freedom of speech.jpg Deal Hudson of Inside Catholic reported yesterday that the pro-abortion group Catholics United has sent out an email blast calling on its readers to stop pro-lifers from distributing voter guides before and after Mass this weekend as well as leafletting cars. CU is instead encouraging them to distribute liberal voter guides.
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life shot a response letter to CU, warning that pro-lifers are prepared to sue, because such circumvention would be a constitutional violation.
Read the CU email and Fr. Pavone’s response on page 2…

CU’s email:

From: James Salt, Catholics United
Subject: Help Protect Catholic Churches from Political Manipulation
Date: Thursday, October 30, 2008, 2:56 PM
Help Protect Catholic Churches from Political Manipulation
Dear ___,
With less than a week to go until Election Day, things are getting ugly. In a final act of desperation, the religious far right is calling on its activists to defy the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ order to keep unapproved election materials from church property by doing a “literature drop” at parishes across the country. The goal of this activity is to convince Catholics that it’s immoral to vote for candidates who don’t subscribe to the right’s narrow agenda.
It’s true. On Monday the partisan group Priests for Life held a teleseminar to train some 3,300 activists nationwide on how to place divisive political literature on the windshield of every churchgoing Catholic’s car this Saturday and Sunday.
Click Here to listen to Priests for Life explain how to distribute partisan literature on Catholic Church property.
Catholics United is spearheading an effort to put the brakes on the religious right’s plans in as many parishes as possible. Here’s what you can do to help:
* Call your pastor and encourage him to instruct the ushers to monitor the church parking lot during the worship service. This sample script lists some ways that parishes can protect themselves from undue political influence.
* Sign up for our parish protection program and join volunteers across the country who will be working to put a stop to the religious right’s efforts this weekend. We’ll then provide you with detailed information on how you can protect churches in your neighborhood.
* Print copies of our values voter guide and “Pro-Life Means All Life” flyer and pass them out at community and political events in your area. Please consult with your pastor before distributing these materials on church property.
The extreme right will stop at nothing to distort church teaching for political gain. It’s time to say that enough is enough. Catholics are tired of our faith being used as a political weapon.
James and Chris
The Catholics United Team

Fr. Pavone’s response:

James, Chris, and Team,
I received a copy of the email you sent out. I don’t know if you attempted to speak with me before sending this out, but we would welcome such an approach in the future.

Please inform those to whom you communicate that they might also want to alert their pastors that a large number of people are ready to file lawsuits against any individual or institution who tries to intimidate or prevent citizens from fostering the electoral process or informing their fellow citizens about the candidates.
While we are not initiating any such activity, many people have told us they are ready to do so depending on what happens this weekend. Pastors and dioceses want to avoid “legal entanglements,” and the activity you recommend here will get them entangled far faster than mine will.
Obviously, an email like the one you sent below would implicate you in such entanglements as well.
Best regards,
Fr. Frank Pavone
PS — Thanks for the extra publicity! Please be sure to register for the November 5 teleseminar as well.

I just love FP. He’s so smooth.
frc voter guide.jpgPro-lifers can and should distribute voter guides at churches tonight and tomorrow. The voter guides must be nonpartisan, meaning they cannot say who to vote for but should simply compare the candidates’ positions/votes on a range of issues. Here’s a downloadable and printable one by PFL. Here’s one by Family Research Council Action. Here’s a letter describing the legality of distributing leaflets in church parking lots.