From Janet L. Factor
Hello fellow freethinkers! My local group, Springfield Area Freethinkers, is undertaking an action this Sunday that we would like more of the secular community to be aware of. We are going to picket an honest-to-goodness cathedral! Since you are a person in a position to spread the word, I am sending this information to you in hopes that you will blog or otherwise report about this event in advance. Feel free to forward this info if you have contacts who might be interested in writing about this as well.
While our group has existed here for years, this will be our first venture into public protest. It’s important that it be a success. We would like to get as much participation as possible from those who can join us, and as much psychological support as we can from those who cannot. I’m hoping that this will be the little push that gets the secular activism ball rolling here in Illinois’ capital city.
Here’s the bare-bones information (more detail follows):
WHO: Springfield Area Freethinkers are the local hosting group. Also participating are CUFree of Champaign and the Peoria Secular Humanist Society.
WHAT: A picket in support of Church-State separation as an American value. We are calling it “Buttress the Wall of Separation.”
WHEN: 9:15 AM until approximately 11:30 AM on Sunday, October 21st.
WHERE: Sidewalk surrounding the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Springfield, Illinois, at the intersection of S. Sixth St. and E. Lawrence Ave.
WHY: Bishop Thomas Paprocki who heads the Diocese recently issued a statement warning Catholics that if they vote for Democrats they will burn in hell. He has also put the Diocese on several lawsuits challenging church-state separation. He is determined to change the law. We are determined to stop him.
HOW: The city of Springfield has told us that we may legally picket the Cathedral SO LONG AS we do not obstruct pedestrian traffic and remain off the private property. We intend to carry signs emphasizing the American ideals of separation of church and state and of freedom of conscience. The focus must remain sharp on these issues. Many believers will support us on this. It will gain us respect and build bridges.
Springfield Area Freethinkers web page: http://www.meetup.com/safreethinkers/
Paprocki Bio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_J._Paprocki
Paprocki is both a civil and a canon lawyer. He is actively seeking to change the law on church-state separation. He has put the Springfield Diocese on court actions challenging the contraception mandate and on a case trying to force the state to fund Catholic adoption agencies even if they turn away same-sex couples and unmarried couples. He once said that victims of pedophile priests who sue the church are tools of the devil, and he organized a national training of priests in exorcism in order to revive the practice. Oh yes, and he’s on the panel of bishops trying to repress liberal nuns. This guy is something out of the Dark Ages.
His statement: http://ct.dio.org/bishops-column/59-think-and-pray-about-your-vote-in-upcoming-election/video.html Maddeningly worded, but nonetheless a clear endorsement of the Republican platform, with a threat to back it up.
This obviously violates the tax code, which you can find explained here: http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/The-Restriction-of-Political-Campaign-Intervention-by-Section-501%28c%29%283%29-Tax-Exempt-Organizations
In fact, all the bishops of Illinois are collaborating in offering “guidance” to Catholic voters in this election. They have written a series of pastoral letters being inserted into church bulletins every week. You can find those here: http://www.ilcatholic.org/election-2012/ (I find the second one particularly infuriating.)
The local paper’s story on it: http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x1784776274/Paprocki-doesnt-back-down-from-political-statements.
Their editorial: http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sj-r.com%2Fopinions%2Fx1784776967%2FBishops-election-message-will-result-in-division&h=eAQFSESS6AQFTEcAj1mQE_xntquclJzIc4bMwv5b00pl3kQ&s=1
And a long series of letters to the editor on the topic: http://www.sj-r.com/search?q=bishop+paprocki&submit=Search Including this one from a Catholic upset with Paprocki: http://www.sj-r.com/opinions/x493671083/Letter-Offended-by-the-bishop
AlterNet has listed the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as one of the top ten most dangerous religious right organizations: http://www.alternet.org/belief/10-most-dangerous-religious-right-organizations?page=0%2C1
If you want some real fire-breathing rhetoric on the bishops, plus some EYEPOPPING figures on how much TAXPAYER money they get, go here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/06/1089172/-Stop-Government-Funding-of-Catholic-Plutocrats
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: For those hoping to attend: parking is free downtown on Sundays. The Cathedral is slightly less than one mile from the Amtrak station. The weather forecast is very favorable at the moment. Anyone who might come the night before and want something to do, the annual Springfield Zombie Walk for charity takes place Saturday evening: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Springfield-Illinois-Zombie-Walk/128668543841888?ref=ts&fref=ts
Some ideas for signs:
“People aren’t Pawns, Bishop!”
“If you want to play you have to pay!—Tax churches that play politics.”
“it’s a voting booth, not a confessional.”
“It’s supposed to be a SECRET ballot.”
“Don’t tell me how to vote.”
“Keep religion out of politics.”
“Democracy not theocracy”
Phil Ferguson of CUFree has done an initial post on this event: http://www.skepticmoney.com/secular-protest-at-catholic-church/ And Rachel Maddow covered Paprocki’s statement in “This Week in God”: http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2012/09/29/14150715-this-week-in-god?lite