"Students of Faith" Video
"Religious freedom is the lifeblood of the American people, the cornerstone of American government." - Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Religious freedom protects people's right to live, speak, and act according to their beliefs, peacefully and publicly. It protects their ability to seek the truth about God and live according to those beliefs. Religious freedom is more than the "freedom to worship" at a synagogue, church, or mosque. No other nation has America's robust protection of religious freedom in a Bill of Rights. (1) Sadly, in recent decades, some government actions have encroached on this God given and Constitutional freedom.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the idea that the government should or could compel any citizen to adopt any official belief in its 1943 decision, WV State Board of Ed.v. Barnette. They wrote, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion to force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein." (2)
Since the principles of religious freedom prevent the cultural majority from using the power of the state to impose their beliefs on others, both religious and nonreligious alike, the government cannot become so powerful that it can tell people what to think and how to act. (3) This is especially important to know during this Christmas/Hanukkah holiday.
"The U.S. Supreme Court and numerous federal appeals courts have recognized that government entities may recognize Christmas as a holiday and may maintain Christmas displays that include both religious and secular symbols." (4)
"Publicly sponsored Nativity scenes on public property are constitutional, especially when the display includes other secular symbols of the holiday. In fact, removing only the religious symbols of the holiday display would demonstrate hostility toward religion, which the First Amendment forbids," said Liberty Counsel. (5)
(learningforjustice.org; religiousfreedominstitute.org, 11/1/19; heritage.org (1)(2)(3);
usccb.org, libertycounsel.org, 4/1/21(4)(5)
"God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If He gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it." - Pope Francis
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE
What, Exactly, is Religious Freedom?
And How Does This Affect Public Christmas Displays?
May God bless our children as they begin
a new school year
As parents we are entrusting precious time and influence over our children to others.
Just as we would not turn over our most precious jewel to an individual and walk away, we cannot leave our children in school without knowing what is being taught and by whom it is being taught.
As our children return to school, be aware of the teachers and policies that envelope them each school day:
- Does the school's education agree with your values?
- Does the school teach beliefs and behaviors you would welcome for your children?
- Are your children's rights to express their faith in school respected and protected?
The best equipped school building, welcoming administrators and well credentialed teachers mean nothing if the attitudes and values in the school and in your child's classroom are antithetical to your family's values. The only way to monitor this is active questioning, consistent interaction and frank conversations with our children, their teachers and school administrators.
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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Educational resources for parish members who work to support Religious Freedoms.
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