Parishes posting political signs

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - The Roman Catholic Church is putting its weight behind two controversial amendments you'll see on the ballot this November.

This summer, the Diocese of Palm Beach took a cue from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops and urged its 49 parishes, or churches, to push Amendments 6 and 8.

Amendment 6 would require parental notification before a minor can get an abortion. Amendment 8 would allow churches that provide social services to get taxpayer money.

Signs were up Thursday at Catholic parishes from Palm Beach Gardens to Boca Raton. "Pro-life is a pillar of the Catholic community," said Dianne Laubert, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Palm Beach. 

Federal law prohibits non-profits, like churches, from actively backing candidates, but it doesn't bar churches from taking stands on issues. "Bottom line is, we're brought up that way. It's our teachings," said Jose Guardiario, a parishioner at St. John Fisher in West Palm Beach.

But some parishioners at St. John Fisher, like Chrissi Williams, were concerned the signs gave the appearance that opposing viewpoints were not welcome. "How much of an effect a sign has when you're passing by it? And also the offense factor it could have for a lot of people," said Williams.

She says the signs generate mixed feelings amongst Catholics in Palm Beach regarding the role of their church in public life. "I don't believe in abortion; I also don't believe in taking away other people's free will that's God given," said Williams.

The diocese says their signs are meant to be informative, not intimidating. "It's a first amendment right in our country to be educated, to learn and to vote. What they vote is their conscience. What they do in the voting booth is up to them," said Laubert.

While the diocese cannot advocate for particular political candidates, it does have a sheet that lists the presidential candidates and where they stand on issues that are priorities for the Catholic community.

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