Bulletin Columns Catholic Church Religious Liberty

IWKnights Corner (Bulletin Insert) For July 28, 2019

Did you know this about the IW Knights of Columbus?

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse
U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R., Nebraska)

“The hallowed halls of the U.S. Senate were the site of a provocative but important question by Sen. Ben Sasse to a judicial nominee: ‘Are you now or have you ever been involved in the organization of a fish fry?’

It was funny, but it wasn’t necessarily a laughing matter.  At issue was the recent move by some of Sasse’s colleagues to question judicial nominees about their membership in the Knights of Columbus.

At a recent U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sasse (R., Neb.) defended the Knights of Columbus in a series of questions to Peter Phipps, a nominee for United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit.  Phipps is a Knight belonging to Edward Douglass White Council 2473 in Arlington, Va.

Sasse then asked Phipps if he had gotten questions for the record about being a member of the Knights of Columbus.  Phipps said he had received questions during the process for his district court nomination back in May 2018.

Phipps is not the only judicial nominee to be questioned over his membership in the Knights.  Last December, Brian C. Buescher was questioned about whether his Knights of Columbus membership would prevent him from “fairly and impartially” hearing cases on the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Several senators stated that the organization had ‘taken a number of extreme positions” on the issues of same-sex marriage and abortion’.

Phipps explained to Sasse that the Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal organization dedicated to uniting men of faith. He noted that it was founded in the late 19th century to help provide for families at a time where many men faced dangerous working conditions.

‘It’s a charitable organization,’ Phipps said. ‘It’s an organization that has social and recreational activities that many members of my family have really enjoyed and really benefitted from.’  Sasse then provided for the record a number of facts about the Knights:

    • Knights of Columbus is the largest Catholic fraternal service organization in the world.
    • In 2017 the Knights volunteered and contributed more than $185 million to charitable organizations and activities.
    • Also in 2017, Knights volunteered more than 75,600,000 service hours.
    • The Knights have a proud tradition of standing against the forces of prejudice and oppression such as the Ku Klux Klan.

Sasse expressed his concern that questioning over membership in the Knights is ‘becoming common practice on the committee.’

‘I really hope we reconsider this new tradition on this committee of asking people about their religious commitments.’

This is not the first time Sen. Sasse has come to the aid of the Knights. In January of this year, he introduced a resolution adopted by unanimous consent that ‘disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus” violates that anti-religious test clause of the U.S. Constitution.’”

You can find the link to the entire piece in the KofC.org web site or at www.IWKnights.com/bulletin or at facebook.com/IWknights9981 and NOW on Twitter at twitter.com/IwKnights.

Links Related to this week’s column:

SENATOR BEN SASSE DEFENDS KNIGHTS AT JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARING
KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS PRESS RELEASE
By Andrew Butler (6/5/2019)
At a recent U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. Sasse (R., Neb.) defended the Knights of Columbus in a series of questions to Peter Phipps, a nominee for United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit. Phipps is a Knight belonging to Edward Douglass White Council 2473 in Arlington, Va.......
Click here for the article.
S.Res.19, the U.S. Senate resolution regarding the Knights of Columbus & Judicial Nominees
Below is the text of S.Res.19, the U.S. Senate resolution introduced by Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and adopted by unanimous consent Jan. 16:
By Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican, represents the state of Nebraska. (1/16/2019)
Expressing the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates the Constitution of the United States.

Whereas, throughout the history of the United States, the religious liberty protected by both the First Amendment and the No Religious Test Clause of the Constitution of the United States has been at the heart of the American experiment;

Whereas, in 1960 the presidential candidacy of John F. Kennedy was met with significant anti-Catholic bigotry;

Whereas then-Senator Kennedy responded to this bigotry with these timeless words: “For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday again be, a Jew or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist. … Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you, until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.”;

Whereas the Knights of Columbus (in this preamble referred to as the “Knights”) constitute the largest Catholic fraternal service organization in the world;

Whereas the Knights have a proud tradition of standing against the forces of prejudice and oppression such as the Klu Klux Klan and Nazi Germany;

Whereas the Knights are founded on the principles of charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism; and

Whereas, in 2017, the Knights made more than $185 million dollars of charitable contributions and volunteered more than 75.6 million service hours: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that disqualifying a nominee to federal office on the basis of membership in the Knights of Columbus violates clause 3 of Article VI of the Constitution of the United States, which establishes that Senators “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support the Constitution” and “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Click here for the article.
Are you now or have you ever been involved in the organization of a fish fry?
Senator Sasse defends judicial nominee from anti-Catholic attacks.
By Senator Ben Sasse (Published on YouTube on June 5, 2019)
Click here for the article.

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