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BVM Statue… An That Idol Should Be Smashed?

March 23, 2020 Frontpage No Comments


Is an 18-inch figurine of the Virgin Mary an idol that should be smashed? That’s the claim of a New Jersey condominium association board that has declared that the statue is forbidden and must be removed from a homeowner’s porch. That’s what Mary Jeanne Vassallo was told by the Barrister Farms Condominium Association.
The statue belonged to Mary Jeanne’s deceased son, which had been given to him when he was in the second grade. It came from a local parish church that was under renovation while he was a student at the school.
The dispute started in 2015 when the association notified her that the Virgin Mary must be removed or the homeowner would be assessed fines. Mary Jeanne removed the statute during 2016-2018 but had accumulated fines of over one thousand dollars. During the past Christmas seasons she had asked permission to display the statute, but the requests were always denied.
During that time the parties had entered into discussions to try to resolve the matter, according to the homeowners’ attorney, Christopher A. Ferrara, special counsel for the Thomas More Society. Also during this time of negotiation, Mary Jeanne continued to pay her association dues and required maintenance fees. She has now been informed that, unbeknownst to her, fines had been deducted from her payments and now she owes the balance of “unpaid” fees.
All the while, Jewish residents of the association were allowed to display Mezuzahs (a piece of parchment contained in a decorative case and inscribed with specific Hebrew verses from the Torah) on their door frames. An attempt at mediation failed when a special committee of the association which heard the issue voted to recommend a change in association rules to clarify that the Virgin Mary is allowed and that the association had to refund the fines.
The board of directors, however, rejected that compromise. Then, in January of this year, a representative of the condo management company notified Mary Jeanne by email that her figurine was an “idol” which “should be smashed.”
The Thomas More Society considers this an issue of blatant religious discrimination and gave the association ten days to come to the table before legal action is taken.
Just a point to keep in mind: Not all threats to religious liberty come from the government. Some come from your neighbors, and if you don’t fight back you will lose that freedom. Unfortunately, in some places the rights and powers of homeowners’ associations are not clearly defined — I know, I used to represent several. And, depending on who is elected to serve on the board of directors, they can be used to bully and coerce individual members who are disfavored by the board, so be careful if you find yourself in that situation.
On the other hand, there are numerous state and federal laws that will protect you if the issue is one of religious intolerance.

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One of the things that is difficult to defend is the sweeping use of those “professionals” who define science according to their political posture.
In his 2014 groundbreaking book, Making Gay Okay (Ignatius Press), author Robert R. Reilly criticized psychiatry for doing just that, politicizing the science concerning homosexuality and the LGBT movement. In the book he recounts how efforts from LGBT activists — not scientific findings — shaped the decision of the American Psychiatric Association to “normalize” the LGBT lifestyle.
“Psychiatry purports to be and is recognized by law as a branch of medicine — that is, as a source of objective truth. Over the past forty years, it has been used to justify and even to promote homosexual behavior. . . . [This] has been the result not of any discovery, but rather of a purely political process — indeed, of power plays in meeting halls, restaurants, and bedrooms. . . . This is especially important because the authority of psychiatry is being used in legal cases to establish the normality of homosexual behavior and to make the case for same-sex marriage and adoption.”
He notes that by the late 1970s the American Psychological Association declared that it was a “scientific fact’ that “same-sex sexual attractions, behavior, and orientations per se are a normal and positive variance of human sexuality.” From there the “scientific” literature around same-sex marriage had, non-scientifically, characterized not only same-sex marriage as normal, but same-sex parenting as normative as well.
Thus, the standard psychological reference, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), was gradually amended through subsequent editions to embrace homosexually as normal.
The evolution continued through the same-sex marriage cases where courts, such as in Iowa (Varnum v. Brien 2009), found that arguments that dual-gender parenting was superior to same-sex parenting were “largely unsupported by reliable scientific studies.” [Full disclosure: I was on brief in that case against same-sex marriage — in other words, my side lost.]
Now that evolution continues: The American Psychological Association, to address “the most recent research and changes in the law,” has updated three policies involving children: sexual and gender diversity involving children in schools; gender identity and their parents; and opposition to discriminatory laws concerning LGBT+ persons.
“It was important that APA bring these resolutions into line with the latest research because these are areas that are of great interest to psychology. Public attitudes toward LGBTQ people have evolved swiftly in the last several years as well, resulting in legal changes that needed to be reflected in the association’s positions,” said APA President Sandra L. Shullman, Ph.D.
Concerning children in school, the APA found that the “rapidly changing social, cultural, and political climates have given rise to periodic conflicts between professional ethics and existing or developing policies, such as efforts to enact conscience or religious exemptions from provision of health-care services, which can adversely impact sexual and gender diverse students in schools.”
See if some of its findings and recommendations don’t seem a bit politically motivated.
Some of its recommendations: “Inclusive sexual orientation and gender identity data collection be incorporated into the Department of Education’s Mandatory Civil Rights Data Collection . . . to help inform effective interventions that support gender and sexual orientation diverse children and adolescents in schools.”
It therefore supports “affirmative interventions with transgender and gender diverse children and adolescents that encourage self-exploration and self-acceptance rather than trying to shift gender identity and gender expression in any specific direction.”
This, of course, validates the LGBT aversion to what is known as conversion therapy, now banned in many states by laws that forbid therapists from doing anything but reinforcing sexual orientation dysfunction to those — especially children — who might seek to relieve themselves from unwanted same-sex attractions.
The APA is also encouraging “school staff to honor self-determination by supporting the decisions of children, adolescents, and families regarding a student’s gender identity or expression, including whether to seek treatments and interventions, and discourage school personnel from requiring proof of medical treatments as a prerequisite for such support.”
Sound a little bit like the issue in the Madison School District we discussed in this column two weeks ago?
In the area of parental relations, it echoed earlier “scientific studies” that “there is no scientific evidence that parenting ineffectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation or gender identity.” Thus, the APA “opposes any discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression in matters of adoption, child custody and visitation, foster care, reproductive health services, and schooling.”
Then, finding that “laws, policies, and procedures that allow certain groups to exempt themselves from abiding by antidiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people may cause damage to LGBTQ+ people and may promote prejudice against them,” it argues that the APA “opposes the enactment of laws, policies, and procedures that exempt any group from following antidiscrimination laws designed to protect any group.”
Apparently the suggestion here is to eliminate those rules that allow for religious exemptions from certain rules and laws that defend conscience protection. So there you have it. Now social justice warriors have more ammunition to work around parents, and religious objections. All courtesy of “scientific” findings, with which — it goes without saying — you cannot argue.
(You can reach Mike at:, and listen to him every Thursday on Faith on Trial at

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On this painful Palm Sunday I pray that we can all cling to the joy that the Lord Jesus is keeping His Promise, He is still with us. It is excruciating not to receive Him in Communion but He awaits us “in the room next to us” May Spiritual Communion place us in His Real Presence

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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