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Happy Birthday Mother Teresa!

It seems an odd occasion to engage the spiritual bleakness described by Mother in her personal correspondence. The two portraits of Mother Teresa, one the familiar sister who was motivated by love of God, and the other that looked inward for God and saw only darkness are opposite sides of the sainthood coin.

Certainly the following statements are jaw-droppers:

“I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”

“Where I try to raise my thoughts to heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. Love — the word — it brings nothing.”

“In my soul, I can’t tell you how dark it is, how painful, how terrible — I feel like refusing God.”

“Jesus has a very special love for you, [But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand.”

Many have sought to use these, and many similar self-disclosures by Mother to suggest that she was a pious fraud. Many good, faithful Catholics have been shaken by these reports. What do they mean? Were there two Mother Teresas or a well-integrated woman of faith?

Beyond a doubt, the latter.

I know something of Mother’s struggle with faith. In the 1980’s when I worked at Covenant House in Times Square, it was one of New York’s little Calcuttas. The violence done to children’s souls by the sex industry, by the adults of their families and of society whose most sacred charge was their safety and well-being, simply beggared the imagination. The longevity of most workers was two years, so searing was the reality we dealt with daily. I managed to make seven years, having had three major burnout events and not a few crises of faith.

So I understand the blackness that settles into the soul when we decide to go toe-to-toe with Satan. I sometimes experience it in my pro-life advocacy, what Saint John of the Cross called “The Dark Night of the Soul”.

Don’t we all at some point?

But Mother’s was deep and enduring. Her cries were no different, no more an occasion of scandal than Jesus calling out to the Father on the Cross as He quoted Psalm 22:

“1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.

4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.

5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.

7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:

8 “He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

Still the question remains: Why did Mother not see the face of God when she looked inward? The answer is remarkably simple. She saw that face in the millions of destitute, desperately poor and forgotten in the slums of Calcutta. She saw that face in the BILLIONS of babies aborted worldwide in the 20th Century. She perfected for us the admonition of Jesus in Matthew 25:

34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

The blackness within was God’s greatest gift to Mother Teresa. He meant it when He said that He identified with the poor and the least. This identification is so strong that God came to earth and told us the exact set of criteria by which we shall be judged. It may well be that God forced Mother’s vision outward, not just for herself, but for the benefit of the world.

The Church has had no shortage of saints whose prayer led them into ecstasies. Great stuff if you’re a monastic, but hardly practical for the layperson. Mother led us forward and revealed to us the path to sanctity for the common man and woman. She gave us the means to work at our salvation, consistent with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25.

Most importantly, she never lost faith. She never refused God or walked away. She never ceased praying. There is a lesson in that for all of us, especially in the pro-life movement.

The greatest of all Catholic theologians, Saint Thomas Aquinas was elevated to Doctor of the Church, so profound and prolific was he. One day while saying Mass he had a vision of Heaven. Because of that vision he described his writings as “so much straw” and he never wrote again.

For her fidelity, for her selflessness, for her faith in that long Dark Night of the Soul, Mother now enjoys that beatific vision that so moved Thomas Aquinas. Her struggles teach us more about fidelity than all of her works combined.

Happy Birthday in Heaven Mother!

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When is a snub not a snub?

When it’s the function of a depraved mind.

For those who do not live in New York, the Empire State Building is an extension of every native New Yorker’s soul. It’s as much a part of our identity as Yankee Stadium, Central Park, The Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island and Nathan’s Hot Dogs. When the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers were built in the 1970’s, they eclipsed the Grand Old Lady on 34th Street in size, but not in beauty, grandeur, or style. The iconic tower remained first in our hearts. So it was only proper that when we New Yorkers wished to honor people, it has been the Empire State Building that has been lit in the appropriate colors. The top of that building is New York’s megaphone to the world.

This blog has written twice, here and here, of manager Anthony Malkin’s refusal to honor Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s 100th birthday by lighting our spire in blue and white, the colors of the order she founded.

Yes, it’s OUR spire! Malkin has lost sight of that. The honors granted in lighting the Empire State Building have always reflected what we New Yorkers collectively value. In inimitable New York bold and brash, we shout who we are to all the world from the top of the most famous skyscraper in history.

Until recently.

The incredibly shrinking Malkin has forgotten that and co-opted the lighting to reflect his personal predilections; like lighting the tower in red and yellow in honor of Mao’s Chinese Communist Revolution (in which Mao murdered 77 million of his own people). Tiny Tony’s rationale for denying honors for Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa is that he will not recognize religious or political leaders.

Fair enough.

So last September’s red and yellow wasn’t recognition of Mao. It was the honoring of a revolution that wiped out 77 million humans, wiped out China’s intellectuals, instituted brutal slave labor for its citizens, instituted the one-child policy that has led to the selective abortions of hundreds of millions of baby girls and left an equal number of young men with no prospects for marriage. It wasn’t Mao who was honored. It was his brigades and their deadly work that were recognized.

Its a good thing Tiny Tony has cleared that up for us.

So why not light the building tomorrow tonight in blue and white? Not for Mother, but for her brigades of sisters who work to restore the human dignity shredded by the likes of Mao’s brigades? Tiny Tony has revealed through his building’s lighting department exactly the sort of man he is, exactly the sort of things he values. The words “warped” and “twisted” come to mind.

Sadly, the lighting of the Empire State Building no longer speaks for New Yorkers. It has become the plaything of a nasty iconoclast who values barbarity over decency and love.

Tomorrow night Tonight, look not to the Grande Dame of 34th Street, whose shame is as large as her visage. Look rather to the homes of New Yorkers who are being encouraged to display blue and white lights in our windows, and if your means allow, perhaps make a small donation to a food pantry or crisis pregnancy center in Mother’s honor.

New Yorker’s hearts are large, and we’ll yet demonstrate the best of what we value by honoring Mother with countless little acts performed with great love.

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The window imprint left by a Mourning Dove. Priscilla Bradley,Project FeederWatch© Cornell Lab of Ornithology

As we approach Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s 100th birthday next week, it would seem that Anthony Malkin of the Empire State Building has finally come around to using the lighting of his building in recognition of those he deems the poor and the least among us. He will be joining the owners of other New York City buildings in dimming their lights this Fall to aid migratory birds in preventing their deaths in the thousands from building strikes.

Yesterday’s New York Post carries the story. It seems some 90,000 birds die in NYC annually from being blinded by the night lights. It’s a red letter day for birds in New York.

Considering the fact that Mother Teresa spoke passionately for the tens of millions of our own species who are murdered annually through world-wide abortion, for the tens of millions of our own species who go hungry, filthy, homeless annually, not lighting the building to honor Mother while showing such tender concern for our feathered friends seems a strange set of priorities indeed.

Perhaps if it were known that Mother was a card-carrying member of the Audubon Society, a passionate ornithologist…

Can there be any doubt about Anthony Malkin’s war against Mother Teresa in light of this latest development, of his tortured set of priorities? Birds? BIRDS??

Mother was honored with a Nobel Peace Prize, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, The Congressional Medal of Freedom, and the highest honors from every civilized nation on the planet for her work on behalf of the least loved humans among us. The religious order she founded, the Missionaries of Charity has over 4,500 sisters active in over 133 countries on every continent. Well-deserved honors that speak as much about Mother’s heroic life’s work as they do about what we most value.

A different time, and not so long ago.

More here and Here.

Mr. Malkin is off to an inauspicious start in his quest for honorable standing in the medal count. At a minimum, he’ll have to surpass John James Audubon, which means doing more than turning out the lights. But honestly Mr. Malkin, beating on a dead nun is not the way to get there or to be favorably remembered.

Blue and White on the 26th, Mr. Malkin.

Blue and White.

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The following is a letter from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League regarding a protest outside of the Empire State Building on August 26, the 100th birthday of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Owner Anthony Malkin is a craven and cowardly revisionist who refuses to honor the woman who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Medal of Freedom–the two highest civilian honors bestowed by the United States. Come dressed in blue and white, the colors of Mother’s order.

I’ve written twice before about the war against Mother Teresa here and here.
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June 2010

Dear Friend,

As president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, I have witnessed many assaults on Catholic sensibilities. But of all the indignities that Catholics have had to endure – movies, plays, songs, artistic exhibitions, books, articles, newspaper cartoons, classroom diatribes, television shows, lawsuits, obscene street fairs, music videos, and the like – nothing has insulted Catholics more than to see Mother Teresa dissed by the owner of the Empire State Building; a request to honor her on the 100th anniversary of her birthday, August 26, was denied without explanation!

The Empire State Building frequently beams into the sky the colors associated with all kinds of persons, organizations and events. From Mariah Carey to the Simpsons, and from NASCAR drivers to the Ninja Turtles, tribute is offered by way of the tower’s lights on a regular basis. But not for Mother Teresa – she doesn’t qualify.

Lit to Honor Mao's Chinese Communist Revolution (77 Million Murdered Under Mao)

Indeed, the Empire State Building’s owner, Anthony Malkin, honored the genocidal regime of Communist China, even though 77 million innocent men, women and children were murdered under Mao Zedong. So you can see why I was stunned when I learned that my request to honor Mother Teresa was denied; I asked that the tower lights shine blue and white, the colors of the Missionaries of Charity, on her birthday. By contrast, the U.S. Postal Service is honoring her with a commemorative stamp.

When I made my request in writing on February 2, I was told by two women from the Empire State Building that my application looked fine; they said they would get back to me in a few months. Then on May 5, I was faxed an unsigned letter denying my request. I quickly contacted Malkin, but he never replied to my letter. In fact, he has steadfastly refused to speak to the media.

After being pummeled with bad publicity, Malkin said they have a policy barring an honor to any religious person or group. But that is a lie. In the past, they have honored John Cardinal O’Connor, Pope John Paul II, the Salvation Army, the Salesian Sisters and Rev. Martin Luther King. And they further lied when they said this “policy” – which was just made up out of thin air – was in place when I applied. I have a copy of the application and it says no such thing. Moreover, no one ever indicated there was any problem with my application. It looked like a slam dunk.

On August 26, there will be a demonstration in the street outside the Empire State Building. There are many costs associated with this event, ranging from ads in newspapers, mailings, renting a stage, etc. In addition to your prayers, we need both your participation at the rally and your contributions.

Mother Teresa deserves better. Just as important, Catholics do not deserve to be treated like second-class citizens by snobby elites who think they can stick their middle finger in our faces. The time to support Mother Teresa is now.

Bill Donohue
President
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
450 Seventh Avenue
New York, New York 10123

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My article in today’s HeadlineBistro:

Thirteen years after her death, the enemies of Mother Teresa are hard at work trying to suppress the celebration of her life and legacy as we approach the 100th anniversary of her birth this August. Earlier this year there was an attempt to prevent the U.S. Postal Service from issuing a commemorative stamp, written about here.

In the latest round, Anthony Malkin, the owner of the Empire State Building, has refused a request by the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue to light the building in blue and white, the colors of Mother Teresa’s order, on August 26 in honor of the centennial of her birth. This is remarkable, given that last September the Empire State Building lighting authority draped the iconic New York landmark in red and yellow, the colors of the Chinese flag, in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of Mao’s Communist Revolution.

Donohue responded:

“Mother Teresa received 124 awards, including Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Freedom… She built hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, hospices, health clinics, homeless shelters, youth shelters and soup kitchens all over the world … Not surprisingly, she was voted the most admired woman in the world three years in a row in the mid-1990s. But she is not good enough to be honored by the Empire State Building.”

A dictator credited with killing 77 million people, whose legacy inspired China’s notorious one-child policy and the sex-selective abortions of hundreds of millions of babies, as well as infanticide claiming millions more, has his movement granted tribute by the Empire State Building. A Roman Catholic nun whose life has done so much more to promote life, to give nurture and succor to hundreds of millions, whose legions of sisters have cared for the poorest among us and afforded them a death with dignity, somehow merits the back of Malkin’s hand. This, on the day that the United States Post Office is issuing a stamp to commemorate that life well lived.

Why? Why this opposition to celebrating the life of one of the twentieth century’s most notable women? The answer goes far beyond a mere caddish and petulant desire to deny a dead religious sister a moment of remembrance. No, this is mendacity. This is a high-stakes war against all that Mother Teresa stood for and all that she continues to accomplish through her millions of disciples.

This is the face of raw malevolence.

Had Mother Teresa stuck to her ministry of hospice, she would be meeting no opposition this year. However, she crossed the red line into the arena of abortion and proclaiming human dignity across the spectrum, from womb to grave. She has touched more than just a nerve. She landed a nuclear warhead with devastating accuracy right in the middle of the enemy’s camp when she addressed the feel-goodism of people who assuage their consciences by winking at abortion in the West and lauding Mother Teresa’s work in India:

“Many people are concerned with children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is the greatest destroyer of peace today – abortion which brings people to such blindness.”

Worse still for her detractors, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is on the fast track for canonization as a saint, as is her good friend and close ally, Pope John Paul the Great. It is impossible to think of one without thinking of the other. Together they laid the foundation for building a culture of life and a civilization of love at the threshold of the 21st century. It’s all right there, in Magisterial documents and in Mother Teresa’s extended network of sisters and disciples.

It was the words and deeds of these two giants that helped sustain me through my scientific training and inspired in me a desire to use my knowledge and skills to join in their vision of a world where science serves humanity, rather than enslaving us all. They are my heroic icons as I contemplate the terrible track that science and medicine are on, having abandoned even the pretext of an ethic and morality of manipulation. But there is hope.

Increasing numbers of scientists and physicians are becoming increasingly more vocal about reining in the excesses, and taking a fresh look at what Mother Teresa and John Paul have had to say. Hence those who would deny the celebration of her 100th birthday this year.

The enemies of life may be putting on a brave face, but they are running scared; in proof whereof, they have resorted to beating on a deceased nun. Not very glamorous, Mr. Malkin.

For those wishing to join the petition to light up the Empire State Building in Mother Teresa’s honor, click here.

Read the Updates Here and Here

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This story from Fox News.

Seems that a planned postage stamp honoring 1979 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Mother Teresa has some atheists in a hissy fit. An excerpt from the Fox News article:

An atheist organization is blasting the U.S. Postal Service for its plan to honor Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp, saying it violates postal regulations against honoring “individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is urging its supporters to boycott the stamp — and also to engage in a letter-writing campaign to spread the word about what it calls the “darker side” of Mother Teresa.

The stamp — set to be released on Aug. 26, which would have been Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday — will recognize the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her humanitarian work, the Postal Service announced last month.

“Noted for her compassion toward the poor and suffering, Mother Teresa, a diminutive Roman Catholic nun and honorary U.S. citizen, served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years,” the Postal Service said in a press release. “Her humility and compassion, as well as her respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind, inspired people of all ages and backgrounds to work on behalf of the world’s poorest populations.”

But Freedom from Religion Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor says issuing the stamp runs against Postal Service regulations.

“Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can’t really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did,” Gaylor told FoxNews.com.

Postal Service spokesman Roy Betts expressed surprise at the protest, given the long list of previous honorees with strong religious backgrounds, including Malcolm X, the former chief spokesman for the Nation of Islam, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

“In fact we honored Father Flanagan in 1986 for his humanitarian work. This has nothing to do with religion or faith,” Betts told FoxNews.com.

Gaylor said the atheist group opposed Father Flanagan’s stamp but not those for King and Malcolm X, because she said they were known for their civil rights activities, not for their religion.

Martin Luther King “just happened to be a minister,” and “Malcolm X was not principally known for being a religious figure,” she said.

“And he’s not called Father Malcolm X like Mother Teresa. I mean, even her name is a Roman Catholic honorific.”

Gaylor said Mother Teresa infused Catholicism into her secular honors — including an “anti-abortion rant” during her Nobel Prize acceptance speech — and that even her humanitarian work was controversial.

And there’s the real issue. Mother Teresa was pro-life, not just an Albanian social worker slumming in Calcutta. Her solid ethic of life infused her work at every level.

As for Mother Teresa’s title ‘Mother’ being uniquely Catholic, what of African-American Mother Hale of Harlem who opened an orphanage for babies?

Especially noteworthy in the article was the note that Martin Luther King Jr. was only incidentally a minister.

Really!?

Consider the following excerpts from King’s famous letter from the Birmingham jail:

“Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]”

16 April 1963
My Dear Fellow Clergymen:
While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid…

…I have heard numerous southern religious leaders admonish their worshipers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers declare: “Follow this decree because integration is morally right and because the Negro is your brother.” In the midst of blatant injustices inflicted upon the Negro, I have watched white churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: “Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern.” And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular….

…There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world. But again I am thankful to God that some noble souls from the ranks of organized religion have broken loose from the paralyzing chains of conformity and joined us as active partners in the struggle for freedom. They have left their secure congregations and walked the streets of Albany, Georgia, with us. They have gone down the highways of the South on tortuous rides for freedom. Yes, they have gone to jail with us. Some have been dismissed from their churches, have lost the support of their bishops and fellow ministers. But they have acted in the faith that right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. Their witness has been the spiritual salt that has preserved the true meaning of the gospel in these troubled times. They have carved a tunnel of hope through the dark mountain of disappointment. I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands. Before closing I feel impelled to mention one other point in your statement that has troubled me profoundly. You warmly commended the Birmingham police force for keeping “order” and “preventing violence.” I doubt that you would have so warmly commended the police force if you had seen its dogs sinking their teeth into unarmed, nonviolent Negroes. I doubt that you would so quickly commend the policemen if you were to observe their ugly and inhumane treatment of Negroes here in the city jail; if you were to watch them push and curse old Negro women and young Negro girls; if you were to see them slap and kick old Negro men and young boys; if you were to observe them, as they did on two occasions, refuse to give us food because we wanted to sing our grace together. I cannot join you in your praise of the Birmingham police department…

It’s pretty evident that the real issue here is abortion.

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