First They Came for the Baptists

Don’t let on that I’m the one who told you, but guess what? Freedom of speech is under serious assault in this country and I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I think the situation has gotten serious enough that the bishops should start raising a fuss about it.

Case in point is that of the African-American Baptist minister, Rev. Walter Hoye of Berkeley, California, who was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in jail and a fine of $1,130 for “unlawfully approaching a person entering an abortion facility” in Oakland, California. Except that he didn’t. He didn’t do what he was charged with and the proof that he didn’t is found on a secret videotape made of his protest — his lawful picketing of the abortion clinic with a sign that said: “Jesus loves you and your baby. Let us help.” What happened instead is that clinic escorts used large pieces of blank cardboard to cover up his sign and hollered over him so women approaching the clinic could not hear him gently ask, “May I talk to you about alternatives to abortion?”

A video showing the actions of Rev. Hoye and the clinic workers, along with an account of his kangaroo court of a trial is available on the website of the Life Legal Defense Foundation which is providing counsel for Rev. Hoya and will appeal his conviction.

Now if this had been a Catholic priest or bishop arrested in similar circumstances, I imagine there would be a hue and cry from the Catholic hierarchy in this country and there needs to be one now. So far it is Black religious leaders who are crying foul, but this is far from being an issue of color. Every voice that values freedom of religion and speech in this country should be raised in alarm over this egregious travesty of justice.

Fast on the heels of this was an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Rush Limbaugh, asking President Obama point blank if he supports reinstitution of the “Fairness Doctrine,” a regulation of the airwaves that many say would kill “talk radio” by mandating equal time for opposing points of view (that is for the “progressive” point of view that has never been able to compete in marketplace). If you are saying to yourself that the airwaves would be fine without the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, you might want to look into the effect these regulations would have on Catholic radio .

The arrest of Hoye is a shot across the bow and we all need to be aware of it. I know that FOCA has the attention of the bishops but our very ability to get out the message about things like FOCA is being threatened now and we need to speak up.

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  • Cheryl Dickow

    When my son was in middle school, we would drive to the bagel shop about two or three mornings a week and get ourselves a warm bagel and cream cheese and head to school. At the time, he attended the school that I taught at so we could do this. When middle school was over and he went to a different high school, those special days were over. While we both appreciated them — to some degree — while we were living them, once they were gone we really realized how very wonderful they were. I pray that this sort of thing doesn’t happen to our country as we keep looking into our wallets and calculating our benefits from the billions of dollars being dangled in front of us. It is kind of like a bait-and-switch where, in the end, nothing good has happened. While we thought government monies and trillions of debt for generations to come was the answer, we lost all the things that really mattered — and the trillions of debt didn’t give us what we expected anyhow. God help us. God have mercy on our country.

  • Andrew James

    Good points in this article. The fairness doctrine has been around for years and the renewed push for it is disturbing. I am no fan of Hannity or O’Reilly (both are liberal Catholics – I even heard O’Reilly claim that using contraception is the same as eating meat on Fridays) but overall conservative radio is the only widespread alternative to the biased big media. Laura Ingraham is the best. Unfortunately, we can’t expect any leadership from our bishops on this. I think “leadership” and “american bishop” are contradictory.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    Cheryl, I tend to disagree. I firmly believe that the bailout monies are not a bait-and-switch tactic. Indeed, I think that the vast majority of supporters for the bailout are well aware that the funds are borrowed against the future in order to provide give-aways today. What I believe is that they simply don’t care. For one thing, many of these supporters don’t have any children — or don’t have any children at home. I read recently that only 25% of American households have children living at home. Thus, it stands to reason that the “future” for the vast majority of American households is only understood as a short-term proposition. Where there are no children, there is no incentive to look further than a few years out.

    When you see things that way, money, comfort, and power are the only things of any concern, whether you are a mercantilist on the management track in corporate America, a peace-and-justice socialist stuffing fried goo down the throats of fellow parishioners, or a young person brought up to believe that the world ought properly to revolve around you. This is reality in today’s America. Our outrage falls mostly on deaf ears, and of those who are listening, reactions are probably evenly split between anger at this sort of injustice and mocking laughter.

    Indeed, the silence in the face of this injustice reminds me of the discussions we have entertained recently about the Legion of Christ. One commentator observed the importance that money has exercised in the Legion’s ministry, so much so that for the well-enough-heeled, the so-called “difficult” doctrines might be omitted from formation. If this is true, how different is the operation of the Legion from that of the average American diocese, where the “difficult” doctrines often get hidden under the bed for fear of driving away weekly contributions? And if the Legion’s leadership is indeed far too ambiguous in addressing Maciel’s crimes, how much does this differ from the silence of our bishops before unjust actions against believing Christians like Rev. Walter Hoye? Whatever happened to Vatican II’s teachings on ecumenism? Is Rev. Hoye indeed with us (as Christ says in the Gospel), and if so how can anyone countenance silence in the face of this injustice?

    If Rev. Hoye goes to prison for even a day, he is a prisoner of conscience — a political prisoner in every sense of the phrase.

  • steve p

    see the video evidence. A generation ago police arrested abortionists. Now they protect them and arrest those who exercise their First Amendment Rights to object. I laugh and cringe when I hear people say, “It can’t happen in America” about totalitarian government and persecution.

    I also guess you didn’t get the memo from Time magazine telling everyone how Catholic are getting all exercised about that “mythical law,” FOCA, while in the same article admitting Obama had promised to sign it as his first act in office.
    I guess Time prefers it when the bishops and Catholic laity play defense after a destructive law is past, instead of being on offense to prevent bad law

  • steve p

    Scary stuff Mary. Was the videotape entered into evidence? Did the jury which convicted see the video evidence. A generation ago police arrested abortionists. Now they protect them and arrest those who exercise their First Amendment Rights to object. I laugh and cringe when I hear people say, “It can’t happen in America” about totalitarian government and persecution.

    I also guess you didn’t get the memo from Time magazine 02/19/09, telling everyone how Catholic are getting all exercised about that “mythical law,” FOCA, while in the same article admitting Obama had promised to sign it as his first act in office. I guess Time prefers it when the bishops and Catholic laity play defense after a destructive law is past, instead of being on offense to prevent bad law.

  • Grace Harman

    Rev.Hoye can be compared to the few people of Faith who stood up to Hitler against HIS slaughter of those innocents.
    All of us need to see that freedom of speech, press, belief in God, gun ownership, right to Life, and freedom of consience are in danger of being mangled under the slegehammer of “political correctness” and U.N. controls. Even our retirement funds are going to be taken by the government to “share the wealth” with “others”. (We must speak up NOW.) Even the Bishops seem to be decieved as to the gruesome nature of abortion and the fact that our government is NOT worthy of trust. All of our lives and consciences are in danger. Stand up and protest!

  • Mary Kochan

    Steve, yes, the video was entered into evidence. He had someone video his entire protest. A portion of the video is on the site I linked to, but if you read the account of the trial, it says that the entire video was entered into evidence. The video completely contradicted the testimony of the prosecution and yet he was convicted anyway by the jury. I submit that he was not being tried for the breaking of any law, really, but for expressing his politically incorrect opinion. You really have to see the video and read the account of the trial.

  • guitarmom

    I was privileged last year to attend a small, pro-life dinner with Rev. Hoye and his wife. You could not hope to meet a gentler, more love-filled person. His conviction is a travesty.

    Rev. Hoye explained to us what changed him from a pro-life pastor into an ARDENT pro-life pastor. His son, who is now about 22-years old, was born extrememly prematurely. Rev. Hoye explained that when he held his tiny son in the palm of his hand, he realized that he was holding what normally exists in the wombs of women. It brought home for him what a heinous crime abortion is.

    Rev. Walter Hoye is a man moved by love. Let us pray that his conviction is overturned on appeal.

  • Mary Kochan

    I think that his gentleness and patience comes through very well on the video. You see him holding his sign and the abortion escort constantly getting in front of him to block it with a plain piece of cardboard. He never makes any quick moves, just very calmly moves from side to side very slowly. Can you believe that one of the abortion clinic escorts said she felt threatened by him when he cautioned her to watch her step at the edge of the curb!

  • bambushka

    Only those who have the experience of being out on the sidewalks can sincerely understand what this man of God is going through. This position on the walk is a dangerous one, not for the timid. But it is also a blessed position because lives hang in the balance. With the growing government intervention, more and more sidewalk prayers and counselors will be seen as the aggressors, a real reason to always have the video camera going and the number of a good prolife attorney handy.

    We are fortunate here in my town to have a post-abortive organization just next door to one of our mills. In fact, the sidewalk counselors over look the parking lot of the mill from their parking lot. A perfect set up. One of the pregnancy resource centers is next door to Planned Parenthood and they share parking lots. Even so, they can never be assured that someone somewhere will call on the court system to take their right to speech from them.

    We need to come out of the comfort of our homes and fight this real and present battle along with others who have paid a dear price for what their Faith in God tells them to do. Gone are the times when we can say, “Let the other guy do it; I’ll pray for them.” All too soon, the other guy will be you.

  • steve p

    Mary, Even scarier that the jury saw the video and arrived at a quillty verdict. It would be interesting to poll the jury on how many of them had had an abortion, paid for an abortion, or transported someone to any abortion and how that affected their view of Rev. Hoye and his activity. It probably made them very uncomfortable and their votes may have reflected their feelings.

  • bambushka

    Only those who have the experience of being out on the sidewalks can sincerely understand what this man of God is going through. This position on the walk is a dangerous one, not for the timid. But it is also a blessed position because lives hang in the balance. With the growing government intervention, more and more sidewalk prayers and counselors will be seen as the aggressors, a real reason to always have the video camera going and the number of a good prolife attorney handy.
    We are fortunate here in my town to have a post-abortive organization just next door to one of our mills. In fact, the sidewalk counselors over look the parking lot of the mill from their parking lot. A perfect set up. One of the pregnancy resource centers is next door to Planned Parenthood and they share parking lots. Even so, they can never be assured that someone somewhere will call on the court system to take their right to speech from them.
    We need to come out of the comfort of our homes and fight this real and present battle along with others who have paid a dear price for what their Faith in God tells them to do. Gone are the times when we can say, “Let the other guy do it; I’ll pray for them.” All too soon, the other guy will be you.

  • gadjmljj

    Mary,
    Wouldn’t it be illegal to purposely block someone’s right to protest??
    In the same way the courts say pro lifers can’t BLOCK anyone from entering and practicing their rights. Isn’t it against the rights of free speech that signs are purposely BLOCKED? I wonder what would happen to prolifers who did the same thing? I guarantee they’d be beat up in a heartbeat and the pro aborts would probably get away with it!

  • Mary Kochan

    What needs to happen is that 30 Christians with the same sign need to show up there and peacefully hold up their signs. Every time the pro-aborts try to block a sign, it should just multiply the number of Chrstians that show up the next time — and don’t forget the video camera.

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    stevep,
    I’d think the defense lawyer OUGHT to have had such people removed from the jury for cause. And from what I’ve read about the case elsewhere, the judge should be impeached for not instructing the jury about the law under which Rev. Hoye was persecuted.

  • Lucky Mom of 7

    This is a travesty, but I think with the help of Mary Kochan and other warriors for life, it will bode well for us.

    Ghandi was murdered. MLK was assassinated. Jesus was executed.

    Ending abortion is going to take martyrs too.

    I hope Rev. Hoye is given a sentence proportionate to his crime–meaning he should be set free. However, according to what others have written about him here and according to his fearless actions which are documented to be perfect in charity on the videotapes, I think he is exactly the kind of leader the movement needs. He has inspired me.

    By the blood of Jesus we have already won the war. It’s just that nasty technicality of fighting the battles with which we must still contend. Stay the course. Run the race to the end.

    For life, Lucky

  • dennisofraleigh

    Of course it “can” happen *anywhere*, hypothetically. But please keep in mind the good reverend was plucking grain in one of the most radically leftist cities in the U.S., Berkeley, CA. That the jury voted to convict is no surprise to me. Had this travesty of justice occurred in Nashville, Duluth or Ft. Lauderdale I would have wondered out loud if Americans had finally taken leave of their senses. The population of Berkeley went over the deep end decades ago. I’ll bet if someone were to commission a poll (Gallup, Harris, Zogby, etc.) among Berkely-ites you would find a disproportionate number opposed to any restriction on abortion (unlike the rest of the country in which less than 10% of those polled supported abortion at any time for any reason).
    As for the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” that Prattler of the House Nancy Pelosi is so fond of, no surprises there either. She is a big believer in contracepting fertility. Now she wants to extend that principle to “talk” radio. Call it “contraception of the airwaves.”

  • dennisofraleigh

    Don’t know what happened to my first post. Just as well. I had misidentified the location of the trial. It was in Oakland, not Berkeley CA. Not that Oakland is that much less radical than Berkeley in its political leanings. Don’t forget Ron “Red” Dellums represented Oakland voters in Washington for many, many years. They don’t get much farther on the left than Dellums, for sure.

    The poster gadjmljj raised an issue that may turn in the reverends favor. If I were Rev. Hoye I would turn around and bring suit in Federal court for violations of my 1st amendment rights of free speech and assembly and that I was wrongly convicted. That way Catholic and Protestant advocacy groups could bring out their big guns. The abortnicks at the Oakland abortuary might wish they’d stayed in bed the day Rev. Hoye showed up.

  • Tarheel

    It is a sad day in America when justice is trampled on so heavily. It appears that pro-death (aka pro-abortion) groups are using there political might and dollars to influence this case. Jury tampering? I think not. But somewhere along the way we Americans have accepted that it is right to end a life. After didn’t a lawyer say somewhere it is not a lie until a certain point in time? What the jury shows to me is that we have confused with what is legal (abortion) is ethically correct.

    And this case is an instance where all Christians and our respective advocacy groups should come together to overturn and reverse this travesty of justice.

    I admire and respect Rev Hoye for doing what he does and did.

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