were motivated to work for change.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

In the pro-life movement, we often tell this story to illustrate the power of images in helping people understand what otherwise would be incomprehensible, and the importance of exposing the ugly reality of injustice. But if it weren't for Mamie Till, would we even know this story?

She could have grieved privately, with her family. She could have chosen not to horrify people by showing them what her son had endured. She could have said no to the media attention, which included outright lies published about Emmett, and people in the south arguing that nothing had been done. She might not have had to know that in interviews, after they had been acquitted, Bryant and Milam admitted to killing Emmett, but argued that they had done nothing wrong.

Instead, Mamie said yes to the pain of sharing her story. She “wanted the world to see what they did to [her] baby.” And the world saw. And the world changed because it saw.

Mamie went on to become a schoolteacher, and loved to teach children public speaking, especially the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. She continued to share Emmett's story and advocate for change. She died in 2003 at the age of 81.

Reprinted with permission from Unmasking Choice

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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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