...the [Empire State Building's] lights feature blue and white, the colors of Mother Teresa's congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, on August 26.
(August 26th is the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa's birth.)
Like most of Donohue's hissyfits, this is a complete non-issue. The Empire State Building, a privately-owned company, is under no obligation to grant Donohue's request. And, as the Empire State Building's Lighting Partner application (.PDF) says:
Selection as an Empire State Building Lighting Partner is at the sole discretion of the ownership and management of the Empire State Building Company L.L.C. The Empire State Building is a privately owned building—not owned by New York City or the State of New York—and, therefore, has its own policies. Selection as a Lighting Partner is a privilege, not an entitlement.
the request was denied without explanation
But the application unambiguously states that:
Due to the high volume of applications, the Empire State Building Company is under no obligation to provide specific feedback to any individual or organization regarding the status, merit and/or denial of its application. If you do not agree to these terms, your application will not be considered and submitted through the review process.
Clearly, the company owes Donohue nothing and his complaints are baseless. Yet, because his request was of a religious nature, he believes that he is entitled to special treatment, unquestioned acceptance, and immunity from criticism.
Unfortunately, some members of the New York City Council, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn, are actively supporting Donohue's campaign. From a recent Catholic League press release:
[we have] received the following statement from Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office offering her full support of our effort: “Mother Teresa built hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, health clinics and homeless shelters across the globe. She even created the first hospice for AIDS patients right here in Greenwich Village. She was voted the most admired woman in the world three years in a row and even won the Nobel Peace Prize. We respectfully request that the Empire State Building’s Board reevaluate its decision and choose to honor this wonderful woman who has given so much to the world.” Her office let us know that like millions around the world, Speaker Quinn is a big fan of Mother Teresa and will be contacting Anthony Malkin, the owner of the Empire State Building, today.
That's disheartening. Quinn is both ignoring Mother Teresa's history of egregiously unethical and harmful actions and using the power and voice granted to her by her government position to give Donohue's ridiculous, religiously-motivated campaign a measure of credibility.
According to the New York Observer, Quinn went on to "exchange terse words" with Malkin. Then, after Malkin refused to reverse his decision, she held a press conference about this situation.
And Quinn is still at it. Along with City Councilman James Vacca, she has persuaded the owners of the Hutchinson Metro Center, an office complex in the Bronx, to light their building in blue and white on August 26th. Fine and dandy. But it's highly inappropriate for government officials to actively promote one religion over another (yes, Mother Teresa was a religious individual, not a religion, but she is one of the most well-known figures of Catholicism). Their actions come perilously close to violating the Establishment Clause.
In addition, Quinn is offended at Malkin's endorsement of her plan encouraging New York City residents to put blue and white battery-powered candlesticks in their windows on August 26th. This endorsement, she says, "is the height of hypocrisy." She also lectures him, saying that:
Mother Teresa's message was that all people have a personal responsibility to help their fellow man. This means using your resources and your power to help people and spread this message.
Ridiculous. Individuals and private businesses are not obligated to spread any sort of message, religious or otherwise. Quinn's letter is nothing but a self-righteous guilt trip. And does she really have nothing better to do with her time than promote and give credibility to Donohue’s campaign?
Lest you forget, Donohue's latest press release makes it absolutely clear that he is a dangerous thug who, in addition to pestering and bullying Malkin, has no problem with physically threatening him:
The more people understand what makes him tick, the better. And if he thinks that I'm the only one taking exception to his decision to stiff Mother Teresa, then let him try taking a stroll down 34th Street on the evening of August 26.
Yet these NYC Council members have no compunction at endorsing this nasty, menacing bully?
Please contact Christine Quinn and remind her that, as a government official, her actions are inappropriate. The Freedom from Religion Foundation has released an action alert regarding this situation. There, you can find ways to contact Quinn and others.