My name is Mother Loraine Marie Maguire and I serve as one of three Regional Superiors for the Little Sisters of the Poor in the United States. For more than 175 years, we Little Sisters have dedicated ourselves to serving the elderly poor regardless of race or religion, offering them a home where they are welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to Himself.
For nearly a decade we have been in a battle for the soul of our ministry. The government’s contraceptive mandate directed us to provide contraceptives and life-ending drugs in our health care plan or pay millions of dollars in fines—which would have crippled our ministry. We could not comply with the mandate. To do so would undermine our most important belief—that all life is valuable. We cannot hold the hands of the elderly dying while at the same time facilitating the ending of unborn life. After two favorable Supreme Court rulings and a new government rule, a coalition of states dragged us back to court to defend our hard-won religious exemption.
For seven years, this unnecessary legal battle has hung over our ministry like a storm cloud.
Today, we asked the Court to protect us, and all faith-based ministries that rely on religious exemptions, once and for all. Thank you for your support over these seven years. We are hopeful that this will be the conclusion of our case, and the last time that this political fight interferes with our calling from God—to care for our beloved residents.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled 7–2 in favor of a nearly 100-year-old World War I memorial in Bladensburg, Maryland, known as the “Peace Cross,” allowing it to remain standing. The ruling has important implications for a similar lawsuit over a 78-year-old cross erected in Pensacola during World War II.
The following statement can be attributed to Grover Robinson IV, mayor of Pensacola: “The Bayview cross is a valuable part of Pensacola’s diverse history and culture. We welcome the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the Maryland Peace Cross, and we look forward to a similar ruling in our case.”
A wooden cross was first placed in Pensacola’s Bayview Park in 1941 by the Jaycees, a local community service group, as the U.S. prepared to enter World War II. The cross has been a popular gathering place for over 75 years and is one of over 170 displays in Pensacola’s parks commemorating the city’s history and culture. In 2016, an atheist organization sued the city, claiming that the cross is “offensive” and establishes a government religion.
In Kondrat’yev v. City of Pensacola, a federal appeals court ruled that the cross must come down, but two of the three judges who decided the case said the result was “wrong” and called on the Supreme Court to fix its jurisprudence. Pensacola then appealed to the Supreme Court, which put the case on hold awaiting the outcome in the Maryland Peace Cross case.
“Religious symbols aren’t like graffiti that the government has to erase as soon as someone complains,” said Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, which is representing the city. “The Supreme Court has rightly ruled that governments can recognize the important role of religion in our history and culture.”
The Supreme Court is expected to take action on Pensacola’s appeal within the next few days.
For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Ryan Colby at email@example.com or 202-349-7219. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.