22 May

Court Upholds Conscience Rights of Business Owner

Five years after Hands On Originals t-shirt company was sued for declining to print t-shirts for the Lexington homosexual “Pride Festival,” the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that no one should be forced to engage in speech they disagree with – including small business owners.  “Christians should not be forced to violate their consciences in order to make a living,” said Concerned Women for America legal counsel.

Initially, the city’s Human Rights Commission found Blaine “guilty” of breaking the town’s “fairness” ordinance and sentenced him to “diversity training.”  At the time, the Commission’s Executive Director said it’s time for Christians in the marketplace “to leave their religion at home.”  However, Blaine believed, “I don’t leave my faith at the door when I walk into my business.”

“Americans should always have the freedom to believe, the freedom to express those beliefs, and the freedom not to express ideas that would violate their conscience,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel.  “Protecting Blaine’s freedom affirms everyone’s freedom, no matter the nature of their beliefs or convictions.  The government shouldn’t be able to force citizens to create speech that conflicts with their deepest convictions, and the court’s decision rightly affirms that.”
(lifesitenews.com, 5/16/17; frc.org, 5/16/17)

“Christians should not be forced to violate their consciences in order to make a living.”  Mario Diaz, legal counsel for Concerned Women for America

Save the Date:

  • June 21
    Opening of 2017 Fortnight for Freedom.
    Joy of the Gospel” at St. Bernard’s Church, Levittown
    Meditating on illuminations of sacred scriptures.
    Preview of St. John’s Bible at 6:00pm in Peach Room.
    “Visio Divina-Seeing the Word” and Benediction 
    at 7:00pm in the church.
  • June 28
    Fortnight  Religious Freedom Rally
    keynote speaker, Bishop John O. Barres
    Holy Trinity HS, Hicksville
    6:00pm Rosary
    7:00pm Program
15 May

Religious Discrimination by Grand Canyon Officials

On May 4, 2017, National Day of Prayer, President Trump issued
“Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty”

Religious Discrimination by Grand Canyon Officials:

A highly respected geologist has filed a complaint against the Grand Canyon National Park, accusing officials of denying him a research permit due to his “Christian faith and scientific viewpoints informed by his Christian faith,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel. Dr. Andrew Snelling had previously been allowed to conduct research in the Grand Canyon but his recent “request to obtain a few fist-sized rock samples was denied after Park officials learned of his Christian views about the Earth’s beginnings.”

“The case is about good science being practiced by a good scientist who is being blocked by intolerant government bureaucrats. They have shown a clear animosity toward a researcher’s faith and want to trample on his civil rights,” said the president of Answers in Genesis.

Scientists will always look at data and challenge one another’s interpretation. “Such disagreement is how science works. But when the government starts refusing access to even collect the information because it dislikes one scientist’s views, it undercuts science and violates the law,” said ADF.

The case “perfectly illustrates why President Trump had to order executive agencies to affirm religious freedom, because park officials specifically targeted Dr. Snelling’s religious faith as the reason to stop his research,” said an ADF attorney.
(12news.com, 5/9/17; wnd.com, 5/9/17; answersingenesis.org, 5/9/17)

Save the Date:

June 28, 2017
Religious Freedom Rally
keynote speaker, Bishop John Barres
Holy Trinity HS, Hicksville
6:00pm Rosary, 7:00pm Program

08 May

Free Speech Fairness Act of 2017

“a wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral beliefs.”
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito March 16, 2017

Free Speech Fairness Act of 2017:

The Free Speech Fairness Act was introduced to allow churches and nonprofits to participate in political speech. It would roll back the Johnson Amendment of 1954, named after Sen. Lyndon Johnson, that prevents any church or other nonprofit organization from endorsing or opposing political candidates – even for biblical reasons – and allowed the IRS to punish pastors, churches and nonprofit ministries with crippling audits and threats to take away tax exemptions. The Johnson Amendment has caused great confusion and concern about what tax exempt organizations can say about moral issues and political candidates.

The Fairness Act would restore free speech to churches, charities and their leaders who have effectively been silenced. The act proposes to “allow charitable organizations to make statements relating to political campaigns if such statements are made in the ordinary course of carrying out its tax exempt purpose.”

“Thomas Jefferson’s ‘separation’ coinage doesn’t mean that there is a complete wall of separation between the two (church and state); it just means that the state should not have control over the church, nor shall the church maintain control over the state,” wrote the Fairness Act’s sponsors.
(dailysignal.com, 4/28/17; congress.gov/bill; desertnews.com, 2/7/17)

“The First Amendment is, and freedom of speech is, the cornerstone of our democracy … we cannot toy around with the First Amendment. It is absolutely critical.”
Robert Reich, Berkeley Professor, former Secretary of Labor in 1990’s
01 May

Asking for Bibles After Losing Everything

“I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.” Abraham Lincoln

Asking for Bibles After Losing Everything: Peru – Inhabitants of a village devastated by recent floods asked Archbishop Eguren to help them get some Bibles. “They said the Word of God is essential for them and the continuity of the family catechetical programs … they have implemented in their village,” said an archdiocese spokesperson. “They are people of deep faith and despite everything they have suffered they have not lost hope…” (catholicnewsagency.com, 4/25/17; patheos.com, 4/25/17)

Year of the Bible 2017: For the second year in a row, Kentucky Governor Bevin declared the new year the “Year of the Bible 2017″ after the proposal was brought forth by Democrat state Representative Tom Riner. Leaders in each county took 15 minute shifts with the goal of reading the entire Bible in Kentucky’s Bible Reading Marathon.

President Harry S. Truman said, ‘The fundamental basis of our nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teaching we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul,'” said Gov. Bevin. (christianpost.com, 12/23/16; governing.com, 12/23/16)

“So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens to their country and respectable members of society.” John Quincy Adams
25 Apr

U.S. Supreme Court’s Most Important Religious Freedom Case This Term

“The concept of (First Amendment) neutrality can lead to … hostility to the religious.
Such results are not only not compelled by the Constitution, but, it seems to me, are prohibited by it.” 
        U.S. Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg  (1962-1965)

 U.S. Supreme Court’s Most Important Religious Freedom Case This Term:

Question:  Can states exhibit hostility to religion by prohibiting religiously affiliated schools  from participating in otherwise neutral government programs solely because the groups have a religious identity?

Trinity Lutheran Church Learning Center in Missouri sought to participate in a Grant Program that provided rubberized material for school playgrounds made out of old tires in order to resurface their preschool playground with this safer, recycled material.  Trinity was disqualified from the program based on an 1875 Missouri constitution amendment that prohibits public money being used to aid “any church, sect, or denomination or religion.”

“The state admits that it blatantly excludes religious organizations from a safety program that has nothing to do with religion.  That’s precisely the kind of hostility to religion that the U.S. Constitution prohibits,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel.

Being neutral “doesn’t mean treating religious organizations worse than anyone else,” ADF continued.  If the government can block this benefit, what’s next?  “If a child is hurt on Trinity’s playground, can the county hospital send an ambulance?  Or, if the city provides fire extinguishers to all preschools, can it give some to Trinity?”

(frc.org,4/19/17; dailysignal.com,4/18/17; constitutioncenter.org, 1/3/17)

 

“When our Founding Fathers passed the First Amendment … they never intended to construct a wall of hostility between government and the concept of religious belief itself.”               President Ronald Reagan

Events:

Sunday, May 7
Catholic Teachers in Public Schools – Communion Breakfast
11:00 Mass, 12:00 Brunch & Presentation
Seminary of the Immaculate Conception
440 West Neck Road
Huntington, NY 11743
To register call 516-678-5800

 

17 Apr

Palm Sunday Attacks on Coptic Christians

“convert the hearts of the people who are sowing terror, violence and death …”    Pope Francis

Palm Sunday Attacks on Coptic Christians:

Pope Francis condemned Islamic State terror attacks on Coptic churches during Palm Sunday services.  These bombings in Cairo, Egypt, are the latest escalation by ISIS to step up its attacks against Egypt’s Christian minority which makes up 10% of the population.   (americamagazine.org, 4/9/17; catholicnewsagency.com, 4/9/17)

Are Christians in America Under Attack?

Compared to the rest of the world, the answer is “No.”  Americans don’t experience the same kind of persecution as Christians in Nigeria, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and Syria.

What is happening in America is an increasing hostility and intolerance toward Christian beliefs and values.  Hostility toward religion in America has expanded dramatically in recent years, with florists targeted, bakers punished, nuns coerced and retail companies facing discrimination for their faith.

“This flood is engulfing ordinary citizens who simply try to live normal lives according to their faith and conscience…It has the potential to wash away the ground that supports our other rights, including freedom of speech…,” said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel for First Liberty.   (time.com,6/29/16; christianity.com)

“God made us free, but this kind of (polite) persecution takes away freedom.”  Pope Francis

Events:

  • Sunday, April 23, 2017, 7-9PM
    Congressman Lee Zeldin
    St. Patrick’s R.C.Church
    280 E Main St., Smithtown,
    Topic: conscience rights & religious liberty and our Congress
  • Sunday, May 7, 2017
    11:00 mass, 12:00 Brunch & Presentation
    Catholic Teachers in Public Schools Communion Breakfast
    Seminary of the Immaculate Conception
    440 West Neck Road, Huntington, 11743
    For a reservation, call DRVC, Office of Faith Formation at 516-678-5800

 

 

10 Apr

The truth about “Separation of Church and State”

“For some time now, we have viewed with growing alarm the on-going erosion of religious liberty in our country.”  Archbishop William Lori

The truth about “Separation of Church and State”

Many  Americans are surprised to learn that the words, “Separation of Church and State” do not appear in the First Amendment or anywhere else in the Constitution.  This phrase is traced to a letter President Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut in response to their concerns about their Religious Freedom.

Jefferson quoted the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”  “thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

The metaphor of a “wall” was used to put restrictions only on the government and not on the people.  At the very heart of Jefferson’s assurance of a  “wall of separation”, is the notion that the government will not interfere with the peoples’ rights to worship God as well as to practice their beliefs.

Sadly, today many choose to reverse the real meaning of Jefferson’s words to place restrictions on people instead of on government.  (usconstitution.net; wallbuilders.com; schoolprayerinamerica.info)

“And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure if we have lost … a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?  That they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” ~ Thomas Jefferson
03 Apr

“Freedom of Religion” vs “Freedom of Worship” – What’s the difference?

“Religion cannot be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life.” Pope Francis,  Evangelic Gaudium

“Freedom of Religion” vs “Freedom of Worship” – What’s the difference?

“We in the U.S. actually have freedom of religion, not freedom of worship,” said Sen. James Lankford.  The terms, “freedom of religion” and “freedom of worship” are often used interchangeably, but there is a significant difference in meaning.

Freedom of worship “argues that faith should remain a private affair – relegated to personal activities or worship services,” said policy analyst Sarah Torre.  “Step outside the four walls of a home or house of worship and robust protection of religious freedom ends.”

Freedom of religion is the more expansive term since it includes worship but also the right of believers to evangelize, change their religion, have schools and charitable institutions.  “It’s about the right to dress according to ones religious dictates, to preach openly, to evangelize, to engage in the public square,” said a spokesman for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.  “Everyone knows that religious Jews keep kosher, religious Quakers don’t go to war, and religious Muslim women wear headscarves – yet ‘freedom of worship’ would protect none of these acts of faith.”
(ncronline.org, 8/18/16; dailysignal.com, 4/30/15; onfaith.com)

“Religious freedom is one of those unique rights that, to be fully enjoyed, other rights like association and speech must also be protected.  Words matter.”    Knox Thames, Director of U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
27 Mar

Religious Freedom Under Attack

“Let the Torch of Faith we proudly carry continue to light the Torch of Lady Liberty.”
Bishop John O. Barres, Fifth Bishop of Rockville Centre, NY

Religious Freedom Under Attack:

Warnings from Bishop John O. Barres, 2013, Allentown, PA: 

“Threats to religious liberty, zealous efforts to hermetically seal off the witness of Christians in the public square, radical atheism at fever pitch, hedonism and a pornographic culture, the dictatorship of relativism and the continuing scandal of abortion – it can all be quite daunting and jarring.”

“Religious liberty belongs to us.  It wasn’t provided to us by government; it was given to us by God.  No government agency has any right to restrict it much less take it from us.  And when we respectfully tell our government that we will not agree to confine our religious convictions and keep them out of public view, we are acting in the very best traditions of both our Christian faith and our shared American history.”

Warnings from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito:

“The U.S. is entering a period when its commitment to religious liberty is being tested,” warned Justice Alito in a speech sponsored by a Catholic lawyers association in March.

“A wind is picking up that is hostile to those with traditional moral values.”  Organizations seeking to change traditional beliefs will “vilify those who disagree and treat them as bigots.”

” We are likely to see pitched battles in courts and Congress, in state legislatures and town halls.  But the most important fight is for the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans.  It is up to all of us to evangelize our fellow Americans about the issue of religious freedom.”  (chicagotribune.com, 3/15/17; washingtonpost.com, 3/15/17)

God our Father, we entrust the United States of America to Your loving care.  You alone are the true source of our rights.  Reclaim this land for Your glory and dwell among Your people.  Amen

 

 

20 Mar

Facts About Religious Rights in the Workplace

If lay people don’t love their … faith enough to struggle for it in the public square, nothing the (religious leaders) do will finally matter.”
Archbishop Chaput, Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Facts About Religious Rights in the Workplace:

Lack of awareness of religious liberty in the workplace has led to violations of the lawful rights of citizens who merely want to peacefully live out their religious beliefs as they earn a living.  Attorneys at the law firm, First Liberty, have compiled the following facts:

  1.  The Supreme Court recognized, in 2014, that all Americans, including businessowners, have freedom of conscience rights to live and work according to their beliefs without the fear of government compelling them to violate their beliefs.
  2. Employers cannot discriminate on the basis of religion and have an affirmative duty to accommodate an employee’s religious practices in the workplace, unless this practice imposes undue hardship on the employer.
  3.  Employers may run their businesses in accordance with their religious beliefs.An employer does not discriminate on the basis of religion by affirming the faith of its owners in business objectives.  However, the employer may not give the perception that employees’ should acquiesce to these religious beliefs.
  4. Employers and employees may engage in religious speech in the workplace.  Both may not engage in uninvited proselytizing.  As with spoken religious speech, employers can share their religious beliefs with their employees in print form such as pamphlets, books, and newsletters.
  5. Employers and employees may have prayer meetings and bible studies in the workplace as long it is clear attendance is voluntary and not required.
  6.  Employers may have employee training based on bible principles.   However, employees cannot be required to undergo religious training, services, activities, or engage in behavior that would violate their own sincerely-held religious beliefs.

(firstliberty.org, 1/27/16)

“We will not allow Caesar to re-define our faith or banish us, our Church, or other faiths, from the public square, to the shadows of our cities, or walled gardens of our inner selves.”
Bishop William Murphy, Diocese of Rockville Centre