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
13 Mar

Religious Liberty Loses – Again

“Christians must beware of a polite persecution that is cloaked in a disguise of culture, modernity, and progress.” Pope Francis

Religious Liberty Loses – Again:

Four years after losing their business for declining to create a cake for a same-sex wedding, Melissa and Aaron Klein, owners of “Sweet Cakes by Melissa”, finally had a hearing with a three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals. Until March 2, 2017, the Kleins had never been granted an official day in court to appeal their case.

The saga began in 2013 when the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) ordered the couple to pay $135,000 in damages and forbade them from speaking about this case. However, even before hearing the case, the BOLI Commissioner had praised an LGBTQ advocacy group on Facebook and made public comments on media interviews indicating the Kleins “disobey(ed)” the law and needed “rehabilitation”. Attorneys for the Kleins stated the Commissioner should have recused himself.

First Liberty attorneys argued the the OBLI violated the Kleins constitutional rights to religious freedom, freedom of speech, and due process. “The case centers on one vitally important question: can the government force citizens to violate their conscience or their faith? The First Amendment was written to prevent exactly that.” (cbn.com, 3/2/17; us news.com, 3/2/17)

Who’s Next? Ideas to Consider:

  • Will the state now force Muslim and Jewish butchers to prepare and serve pork to whoever demands it?
  • Will fashion designers who refused to design clothing for the First Lady be held accountable?
  • Will an architect be compelled to design a church?
  • Will a rabbi be forced to marry a Christian and a Jew?
    (oregonlive.com, 3/2/17; tfpstudent.org, 2/21/17)
06 Mar

Religious Liberty Loses Case

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
President Ronald Reagan

Religious Liberty Loses Case:

Washington State: Florist Barronelle Stutzman, age 72, sued by the state and the ACLU for declining to design and provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, lost her appeal at the state’s Supreme Court in February. She had declined to serve a long-time customers’ wedding because of her Christian beliefs but instead recommended 3 florists who would gladly create the floral pieces.

“What the court decided was now the government has the power to separate me from my livelihood and faith,” said Mrs. Stutzman. “They’re trying to compel me to design something that goes totally against my personal conscience.”

The Washington Supreme Court ruled she is also liable for fines and legal costs estimated at over $2 million. Mrs. Stutzman said, “It’s not just my freedom, it’s everybody’s freedom, whether you’re religious or not, that is at stake.” (CNA/EWTNnews, 2/19/17; patheos.com, 2/19/17)

USCCB urge President to protect religious liberty:

Saying “religious freedom in America has suffered years of unprecedented erosion,” the USCCB posted an online letter for citizens to send that urges Pres. Trump to sign a religious freedom executive order.

The letter, found at https://www.votervoice.net/USCCB/Campaigns/49640/Respond
says the president can “restore the federal governments respect for religious freedom of individuals and organizations” with a “government-wide initiative to respect religious freedom.” (catholicreview.org, 2/17/17; todayscatholicnews.org, 2/7/17)

“Let us preserve freedom. Let us cherish freedom. Freedom of conscience, religious freedom, the freedom of each person …” Pope Francis

Event:

Saturday, March 18, 10am-2pm, with a light lunch served. St. Bernard’s RC Church, Parish Center, 3100 Hempstead Tpke, Levittown, NY, “Comfort My People – Dignity at the End of Life”

Presenters: Lisa Honkanen, MD, Doctor of Geriatrics, Msgr. James McDonald, current Pastor, St. Aidan’s, Come and be informed!

27 Feb

Victories for Religious Freedom

“The Constitution … affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility towards any.”
Supreme Court, 1984, in Lynch v Donnelly

Victories for Religious Freedom:

Georgia: The state agreed to to pay $225,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming it illegally discriminated against a lay pastor who was fired by the states’ Department of Public Health (DPH) because of the content of his sermons.

In 2014, Dr. Eric Walsh, MD, accepted the job as district health director with the DPH but was soon dismissed after a DPH official asked him to submit copies of sermons he had previously preached as a lay minister with the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

“No one should be fired for simply expressing his religious beliefs,” said First Liberty senior counsel.

“I am grateful this trial has finally ended,” said Dr. Walsh. “It’s been a long difficult journey, but it’s worth it to have my name cleared and to ensure that all Georgia government employees know they have religious liberty.” (wnd.com, 2/9/17; christianindex.org, 2/10/17)

Minnesota: Veterans Memorial Park, Belle Plaine: The city has agreed to bring back a memorial showing the silhouette of a soldier with rifle kneeling in front of a cross.

A Freedom From Religion group had demanded the city remove the cross last month. Many supporters of vets responded by setting up their own crosses.

Amid the controversy, Alliance Defending Freedom proposed setting up a “limited public forum” inside the park where the original cross could stand. The newly approved plan “ensures that there is no endorsement of religion by the city because memorials that will be put up represent the citizens that put them up,” said ADF.

Cheers erupted in City Hall after the council gave the OK. (startribune.com, 2/7/17; minnesota.cbslocal.com, 2/7/17)

“Let us not become weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:9
20 Feb

Assisted Suicide and Physicians’ Conscience Rights

“I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life.” Deuteronomy 30:19

Assisted Suicide and Physicians’ Conscience Rights:

Opponents of Physician-Assisted-Suicide (PAS) contend that doctors have a moral responsibility to keep patients alive as reflected in the Hippocratic Oath. They argue there may be a “slippery slope” from euthanasia to murder and that PAS will unfairly target the poor and disabled and create incentives for insurance companies to terminate lives in order to save money. (euthanasia.procon.org, 12/19/16)

This “slippery slope” argument is addressed by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, writing about ethics in the Atlantic Monthly, in which he affirms that there is a lesson to be learned from the Netherlands and Belgium, where there is widespread breach of legal safeguards leading to a sizable incidence of non-voluntary euthanasia. He fears the eventual outcome of PAS laws could be euthanasia of the demented, the mentally ill, the old, and others. (heritage.org, 3/24/15; cmda.org, 7/18/16)

A Warning from Canada:

The “Medical Assistance in Dying” report, February, 2016, recommended that all Canadian doctors have a legal duty either to provide assisted suicide or provide an “effective referral” to someone who will provide it. Recommendation 10 of the report recognizes there may be a direct conflict of rights and interests between a patient seeking suicide and a doctor with ethical and moral standards opposed to providing this option. However, Recommendation 10 subordinates the values, rights and ethical interests of the doctor to the wishes of the patient.

Many physicians in Canada warn of this “slippery slope” to the kind of social and medical ethics that corrupts and erodes the core virtues essential for survival of a free society. It would be wise to pay attention to what is happening in Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland, since already six American states (CA, OR, WA, MT, NM, and VT) have recently legalized physician assisted suicide. The New York State legislature is now considering a so-called “medical aid in dying” bill. (cnsnews.com, 3/18/16; stat news.com, 1/19/17; latimes.com, 5/16/16)

“Do not abandon wisdom, and she will protect you; love her and she will keep you safe. Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do.” Proverbs 4:6-7
13 Feb

Freedom of Faith vs. Doctor Assisted Suicide Laws

“Even in my suffering I was comforted because your promise gave me life.  Psalm 119:50

Freedom of Faith vs. Doctor Assisted Suicide Laws:

Vermont:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have filed suit  in federal court against Vermont Board of Medical Practice, etc. on behalf of doctors who fear that state agencies are construing Vermont’s assisted suicide law as requiring them, regardless of their conscience or oath to “do no harm”, to counsel patients on doctor-prescribed death as an option.  According to state agencies, only doctors may refer patients to others for assisted suicide counseling.  However, these health care professionals contend it is unethical for them to counsel for, refer for, or in any way participate in suicide.

“The government shouldn’t be telling health care professionals that they must violate their medical ethics in order to practice medicine,” said ADF Senior Counsel.  “These doctors and health workers deeply believe that suffering patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves.  The state has no authority to order them to act contrary to that sincere and time-honored conviction.”  (adflegal.org, 7/21/16)

California:  The insurance company for terminally ill Stephanie Parker, wife and mother of four, denied her a different chemotherapy drug after California’s End of Life Option Act was passed in 2016.  She was told that while chemotherapy was denied, suicide pills were covered under her plan.  “As soon as this law was passed … patients fighting for a longer life end up getting denied treatment, because this (suicide) will always be the cheapest option,” she said.  (washingtontimes.com, 10/20/16)

Hippocratic Oath:   “… I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing.  Neither will I administer poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course.”

07 Feb

Another American town responds

In a world where various forms of modern tyranny seek to suppress religious freedom … it is imperative that the followers of the various religious traditions join their voices in calling for peace (and) tolerance…”  Pope Francis

Another American town responds:

Knightstown, IN – When residents learned that city officials had caved into removing a large illuminated cross from the town’s Christmas tree after the threat of a lawsuit, they decided to fight back by putting crosses in their windows and in their yards, letting the world know that they would not let “Christ” be taken out of Christmas.

“The Cross will come down but we can still light the town with crosses…instead of just one cross, we can now have hundreds, we can light them everywhere in town,” said a local Facebook post.  (lifesitenews.com, 12/20/16)

“Hall of Shame” 2016 report continued:

“We felt it was very important this year that we highlight three countries where religious discrimination and persecution are deemed unusual but have reached a certain threshold of concern. These are Mexico, Russia, and sadly, the United States,” said International Christian Concern president, Jeff King.
“Christians in the U.S. are facing constant attacks in the media and are being marginalized through the law.  The media portrays Christians as bigoted, racist, and close-minded.”
The First Liberty Institute reports that attacks on religious liberty doubled between 2012-2015.   (persecution.org, Hall of Shame report)

Compliments to:

St. Therese of Lisieux, Montauk, for inviting Patricia Flynn, Treasurer and a Director of Catholics for Freedom of Religion, to speak about “Religious Freedom Day” during all masses January 14-15.

30 Jan

Atheist group wins battle to pull cross from Veterans Memorial Park

“For the most part, we are aware of the persecution and martyrdom of Christians around the world, but we tend to be naive about the threat to religious freedom right here in America.”     
 Msgr. James M. McNamara, L.I.Catholic, January, 2017

Atheist group wins battle to pull cross from Veterans Memorial Park:

Belle Plaine, MN – A monument depicting the silhouette of a soldier kneeling at the grave of a fallen comrade with a headstone marked by a cross, has had the cross cut off.

“It’s a grave marker – in this instance, it’s not a religious symbol,” said a resident from a family of veterans.  “It’s frustrating to see that one or two people are allowed to speak for a town of over 3,00 people,” said another resident, who started a movement to fight back by displaying crosses in front yards and nearby businesses.

Also, a nearby manufacturing plant will deliver 400 copies of the original metal statue – cross and all – to the veterans club for residents to purchase and display on their own property.  (startribune.com, 1/25/17; alphanewsmn.com, 1/19/17)

“Hall of Shame” 2016 report:

For the first time, the United States has been named among the top 12 nations where Christians are targeted for their faith by International Christian Concern (ICC), a persecution watchdog group. “While conditions in the U.S. are in no way comparable to other countries on the list, a certain segment of the culture and the courts seem to be intent on driving faith out of the public square.  There have been too many court cases with bad decisions to miss the clear trend line,” said Jeff King, president of ICC.

Compliments to:

*  St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Melville, whose Religious Education program  hosted our “Free To Speak” lesson to 400 parents, catechists and 7th & 8th grade students in January.

*  St. Pius X, Plainview, hosted our “Free To Speak”  to 100 catechists and 7th & 8th grade students in January.

24 Jan

Good news for “Good News Clubs”

“… all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend (religious) freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.”
Pope Francis, Welcoming Ceremony in Washington, D.C., Sept.25, 2015

Good news for “Good News Clubs”:

A major victory for equal access has been won after a 3-year legal battle against the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) that had imposed a facility fee on after-school Christian character-education clubs while providing free after-school access to non-religious groups such as the Boy Scouts.

An Ohio federal district court found CMSD violated the constitutional rights of these Christian clubs and required the school district to change its facility use policies and pay $150,000 in damages. (libertycounsel.org, 6/29/16)

We the people …
This Constitution is really, in its formation, a government of the people … No government before introduced among mankind ever contained so many checks and such efficacious restraints to prevent it from degenerating into any species of oppression …” (George Washington)

May you and your contemporaries … preserve inviolate the Constitution, which, cherished in all its chastity and purity, will prove in the end a blessing to all the nations of the earth.” (Thomas Jefferson)

16 Jan

Bring Your Bible to School Day

You can pray, read your Bible or other religious material, and talk about your faith at school.”  (U.S. Department of Education Guidelines)

Bring Your Bible to School Day 

announced by student group:

A Wayne City, Illinois H.S. has issued a ban on students posting about prayer or religious events on the school’s Facebook page.  When a student group advertised this event, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a militant atheist group, complained and the superintendent immediately took down the posting without investigating the claim or the Department of Education Guidelines.  A notice posted by a student is very different than if a school official did it.  (christiantimes.com, 1/8/17; frc.org,1/6/17)

“You can organize prayer groups and religious clubs, and announce your meetings.”  (U.S. Dept. of Ed. Guidelines)

We the People …

Many Americans in the early years of the Republic truly regarded the Constitution as a miracle that was actually “influenced, guided and governed” by the hand of God.

Founding Father, Benjamin Rush, said the origin of the Constitution was “from heaven” and he believed the “hand of God was employed in this work just as God had divided the Red Sea to give passage to the children of Israel, or had created the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.”

Founding Father, James Wilson, said, “Governments, in general, have been the result of force, of fraud, and accident…The United States exhibit to the world the first instance, as far as we can learn, of a nation, … deciding calmly concerning that system of government under which they would wish that they and their posterity should live.”

(The 5,000 Year Leap, by W.C. Skousen)

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”  (Bill of Rights, Amendment 1)