Woman charges discrimination as Office Depot refuses to print “A Prayer for the Conversion of Planned Parenthood”

By Dave Andrusko

Maria Goldstein (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

Maria Goldstein (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)

If one important index of success is that the “mainstream” media picks up your case, score one for Maria Goldstein.

Yesterday the Chicago Tribune reported on Goldstein’s accusation that a local Office Depot had discriminated against her last month when it refused to run off 500 copies of “A Prayer for the Conversion of Planned Parenthood” that she intended to distribute at her parish the following Sunday.

“Anyone can order printing at Office Depot,” said Thomas Olp, Thomas More Society special counsel attorney, who is representing Goldstein. “But because Ms. Goldstein’s flyers had religious content—namely calling for prayer for Planned Parenthood—Office Depot refused to complete her order. This is a blatant violation of the Cook County Human Rights Ordinance, which forbids public businesses from discriminating based on religion.”

The prayer, composed by Fr. Frank Pavone, head of Priests for Life, calls on God to “Bring an end to the killing of children in the womb, and bring an end to the sale of their body parts. Bring conversion to all who do this, and enlightenment to all who advocate it.”

In addition, according to the Tribune’s Manya Brachear Pashman, “The prayer also decries “the evil that has been exposed in Planned Parenthood and in the entire abortion industry.’”

The company’s position is that the language in the prayer “falls within the definition of ‘graphic’ material and/or ‘hate material,’ making the refusal to print the flyer appropriate,” wrote Assistant General Counsel Robert A. Amicone.

“Graphic material,” Amicone argued, “can include descriptions of dead or dismembered bodies.”

“Hate material,” he wrote, “advocates for the persecution of groups of people, regardless of reason.” [1]

In the Tribune story Karen Denning, a spokeswoman for Office Depot, explained its expansive definition of “persecution.”

“The flier contained material that advocates the persecution of people who support abortion rights,” Denning said.

But, of course, the prayer does not advocate persecution. If anything it argues against persecution–of unborn babies.

More specifically, as Brachear Pashman wrote, “Goldstein said the goal of the weeklong prayer and fasting campaign that took place last month was not to persecute but to change hearts.”

On Thursday, according to Brachear Pashman, the Thomas More Society’s Olp wrote Office Depot CEO Roland Smith

asking the company to reconsider its policy and fill Goldstein’s copy order. Olp said he will file complaints with the Cook County Human Rights Commission and Illinois Department of Human Rights if the company doesn’t respond in five days. The state’s Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination for a variety of reasons, including religion.

“The best resolution would be that they would say ‘This was unjust. You were discriminated against because of your religion’ and then admit this was wrong,” Goldstein said. “I’d appreciate them printing the flier. The statistics are still valid and the prayer is still valid.”

Amicone’s letter, quoted from above, was in response to that correspondence and came just one day later.

[1] Initially the company argued it had concerns over possible copyright violations but Amicone conceded there were no “legitimate copyright concerns.”