top of page
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WEEKLY

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Religious Freedom Week in the Catholic Church is June 22-29

As Declared by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)

June 16, 2024

Our bishops urge all Catholics to pray, reflect and act to strengthen and preserve America’s unique religious freedom.  Our founders and generations of Americans supported and fought for each American’s right to choose their faith and to exercise that faith freely and openly.

During Religious Freedom Week the bishops ask us to pray for:

  • Safety in the sacred spaces where Americans gather to worship

  • Those persecuted by unjust blasphemy laws

  • Courage from the Holy Spirit to witness the truth of the Gospel in the face of social and legal pressure

  • The freedom to help migrants and refugees

  • Christians in India who face harassment and violence

  • Business leaders to provide a culture of life in their workspaces

  • The grace to act with respect for the dignity of each person

  • Protection of conscience rights for Catholic health care providers and hospitals

Read more:  https://tinyurl.com/37ndm6tf    https://tinyurl.com/2entnmwz

7,000 Catholics in St. Paul, MN walked 4.5 miles on May 27 in a joyous, prayerful Eucharistic procession. Bishops along with 150 priests, first communicants, seminarians, parish groups and families of many ethnicities, ages and number filled the wide boulevard for blocks as they moved with prayer and singing along the route.    This public exercise of faith was part of the ongoing National Eucharistic Pilgrimage which includes processions large and small along four different nation-wide routes leading to Indianapolis for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress July 10-12.

 

Americans of every faith are protected by the 1st Amendment of our Bill of Rights to believe as their conscience dictates and to freely exercise that faith.  In spite of the Constitutional assurance of religious freedom, in the past four years there have been 421 attacks on Catholic churches in the United States. Churches in 42 states have been damaged or destroyed by arson, had statues defiled and smashed, windows broken, and exteriors sprayed with graffiti.  Sometimes there have been disruptions of ongoing Masses in Catholic churches. Only around 25% of these attacks have resulted in even one arrest.

 

As the four Eucharistic procession pilgrims travel to Indianapolis, we can follow their progress and pray for their safety.  Also, we can renew in each parish our understanding of the meaning and importance of the Eucharist in the lives of each of us and our shared life in the Catholic Church. 

 

Read more:  https://tinyurl.com/mryfkyrd      https://tinyurl.com/2m7nbct4 https://tinyurl.com/bde79364

America’s 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights of our Constitution affirms to all Americans of all faiths the right to believe according to their conscience and to live those beliefs openly and freely from church and home to community and country. 

 

President Thomas Jefferson made it clear that the state had no place in determining any citizen’s conscientious beliefs nor the practice of his chosen faith.  Jefferson clarified in his letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, that the matter of religious beliefs and practices is only between each man and his God.  He asserted that 1st Amendment Freedom of Religion places a wall of separation between church and state to prevent government intrusion.

 

The current three-year Eucharistic Revival to inspire, educate and unite Catholics about the wonders of the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was initiated by the United States Bishops on June 19, 2022, Corpus Christi Sunday. The revival includes worship inside our churches and cathedrals as well as Eucharistic processions in local communities, a Eucharistic Congress and a year of Mission. Starting on May 17, over 100,000 Catholics have begun four very public processions encompassing much of our Nation and arriving in Indianapolis in July for the first National Eucharistic Congress in 83 years. 

 

This very open and public expression of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist would be forbidden in many countries across our world where religious freedom does not exist.  As we participate locally and nationally in these three years of Eucharistic Revival, let us include prayers of thanksgiving for America’s religious freedom. 

 

It is up to each generation to guard our religious freedom for ages and millions yet unborn.

 

Read more: https://tinyurl.com/yc3aef2e 

Follow the four processions of the Marian Route (North),

the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route (East), the St. Juan Diego Route (South),

the St. Junipero Serra Route (West)   Follow at:  Eucharisticrevival.org

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Memorial Day 2024 - Some Gave All

May 26, 2024

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who died in our nation's service. It is in our remembering that these American patriots live on. It is by continuing their steadfast defense of our liberties, especially Religious Freedom, that we honor their sacrifice and live up to their rightful expectations of those who live and breathe in the very freedoms for which they died.

 

Since the first battles to gain America’s independence, the families of 1.8 million Americans have sacrificed the joy and presence of their loved ones to the defense of America’s freedoms. On this Sunday before Memorial Day, how fitting that prayers for these fellow Americans should fill our hearts with gratitude for their sacrifice. Let us remember them in the parades and memorial services, by placing flags on their graves, and reading their epitaphs.

 

We can acknowledge and thank today’s surviving families for their loved ones’ service and take part in the National Moment of Remembrance with respectful silence at 3pm on Memorial Day.

 

John Adams, one of our Founding Fathers, said, “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.”

 

America’s freedom of religion is under grave and immediate threat from government regulations, denial of freedom of speech and court-determined imposition of secular values. Because America’s religious freedom is now under attack, we must assume an active defense of what Pope Benedict XVI called “the most cherished of Americans freedoms”.

In good conscience we can do no less. Our children’s freedoms are not ours to lose.

 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ prayer for all who died in service to our nation:

“O God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, look kindly on your departed veterans who gave their lives in the service of their country.  Grant that through the passion, death and resurrection of your Son they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom and rejoice in you with your saints forever.  We ask this through Christ the Lord.    Amen

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

From Our Founders: America’s Heritage of Freedom of Religion and Conscience

May 19, 2024

From the earliest colonists through the adoption of America’s Constitution and later the Bill of Rights, the issue of religious freedom was paramount in the considerations of the citizens and founders of our nation. 

 

By the time of the American Revolution, America’s leaders reflected the colonists’ belief in the importance of God, the Bible, worship and the acceptance of all faiths. Throughout the revolution prayer was a constant and vital support.  History shows our founders prayed earnestly and saw frequent instances of what they believed to be divine intervention protecting our armies and leaders.

 

George Washington said, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States.  Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an Independent Nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”

 

Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 said,” In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered.”

 

Rev. Samuel Langdon, Founding Father, said,” Preserve your government with the utmost attention and solicitude, for it is the remarkable gift of heaven.”

 

Referring to our Constitution, Samuel Adams said,” The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy the gift of heaven, let us become a virtuous people; then we shall both deserve and enjoy it.”

 

Our prayers and action are essential to preserve 1st Amendment  freedom of religion and conscience.

 

From the USCCB: Prayer for Religious Liberty

 

O GOD OUR CREATOR, from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ. Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome— for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us— this great land will always be “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

“[May] you defend these rights, especially your religious freedom, for it has been given to you by God himself.”  -Pope Francis

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Pro-Life Prisoners of Conscience

May 12, 2024

Rick Hinshaw served the Catholic Church as editor of The Long Island Catholic and communications director for the Catholic League and the N.Y. State Catholic Conference. He also spent three years as spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon. Here Rick writes about the ordeal his brother John Hinshaw and other pro-life prisoners of conscience are currently undergoing.

 

Why are my brother and eight other pro-life prisoners of conscience—having already spent eight months in jail—about to be sentenced, probably to ?

 

Because in October 2020 they engaged in peaceful, prayerful civil disobedience at a notorious late-term Washington, D.C. abortion clinic that the Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles has labeled an “infanticide factory.” And because, a year-and-a-half later, two of their group retrieved the remains of five late-term or full-term aborted babies in that clinic’s trash, and challenged authorities to investigate whether the abortionist was violating the federal ban on partial birth abortions, or the federal Born Alive Infants Protection Act.

 

Instead, the FBI re-arrested all nine pro-lifers from the October 2020 sit-in, upgrading local trespassing offenses to federal charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. This law was enacted during the Clinton era precisely to enable draconian sentencing for peaceful pro-life civil disobedience.

 

All nine pro-life defendants, convicted last September, face up to 11 years in prison and fines of up to $350,000 when they are sentenced May 14 and 15 for their peaceful, prayerful action.

My brother John’s participation in this pro-life rescue is consistent with a lifetime spent intervening for vulnerable people—from his professional service for those struggling with mental illness, to volunteering at pro-life pregnancy centers, to his caring interaction with homeless people on the street; and to protecting the unborn, without regard for the potentially devastating consequences to himself.

My brother and his fellow prisoners of conscience need our prayers.

 

They also need our presence of peaceful and prayerful witness for life and justice on May 14 and 15 at E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse, 333 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001.

Individual sentencings will begin at 9 a.m. and continue with a different defendant each hour. If you can possibly be there for any time during those two days, please consider doing so.

 

In any event, please pray for these brave rescuers, for their families, and for all the unborn babies they are trying to save.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

“Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.”

-Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 2224

May 5, 2024

Sexual orientation and gender ideology have been added to the traditional definition of sex as male and female for the purposes of Title IX of the 1972 Federal Education Amendments.  Title IX gave women equal opportunities to men in sports, scholarships, and programs in schools by preventing discrimination in activities and programs which receive federal funding.

 

The administration’s changes to Title IX, as of Aug.1, 2024, will conflict with the religious beliefs of millions of Americans whose faiths teach that God created two sexes, male and female. Teachers and students whose religious beliefs in this regard differ from this newly mandated definition will be at risk of discipline, termination and religious discrimination if they continue to live and exercise their faith as set forth in the 1st Amendment.

 

The new rule equates self-chosen gender identity with God-given biological sex and says that a person’s self-chosen gender identity cannot prevent their participation in any education program or activity.  Attorneys studying the redefinitions foresee that the rule will not allow separate bathrooms, locker rooms, and housing for biological males and females and that women’s sports will be endangered.    The rule will give legal support to those state and local governments that are already making policy and forcing adherence to these cultural influences.

                                                       

Following the same ideology, New York state will vote this Nov.5 on a state Constitutional amendment to expand the equal protection clause of the New York state constitution. That clause currently protects from discrimination by race, color, creed or religion.  Proposed changes would add protected categories of age, gender identity, gender expression, reproductive healthcare and autonomy.

 

The federal Title IX redefinitions and proposed New York state’s constitutional amendment are seen by many as cultural bombs…. imposing an ideology that denies millions of Americans important and basic religious beliefs as well as their right to live their faith and educate their children in their faith.

 

As summarized by an attorney familiar with these issues, “These redefinitions at the federal and state levels are the same in their intent.  However, because one is a federal law and the other a state constitutional amendment, they can be weaponized in different ways by different government entities and private citizens, with different penalties and civil damages that can be levied in different regulatory and judicial forums.  So, they open a multi-front war.  That dangerous fact should not be underestimated.”

 

Read more:  https://tinyurl.com/yxhj623w     https://tinyurl.com/yc5durn7   https://tinyurl.com/47fuyzcb     https://tinyurl.com/yuaeed3n   https://tinyurl.com/3m5zv5ku

Apr. 18, 2024.  In what is called a major win for free speech, a pro-life protestor was reading the Bible aloud, in a conversational tone, on the same street as an anti-Dobbs protest and a few days later at a Pride-Fest rally. In spite of police acting to stop him, his right to speak his views publicly and peaceably was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District.   Meinecke v. City of Seattle  https://tinyurl.com/53xrfzms

 

 Police had asked the protestor to stop reading and/or move to another location saying that he was causing a disruption to the ongoing events and  there could be violence as a result of his reading. Some rally attendees tried to intimidate him, to drown out his reading, stole one of his Bibles, poured water on another Bible and knocked him down. Instead of arresting those who assaulted the protestor, police detained him and charged him with obstruction.

 

The Ninth Circuit judges found the man’s 1st Amendment freedom of speech had been “burdened” by the police asking him to leave the area and then arresting him for “obstruction” even though he was on a public sidewalk peacefully expressing his views.  The court stated that whether the listeners found his views offensive or even hateful did not negate the protestor’s right to speak as he did.

 

Had the protestor complied with the police’s request for him to stop reading or move to another space, the court said that would have constituted a “Heckler’s Veto.”  We see Heckler’s Vetoes often on college campuses when invited speakers are prevented from speaking by raucous, completely disruptive behavior and threats that stop any message of the invited speaker.

 

The judges concluded: “If speech provokes wrongful acts on the part of the hecklers, the government must deal with those wrongful acts directly; it may not avoid doing so by suppressing the speech.”  Meinecke v. City of Seattle; Page 4

 

More: https://tinyurl.com/bdefkkk7  https://tinyurl.com/ykcnhc37  https://tinyurl.com/2rp6utaz

 

“To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness, which mankind now enjoys…  Jedidiah Morse

A student in Creekside Elementary School, WA, asked her principal if she could start an after school interfaith prayer group so she and her religious friends would feel comfortable and safe praying and doing community service together.

 

The principal replied that all clubs had started earlier in the year so there was no funding for another club and the girl and her friends would have to pay to use space in the school like other outside groups.  Meanwhile, one week earlier, the school had approved a new Pride Club.

 

Based on 1st Amendment rights of free speech and free exercise of religion many such denials have been invalidated by courts so that a law firm representing a case like this usually needs to go no further than to write a letter listing the freedoms the school has denied and citing other such cases settled in favor of the student.

 

Situations like this could be avoided, and religious clubs quickly approved if we Americans were familiar with the basics of our religious freedoms including students’ rights to live their faith in many ways in public schools. Our children deciding to bring their faith to school should not have to struggle for the religious freedom already won for them by our Founding Fathers.

 

The US Department of Education explains students’ rights to religious expression in public schools at the link below. Also, at www.cffor.org there is a short video and a pamphlet on “Students of Faith” which cover much of the guidelines.

 

Thank God as well as the faithful parents of these children that we have students eager to live their faith in school.  May they thrive in their love of God and serve as examples of hope and faith for some of our young Americans whom studies show feel isolated and hopeless.    

 

Read more here: https://tinyurl.com/528xbzcy  https://tinyurl.com/yc62732a

  https://tinyurl.com/4t7p92e2

 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  Matthew 19:14

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” -John Adams

A state Senator from Nebraska, first elected in 2016, has announced he will be switching his political affiliation because his right to maintain his pro-life views is not respected by his party. 

 

When Mike McDonnell voted for a bill which would have banned most abortions in his state and another bill prohibiting transgender drugs and body altering surgeries for minors, his party withdrew support for him and blocked him from voting on his county’s party matters.  Sen. McDonnell subsequently changed political parties.

 

His party issued a statement that it was not his Catholic, pro-life views they objected to, but that their actions were affirming their party’s position on these matters. The Senator believes his Catholic, pro-life views were the cause for the censures.

 

The treatment of Sen. McDonnell echoes a type of discrimination, a religious test for public office, shunned by our founders.  The founders believed that America could preserve the extensive individual liberties of our Constitution only if the morality of each citizen could be brought into the public square of ideas, debate and policies. The morals and virtues accepted in America’s private and public spheres were to include all faiths with preference for none.  To that end the founders specifically eliminated any “religious tests” from the requirements for holding public office.   

“Our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them.  The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit.  We are answerable for them to our God.”  Thomas Jefferson

Read more:  https://tinyurl.com/yckau9bx   https://tinyurl.com/4akcs4j2 https://tinyurl.com/2axnw96f

In 2013 when volunteers from Catholics for Freedom of Religion began sharing the facts of 1st Amendment religious freedom and speaking about the denials and subversion of that freedom, we were met with some Catholics agreeing strongly that religious freedom was at risk.  Other Catholics suspected problems with religious freedom and wanted to learn more and act to preserve religious freedom, but most Catholics insisted that because they could go to church on Sunday, there was no problem with religious freedom…nothing to see and no reason to be concerned.

 

A decade later the denials of religious freedom have expanded to faithful Americans being derided and disrespected by authority figures whose lies and distortions are obvious and do great harm.  We are painted as harming women by opposing the destruction of pre-born life, mocked to the point of sacrilege in the media and the public square, investigated by the FBI for being traditional, tracked by the Treasury Dept. for purchasing religious texts, Bibles, guns and merchandise from certain retailers and contributing to law firms supporting life and religious freedom. Our churches and shrines are vandalized with no perpetrators caught while peaceful pro-life protestors are punished with extreme fines and imprisonment.  And there is more.

 

In 2013 Richard Doerflinger, then Associate Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the USCCB wrote about the political forces injecting themselves into the churches and lives of Catholics. He wrote, “At that point we must resist, or we will have nowhere to go with our faith except the hidden resources of our own minds.  “Politics” of an especially intolerant kind will take over everything else.”  Jesus said,” Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
 

Doerflinger   concluded,” Every once in a while, we may have to remind Caesar that we don’t owe him our souls.”
 

Read Doerflinger’s complete remarks here:  https://tinyurl.com/kza4wckj
 

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

The dawn was purpling o'er the sky, With alleluias rang the air;

Earth held a glorious jubilee; Hell gnashed its teeth in fierce despair.

When our most valiant mighty King, From death's abyss in dread array,

Lead the long imprisoned Fathers forth, Into the beam of life and day.

 

When He whom stone and seal and guard, Had safely to the tomb consigned,

Triumphant rose and buried death, Deep in the grave he left behind.

Calm all your grief and still your tears, Hark the descending angel cries,

For Christ is risen from the dead, And death is slain no more to rise.

-Edward Caswall from Aurora Lucis Rutilat  6C. 1849

 

 

As we rejoice with our risen Lord on this glorious day, religious freedom/the rights of conscience empower Americans to rejoice and celebrate, not only within the four walls of our churches which is the definition of “freedom to worship”, but in our homes, community and in the public square.  We are free to teach about the resurrection through the Bible and other religious books, and to invite others to join us.  We are free to have open worship and celebration of Easter as seen in the Easter sunrise services throughout America, all protected by “freedom of religion.” 

 

Our 1st Amendment religious freedom restricts our government from imposing or favoring one religion over another or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Americans of every faith or of none are protected in their thoughts, speech and practice of faith because our founders knew that freedom of religion taken from one was taken from all. 

 

One of our founders, the Rev John Leland of Virginia, who is considered the father of the 1st amendment wrote in support of religious liberty for all: “The liberty I contend for is more than toleration.  The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.”

Ten years ago Prof. Robert George of Princeton University, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, spoke about changes in our culture’s attitude and treatment regarding those who faithfully follow the teachings of the Bible. He pointed out that a Catholic who actually lives the teachings of his faith is in for a very rough time.

 

That time has been with us for ten full years now and grows even more difficult.  In 2024 the anti-religion, Bible-bashing forces in our society, abetted by government regulations, spurious court challenges and media-driven extremism are imposing an even more Herculean challenge to Americans who believe and faithfully aspire to live the words of the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

 

From almost every direction come pressures to enable the destruction of pre-born life, to validate an array of gender identities, to bless marriages outside of the union of one man and one woman, to submit our children to principles and behaviors unacceptable to our consciences and accept denial of our rights to speak and act as full participants within the public square of ideas and policies. 

 

When Prof. George urged us ten years ago that as Catholics we must live the truth of the Gospel as proclaimed by the Church, he acknowledged there would be a price to pay.  From being cancelled to being ostracized and marginalized we see that cost every day.

 

Prof. George said, “You see, for us, as for our faithful Evangelical friends, it is now Good Friday. The memory of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem has faded.” “The love affair with Jesus, his gospel and his church is over.  Elite sectors of the cultures of Europe and North America no longer welcome his message.”  “Away with him,” they shout.  “Give us Barrabas!” 

 

More than ever, the Catholic laity must speak and act publicly in defense of religious freedom.  By being dynamic in following our faith, our actions will exemplify our words.  Cardinal Dolan has reminded us that a charism of the laity is to protect religious freedom in the public square.  Archbishop Chaput advised, “If lay people don’t love their Catholic faith enough to struggle for it in the public square, nothing the bishops do will finally matter.”

 

Read Prof. George’s full remarks here:  https://tinyurl.com/87espsd2

“The age of casual Catholicism is over. The age of heroic Catholicism has begun." -Father Terence Henry, TOR, Franciscan University of Steubenville

 

Whether the issue of religious freedom/freedom of conscience is the right to teach our children the faith, not being forced to fund abortion, evangelization, assembling for worship, the integrity of the words of the Bible, witnessing and advocating our faith and morals in the public square, operating foster parent adoption agencies, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, drug addiction services, etc., all Americans benefit from the God-given right of religious freedom.  Our founders agreed with James Madison, “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.”

 

The Declaration of Independence asserts that we have inalienable rights from our Creator and that government’s role is to protect those rights.  Differing from the history of nations world-wide, the citizens of the new United States claimed the natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness from their Creator, free from dictates by a king, emperor or all-powerful government.

 

We are, more than ever, experiencing unrelenting pressures to yield our right to follow our conscience in the choice for life.  The ability to choose life, from conception to natural death, can be regulated and legislated away from us (by the proposed Equity Act) if freedom of conscience and religion are not preserved. Doctors, nurses and hospitals could be required, under proposed legislation, to participate in abortions as part of their licensing, and they could be required to implement certain end of life protocols which some see as denial of treatment.

 

Since the Supreme Court’s decision that there is no federal Constitutional right to abortion and therefore abortion laws are the purview of each state, those who demand unrestricted abortion are working feverishly within states for abortion on demand.  Each American has the duty to learn and preserve our religious freedom’s right of conscience for ages and millions yet unborn.

 

Read more:  https://tinyurl.com/jrhe45cw   https://tinyurl.com/y3tbs88k     https://tinyurl.com/ywcs9b2p

 

“In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over for the cause of good.” -Pope Francis

Since the National Eucharistic Revival was launched in Oct.,2022 under the leadership and guidance of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), dioceses and their parishes across this country have hosted worship, education and inspiration events to restore understanding and devotion to the mystery and the miracle of Christ present in the Eucharist.

 

Bishop Robert Barron, renowned theologian and expert on St. Thomas wrote this in summary of Aquinas’ Eucharistic Theology: “The Eucharist, above any other Sacrament or sign, contains and causes Grace. Just as food sustains, repairs and delights the body, so the Eucharist sustains, repairs and delights the soul. Without the body of Christ, the spiritual life in us would be compromised by sin, become atrophied and flattened out, and finally would fade away altogether.”   (Diocese of Venice, Fl; Faith Formation Series)

 

After this period of renewal of our Eucharistic devotion, all Catholics have the opportunity to offer public witness to our belief and devotion to Christ in the Eucharist.  The experience of this National Eucharistic Pilgrimage will change lives forever. Walking, standing and praying openly in the public square has been a practice of Catholics for Freedom of Religion (CFFR) throughout the twelve years of our ministry to our fellow Catholics. 

 

When CFFR first stood together with 700 Catholics in public witness of prayer outside of a Catholic Hospital on Long Island…praying for the preservation of Catholic healthcare in spite of government mandates that would deny the conscience rights of the hospitals, schools, universities and business owners…we did not foresee the intensity of that experience for our organizers and the participants.  There is truly a boldness in action and an inexplicable strengthening of faith and resolve when we witness together the truths of our faith.

 

To see the details of the Eucharistic Pilgrimage go to  www.Eucharisticpilgrimage.org

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Some Concerns Communicated in the USCCB’s Report on the

State of Religious Liberty in the United States Have Already Been Validated

March 3, 2024

The bishop’s report, issued on Jan. 16, 2024, looked at many areas of possible problems for 1st Amendment religious freedom going forward and the effects which could reach to Catholics and people of every faith.  In recent news are examples of their apprehensions becoming reality.

 

Feb. 11, 2024:  An armed person entered Lakewood Church in Houston and began firing at worshippers.  The attacker was killed by security personnel, but two other people were shot, including the attacker’s son.

Feb. 15, 2024:  A statue of the Blessed Mother holding the Infant Jesus was vandalized with what looks like hammer blows to the face.  The statue stands at the Washington D.C. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. 

Feb. 19, 2024:  At the National Shrine of St. John Neumann in Philadelphia there are stained glass windows with scenes from the saint’s life.  Three of the windows had panes shattered by rocks and stones thrown from outside per the security cameras. 

Feb. 25, 2024:  A letter from the St. Thomas More Legal Society, which is defending pro-life activist, Lauren Handy, advises that Lauren, who has been convicted of an offense under the FACE Act, will be sentenced on May 14 and could be sent to prison for 11 years.  The bishops’ report explains that the FACE Act was intended to protect abortion facilities, churches and pro-life clinics but has never been used except to charge pro-life demonstrators and sentence them to extreme penalties for peaceful, non-violent actions.

 

The bishops’ report discusses many areas where religious freedom has been diminished and other impending government mandates that would greatly damage every American’s ability to practice their faith.  The charism of the laity is to bring these issues into the public square and stand for the morality which our founders knew was the only sure protection of our liberties.

 

Connect with the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty to receive Action Alerts and the latest updates on current religious freedom issues.     http://tinyurl.com/4brtsyjt 

 

 Read more:  http://tinyurl.com/bdhk3nbs  http://tinyurl.com/2ey4jp9v                                                                 http://tinyurl.com/4secd73k  http://tinyurl.com/2kxx2zsw

 

“Those who deny religious freedom seek to end the influence of faith and morals in our society.  As Catholics, our actions must make it clear, we will not surrender our religious liberty.”  -William F. Murphy, Bishop-Emeritus; Diocese of Rockville Centre

"Socialism (is) the most bitter enemy of Christian principles." -Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922)

 

The Catholic Church has condemned Socialism in all its forms - so-called Christian Socialism as well as atheistic Socialism - without exception.  But why?  What is the error of socialism?

 

Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) said, "The fundamental error of socialism is ... (it) considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism."  However, Christianity holds the belief that each individual must be free to assume responsibility for his own choices.  Jesus came to save each person individually and not a collective called "people."

 

In 1891, Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) wrote, “It is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since (it is) directly contrary to the natural rights

of mankind and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal.” Socialism advances the error that private property is not a human right but can be taken away from individuals by the state and given to others.   

 

Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) explained, "Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is injustice and a grave evil to assign to a higher association (big organization or government) what a lesser and subordinate association (local organizations or government) can do."

 

"No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism (since) Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which ... takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being.  It proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production; it places too severe a restraint on human liberty," wrote Pope John XXIII (1958-1963) in his 1961 encyclical Mater et Magistra.)

 

Read more:  http://tinyurl.com/3kabjtew  http://tinyurl.com/2jdz7496  http://tinyurl.com/9f5pt5an

 

"The state which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person- every person – needs: namely, loving, personal concern.” -Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013)

"Religious Socialism, Christian Socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic (Christian) and a true Socialist."  - Pope Pius XI (1922-1939)

  

The word "socialism" and "socialist" are often used in discussions today, but "few people in the modern Western world understand what socialism is" ... or the "traditional Marxist view of socialism.”  Socialism is not only about caring for the poor and eradicating poverty as many people mistakenly believe. "From Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) to Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013), the popes have consistently condemned socialism" as "destructive" and "wicked."

 

"Socialism, like Communism, advances the view of the state as the supreme authority and inevitably persecutes religion.... Even when the persecution is not blatant or heavy-handed, the belief that the state is higher than the Church leads to innumerable forms of persecution.  For example, God is not rightly acknowledged in the public forum, prayer is silenced, morality based on God's laws is ridiculed, taxes are used as coercion, and worship can be prohibited for what the government deems as just cause."

 

Socialism advances class warfare and the deadly sin of envy.  Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) said, "The great mistake is the notion that class is naturally hostile to class and that the wealthy and the working man are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict.  So irrational and so false is this view that the direct contrary is the truth ... Each needs the other: capital cannot do without labor, nor labor without capital.  Mutual agreement results in the beauty of good order, while perpetual conflict necessarily produces confusion and savage barbarity."

 

"Too often Christians attracted by Socialism tend to idealize it ... They refuse to recognize the limitations of the historical social movements...  Pope Paul VI (1963-1978)

 

Read more:  http://tinyurl.com/3kabjtew  http://tinyurl.com/2jdz7496  http://tinyurl.com/9f5pt5an

 

"We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, ... cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to  Christian truth."  -Pope Pius XI (1922-1939)

On Jan. 23, 2024 the Traditional Latin Mass was celebrated inside the Capitol of the United States in response to an invitation from House Speaker Mike Johnson, House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jim Jordan, and Congressman Dan Meuser to coincide with the one year anniversary of the leaking of the contested memo from multiple FBI offices claiming that extremists and terrorist groups were connected with traditional Catholic communities.

 

The Arlington Latin Mass society coordinated the event and reported that invitations to the Mass were limited in deference to Traditionis Custodis.  About 60 people were in attendance including some Congressional staffers, but no members of Congress were present as they were out of town on recess.

 

After the controversial memo was made public, the FBI stated the memo would be withdrawn as it did not meet FBI standards.  However, a Jan. 31, 2024 letter from 15 GOP Senators to FBI Director, Christopher Wray, asked for intact records from the FBI regarding the memo, since the records were allegedly permanently deleted after the memo became public.  The Senators want to clear up differences between Director Wray’s testimony and new information on the surveillance of Catholics.

 

This is the memo that Cardinal Dolan, speaking in Feb., 2023 as then Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Religious Freedom found to be ‘troubling and offensive.’  The Jan, 16, 2024 USCCB’s Annual Report on the State of Religious Liberty in the U.S. also pointed out concerns regarding this troubling action by the FBI.

 

Read more here:  http://tinyurl.com/25zd2bbb   http://tinyurl.com/5c4wazfk  http://tinyurl.com/5dwccjn9    http://tinyurl.com/5yv76bsv   http://tinyurl.com/4phcarsm

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Thinking about 1st Amendment Religious Liberty after the Jan. 16  USCCB’s Annual Report on the State of Religious Liberty in the United States

February 4, 2024

In response to the United States Bishops’ concerns about religious liberty in our Nation, Catholics can support their efforts and follow the God given charism to the laity of taking our faith into the public square by learning the facts and rights of our Constitutional freedoms of conscience and religion.

 

The 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is direct and definitive. 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

The concerns of the bishops and millions of Americans originate in a culture which now marginalizes faith and religion, shows growing contempt and intolerance for people of faith, tolerates unsolved crimes of vandalism on hundreds of churches and pregnancy centers and has not stood up as one people to condemn the FBI’s investigation of Catholics attending the Traditional Latin Mass. Most Americans are unaware that this administration has proposed a Health and Human Services regulation which the bishops reported would force doctors to perform transgender surgeries and may also include a mandate to perform abortions.

 

An added concern reported since the bishops’ report of Jan. 16, is that the House Judiciary Committee revealed documents in which FinCEN (the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Unit) asked financial institutions to track customer’s transactions for the purchase of religious texts, including the Bible as well as guns, travel tickets, purchases at Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, etc.  FinCEN said those purchases could be “extremist indicators.”

 

Read here: http://tinyurl.com/5dwccjn9  http://tinyurl.com/4b3ku763  http://tinyurl.com/3yfvcs8b

 

“Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion.”  -John Adams

On Jan. 16, which is National Religious Freedom Day, the bishops released what they titled The First Annual Report on the State of Liberty in the United States.  The report came from the Committee on Religious Liberty of the USCCB.  Bishop Rhoades of Fort Wayne, IN is the chairman of that committee.

 

The bishops report points out five areas of particular concern for 2024:

 - Attacks on churches, mosques and temples

 - Health and Human Services regulations which would likely force doctors to perform      transgender surgeries and, perhaps, abortions

- Threats to religious charities serving newcomers

- Repression of religious speech regarding marriage and sexual differences

 

The report also points out the alarming vandalism and destruction at Catholic sites since the Dobbs decision and that the government has failed to find and bring to justice those committing these crimes.  The frequency and severity of these attacks causes concern about the personal safety of Catholics in their churches as well as the personal safety of Jews and Muslims in light of the extreme rhetoric around the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

 

The report highlights the most severe political threat to religious liberty is the Equality Act which was considered by Congress in 2023.  The Equality Act threatens religious freedom, freedom of speech, the rights of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs, the personal safety and the equal treatment of women and other issues.

 

Read more of the USCCB report here as well as information on the Equality Act.

 

http://tinyurl.com/5dwccjn9  http://tinyurl.com/2s4cfs5m  http://tinyurl.com/5d6fvtjw  http://tinyurl.com/mr25crjf

The 1st Amendment’s religious freedom clauses direct the federal government not to favor or impose one particular faith and to protect the free exercise of all faiths. 

Our Religious Freedom, freedom of conscience, protects Americans from having to violate their chosen faith by government imposed regulations which may, for example, mandate that medical personnel and hospitals perform abortions, require employers to include contraception and abortion inducing drugs in their medical insurance, force business owners to use their creative skills to “celebrate” lifestyles which are in opposition to their sincerely held religious beliefs, forbid student-led prayer in public schools, etc.

-Founder and President James Madison “Conscience is the most sacred of all property…”

-Founder and President John Adams "Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion."

-Founder and President Thomas Jefferson “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”

Instituted by Pope Francis in his Apostolic letter “Aperuit Illis”, September 30, 2019

 

Excerpts from “Aperuit Illis”:

  1. “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Lk 24:45).  “This was one of the final acts of the risen Lord before his Ascension.  Jesus appeared to the assembled disciples, broke bread with them and opened their minds to the understanding of the sacred Scriptures. To them, amid their fear and bewilderment, he unveiled the meaning of the paschal mystery: that in accordance with the Father’s eternal plan he had to suffer and rise from the dead, in order to bring repentance and the forgiveness of sins (cf. Lk 24:26.46-47). He then promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would give them strength to be witnesses of this saving mystery (cf. Lk 24:49).”

  2. “With this Letter, I wish to respond to the many requests I have received from the people of God that the entire Church celebrate, in unity of purpose, a Sunday of the Word of God. “

  3. “Consequently, I hereby declare that the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the word of God. This Sunday of the Word of God will thus be a fitting part of that time of the year when we are encouraged to strengthen our bonds with the Jewish people and to pray for Christian unity.”

 

Read Aperuit Illis  bit.ly/3tq9Enz     Read Dept of Ed. Guidelines https://bit.ly/3S7Yddn

 

As part of our thankfulness for God’s gift of the Bible, the Word of God, Americans can learn and protect our 1st amendment religious freedoms.  In our teachings, CFFR speakers too often meet students whose rights to live their faith in public schools are denied.  A student wearing clothing with a Bible verse is a frequent target of discipline in public schools. Reading the Bible and religious books during free reading time is another right often denied.  On Long Island, for example, a high school senior with a strong dedication to the Bible read his Bible during free reading time.  One day a teacher noticed what he was reading and proceeded to mock the student and to encourage other students to mock him for reading the Bible.  These school personnel are ignoring the “U.S. Dept. of Education and Dept. of Justice’s Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Schools” which protects, among other things, students’ religious themed clothing and the reading of religious materials.

Make a pilgrim’s journey to a special place of God’s calm and beauty:

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

 

3rd Annual Pilgrimage for Life and Religious Liberty: Jan. 14

Join Us in Montauk, at St. Therese Lisieux Church, to Give Thanks

For Our Rights to Live Our Faith and to Make the Choice for Life

Celebrating National Religious Freedom Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024

Joining the Intentions of the National March for Life

 

Holy Mass at 10:30am; Recitation of the Rosary for America; 

Eucharistic Procession through Montauk followed by Benediction

Concluding with Fellowship and Hospitality in the Church Foyer

St. Therese Lisieux R. C. Parish

Fr. Liam McDonald, Pastor

67 South Essex St.

Montauk, NY  11954

Co-sponsored by Catholics for Freedom of Religion

America’s founders determined that the citizens of this new nation should be free to exercise their faith in accordance with their consciences, free from government coercion.  Jan. 16 marks the anniversary of the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which is a statement about freedom of conscience and the oppression caused by state established churches.  It was the impetus for 1st amendment protections for religious freedom.

Pres. Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists Jan. 1, 1802, that religion is a matter that lies solely between a man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, and emphasized that the 1st Amendment, expressing the will of the entire American people, places a wall of separation between church and state to protect individual conscience and affirm free religious practice for all citizens free from coercion by the government.

On Oct. 23. 1992, it was resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, that January 16, 1993, is designated as "Religious Freedom Day", and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to join together to celebrate their religious freedom and to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. Since then each President has proclaimed Jan. 16 to be Religious Freedom Day emphasizing the importance of religious freedom to human rights, to our society, to personal and national stability and to the formation of individual codes of ethics without which a country cannot survive.

Read more here: bit.ly/47ba0fz    bit.ly/3RHKk5O    bit.ly/3TBwSlb

 Within the commentary and opinions from media, law firms, politicians and organizations analyzing Constitutional freedoms, there is much agreement that most Americans have no understanding of the source, meaning and implications of the concept of separation of church and state.  The twisting of Thomas Jefferson’s support for the rights of conscience and free exercise of religion has been called the most effective propaganda in the United States.

 As a result, we too often unnecessarily censor our own speech and our children’s, especially in public schools.  We take down holiday displays and remove monuments of the Ten Commandments, remove Bibles from public spaces, and are hyper-sensitive to this wrongly defined line of separation of church and state.  Teachers, priests, religious and parents too often assure our volunteers they “understand there is no prayer in school because of separation of church and state.”  We patiently and kindly correct their misunderstanding.

 

In fact, Pres. Jefferson received a letter from the Danbury Baptists, concerned about religious freedom in their own state and in the Federal Constitution.  Jefferson responded:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ʺmake no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,ʺ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.” 

 

President Jefferson’s reply taken with recurring, clear statements and actions of our founders evidence an intention for the support of a moral and religious citizenry. Our forefathers would have never accepted or permitted the restrictions on religion or conscience that are enacted today under the banner "Separation of Church and State.,"   The intent of the founders was not to establish the government as a God-free zone, but to ensure that matters of religious conscience and practice were a government-free zone.

"The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.” - Dr. Martin Luther King 

 

Read more here:  https://bit.ly/3RHKk5O     https://bit.ly/3Rk6r0H    https://bit.ly/41nFrll

Compiled by attorneys for The Rutherford Institute  www.rutherford.org  and  http://bit.ly/1TNKSQb

Each year there are complaints, threats, and lawsuits over the public mention of Christmas, displays of manger scenes and even of Christmas trees, traditional sacred music included in school, students wearing Christmas messages and jewelry. Please share these facts:

6. Public schools may not require students to sing Christmas songs whose messages conflict with the students' own religious or nonreligious beliefs.
7. Public school students may not be prohibited from distributing literature to fellow students concerning the Christmas holiday or invitations to church Christmas events on the same terms that they would be allowed to distribute other literature that is not related to schoolwork.
8. Private citizens or groups may display crèches or other Christmas symbols in public parks subject to the same reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions that would apply to other similar displays.
9. Government entities may erect and maintain celebrations of the Christmas holiday, such as Christmas trees and Christmas light displays, and may include crèches in their displays at least so long as the purpose for including the crèche is not to promote its religious content and it is placed in context with other symbols of the Holiday season as part of an effort to celebrate the public Christmas holiday through its traditional symbols.
10. Neither public nor private employers may prevent employees from decorating their offices for Christmas, playing Christmas music, or wearing clothing related to Christmas merely because of their religious content so long as these activities are not used to harass or intimidate others.
11. Public or private employees whose sincerely held religious beliefs require that they not work on Christmas must be reasonably accommodated by their employers unless granting the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer.
12. Government recognition of Christmas as a public holiday and granting government employees a paid holiday for Christmas does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Permission has been granted to Catholics for Freedom of Religion (www.CFFOR.org) to distribute these guidelines.
 

 Permission has been granted to Catholics for Freedom of Religion (www.CFFOR.org) to distribute these guidelines.    Questions about the guidelines should be directed to the Rutherford Institute. (staff@rutherford.org)                                                                 

 

From the Board of Directors and founding members of Catholics for Freedom of Religion to Americans of all faiths, we send our wishes that your Christmas will be filled with joy, gladness and hope at the birth of our Savior, Christ the King.   We pray together with you for strength and guidance for all Americans to understand and guard the religious freedom that protects our rights to choose our faith, to worship openly and fearlessly, to share our faith freely and to make the choice for life.  Venite adoremus Dominum.

Compiled by attorneys for The Rutherford Institute  www.rutherford.org  and  http://bit.ly/1TNKSQb

 

Unfortunately, Christmas has become a time of controversy over what can or cannot be done in terms of celebrating the holiday. To clear up much of the misunderstanding, the following twelve rules are offered:

1. Public school students' written or spoken personal expressions concerning the religious significance of Christmas (e.g., T-shirts with the slogan, "Jesus Is the Reason for the Season") may not be censored by school officials absent evidence that the speech would cause a substantial disruption.

2. So long as teachers are generally permitted to wear clothing or jewelry or have personal items expressing their views about the holidays, Christian teachers may not be prohibited from similarly expressing their views by wearing Christmas-related clothing or jewelry or carrying Christmas-related personal items.

3. Public schools may teach students about the Christmas holiday, including its religious significance, so long as it is taught objectively for secular purposes such as its historical or cultural importance, and not for the purpose of promoting Christianity.

4. Public school teachers may send Christmas cards to the families of their students so long as they do so on their own time, outside of school hours.

5. Public schools may include Christmas music, including those with religious themes, in their choral programs if the songs are included for a secular purpose such as their musical quality or cultural value or if the songs are part of an overall performance including other holiday songs relating to Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or other similar holidays.

6. Public schools may not require students to sing Christmas songs whose messages conflict with the students' own religious or nonreligious beliefs.
                                                                

HAPPENING NOW!     PER DEC.5, 2023 CONGRESSIONAL REPORT, FBI AGENT IN CHARGE AT RICHMOND, VA FBI OFFICE AND AN FBI WHISTLEBLOWER INDICATE THE FBI IS STILL WORKING TO CONNECT WHAT THE FBI LABELS AS RADICAL TRADITIONALIST CATHOLICS WITH VIOLENT EXTREMIST GROUPS.  Read details of the report and investigation at the National Catholic Register, Christian Post and National Review.

 

 Read here: https://bit.ly/489jbhc         https://bit.ly/4a7VIPp       https://bit.ly/4aaVUNF

About 391,000 children in this country are being housed through the foster care system of temporary homes, as overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These children cannot remain in their current situations because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

 

In many parts of the country, it is largely Christian organizations who work within their communities to identify and support Christian families to open their homes to these children.  A new rule proposed by HHS would effectively exclude many Christians from this charitable work. 

 

The new rule would consider the placement of a child to be safe and appropriate only if the foster parents and families are mandated to use the child’s identified pronouns and chosen name as well as allowing the child to dress as their self-identified gender.

 

Attorneys General from several states object to the HHS rule because it would force Christians to comply with government compelled speech in spite of their conscientious beliefs about God’s design for sexuality and would significantly reduce the available care for foster children. 

 

In a similar situation the Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that the city of Philadelphia’s refusal to allow a Catholic social services group to place children unless they would include placement in same sex homes was a denial of the free exercise of religion of the First Amendment.

 

Read more here:  bit.ly/3T3AsEc     bit.ly/3uE52dy  bit.ly/41hxu1j   bit.ly/3R3DXrB


Psalm 139:14  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:   marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

“Mankind is a great, an immense family… This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.”  - Pope John Paul XXIII

 

Each year in the USA there are organizations, individuals and government officials who would ban or restrict the celebration of Christmas.  Already this year an administrator in a Wisconsin city has informed employees that decorations this December should avoid red and green colors and religious themes because she sees that as unwelcoming and not inclusive.

 

Meanwhile, churches, town squares, parks and other public forum areas are being readied for the celebration of Christmas and the marking of other faiths’ celebrations as well.   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. (1)  This is especially important to know during the 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." (1)  

 

"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. (2)

 

For many years residents and visitors to New York City have been inspired by a life-size nativity scene in Central Park, on a piece of public property in front of the Plaza Hotel on 5th Ave.  The Catholic League has erected this display for decades.  Their president, Bill Donohue, has taught us that a public forum, a place that is open to all ideas, concerts, artistic exhibitions, etc., cannot stop them from erecting the creche.

 

(learningforjustice.org; religiousfreedominstitute.org, 11/1/19; heritage.org (1);

 usccb.org, libertycounsel.org, 4/1/21(2)

 

"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

Babel defined:  a confusion of sounds or voices

Babble defined:  To utter a meaningless confusion of words or sounds

 

The preservation of Constitutional religious freedom to practice, teach and evangelize our chosen faith requires truthful communication among Americans of all faiths or of none.  May God guide us to regain a common language enabling us to understand and cooperate with each other to fulfill God’s plan for each of us. The Bible verses, Genesis 11: 1-9, tell of the descendants of Noah who migrated to a plain in the land of Shinar, later called Babylon, and decided to build a proud tower up to the heavens to show how great they were and ensure that they would not be scattered apart across the earth.  The Bible tells us that God “confounded” their speech into different languages so they could no longer work together, instead scattering to all lands as God had originally commanded in Genesis 9:1 to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Biblical commentators say that their revolt against the commands of God and their pride and arrogance brought on God’s retribution of confusion, of babel.

 

And what have we brought onto ourselves today?  America’s critical conversations are often meaningless babble as we speak past, but not to, each other.  The gratuitous and ongoing redefinition of society’s previously accepted vocabulary into personally desired or politically motivated or racially charged, manipulative terminology has us speaking different languages which generates misunderstanding, distrust, resentment, and even hate.

 

Generations of Americans have little to no belief in God or the facts of the USA’s grounding in the Judeo-Christian ethos. That ethos asserts our freedoms, the first of which is religious/conscience rights, come always from God, not from a king, dictator or all-powerful government who grants liberty as it sees fit. These Americans are unmoored from anything transcendental and larger than themselves, forcing them to be the sole, lonely arbiters of right and wrong, good and evil, acceptable and unacceptable.  Vast segments of our citizens can no longer have honest discussions via shared definitions of faith, civilized behavior, common values, mutual priorities, and basic responsibilities that were long accepted as common ground and bonded our nation.

 

Let us pray and strive together for a restoration of civil discourse to renew the United States, the only nation founded on natural rights from God and blessed with a Constitution preserving religious freedom as the first freedom. This Constitution is well able to preserve those rights if only we understand its language and respect its original intent and blueprint for our Republic.

 

Colossians 3:8   But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.

This November’s election results include an extreme right to abortion added to the state Constitution of Ohio. The Catholic Conference of Ohio explained the amendment as endangering the health and safety of women, threatening parental rights, and allowing abortion through all nine months of pregnancy; the amendment allows all individuals, including minors, to make their own reproductive decisions. Ohio taxpayers who are pro-life could well find these abortions included in taxpayer-funded Medicaid coverage.

 

Each current election, and certainly the 2024 upcoming election, is now described by media pundits as the most important in the history of America. In each election more and more issues and candidates reflect a clash of basic principles: we will choose between the Judeo-Christian beliefs of our founders which include life, liberty, the rule of law, limited government and protection of conscience rights vs opposing principles reflected in unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortion, extensive central government control, selective application of the law and conscience rights labeled as an excuse to discriminate.

 

Political operatives try to focus our attention on each candidates' personality traits with a concurrent appeal to thought-free emotions instead of providing thoughtful analysis of policies and accomplishments. Informed voters are critical thinkers who ponder:  what are the issues about which I will not compromise and abandon my closely held beliefs?  What principles, values, and policies will I vote for without regard to media spin?  

 

What are the Judeo-Christian values our Founding Fathers wove into the fabric of the American nation as the basis for inalienable individual liberties set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?

 

# 1.  Faith in God and human life is the first gift of God.  This value is primary because it leads to a culture of Life, not a culture of death.  Americans who value life will defend innocent life and reject abortion, especially through the 9th month.

# 2.  Our Liberty is a gift from God and not from government.  "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty." (2 Corinthians 3:17)

 

Read more:   https://bit.ly/3GayF93    https://bit.ly/3SBX7az     https://bit.ly/3SyvFL4

"Conscience is the most sacred of all property." - James Madison, 1792.

George Washington - “The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshipping Almighty God, agreeable to their consciences, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but of their rights.”

 

Our founders established a nation where all religions could be exercised without discrimination or fear of persecution.   They knew a moral and religious citizenry was vital to the exercise and survival of our extensive individual liberties, recognition of equality among men and the safe and respected practices of multiple religious sects.

 

1st Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;

 or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

Our 1st amendment asserts each citizen’s right to be free from government-imposed religion and to follow their conscience in the practice of the faith they may choose. The other four freedoms in the first amendment are essential support to Freedom of Conscience/Religion: 

  • Freedom of speech empowers us to speak about our faith, to pray with others and to evangelize our beliefs. 

  • Freedom of the press empowers us to print our Bibles and books of prayer and worship and to spread our faith through the printed word.

  •  Freedom to assemble empowers us to come together in our churches, communities and public squares to worship, celebrate and evangelize. 

  • Freedom of redress empowers us to challenge the government when it oversteps the wall of separation clearly described in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, to keep government out of the affairs of each citizen’s beliefs and religious practices.

 

A lack of education in the facts of our freedom of conscience as a founding principle and pillar of our liberties has led to generations of Americans denying religious freedom in our schools, colleges and the public square of ideas and governance.  That denial has worsened into intolerance, intimidation, and a shocking and dangerous increase in hate crimes in our nation.

Read more here:   http://bit.ly/470f7ji

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Our Story: Religious Freedom in Peril

November 5, 2023

In 1775, Paul Revere rode through the streets of towns and villages, country roads and dirt paths, calling out to his countrymen and neighbors to wake up, and prepare for an imminent attack on their freedoms.

 

In 2012, a group of Catholics came together bound by a common concern: the federal government’s denial of freedom of conscience. Much like Paul Revere, they recognized the urgent need to alert their friends and neighbors to an attack on our foundational freedom – our freedom of religion.

 

"The constitutional freedom of religion is the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights."  -Thomas Jefferson

 

The group was roused by the government’s mandate that forced all employers, except churches, to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization as part of their health insurance. These Catholics recognized that this was an extreme denial of religious freedom – and it was unconstitutional. The federal government was claiming the ability to deny First Amendment rights through regulations and excessive fines.

 

The Catholics – who were retired professionals, enjoying time with their families, and volunteering in their communities – saw that this information was not reaching Catholics in the halls of their schools and the vestibules of their churches, and they felt compelled to act. Their mission was clear: to draw attention to the ongoing erosion of religious freedom in the US and around the world. 

 

"It's the duty of everyone to defend religious freedom and promote it for all people." -Pope Francis

 

It was clear that secularism was being hard pressed on the heart of one of the most basic conscientiously-held beliefs – the sacredness of human life. The group knew from the world’s history of religious intolerance and persecution that all Americans were in great jeopardy, particularly since religious freedom, the right of conscience, is the first of all our inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

 

The group ultimately decided to mobilize and the Catholics for Freedom of Religion (CFFR) nonprofit organization was formed, embodying the group’s commitment to grassroots action. This has involved 11 years of building resources and expanding volunteers to reach more fellow lay Catholics and bring attention to denials of religious freedom. Together, we continue to educate our fellow Americans about the facts and importance of religious freedom, how dearly it was purchased for us and how easily it is diminished and denied when we are not vigilant. To learn more and to get involved, visit www.cffor.org.

 

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." -Edward Everette Hale

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Please Pray the “Rosary for America”

October 29, 2023

Click here for a printable copy

 

When a new nation emerged from the thirteen British Colonies of the New World, the Catholic Church was to become a bulwark of the lives and the Judeo-Christian foundation of that nation. Although the Catholic church and its followers had been distrusted and unwelcome throughout most of the colonies from the earliest settlements, the Catholics persisted in their faith so that at the time of the first United States’ census in 1790 there were almost 4 million people but only 65,000 Catholics.

 

The first American born Bishop, John Carroll, was given the responsibility of organizing the Catholic church throughout these newly United States, governed by a Constitution proclaiming religious freedom for all. Bishop Carroll faced a daunting task but had within him an abiding faith in the Blessed Virgin Mary and the power of her intercession.

 

Jesuit Bishop John Carroll, the first bishop and archbishop in the United States, and of Baltimore in his first pastoral letter of May 28, 1792, to the Catholics throughout the thirteen states, dedicated our country to the Mother of God.

 

He wrote: "I shall only add this my earnest request, that to the exercise of the sublimest virtues, faith, hope and charity, you will join a fervent and well-regulated devotion to the Holy Mother of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; that you will place great confidence in her in all your necessities…”

 

The Blessed Mother, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, has been the patroness of the United States since 1846 when so declared by the Bishops of the United States.

 

At this time in the trials of our nation and its religious freedom please make it a habit to pray for each state and each of its officials by invocating Mary’s intercession by reciting the

“Rosary for America” available to print here.

 

Pope Adrian VI declared: “The Rosary is the scourge of the devil.” Mary herself, immaculately conceived and full of grace, brings only fear and terror to the devil and his underlings. When we join her in the prayer she gave us, we receive her intercession and protection as we seek Christ.”

"Conscience is the most sacred of all property." —James Madison, 1792.

  

Those who insist there is no problem with America’s religious liberty are uninformed and unaware of the daily encroachments and denials of 1st Amendment rights to follow the faith of one’s choice, not beliefs chosen by government, and to live and exercise that faith openly free from government restraint.  An American who believes that the ability to “go to church on Sunday” is evidence of religious freedom has no understanding of the critical difference between freedom of worship and freedom of religion. Such ignorance of the fullness of the protection intended by our founders and built into the 1st amendment, endangers freedom of religion for all as well as the full array of our liberties whose basis is freedom of conscience. 

 

Thankfully, the Supreme Court has recently issued several opinions critical to the integrity of true religious freedom.  The courts explanations clarify Constitutional religious freedom and empower Americans of all faiths to understand and defend what the USCCB frequently calls our First Freedom. 

 

The opinions from the highest court impact Catholic Social Services, the Little Sisters of the Poor, Catholic schools, extreme government restrictions on the right to worship during Covid and more.    

 

Read about some of the opinions: bit.ly/3EH4HII   bit.ly/45UIfbk    bit.ly/3RnBjyJ

Read about support for Religious Freedom increasing in America:  bit.ly/3PCqisg

 

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." —The Constitution. First Amendment.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

New Hope for Religious Freedom in the United States

September 24, 2023

The 1ST amendment to the US Constitution definitively protects the conscience rights and free exercise of faith of all Americans. Each year, however, the denials of 1st amendment religious freedom become more numerous, unmistakable, and severe.  The increased vandalism and destruction of statues, shrines and churches parallels an increasing intolerance for believers and their right to worship, let alone bring their faith into the public square of ideas as was intended by our founders.  Founding father John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

 

Americans whose religious freedom is denied can contact multiple law firms, mostly supported by donations,  which focus on defending their conscience rights as well as their right to openly live their faith in schools, communities, work, the military and the larger public square. 

 

For example, First Liberty Institute of Plano, TX successfully defended Coach Kennedy, a school football coach fired by his school district for taking a knee after football games to pray, silently and alone, on the 50th yard line. Over time players from both teams voluntarily came to join Coach Kennedy in silent prayer. After 7 years of court action the Supreme Court’s opinion was that Coach Kennedy and all public-school teachers may engage in brief personal prayer in public view of others, including students.

 

Another example is the lawsuit filed by Becket Law to gain access for Catholics to Colorado’s universal, government funded preschool at the public or private school of the parents’ choice. The state, however, denies this benefit to students in Catholic preschools.

 

Also. Thomas More Society attorneys successfully challenged Illinois state’s new law which attacked pro-life maternal healthcare centers.   Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have defended prospective adoptive parents against several states’ laws which deny adoption to parents who do not agree with the state’s gender ideology.  

 

Knowing there is support available to protect religious liberty empowers us to preserve that liberty.

 

Read more here:  bit.ly/462oyOd    bit.ly/483La2K   bit.ly/3ExdtJe

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Defense of the Religious Freedom of Firefighters, High School Football Players, Navy Seals, Catholic Schools and Parishes, Right to Life Groups – Defended Pro Bono by Law Firms of Dedicated Attorneys

September 10, 2023

"The happy union of these states is a wonder;  their Constitution is a miracle; their example the hope of liberty throughout the world." -James Madison

  

"The U.S. Constitution stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to maintain their liberties, freedoms and inalienable rights." (1)  In 1956, the Daughters of the American Revolution started the celebration of the Constitution adopted by Congress.  Then, in 2004, Sen. Robert Byrd, correctly  believing that American school children lacked significant knowledge regarding the Constitution, proposed an amendment, passed by Congress, requiring that all educational institutions receiving federal funds implement educational programs relating to the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17 every year, celebrating the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.

 

This Constitution is the world's longest surviving written charter of government with its  first 3 words, "We the People", affirming that the government of these United States exists to serve its citizens.   "...its framers wisely separated and balanced governmental powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights, of liberty and equality, and of the state and federal governments." (2)

 

"To prevent the abuses of power they felt under the British monarchy, the Founding Fathers framed the Constitution carefully, distributing power over three branches of government, outlining its powers, limitations on those powers, and the rights of citizens." (3)  The three branches were to have equal powers, called "checks and balances."  "Powers not assigned to one of the three branches are left to the individual states." (4)

 

Some of the original delegates from the states were troubled that the original Constitution lacked a description of individual rights.  In 1791, Americans added the first 10 Amendments known as the Bill of Rights.  The first and foundational right is:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;  ..." (5)

 

(dar.org(1); ciis.edu(2)(5); nationalday.com(3)(4); trinitydc.edu; uscode.house.gov.; Constitution of the United States

 

Remembering September 11, 2001

 We pray, especially today, for those killed in the attack on our city, country and liberties.  We pray for comfort for their loved ones as a nation still grieving the loss of each one of them. Let our lives reflect respect and appreciation for the liberties they had no chance to defend that day.

 

If the liberties they lived are to prevail, each generation must be taught the bedrock of our liberties is inalienable rights from our Creator.  The natural rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness guided our founders to construct a Constitution written for “ages and millions yet unborn” …a Constitution not bounded by culture or by technology but by the immutable nature of man and his reliance on God. 

 

Those Americans who died on Sept. 11, 2001, lived in the freedom to follow their faith or to choose no faith.  They were not forced to behave or worship according to the dictates of any government.   They were not subject to an all-powerful culture or government selecting winners and losers, rich and poor, respected and vilified. We honor them by living those freedoms and insuring them for their loved ones

 

As we remember the joy of their lives and the anguish of their loss, we pray for the repose of their souls in the comforting arms of the Savior of us all. May they rest in peace and may we protect and preserve the liberties for which they were so grievously attacked.

After both served in the military, Steve and Bridget Tennes moved back to the family farm where Steve was born, Country Hill Farms, in Charlotte, MI. The farming life particularly satisfied Steve and Brigid as it gave them the chance to work together and raise their children according to their Catholic beliefs.  Their stated mission is to glorify God through their work and so were known to host events which resulted in contributions of thousands of apples to charitable organizations, providing quality, exceptional housing for their seasonal workers and also supporting an organization helping veterans to get a start in farming.   

 

For years they had sold their products at a seasonal farmers market in East Lansing, MI, but were quickly banned from the market when city officials saw a Facebook posting where Steve and Bridget were asked about their beliefs about marriage. True to their Catholic faith, they answered that they believe marriage is between one man and one woman.    

 

Officials from East Lansing saw the post, insisted that the Tennes were not adhering to the city’s ‘s non-discrimination policy and immediately began working to keep the family from participating in the market.  A city policy was written specifically targeting the Tennes and then eliminating them as market vendors.

 

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Christian legal-advocacy group, represented the Tennes and filed a complaint against the city of East Lansing in 2017. On Aug. 21, 2023, a district court ruled that the city could not deny access to the market to the Tennes based on their religious beliefs.  The court said the City had placed “a burden” on the religious beliefs of Steve and Bridget by insisting they choose between their faith and their participation in a public benefit (the city’s farmers market).

 

The ADF attorneys see the court’s decision as an important win in the protection of religious freedom.

 

Read more here:  bit.ly/3EcRrLN    bit.ly/3OSzyqx    bit.ly/3KYsnfr

 

“It (religion) is an essential element of a constitutional state; it cannot be denied without at the same time encroaching on all fundamental rights and freedoms, since it is their synthesis and keystone."  -Pope Benedict

bottom of page