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September 2013

Archive for September 2013

Day Trip To Empire City Casino A Fundraiser For Greenpoint Veterans Memorial Parade

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Testimonial For VFW Post Past Commander Peter Polsunas


VFW Post Basket Bingo Fundraiser


3-Minute Video On “Big Mountain Jesus” In Montana

Visit Our Website September 20, 2013
 Dear Friends,You know how I am always bragging about our top-notch lawyers here at the Becket Fund?  Well, today, I just have to brag about our communications staff, too.

Take a look at this video they put together about the battle that the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is waging against a 60-year-old veterans memorial in Montana.  It’s very short – not even 3 minutes long – and well worth the watch because it boils this case down to its most human level.

Did you catch what our client, local Knights of Columbus member Ray Leopold, said about the statue in that video?  “It’s almost as if the statue has become a citizen of Whitefish, Montana.”

Other local residents say the same thing.  In a piece recently run on the CBS affiliate TV station out of Missoula, Montana, KPAX, a resident had this to say:

“I’ve been skiing here since I was 14 years old, so 30 years…. I think the locals love it – it’s part of the mountain. It’s been here for so long.  To me, it’s just the fundamentals of someone from somewhere else trying to decide what’s going to happen on our mountain here.  It’s not right.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and other groups like it scour the Internet looking for local monuments to challenge.  They are on a mission to completely scrub all signs of faith from the public square – regardless of how the community they’ve swooped into feels about it.

You may recall that in June, a federal judge agreed with the Becket Fund and allowed this Montana statue to remain standing on Big Mountain.  As the judge said:  “Unquestionably, Big Mountain Jesus is a religious symbol commonly associated with one form of religion.  But not every religious symbol runs afoul of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.”

But, just a few weeks ago, FFRF appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  We will continue to defend the local Knights of Columbus and Big Mountain Jesus.  We are grateful for your support in this fight for religious liberty.


Kristina Arriaga
Executive Director

And, just a brief recap of the Big Mountain Jesus case in case you can’t watch the video until later:

The local Knights of Columbus have had a permit from the federal government for this statue since 1954.  The Knights built the statue and maintain it as a memorial to the veterans of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division who returned to this part of Montana following World War II.  Those soldiers had served in the Italian Alps and saw statues like this one throughout their tour(s) of duty.  The veterans said that statues like this helped sustain them during the war.

The Knights’ permit applications for this 25×25-square-foot parcel of land on what has become Whitefish Mountain Resort have been approved without controversy every ten years.   Then, in 2010, the Freedom From Religion Foundation challenged the permit from their perch in Madison, Wisconsin, and under pressure from FFRF, the U.S. Forest Service rejected the Knights’ re-application.

The public outcry in support of the statue was tremendous!  The Forest Service received 95,000 public comments in less than two months.  As a result, the Forest Service reversed course and re-issued the permit, stating that the statue “is important to the community for its historical heritage.”

So, FFRF sued and the Becket Fund took up the cause on behalf of these local Knights.

Today, Friday, September 20th, is National POW/MIA Recognition Day.  This statue was erected to commemorate the service of Montana’s veterans.  And, right now we are fighting for our religious liberty – one of the very rights that some of those World War II veterans lost their lives to defend.

Take a moment to watch this short video and forward it to a friend to commemorate the men and women of the Armed Forces that don’t make it home when they are defending our freedom

Knights of Columbus Year Of faith Pilgrimage

Brother Knights,
To celebrate the Year of Faith, Knights of Columbus will gather Sunday, September 8, 2013, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The date coincides with the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica’s 56-bell carillon, which is located in the Knights Tower and was a gift from the Order to our country’s preeminent Marian shrine.
The pilgrimage will begin with a solemn Mass at noon celebrated by our Supreme Chaplain, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore. Following Mass, there will be remarks from Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, a Marian meditation by Archbishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix of Québec, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the rosary and the rededication of the Order to the Blessed Virgin Mary. A carillon postlude will conclude the event at approximately 2:30 p.m. Confessions will be available from 10 a.m. – noon. Participants may obtain a Year of Faith plenary indulgence.
You and your family are invited to celebrate the Year of Faith by joining other Knights and families in prayer, entrusting the Order and our families to the maternal intercession of Mary Immaculate. Please encourage members of your council and others to travel with you for the pilgrimage. More information is available at kofc.org/pilgrimage. Fourth Degree members are asked to use this link or the website to preregister for participation in the pilgrimage honor guard.

Sunday, September 8, 2013, Noon – 2:30 p.m. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception 400 Michigan Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20017

Lexington Council Sponsors Fund-raising Bar-B-Que at St. Anthony’s

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Honorary Life Member Jim Kenney Passed Away

Bobby Birthday 09 (4)JAMES KENNEY, Age 78   

A native of Greenpoint, Jim Kenney attended St. Alphonsus School and Bishop Loughlin High School.  He was a Veteran of the Marine Corps during the Korean War era. He liked to joke that he starred in the movie “Battle Cry.” Actually, he was only one of the 10,000 Marines storming the beach in one scene!  He was an Honorary Life member of Lexington Council, K of C. He was employed by Kollsman Instruments before joining the Federal Government as a Quality Control Inspector, working at various defense contractor plants, at that time on parts for the Lunar Lander and Space Shuttle. He lived in Hollis and Bellerose, Queens, prior to relocating to a senior residence in Rye Brook, Westchester County.  He married Mary (nee McCarthy) of Greenpoint and they celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. He is survived by his children, James Patrick and Barbara Kenney of Massachusetts, Mary Ellen and Jim Nolan of Las Vegas, Steven and Joyce Kenney of Seaford, LI and Barbara Ann and Ray Romani of Mamaroneck, five Grandchildren, Nieces and Nephews and Brothers Robert and Rick.  Funeral from the Hugh A. Reid Funeral Home and Mass of Christian Burial at St. Anthony/St. Alphonsus Church.

Pledge of Allegiance Goes On Trial In Boston!

Visit Our Website September 5, 2013
 Dear Friends, 

Yes, the Becket Fund has defended the inclusion of the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance successfully four times already.  But the attacks continue.


Our victory last year in Massachusetts has been appealed and today our attorneys appeared before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to again defend the Pledge.


You may recall from my earlier emails that this is the case where Judge Jane Haggerty of the Middlesex Superior Court in Massachusetts found that that little two-word phrase “serves as an acknowledgment of the Founding Fathers’ political philosophy, and the historical and religious traditions of the United States.”


I was interviewed by Fox News about this and the other Pledge of Allegiance cases.  Click here to see the segment.

Now, this case is a little different than our first three wins.  Those who oppose these words in the Pledge are trying a new angle since they’ve been so decisively defeated under federal law.  In this case, they are challenging the Pledge under state law as a violation of equal rights.


As our Deputy General Counsel Eric Rassbach says in this article from Religion News Service, if they are successful, we’d get “a rash of state court lawsuits challenging the pledge all over the country.”


This is big news.  Even the Drudge Report posted a link:  Pledge of Allegiance Goes on Trial in Boston…


We are hopeful that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will reject this challenge.  And, we’re excited to have had amicus briefs filed in support of our position by dozens of Congressmen, as well as by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.


In fact, the oral argument is posted here. It’s a great chance to see our attorneys in action.


Those who want to see these words removed from the Pledge of Allegiance want to see all religious expression washed out of our public life.  That’s not how the Founding Fathers saw it.  That’s why they built strong religious liberty protections into our Constitution.



Kristina Arriaga
Executive Director


P.S.  One of our earlier victories was at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where we actually got the court to reverse its earlier ruling and support the Pledge in its entirety.  Borrowing from the Becket Fund’s brief, the Ninth Circuit found that it is precisely because those words – “under God” – are such a bountiful statement about our nation’s heritage, that they are Constitutional.  The Ninth Circuit oral argument from December 2007 is actually available as well.  Just click here.