NJ: Priest’s support of Travel Ban under attack
February 09, 2017
NJ Priest Peter West is a vocal supporter of President Trump. His recent social media posts calling moderate Islam “a myth” among other things has many quoting the Johnson Amendment against him.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the power of social media was in fact the 2016 presidential election. Most of what made headlines started first as a Twitter or Facebook post. Now that the election is over, social media remains the platform of many venting on political views. The case of a Catholic Priest in New Jersey and his strong support of the president’s travel ban has earned him a position “under fire”.
NJ.com reports that West has been posting on Facebook and Twitter up to a dozen times a day, calling moderate Islam “a myth” and voicing strong support for the president’s travel ban, which temporarily barred immigrants from seven majority-Muslim and terrorist afflicted countries before a judge issued a stay last week. In the same article he is said to have called millennials “snowflakes” who attend “cry-ins” and described liberals as “smug and arrogant” people who find solace in puppies and Play-Doh. In these posts he has also reportedly called Hillary Clinton an “evil witch” and former President Barack Obama a “bum,”.
Perhaps if West did not hold the priest title his posts would go unnoticed, but West, 57, is a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, and some of his withering attacks, while popular with many of his 7,300 Facebook followers from around the country, run counter to the statements and philosophies of his own leader, Newark Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, and his ultimate boss, Pope Francis.
Critics of West have taken to quoting the Johnson Amdement in response to his bold support of the current administration and political views about other people. The amendment in part bars tax-exempt agencies, including the church, from participating in political campaigns and from endorsing or attacking candidates. Failure to comply can result in the loss of an institution’s tax-exempt status. Although President Trump, has promised to “totally destroy” the Johnson Amendment, saying he wanted to “allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.” In the case of West though, it is important to point out that the comments in question have been made on a private social media account.
Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese in a statement to NJ Advance Media, said the archdiocese would move to curtail West’s political pronouncements.
“Certainly, a priest doesn’t give up his civil liberties when he is ordained, and he maintains the same right to freedom of expression as anyone else in the United States,” Goodness said. “That said, we are concerned about Father West’s comments and actions, and will be addressing them according to the protocols of the Church.”
A minority of commenters on West’s Facebook page have denounced him as a “hatemonger” who promotes divisiveness, and at least one person complained about him to the archdiocese in December — a development announced by West himself on Facebook.
The Rev. John J. Dietrich, the director of spiritual formation at the nation’s second largest seminary, Mount Saint Mary’s in Maryland, called West’s comments about politicians, Muslims and liberals “way over-the-top inappropriate behavior.”
NJ.COM original article / TRUNEWS summary.
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