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Fr. Jonathan Morris Bashes The ACLU While Defending Church Rather Than Jail Policy

Reported by Priscilla - October 14, 2011 -

As their resident clergyperson, Roman Catholic priest Fr.Jonathan Morris is so perfect for Fox News. When Morris was in Rome, he was a member of the scandal ridden Legionaries of Christ whose founder, Father Maciel, when not having sex with his mistress and allegedly molesting boys, ministered to the moneyed class. Morris' diva days in Rome are over. He has left the Legionaries and is now just a humble parish (cough) priest at Old St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC. And while he's not ministering to his flock or enjoying golf vacays with his priest pals on Nantucket, he's just a skip away from Fox News where he ministers to the needs of Fox's moneyed audience by preaching about the evils of class warfare and not about icky social justice. The doe eyed little priest can also be counted on to advance the Christian right wing hatred of the ACLU - a meme that Fox and especially "Fox & Friends" is always on board with. Recently, an Alabama town proposed giving first time non violent offenders the choice between going to jail or going to church. And because of that icky ACLU, the program is on hold pending a review. And who better to defend this patently unconstitutional measure and provide the requiste ACLU bashing than Fox's hired Catholic priest who thinks that "God" is mentioned in the Constitution and who just hates those icky atheists who want a society where there is no religion as opposed to the Jesus loving world of Fox News.

Two weeks ago, Jesus BFF Steve Doocy began the ACLU bashing almost immediately. In reporting on the Alabama measure, he said "our friends at the ACLU say no way and now they're apparently suing." Fact Check - The ACLU is investigating and is only considering a law suit. As he spoke, a stained glass window with Jesus in "the garden" was shown. He introduced his guests for a "fair & balanced" debate - retired NJ police lieutenant Steven Rogers and Fox "religion correspondent" (and the only one seen regularly) Foxpriest Father Jonathan Morris. Rogers said that he didn't think the program sent the right message about doing the crime and the time and that jail is more appropriate. Morris did a little dramatic recital about how this is just one of many options for these non violent offenders. He expressed concern that there were not secular or non-Christian options (can you imagine the outcry if they included mosques!) that would be commensurate with the Constitution. Using his best jazz hands he launched into the real Fox message about the icky ACLU: "The ACLU is not concerned about a plurality of options. They don't want religion at all to be a good thing." In classic old time religion "call and response," Doocy voiced agreement after every other word voice by Morris.

When Rogers said that he had a problem with government imposing itself in this way, Morris claimed that this is not the case (Really?) because it's an "open option." Doocy, not a constitutional scholar, claimed that the church program is the same as a rehab run by a church. (Uh, no) When Rogers said that the government is forcing people to pray, Morris got all vaclempt and asserted that the government isn't forcing anything because this is only one option. He continued to defend the program and encouraged the city to "stand up against the ACLU and against these crazy groups and say you are not going to stop us just because it involves religion." (How bout it involves separation of church & state)

Comment: Morris might be a shill for the religious right and today's militantly conservative Catholic church; but he ain't no constitutional scholar. Even conservative Catholic SCOTUS Judge wrote, in Lee vs. Weisman "that the state may not us the 'threat of penalty' to 'coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise'.” And that's exactly what this is - options or not. Conservative law professor Eugene Volokh said that compulsory church attendance is so unconstitutional that a Mississippi judge ruled against requiring church attendance as part of bail. The icky ACLU cites the First amendment's "anti-coercion" clause which means that people can't be punished for not attending religious services and Alabama would be doing just that.

Anyway, Father Jonathan Morris did his pastoral duty in framing the message as being about the icky ACLU and not the Constitution which isn't big in Vatican circles. Wonder if they have a little chapel at Fox News headquarters. Wonder if Father Jonathan's kneeler has the Fox logo embroided on it!?

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