07-30-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A recent ABC News headline claimed: “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks.” Wow, who was this ‘hate group’? The KKK, the Neo-Nazi Party? No, it was Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) from right here in Scottsdale, Arizona. ADF is a civil liberties organization that consistently defends issues of Religious Liberty, the Rights of Conscience, the Sanctity of Human Life and Marriage and the Family. There are over 1900 trained attorneys that work with Alliance Defending Freedom defending pro bono the civil and religious rights of all Americans. One of its greatest accomplishments is that ADF has counter balanced the ACLU’s erosion of religious rights. They have won 5 cases at the Supreme Court in the last seven years. Not exactly a fringe group.

In fact, ADF’s recently retired Founder and President, Alan Sears and his wife were just inducted by Bishop Olmsted into the Order of St. Gregory the Great, an award given by the Pope to those who have “rendered excellent service and support to the Holy See in person or to the wider Catholic Church, or have provided exemplary behavior for the believers in their communities and countries.” Hard to believe Pope Francis would grant such an honor to the head of a hate group. I often tell Alan that he may have single-handedly saved Western Civilization.

But why did ABC News describe ADF as an alleged hate group? Well, it seems that designation was given to ADF by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC used to do a good job of exposing shady and nefarious groups and individuals but now any group or person that does not agree with SPLC’s view point (mostly leftist) is labeled a hate group. Hence groups like ADF and the Family Research Council, Christian groups, and most conservative or to the rightgroups are considered by the SPLC as hate groups.

Shame on ABC for using a designation of ADF as a hate group to build a story around. But apparently, controversy sells. Years ago, ABC did a news story on a friend of mine. They took film they had obtained and spliced it together to make my friend say things he never said. When I questioned the producer about her justification for putting words in my friend’s mouth, she admitted to cleverly editing the film but insisted that even though he never said those things, she believed he would have! And when I went higher up the chain I was told basically that people will not stop to watch two people hugging but they will, however, stop to watch two people fighting. Controversy sells; if there is none we have to create some. So much for objectivity.

So ABC News wanted to get us to think that Attorney General Sessions is a white supremacist who covertly was giving aspeech to a known hate group. And ABC claimed it couldn't find out what he said, implying the speech was dark andsinister and being withheld from public view. Well, the speech was easy to obtain. Here is some of the “nefarious” speechby Attorney General Sessions:

“…this Department of Justice will never allow this secular government of ours to demand that sincerereligious beliefs be abandoned. We will not require American citizens to give intellectual assent todoctrines that are contrary to their religious beliefs. And they must be allowed to exercise those beliefsas the First Amendment guarantees.”“We will defend freedom of conscience resolutely. That is inalienable. That is our heritage.”“Under this administration, religious Americans will be treated neither as an afterthought nor as aproblem to be managed. The federal government will actively find ways to accommodate people of allfaiths. The protections enshrined in the Constitution and our laws protect all Americans, includingwhen we work together, speak in the public square, and when we interact with our government. Wedon’t waive our constitutional rights when we participate fully in public life and civic society.This administration, and the upcoming guidance, will be animated by that same American view thathas led us for 241 years: that every American has a right to believe, worship, and exercise their faithin the public square. It has served this country well, and it has made us not only one of the tolerantcountries in the world, it has also helped make us the freest and most generous.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is anything but hateful. The same cannot be said for the reporting of ABC News. ABC:stop spreading hate.

Fr. John