Take faith into public square, urges Respect Life Dinner speaker Tom Brejcha

Thomas Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, speaks at the Respect Life Dinner in Peoria on Oct. 7. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

People of faith need to be heard in the public square despite efforts to silence them, the keynote speaker for the 37th annual Respect Life Dinner said in Peoria on Oct. 7.

“If we don’t put our values there on display — unflinchingly, eloquently, unreservedly — why should anyone pay attention to us,” asked Thomas Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society. “How are we going to get people to see the value of what, in my view, has animated western civilization — despite its flaws — over the last 2,000 years?”

Profits from the Respect Life Dinner are used to purchase supplies for the Family Resources Center in Peoria. This year’s dinner, held at Barrack’s Cater Inn on Respect Life Sunday, raised nearly $4,500.

The Thomas More Society is a not-for-profit, national public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty.

“We’re a growth industry,” said Brejcha, who detailed the Society’s involvement in several recent cases, including:

  • defending David Daleiden, the pro-life activist whose undercover videos showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing fees for human tissue and organs from aborted babies. He is facing 15 felony counts brought by the attorney general of California. While acknowledging “we’re having a tough time,” Brejcha said “I firmly believe if we stay the course we will prevail.”
  • representing St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, pro-life centers, and others opposing plans to make the city a “sanctuary city” for abortion rights, and
  • advocating for the placement of Nativity scenes in public venues.

Jacinta Boynton and Josephine Boynton, members of the Students for Life club at Galesburg Public High School, explained the activities of their group at the annual Respect Life Dinner in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

Brejcha was introduced by two members of the Students for Life of Galesburg High School, Jacinta and Josephine Boynton, who noted the Thomas More Society’s help in making their school the first public school in the state to have a Students for Life group. Groups at two other high schools have since followed their lead.

Brejcha drew applause from the 150 in attendance when he expressed happiness that Judge Brett Kavanaugh was approved as a Supreme Court justice.

“This is not politics,” he told the group. “It’s law. I’m an old-fashioned lawyer and I think there is still a difference between the two.”


The dinner featured an update by Pete Smith, husband of Family Resources Center founder and longtime director Jan Smith.

“Because of the dinner’s success and your generosity, we were able to update the center’s library with hundreds of new and inspiring free-loan DVDs and books,” said Pete Smith. Updated copies of the Family Resources Center catalogue were placed at every seat.

He also thanked Charles Owens of Henry for again serving as emcee for the evening.

The Rev. Frank R. Dunaway III of the Anglican Diocese of Quincy gave the invocation, and special music was provided by “The Class Act” trio, including Robert Eckert, who performed the pro-life song “What Was I Supposed to Be?”

Among the politicians present was U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-18th), who thanked those present for “what you do for life.”

“We’re under constant assault on what we believe in and what we stand for,” said LaHood, who called the efforts of the area’s pro-life community “inspiring.”

Deacon William Read of St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Germantown Hills offered the closing prayer.

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