Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Catholics Not OK with Hogan's Joke; Some Say They Were Offended by Remarks Monday on Bombs at Abortion Clinics

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Catholics Not OK with Hogan's Joke; Some Say They Were Offended by Remarks Monday on Bombs at Abortion Clinics

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

Jacksonville mayoral candidate Mike Hogan's statement that jokes about abortion clinic bombings are OK if delivered in front of Catholic audiences isn't sitting well with Catholics, including those heavily engaged in the movement to ban abortion.

And a fellow Baptist who leads a Jacksonville anti-abortion group said the joke, its subsequent defense and the resulting media coverage could actually impede efforts to ban or limit abortions.

Hogan, a Republican and member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, made the statement Monday after attending a candidates forum at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mandarin.

He was asked by the audience how his views on the sanctity of life would affect his leadership of Jacksonville. Hogan said he looks forward to the day when Roe v. Wade is overturned, and that the only thing he wouldn't do is bomb an abortion clinic.

He then added with a laugh: "but it may cross my mind."

Hogan told a reporter afterward the joke was appropriate because "this is a Catholic church. I guarantee you they are 110 percent pro-life."

But Pete Kelley, president of the parish's men's club and the forum moderator, didn't find the joke funny or its explanation acceptable. Overall, he said, Hogan missed the point that being "pro-life" means being against violence against abortion providers as well as the unborn.

"The core principle is that life in all forms is to be held sacred, from birth until death," Kelley said. "It's not ours to judge those who don't place that same level of respect on life."

The audience applauded for Hogan when he finished speaking, but Kelley said he didn't think that signaled their approval of the joke.

"It caught a lot of people off guard that anyone would make that comment," he said.

Others were less ruffled. …

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