Blog

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