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13 Nov

Thanksgiving: The Religious Freedom Holiday

The Pilgrims who established the first Thanksgiving Day were in search of the freedom to practice their faith after being persecuted, arrested and fined for their form of Christianity.  After fleeing England, their beloved mother country, and a ten-year sojourn in Holland, these so-called “separatists” prayerfully decided to depart for America to find what the governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, called “freedom of religion for all men.”
 
There were 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower who suffered the 67 days of rough sailing before they finally landed at Plymouth Bay in November, 1620.
 
After indescribable hardships, by March, 1621, less than a year after arriving, only 51 of the original 102 remained alive.  Fortunately, some Native Americans taught the Pilgrims  survival skills in this new land, and at the end of their first harvest, they decided to hold a feast of celebration and thanksgiving to God for their harvest, newfound friends, and freedom to worship as their hearts desired.
 
Now, almost 400 years later, let us reflect on the sacrifice of these brave souls who valued their freedom of religion above all security and comfort and have bequeathed to us this gift.  
 
Proclamation:  Thanksgiving Day 1789
“I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be … our sincere and humble thanks.”  President George Washington
 
 

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Fortnight for Freedom 2017: Witnesses to Freedom

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Free to Speak:
Our public schools are not “God-Free Zones”

America’s children need not leave their faith at the school house door.

For students to be silenced or disciplined by an authority figure, for appropriate religious expression should never happen. Sadly, young students may well conclude…

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Religious Freedom Resources

Educational resources for parish members who work to support Religious Freedoms.

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At World Meeting of Families: Defending Freedom of Religion

WorldMeetingofFamiliesBarbara 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.

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Religious Freedom: Our First Amendment Right

In Service to the Church


Click here to watch Barbara on TeleCare TV.

Pope blesses boy as he leaves audience in St. Peter's Square at VaticanPope 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
Mission Statement

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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

www.CatholicsforFreedomofReligion.org Phone 631-896-8331


National Religious Freedom Day


Click here to view a video about National Religious Freedom Day 2014.