"Students of Faith" Video
"I never imagined I would be fired for being a Christian," said Student Senate President, Jack Denton, after winning a federal lawsuit against Florida State University (FSU).(1)
His First Amendment freedoms of religion and speech where denied after his private message conversation among Catholic students was screenshot, shared on social media and went viral, leading to dismissal from his paid leadership role. The conversation had involved a member of the group asking them to financially support organizations that advocated "for things that are explicitly anti-Catholic."(2)
In the settlement agreement, FSU agreed to issue a statement regarding its commitment to protecting students’ First Amendment rights and will restore Denton's lost wages and legal fees.
"If I stay silent while my brothers and sisters may be supporting an organization that promotes grave evils, I have sinned through my silence. I love you all, and I want us to all be aware of the truth," said Denton.(3)
"To me, faith is the most integral part of who I am. I can't separate it, and I wanted to talk about the hope that I personally have found in Christ and the freedom He's given me in hopes that maybe I could share that with my peers before we diverge our paths," said Elizabeth Turner, a Michigan HS valedictorian.(4) However, the principal demanded she remove references to faith from her graduation address. Elizabeth had written, "For me, my future hope is found in my relationship with Christ. By trusting in him and choosing to live a life dedicated to bringing his kingdom glory, I can be confident I am living a life with purpose and meaning." (4)
First Liberty Institute attorneys sent a letter to the principal demanding Elizabeth be allowed to reference her faith in her speech. "Graduation is a time for celebration, not censorship... All public schools should protect the private religious expression of their students."(5)
The school then revised their decision. "We are grateful to school officials for acting swiftly to ensure that religious students can freely exercise their right to express their faith in a graduation speech," said First Liberty.(6)
"Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don't hold, nor do they have the right to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting," said an Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney representing a Virginia teacher suspended for voicing his objections to two proposed school policies during the public comment period of a school board meeting.(7)
ADF explained the school board's actions violated the Virginia Constitution when it punished the teacher by retaliating against him for expressing his conscientious beliefs in a public forum, and also violated his free exercise of religion by discriminating against his religious beliefs.
(church militant.com, 5/28/21(1); christianpost.com, 5/28/21(2)(3); toddstarnes.com, 5/27/21(4);globenewswire.com, 5/26/21(5); 1cbn.com, 5/27/21(6); lifesitenews.com, 6/2/21(7)
The Bishops of the United States wrote to members of the U.S. Congress warning the Equality Act would “discriminate against people of faith” and “inflict numerous legal and social harms on Americans.”
“Rather than affirm human dignity in ways that meaningfully exceed existing practical protections, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith,” they declared.
Similarly, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights stated that the Equality Act is fundamentally “anti-Christian” because of its rejection of biological sexual differences in favor of an ideological agenda.
The Act would “promote the most comprehensive assault on Christianity ever written into law,” wrote Catholic League president Bill Donohue this week.
STUDENTS MAY PRAY IN SCHOOL
ARE NOT “GOD-FREE ZONES”
America’s children need not leave their faith outside the school house door.
For students to be silenced or disciplined by a school authority for appropriate religious expression should never happen. Sadly, young students may well conclude…
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AT WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES: DEFENDING FREEDOM OF RELIGION
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RALLY 2018
IN SERVICE TO THE CHURCH
Click here to watch Barbara on TeleCare TV.
NATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM DAY
Click here to view a video about National Religious Freedom Day 2014.
Barbara Samuells, president of Catholics for Freedom of Religion and a parishioner at St. Matthew’s, Dix Hills, shares her experience at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
Pope Francis has observed that “religion [cannot] be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life.” Evangelii Gaudium. . . , no. 183. In insisting that our liberties as Americans be respected, Pope Benedict XVI said that this work belongs to “an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity endowed with a strong critical sense vis-à-vis the dominant culture.” Therefore, catechesis on religious liberty is not the work of priests alone. If religious liberty is not properly understood, all people suffer and are deprived of the essential contribution to the common good, be it in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that individuals make every day, both here at home and overseas.
CATHOLICS FOR FREEDOM OF RELIGION
America’s First Amendment guarantees its citizens five freedoms, the first of which is Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Religion includes the freedom to worship according to one’s beliefs as well as the freedom to practice that faith in everyday life according to one’s conscience.
So that this First Amendment freedom may be practiced and preserved for generations yet unborn it is essential that Americans understand this freedom and the circumstances from which it came. A fitting place for the development of this understanding and protection of Religious Freedom is inside all faith communities.
Catholics for Freedom of Religion offers resources to parish members who work to support Religious Freedom by initiating parish laity groups with these suggested goals:
To educate and inspire for Freedom of Religion
To remain non-partisan, advocating for no candidate or party
To invite and include other faith communities
To become a permanent group within each parish to educate every generation of Catholics about our Freedom of Religion…how rare it is, how dearly it was purchased for us and how certainly it is being lost.
To recognize and oppose attacks on Freedom of Religion from any source
“We hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, that religion, or the duty we owe our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.” James Madison
“While Americans presume that the Constitution guarantees their rights, in practice our rights survive or disappear based on how firmly we defend them.” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput