Threat to burn down local Catholic church & profane attacks after pro-traditional marriage sign is posted on church property. But the Catholics aren’t backing down!
On May 16, the day after Barack Obama announced that he supported same-sex “marriage,” St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Acushnet countered with its own message. It posted the words “Two men are friends, not spouses” on the church’s outdoor billboard.
Freedom of religion? The sign at the Catholic church that caused a firestorm from the phony “tolerance” crowd.
Almost immediately the church received hateful phone calls and Facebook page posts. Among the menacing, profanity-laced phone calls was at least one arson threat. Homosexual activists and local liberals waged a vicious campaign against the church because it posted a message on its outdoor sign disagreeing with “gay marriage.” A local CBS TV report (video below) parroted their language, calling the sign “anti-gay.”
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Acushnet
Flood of hate and profanity targeting church
Homosexual activists also came and put hateful signs on the Church property. One sign said “Holy Mother Virgin Whore” and another said “Jesus freaks pray for death.” Two activists stood outside the church for about an hour.
One woman, identified in the local newspaper account of the incident as Vanessa Raymond, brazenly nailed a sign on the church’s fence, and then went on television and bragged about it.
Activist identified as Vanessa Raymond nailed this to the church fence. (No charges of vandalism, etc., of course.)
Ironically, one pro-homosexual activist said on TV that they were angry because church’s traditional marriage sign was “disrespectful” and “will lead to bullying.”
Despite the fact that the town’s police station is across the street from the church, the police (from what we were told) made no effort to stop the people from defacing Church property.
The next morning, the church’s sign was changed to “Ascension Thursday Mass 9am 7pm”, referring to that day’s services. But the attacks on the church continued. Vanessa Raymond told reporters she was organizing a “protest” outside the church during the upcoming Sunday services.
Activists attempt to intimidate church during Sunday Mass
On Sunday, May 20, Vanessa Raymond and about a dozen of her pro-homosexual activist friends staged a “protest” demonstration in front of the church during services. This has become a common tactic by the homosexual movement to intimidate and harass parishioners (though when questioned, they will usually deny that is the reason). But in this case, the parishioners generally were not intimidated and stood tall.
The attacks on the church still weren’t done. On Monday May 21, the local newspaper published an op-ed from a pair of angry liberals (“St Francis sign embarrasses Acushnet”) berating the church for its “hateful words” and “shameful insolent act” meant to “dehumanize, dishonor, insult, humiliate” people — simply for posting that one six-word phrase about traditional marriage.
Church and Catholic activists not backing down
To his credit, the church pastor, Msgr. Gerard O’Connor did not back down on the issue at all — a refreshing change from what we’ve seen from too many clergymen of all denominations when they’re under heavy fire for defending non-politically correct religious teachings.
Msgr. O’Connor calmly defended the sign, posted by the church’s director of pastoral services, Steven Guillotte, saying it was completely in line with Catholic religious teaching, and that he was not going to deny the truth of the Gospel. He was willing to talk to all reporters and was unwavering about his position — even though it only seemed to make the local “tolerance” crowd even more resolute to wipe out any public dissent on “homosexual rights” issues.
The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts has demanded a “hate crime” investigation by the district attorney. C.J. Doyle, Executive Director of that Boston-based group, has been in close contact with Msgr. O’Connor and others at the church since the incident began. Doyle is determined not to allow this to go unchallenged by the law and the legal authorities, which all too often observe a blatant double standard. He immediately contacted the Attorney General’s office, which referred him to the local District Attorney.
On May 17, Doyle sent the following letter to Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter:
Since May 15th, the Catholic parish of Saint Francis Xavier in the town of Acushnet has received a number of menacing communications — including a call for the church to be burned down — as a consequence of posting a sign on church property supporting the traditional definition of marriage.
As you are aware, Chapter 265, Section 37 of the General Laws states: “No person … shall by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate or interfere with, or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with, or oppress or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the constitution or laws of the commonwealth or by the constitution or laws of the United States.”
The free exercise of religion is a right guaranteed by both the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and Article II of the Declaration of Rights of the Massachusetts Constitution.”
Chapter 434 of the Acts of 1990, AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE REPORTING OF HATE CRIMES defines a hate crime as: “as any criminal act coupled with overt actions motivated by bigotry and bias including, but not limited to, a threatened, attempted, or completed overt act motivated at least in part, by racial, religious, ethnic, handicap, or sexual orientation prejudice, or which otherwise deprives another person of his constitutional rights by threats, intimidation, or coercion, or which seeks to interfere with or disrupt a person’s exercise of constitutional rights through harassment or intimidation.”
It is a chilling state of affairs for religious freedom that a Catholic parish cannot proclaim its own teaching on its own property without becoming the object of threats, harassment, and intimidation. I urge you to undertake an investigation into this matter for potential constitutional rights violations and hate crimes.
As this goes to press, Doyle has not yet heard back from District Attorney Sutter. But he is prepared to be extremely persistent.
Interestingly, the Church’s willingness to stand up for principles brought out a somewhat favorable editorial in the local newspaper, The New Bedford Standard-Times, not normally known for pro-family stands.
The paper observed,
We see a wide sample of the spectrum of speech in this case, from the relatively gentle approach taken by the parish and respectful response of several citizens, to the threats that go beyond what should be acceptable to anyone. . . In the eyes of the Catholic Church, it is the fulfillment of a sacred and ancient duty for St. Francis Parish to promote the doctrine of the church. In the eyes of the law, it is a constitutional right.
A harbinger of things to come? You must fight back.
Observers said they had seen such an overt and angry attack on a Catholic church in a largely Catholic town for saying a pro-Catholic but non-politically correct position — and that could be a harbinger of bad things to come.
The activists are using the Orwellian tactic of using the strongest and most outrageous rhetoric possible — to literally change the meaning of words and actions. The concept of “two men being friends, not married” has been universally considered obvious throughout history. (And the law in Massachusetts restricting marriage to a man and women was never changed.) But the homosexuals and liberals are now portraying the Church as being extremely hateful and bigoted and attempting to take away peoples’ “civil rights” for saying that. They are announcing that it “humiliates and causes pain” to people. And they are sounding the alarm that the church is obviously also teaching this “hate and bigotry” to children, and thus ought to be stopped.
These are similar tactics that have been used in totalitarian regimes to eventually destroy churches, religious belief, and other dissenting opinion on issues that the “tolerance” crowd of the time doesn’t tolerate.
These brave Catholics are doing what we all must do in the situation we’re finding ourselves in: Don’t back down. Counter the attacks with truth. And continue to tell the truth without fear!
But there is a disturbing tendency for some of the more strident media outlets to downplay or ignore overt attacks on pro-family people, but exaggerate and obsess over any public slights or relatively minor vandalism against homosexuals. For example, last September when a rainbow flag was stolen from a “gay” church, the local media covered it thoroughly.
A controversy like this in Acushnet would seem newsworthy. It was covered fairly extensively by the local CBS, Fox, NECN and others, and even was on the Glenn Beck site and some other national news websites.
But neither the Boston Globe nor Boston Herald newspapers covered this story at all. (Eventually, the Globe’s website linked a TV station’s video, but with no accompanying article.) Unfortunately, we’re getting used to less and less media coverage on attacks against pro-family people and groups.