RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WEEKLY

It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors. - George Washington, Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, October 3, 1789

Each year, Americans celebrate the First Thanksgiving recalling the heroic Pilgrims who, seeking to escape religious persecution and longing to practice their religious beliefs in peace, sailed from England on Sept.6,1620, to the unknown New World.  With the help of local Native Americans, the Pilgrims learned to plant crops and survived.  At the harvest they gave thanks to God with a Thanksgiving feast.

 

While most Americans know this story of the First Thanksgiving, few know the tragic story of what happened at the harvest after two years of… “The Experiment.” 

 

The Experiment:  The Pilgrims had decided that their new community would create a collectivist model of governance where all labor was communal, with men raising crops for all families, not just their own, and sharing the harvest equally. Women engaged in domestic chores of cooking, sewing, etc. for themselves as well as their neighbors.  The result was that few did more than the minimum amount of work because the fruits of all labor were shared equally whether a person worked hard or a little.  Incentive to excel was destroyed.  Within two years, the result was shortages and starvation.

 

The Pilgrims' Governor, William Bradford, described the folly of collectivism:  "For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.     For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine (complain) that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense (payment)... And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands brook (tolerate) it. (1)

 

The Pilgrims had unwittingly adopted a form of governance that, if made permanent, would soon deprive them of the religious freedom they had just fled England for.  Two centuries later, describing the requirements for a socialist economic system, philosopher Karl Marx wrote, "Religion is the opium of the people.  The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness." (2)  

(libertyunderfire.org; townhall.com; historyofmassachusetts.org; mayflowerhistory.com (1)

 catholicworldreport, 11/11/19(2); crisismagazine.com

 

“Socialists, therefore, by endeavoring to transfer the possessions of individuals to the community at large, strike at the interests of every wage-earner, since they would deprive him of the liberty of disposing of his wages, and thereby of all hope and possibility of increasing his resources and of bettering his condition in life.”  - Pope Leo XIII, in Rerum Novarum

"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?(1)

 

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." (2)  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. (3) 

 

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." (4)

 

"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. (5)

 

 (fatima.org, 5/19/20(1)(3)(4); Pope John Paul II-quotable quotes (2); tpfstudentaction.org, 4/8/10(5) tfp.org, 2/24/10; aei.org, 9/27/15)

 

"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.”(1)  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." (2)

 

"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."(3)

 

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."(4)

 

"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)

 

(Justin T. Haskins, Socialism is Evil, p.5(1); tfpstudentaction.org, 4/8/10(2); fatima.org, 5/19/20(3)(4);

 aei.org, 9/27/15; tfp.org, 2/24/10)

"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)

Conscience is the interior space in which we can listen to and hear the truth, the good, the voice of God.  - Pope Francis

Navy Seals Seek Religious Exemptions

A growing number of U.S. Navy Seals who are seeking a religious exemption from the DODs vaccine mandate are being threatened with punishment that includes demotion, pay cuts, repayment of the cost of training them and possible court martial.  This is a violation of their First Amendment protected rights.  First Liberty Institute General Counsel, Mike Berry, representing 40 Navy Seals, explains that requesting a religious accommodation is a right guaranteed to service members under both federal and military law. 

 

"Our nation's elite fighting force, right now, instead of fighting America's enemies, they are fighting for their careers and livelihoods and their freedom," Berry said.  "We should accommodate these heroes and not force them to choose between serving their faith and serving their country.  There's no reason why they can't. There's medical exemptions ... so why are they treating religion and religious freedom like they're second-class status."(1)  "Purging our military of its elite service members is detrimental to national security.  Doing so because (the military) refuses to accommodate their religious convictions is abhorrent to the Constitution,” Berry said. (2)

 

Medical School Accused of Religious Discrimination Over Exemption Requests

The University of Colorado's Anschutz School of Medicine is accused of discriminating based on religion.  A federal complaint was filed by the Thomas More Society on behalf of a Catholic pediatrician and bioethicist and a Buddhist first year medical student who "are unable to take the school's mandated vaccine because of deeply held religious objections." (3)

 

"The Un. of CO medical school turned its religious process into an inquisition ...," said a Thomas More attorney.  "So, the university was only going to accept the faiths that had a total ban on all vaccines but reject those groups of faith who for a variety of reasons - including abortions - would reject these particular COVID-19 vaccines. “...     ” The university had thus openly entered the theological business of judging the truth or falsity of its students' religious beliefs." (4)

 

 "The university's foray into theology has gone even further, with its administrators probing and debating the religious beliefs of its staff and students, rendering value judgments on believers in an inquisition that further violates the First Amendment," said attorney Peter Breen. (5)

(clarion.causaction.com, 10/21/21(1); firstliberty.org, 10/22/21(2); military.com, 9/15/21; wnd.com, 10/2/21(3)(5); catholicworldreport.com, 10/5/21(4); ncbi.nim.nih.gov; washingtonpost.com, 10/15/21)

 

“Conscience is the most sacred property:” - James Madison

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Religious Discrimination Over Vaccine Exemption Requests

October 31, 2021

"You shall have no other gods before me"    Exodus 20:3

 

A group of parents and the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER), a civil rights group, have sued the state of CA over a new public school curriculum, "Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum" that includes teaching the state’s high school students how to pray and chant to Aztec gods and invoking an ancient Nigerian Yoruba religious prayer.    The lawsuit, presented by the Thomas More Society, claims the State Board of Education violates the California Constitution's free-exercise and establishment clauses and state law banning government aid to religion.

 

"The curriculum's unequivocal promotion of 5 Aztec gods or deities through repetitive chanting and affirmation of their symbolic principles constitutes an unlawful government preference toward a particular religious practice," said the CFER president. (1)

 

"Can you imagine if elements of the Christian faith were proposed to be included in the public school curriculum?  What if a class incorporated praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or even reciting the Lord's Prayer?  How would that be received?" said attorney Paul Jonna. (2)

 

The Importance of Faith to America's Founders:  Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was one of the most prominent Americans of the colonial period as a statesman, author, publisher, scientist, inventor and diplomat.  He was an advocate of colonial unity, defender of American rights against the encroachments of the British Parliament and an extraordinarily charitable person.  He wrote in his Poor Richard's Almanac, "Proportion your Charity to the Strength of your Estate, or God will proportion your Estate to the Weakness of your Charity." (3)

 

During the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Franklin became frustrated at the lack of progress during the deliberations and delivered this famous plea:

 

     "...How has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding?"

     "I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth - that God governs in the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?  We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain." (4)

 

(washingtontimes.com, 9/3/21(1); dailywire.com,,10/4/21(2); thecentersquare.com, 9/8/21; joshuatcharles.com, 12/10/18(3); americanrhetoric.com, 8/14/18(4); history.com, 11/9/09)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Parents Sue California Over Mandated Chants to Aztec Gods

October 24, 2021

"Freedom of conscience is the core of all freedom."    -Pope Benedict XVI

 

Colorado website designer, Lorie Smith, is appealing a lower-court decision depriving her of the right to conduct her business according to her religious beliefs.  "I have clients ranging from individuals to small business owners to nonprofit agencies," Smith said.  "I have served and continue to serve all people, including those who identify as LGBT.  I simply object to being forced to pour my heart, my imagination and talent into messages that violate my conscience."  (1)

"The government shouldn't weaponize the law to force a web designer to speak messages that violate her beliefs.  This case involves quintessential free speech and artistic freedom...," said an Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney. (2)  The 10th Circuit's ruling "holds that the more unique a product, the more aggressively the government may regulate access to it - thus the less First Amendment protection it has."  The lower court’s decision "empowers the government to force everyone to speak government-approved messages and subverts our core understandings of the First Amendment." (3)

In a similar case involving CO cake artist Jack Phillips, the U.S. Supreme Court scolded Colorado for its "hostility" to Christianity.

 

"If the Freedom of Speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."  - George Washington

  

The Importance of Faith to America's Founders:  John Adams

Throughout his life, this Founding Father and 2nd President of the United Sates, exhibited a profound respect for the Bible and references it frequently in his writings.  He wrote to fellow Founder Benjamin Rush in 1807, "The Bible contains the most profound Philosophy, the most perfect Morality, and the most refined Policy, that ever was conceived upon the Earth." (4)   About the newly written Constitution, he wrote, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."(5)

 

The Founders knew a virtuous people would courageously defend the rights endowed by their Creator and restored by the blood of patriots.  But a fearful people would readily give up these rights in exchange for a fleeting sense of security.

 

Princeton Professor Robbie George explains, "People lacking in virtue could be counted on to trade liberty for protection, for financial or personal security, for comfort - for having their problems solved quickly." (6)

(dailycaller.com, 9/24/21(1); wnd.com, 9/25/21(2)(3); harbingersdaily.com, 9/27/21; adflegal.org, 10/28/19; joshuatcharles.com, 12/11/18(4); constitutionallaw.regent.edu (5)(6); lawliberty.org)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Web Designer Petitions Supreme Court to Affirm Religious Freedom

October 17, 2021

"It seems there is a real danger to Religious Freedom now in our country - mostly because people aren't serious about religion or religious freedom."  - Archbishop Charles Chaput

 

Happening Now:  Tennessee H.S. Football Players Lead Community in Prayer.

Players from two TN football teams led parents and fans in postgame prayer after school administrators banned public religious displays following a complaint from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

 

"...the threat of a legal action to forbid prayer after the game was overwhelmed by player led prayer supported by parents and fans in solidarity," said a district alumnus. (1)

 

 "Courts have consistently ruled that prayer and proselytizing cannot be sponsored by schools or school personal," said a school attorney. (2)  The school added, "We support the right of students to participate in and lead spontaneous prayers.  That right is and will continue to be protected." (3)

 

"Religious Freedom is one of the most important Civil Rights issues of our times."

- Eric Metaxas, Author

 

The Importance of Faith to America's Founders:  George Washington

The Bible and religious faith exerted a profound influence on the founding generation, including those who were not particularly orthodox, traditional believers.  In 1783, assuming he was now exiting his public career, George Washington wrote his Circular to the State Governments, to the governors of each state that contained the advice he considered the most important.  It is full of encouragement to Americans to recognize that they had been given a truly unique opportunity by God, and they best not waste it.(4)

     "I think it a duty incumbent on me, to make this my last official communication, to congratulate you on the glorious events which Heaven has been pleased to produce in our favor ... and to give my final blessing to that Country, in whose service I have spent the prime of my life...   (The United States) seems to be peculiarly designated by Providence (God) for the display of human greatness and felicity; ... Here... Heaven has given a fairer opportunity for political happiness, than any other Nation has ever been favored with." (5)

 

(washingtonexaminer.com, 9/22/21(1)(3); dailymail.co.uk, 9/22/21(2); washingtonpost.com, 1/16,20; joshuatcharles.com, 12/10/18, Faith of the Founders #1, (4); founders.archives.gov(5)

 

"It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible."

- George Washington, Father of our Country

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Happening Now

October 10, 2021

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

 

Australia

·      Beginning September 11, a roadmap to ease COVID-19 restrictions was published for "low risk" areas. It allows citizens to leave home for limited hours a day and limited distance to shop, exercise or work. Rules include proof of vaccination before entering a church. (1)

·      These rules are being challenged by many religious leaders. "We explained (to the Health Minister) that all our faiths are inclined to allow all comers to worship, that many pastors and faithful would be uneasy with restricting worship to the fully vaccinated and that doing so could prove divisive," said Catholic Archbishop Fisher. "Race, gender, ethnicity, age, education, wealth or health status (including vaccination) must not be points of division within the Christian community or barriers to communion with Jesus."(2) 

·      "We want everybody to be safe in church, but we also want to make sure we minister to everybody," said Anglican Archbishop Raffel.(3)

·      "Even if it is consistent and churches are treated the same as cinemas, I still question whether the government has the right to impose on churches something we don't accept," said Minister Phil Colgan.(4)

 

Canada 

·      During the tightest COVID-19 restrictions - a time of stress and anxiety for many - it wasn't possible for people in Canada to turn to religious organizations for support and comfort. Churches, synagogues and mosques had to negotiate regulations that changed frequently.  Often, there could be no in-person services at all.

·      Rev. Susan Chisholm said capacity restrictions affected the fellowship associated with church gathering.  "It's a community that's really about hospitality and welcome as much as ritual and spiritual practice," she said.(5)

·       The country hoped to enter a Phase 5 reopening plan in mid-September that will begin a return to in-person church services and major religious events like funerals, etc.  Rev. Robert Doyle of Halifax said that many families had to delay funerals and now want to put their relative to rest.(6)

 

Ireland 

·      Religious services resumed for the first time in May, 2021 but the sacraments of Baptism, Communion and Confirmation did not return.  

·      "I don't see any reason why the celebration of confirmation or holy communion should cause any concern on public health grounds because we have mass in all our churches, carefully regulated for 50 people," said Bishop Doran. (7)  Five Roman Catholic bishops planned to defy these restrictions in Ireland's 22 diocese in August. 

·       The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin said that parents must be trusted to know how to protect the health of their children and that the ban on communions and confirmations was seen as discriminatory.  "A small number of people are going to parties, but the vast majority are not organizing big parties.  We need to trust and have faith in parents," said Fr. Joe McDonald. (8)

 

theguardian.com, 9/9/21(1); cathnews.co.nz, 9/13/21(2)(3)(4); nsw.gov.au; acc.org.au; cbc.ca, 9/12/21(5)(6); novascotia.ca/reopening, 9/8/21: toronto.ca/COVID, 7/16/21; reuters, 8/3/21(7); rtei.ie, 8/6/21(8)

 

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty."  -Patrick Henry

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Restrictions on Places of Worship in Australia, Canada and Ireland

October 3, 2021

"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." - James Madison, 1785.

In June, 2020 and June, 2021, the Supreme Court issued several decisions supporting religious individuals and organizations who face continuing court challenges by opposing individuals or groups:

 

* The Court ruled on the "ministerial exception"  in which religious schools were sued by former teachers claiming wrongful termination.  The Court recognized that religious organizations have autonomy to make employment decisions about their ministers and clarified the religious functions of a "minister" is up to the religious group who know their faith best.  Therefore, religious groups are free to select priests, rabbis, ministers, and other religious leaders free from government interference. (1)

 *  A two case combined ruling "made it clear that the government has no business forcing pro-life and religious organizations to provide drugs and devices that can destroy life."  Therefore, "Little Sisters of the Poor and other pro-life ministries can continue to provide health insurance coverage for their employees without compromising their religious beliefs about the sanctity of life."(2)

 *  The Court ruled against the Montana Dept. of Revenue for excluding religious schools from a tax credit program that should have been equally available to religious and nonreligious schools alike, ending discrimination against schools that are religious.  This ruling is considered a victory for both religious freedom and school choice. (3)

 *  The justices ruled 8-1 that lawsuits can continue even after the government has abandoned the policy or behavior that prompted the lawsuit.  The case involved violations against a Christian college student's religious freedom and free speech rights. (4)

 *  Justices unanimously ruled in favor of Catholic Social Services, enabling faith-based foster care agencies to continue partnering with the city despite the agency's refusal to complete assessments of same-sex couples.

 

"In a divisive time with a lot of conflict, we saw the (Supreme) Court over and over again come to super-majority and often unanimous decisions" in its religion-related cases, said Mark Rienzi, president of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.(5)

(adflegal.org, 8/31/20(1)(2)(3); deseret.com, 6/6/21(4)(5); christianpost.com, 6/18/21;

nbcnews.com, 6/17/21; powerlineblog.com, 7/8/20

 

[T]he free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or

preference, shall forever hereafter be allowed, within this State.  - New York State Constitution of 1777 

Prayer For Religious Freedom:

Father, we praise and thank you for the gift of human life and human freedom.

Protect all people from being forced to violate their moral and religious convictions

In your goodness. guard our freedom to live out our faith and to follow you.    Amen

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Victories For Religious Freedom at the Supreme Court

September 26, 2021

To undervalue it (the Constitution) is one of the surest ways to lose it.  Take pains to know what the Constitution is - the more you study, the higher you will esteem it. The better you understand your own rights, the more likely you will be to preserve and guard them.

~~Arthur J. Stansbury, Elementary Catechism on the Constitution of the United States, 1828

 

The U.S. Constitution is the world's longest surviving charter of government.  It was signed on September 17, 1787, and since 2004, Congress requires that all public schools receiving federal funds implement educational programs about the Constitution on the day or week of Sept. 17 every year.

 

Following are some little known facts about the American Constitution:

*  The Constitution was written in the same Pennsylvania State House where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

*  The Constitution was prepared in secret, behind locked doors guarded by sentries.

*  55 delegates attended the Constitutional Convention and 39 signed, 3 delegates dissented.  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could not sign because they were representing the United States in France and Great Britain at the time.

*  At 81, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania was the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention and at 26, Jonathan Dayton of New Jersey was the youngest.

*  George Washington established the first national "Thanksgiving Day" on Nov. 26, 1789  to "give thanks" for the Constitution. (1)

 

Principles of Religious Liberty and the Constitution:

James Madison explained that the free exercise of religion "is in its nature an inalienable right" because the duty owed to one's Creator "is precedent, ... to the claims of Civil Society." (1)  Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or worship. It encompasses observance and practice and should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment and contracting.

 

"To avoid the very sort of religious persecution and intolerance that led to the founding of the U.S., the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution protects against government actions that target religious conduct.   Government may not treat the same conduct as lawful when undertaken for secular reasons but unlawful when undertaken for religious reasons.  For example, government may not ... allow the distribution of political leaflets in a park but forbid the distribution of religious leaflets in the same park." (2)

(ciis.edu(1); justice.gov, 5/4/17(2); nationalday.com; dar.org; constitutionfacts.com/us;

christianheadlines.com, 8/10/21(3)

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Happening Now:    Major win for Religious Liberty Advocates

On Aug. 9, 2021, a federal judge ruled that Christian doctors and religious hospitals cannot be forced by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)  insurance plan to perform abortions or gender transition procedures.  Federal Judge O'Connor ruled that recent government rules forcing  such procedures "substantially burdens Christian Plaintiffs' religious exercise in clear violation of" the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). (3)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Principles of Religious Liberty For Constitution Week

September 19, 2021

"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.

 

Since federal law requires schools, colleges and universities to observe Constitution Day with appropriate programs, those schools failing to observe the day or week, risk losing their federal funds.

 

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

 

"Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and what has happened once in 6,000 years may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail,  there will be anarchy throughout the world."   

-Daniel Webster, lawyer and statesman (1782-1852)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Celebrating Constitution Week, September 17-23,

in All Schools

September 12, 2021

"Liberty must at all hazards be supported.  We have a right to it derived from our Maker."

 - John Adams, 1765

As students prepare for the new 2021-22 school year, they need an important tool in their backpacks: knowledge of their religious liberty rights.

 

On January 16, 2020 (Religious Freedom Day), the Dept. of Education issued updated Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer & Religious Expression in Public Elementary & Secondary Schools.  The guidance was originally issued in 2003.  The Guidance explains that "students and teachers do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate."  The law also requires that, as a condition of receiving federal funds, local education agencies must certify that they are in compliance with the prayer guidance.(1)

 

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment, with its enumerated rights of Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religion.  The newly updated U.S. Department of Education Guidelines explicitly list the many rights of students in relation to religious expression.  

 

These rights include:

*  Students may read their Bibles or other religious materials, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, lunch hour, or other non-instructional time.

*   Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments.

*   Students may organize prayer groups, religious clubs, or other religious themed gatherings before or after school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activity groups.

*   Schools may teach about religion but not provide religious instruction.(2)

 

These rights are often denied as happened on Long Island, NY, when a high school senior was reading his Bible during free reading time. The teacher asked what he was reading and then proceeded to mock the student for reading the Bible and encouraged other students to join in. 

 

(justice.gov, Volumn 84-January, 2020(1); Ed.gov, Guidance from U.S. Dept. of Education(2)

 

"The sacred rights of mankind ... are written, as with a sunbeam, on the whole volume of human nature, by the divinity itself; and can never be erased." - Alexander Hamilton,  Founding Father

---------------------

Be Silent No More!

Assert your concerns re religious freedom in schools, the public square and legislation such as the misnamed Equality Act, covered in a previous bulletin. Do not be silent.  Contact your Senator at www.senate.gov, and your Representative at www.house.gov.  Call Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to any Senate or Representative office.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

It's OK For Students to Pray in Public Schools

September 5, 2021

"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." ~James Madison, 1785.

New York City and Los Angeles: New York City, home to the largest population of Jews outside of Israel, reported over 80 anti-Semitic hate crimes so far this year compared to 62 last year.  Outdoor diners in Los Angeles were physically attacked by a group carrying Palestinian flags.Violence and harassment targeting American Jews coast-to-coast rose following the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians in May, 2021. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which tracks incidents of anti-Jewish violence and bias, said they saw a 75% increase in anti-Semitism reports. "We've seen things like this before," said Brandeis Un. Professor Yehudah Mirsky.  "But this seems a bit much.  This seems more."(1)

 

Portland, Oregon: A Christian prayer and worship event held in a Memorial Park, was attacked by a group of self-proclaimed Antifa protesters wearing full black gear that concealed their faces and heads while holding shields, weapons, and open umbrellas as well as pepper spray, rocks, fireworks, flash bombs and mace.  One woman reported, "We were about to have a worship event and (they) rolled in like angry mobs macing everybody, (throwing) rotten eggs and black paint ..." (2)  "Where is your God now?" said one Antifa member. (3)  It was reported they also threw the sound system into the Williamette River.

Families with children and infants were at the event that featured Polish-Canadian pastor Artur Pawlowski who was in the news during Easter when he was arrested for holding services at his church.  The event was entitled "Courageous Truth."(4)

 

Canada:  The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is being urged to add Canada to its watch list after pastors have been jailed in the country for keeping their churches open.  "I am troubled that our Canadian neighbors are effectively being forced to gather in secret, undisclosed locations to exercise their basic freedom to worship," wrote one U.S. Senator in a letter to USCIRF and the Ambassador to Canada.(5)

 

(bbc.com, 5/28/21(1); churchleaders.com, 8/10/21(2)(3); dailywire.com, 8/11/21,

christiandaily.com, 8/9/21(4); dailywire.com, 6/24/21(5)

 

"God who gave us life gave us liberty.  Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?"

~Thomas Jefferson, Author of America's Declaration of Independence, Founding Father

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Recent Rise in Attacks on Some Religious Groups

Threaten Everyone’s Religious Freedom

August 29, 2021

"Americans' membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallop's 80-year trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999," wrote a recent Gallop poll.(1)  When Gallop first measured church membership in 1937, it was 73% and remained near 70% until the 21st century.

 

The fastest-declining Christian populations in the world are in Europe according to a peer-reviewed study in the journal Sociology of Religion.(2)

 

Researchers, sociologists and church leaders offer a wide range of causes for this decline in church affiliation and attendance in the West while Christianity is flourishing in Asia and Africa.

 

Some studies suggest that countries supporting a particular religion through law, contributes to the secularization of that country.  For example, the Church of England is  the state church and Christianity is the state religion; the Swedish king is the head of the government and the Church of Sweden and appoints bishops to their positions; Portugal, Spain and Italy offer preferential support to the Catholic Church through tax policy and education.(3)  However, throughout Europe, Church affiliation is declining.

 

Other studies suggest that different factors are the cause for both decline and growth of Christianity in the world.

 

*   Abundant and bold prayer is practiced in countries with increasing Christianity.  For example, "in Africa, it is not unusual for churches to commit 50-100 days per year for fasting & prayer."(4)  This amount of fasting & prayer is rarely practiced in the West.

*   Empowering ordinary people for ministry is carried out in growing congregations.  Pastors are seen as coaches and teachers and are not responsible for everything the church does: preach, pray, visit the sick, counsel people, evangelize, oversee administration, etc., as is common in the West where a person "goes into ministry." (5)

 

Conclusion:  When looking at the range of statistics and causes surrounding contemporary Christianity, it becomes clear that even where Western culture appears to be becoming more and more secular, Christian faith is still very much alive.(6)

 

(news.gallop.com, 3/29/21(1); christianitytoday.com, 5/6/21(2)(3);christianpost.com, 3/15/20(4)(5);

pathos.com, 5/8/21; get religion.org, 5/15/21; holyart.com(6)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Christianity Is Growing Faster Than Any Time in History

But Declining in Europe & America

August 22, 2021

Pope Francis, in 2014, spoke in his homily about Christianity experiencing the largest numbers of martyrs today than ever before in its 2,000 year history.(1)  

"The world hates Christians for the same reason it hated Jesus:  because He brought the light of God and the world prefers the darkness to hide its wicked works....The martyrs of today are greater in number than those of the first centuries," said Pope Francis again in 2016.(2)  In 2021, the number of martyrs is even greater.

 

Yet - despite this persecution on a massive scale, Christianity is growing faster than any time in history.  Where is this happening and why?

 

"The more you mow us down, the more numerous we grow;  

the blood of Christians is seed."      -  Tertullian, early Church theologian (155 - 220AD)

 

In the last 100 years, the number of Christians in the world has quadrupled from about 600 million in 1910 to well past 2 billion in 2020.  Christianity remains the world's largest religious group. (3)  

Africa and Asia, with believers in the most persecuted countries, are seeing incredible expansion of Churches while the Church in Europe and America is declining.  Millions of people across Africa and Asia in historically unengaged people groups are now in rapidly growing Disciple Making Movements.  In 2000, there were 6 such movements and today there are now 1,035. (4)

 

The Status of Global Christianity data reports that between 2000-2020:

*  Africa had 37,825 new Christ followers each day over the last 20 years.

*  Latin America had 16,988 each day.

*  Asia had 13, 443 each day.

*  North America had 1,999 each day.

*  Oceania had 473 each day.

*  Europe had 8 each day. (5)

(lifesitenews.com, 7/3/14(1); christianpost.com, 12/27/16(2); learnreligions.com, 4/6/20(3);

christianpost.com, 3/15/20(4)(5); getreligion.org, 5/15/21; catholicworldreport.com, 6/5/17

 

"The living Jesus will give you joy amid tribulation."

Richard Wurmbrand, Romanian Evangelist Minister and professor  (1909-2001)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Where in the World is Christianity Growing and Why?

August 15, 2021

"It has been a tough year for billions of people.  However, for many of the 340 million Christians worldwide who face persecution and discrimination, things have been worse still," said Open Doors CEO H. Blyth.(1)

This year, the top 10 persecutors are: North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, and India.  Nigeria, with Africa's largest Christian population, is new to this list.  Of the 4,761 Christians killed for their faith in 2020, over 2,200 Christians were murdered by radical Islamists in Nigeria alone. 

 

"We've been all fighting a virus that we cannot see with the naked eye.  Less known but equally as viral has been the discrimination, isolation and violence against Christians by using Covid-19 as a leverage and justification," said Open Doors President Curry.(2)  "Extremists ... are emboldened by governments weakened by Covid-19 restrictions, knowing they can steal food and medical supplies from already embattled Christian communities. ...Violence by Islamists in Nigeria amounts to genocide," he said. (3)

 

In India, the nationalist  political party has encouraged persecution of Christians by sanctioning Hindu extremism and telling the nation only Hindus are truly Indian.

 

In China, the Communist Party (CCP) uses surveillance technology to track its people and punish them for attending church. A recent report from Radio Free Asia revealed that Chinese Christians are being detained in mobile "transformation" facilities and subjected to brainwashing, torture, and other violent measures to coerce them into renouncing the faith.  "It was a mobile facility that could just set up in some basement somewhere," said Li Yeuse who was detained by the CCP for over 10 months. "They mainly target Christians who are members of house churches.... I couldn't sleep; after you've been in there a week, death starts to look better than staying there." (4)

 

(christian.org.uk, 1/15/21(1); christianitytoday.com, 1/3/21: christianpost.com, 1/14/21(2)(3);

lifesitenews.com, 4/12/21(4); the persecuted.org, 2/22/21)

 

"Jesus says, 'I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Hostility is always at the beginning of persecution of Christians because Jesus knows that the mission is opposed by the work of the evil one."     - Pope Francis

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

“Rise in Christian Persecution Worldwide” continued:

August 8, 2021

"Let us pray for the many Christians in the world who still suffer persecution and violence.  May God grant them the courage of fidelity."   Pope Francis

 

More than 340 million Christians across the globe live in perpetual fear that they will be punished, harmed  or even killed for merely practicing their faith.  The annual World Watch List 2021 from Christian charity Open Doors showed this is a huge increase over previous years; the 2019 figure was about 260 million.

Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed for their faith; 12 churches or Christian buildings are attacked; 12 Christians are unjustly imprisoned and another 5 are abducted.

 

Open Doors identified three main trends driving the increase:

     "Covid-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversion, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship."

     "Extremist attacks opportunistically spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria to Mali and beyond."

     "Chinese censorship systems continue to propagate and spread to emerging surveillance states."(1)

 

"My heart breaks when I hear of believers in India and Vietnam being refused food and told 'let your God feed you.'  Or when I hear of women like a Christian mother-of-three from Egypt who was kidnapped by the Muslim Brotherhood and forced to declare she had 'converted' in a video," said Open Doors CEO, Henrietta Blyth.(2)  

 

"The pandemic has legitimized increased surveillance by totalitarian governments, with China leading the way.  And nationalism driven by religious identity is increasing in countries such as India and Turkey." (3)

 

"It is tragic and unacceptable that this happen to anyone, whatever their

faith or none.  Christians will only be freed from persecution

when freedom of religion and belief is guaranteed for all." (1)

 

(christianitytoday.com, 1/3/21(1); christian.org.uk, 1/15/21(2)(3); 1cbn.com, 2/16/20;

persecution.org, 4/28/21; lifesitenews.com, 4/12/21)

---------

Let us Pray: Lord, the plight of our brothers & sisters is deep and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening.  Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare their lives, to grant them patience & courage to continue their witness of Christian values with trust and hope.  Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us to live with each other without fear and anxiety, with dignity and joy.   Amen

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Significant Rise in Christian Persecution Worldwide

August 1, 2021

"Alas, our freedom is wounded. ... While the United States remains by and large a believing society, a growing number of people are settling for a style of life that marginalizes God, a way of living in which God and the things of God don't count."  - Archbishop William Lori

 

The city of Boston denied Camp Constitution a permit to fly their flag on a "public forum" flagpole in front of city hall, saying the application form referred to the flag as a "Christian flag."  Liberty Council has filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing Boston violated the First Amendment.  

 

Over 12 years, the city had approved 284 flags from private organizations including the Turkish flag with an Islamic symbol, Ethiopia, Brazil, Italy, Mexico as well as Communist China and Cuba flags, pride & transgender flags. 

 

"Censoring religious viewpoints in a public forum where secular viewpoints are permitted violates the First Amendment."(1)  "We look forward to the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledging the city's obvious and unconstitutional discrimination against Camp Constitutions Christian viewpoint," said Liberty Council.(2)

 

Catholic Healthcare International (GHI) is suing a Michigan township for violating its 1st and 14th Amendment rights, after it denied permission to build a chapel and prayer trail dedicated to St. Padre Pio on 5-acres of a 40-acre property it already owned.

 

"The Township's rejection of our clients right to religious worship on CHI's private property is not in keeping with our proud tradition of accommodating people of faith, and, in fact, it violates our clients' fundamental rights protected by the United States and Michigan Constitutions and federal statutory law," said American Freedom Law Center.(3)  "The Townships denial of the Final Submission was not based on any measurable, objective criteria, (but instead) based upon amorphous, subjective considerations that were contrary to the facts and which permit an anti-Catholic animus to drive the Township's decision."(4)  

 

(charismanews.org, 7/11/19(1); lc.org, 6/21/21(2); onenewsnow.com, 6/23/21; catholicnewsagency.com, 6/4/21(3)(4); ncregister.com, 6/4/21; canadafreepress.com, 6/5/21)

 

"Broad cultural disapproval of religion, the exclusion of faith from almost all public institutions, ... is what Pope Francis calls 'polite persecution.' ... Just because this polite persecution is bloodless, it is not victimless.  These structures of sin contribute to the inflicting of deep spiritual wounds in the hearts and minds of many people."                                 - Archbishop William Lori

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Continued Assaults on Religious Liberty:

A Christian Flag and a Chapel and Prayer Trail

July 25, 2021

"Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:  Jesus Christ and the American Soldier;  One died for your soul;  the other died for your freedom." (1)

 

An Eagle Scout Project honoring America's veterans is under fire for mentioning Jesus Christ on a memorial in Monument, Colorado. Sixteen year old Michael Carlson created the memorial as a tribute to his grandfather and father and it sits in the towns's cemetery, where the family purchased the burial plots on which it sits.  "Michael saw veterans were underrepresented here.  He didn't go to the government and say 'Fix this.'  He decided to fix it himself," said Monument Mayor Wilson.(2) 

 

The anti-religion group, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) objected to the memorial plaque and demanded that it be altered or removed from the public cemetery. The town retained First Liberty Institute to defend the memorial.  "Your attack on a minor who simply intended to honor our veterans is profoundly disrespectful to all involved," wrote First Liberty council in a recent letter to MRFF. (3)

 

It's not yet clear whether private ownership of the cemetery plots where the memorial stands will be enough to ward off a lawsuit from MRFF.

 

A Kentucky police officer was suspended for 4 months with pay but without any much needed overtime hours in February when, while off-duty and before dawn, he prayed the Rosary alone with his father for less than an hour in front of an abortion center.  When he started his patrol duty later that morning, he was ordered to report in and placed on leave pending an investigation.

 

"We are happy for the officer that the Louisville Police Department finally did the right thing and put a good policeman back on the streets.  But it is astounding to those of us defending him - shocking actually - that the police department would treat a hardworking, loyal officer this way.  They left him twisting in the wind for four months because of off-duty prayer," said Thomas More Society attorney.(4)  "The facts have been undisputed from the start - the whole event was captured on the abortion clinic's security video," said the attorney.  "It showed two men, nondescriptly dressed, walking quietly back & forth as they said the Rosary.  The abortion clinic was closed and the street in front of it was practically deserted."(5)

 

(themix.net, 6/10/21(1); 1.cbn.com, 4/1/21(2); wnd.com, 6/5/21(3); faithpot.com, 7/8/21;

wnd.com, 6/27/21(4)(5)

 

"Religious freedom is not only that of private thought or worship.  It is the liberty to live, both privately and publicly, according to the ethical principles resulting from found truth."  

- Pope Francis

------

From the  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Let us Pray:  Almighty God,  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.   Amen                    

"With countless other people of goodwill, (American Catholics) are concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty ... one of America's most precious possessions." - Pope Francis

The 4th of July, Independence Day, is the United States' celebration of the love of liberty that is at the heart of our nation's founding principles.  "Religious freedom is one of the most cherished of these liberties, and it is anchored in the right of an individual to act upon his or her conscience and deeply held beliefs, both privately and publicly... (it) is America's First Freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and (has affected) the lives of successive generations of Americans for nearly 250 years," wrote Michael Warsaw, National Catholic Register. (1)

 

Over the years, this God-given freedom of conscience & religion, protected by the Constitution, has been challenged through regulations and  lawsuits brought by individuals and groups misunderstanding or opposed to this freedom.  These challenges to religious freedom have accelerated in the past decade.  Fortunately, advocacy groups and law firms have emerged to develop a strong understanding of the importance of religious freedom, particularly in  serving the vulnerable and working to establish justice in society.

 

"Barbara Samuells, president of  Catholics For Freedom of Religion (CFFR), a NY based grassroots advocacy  group that educates Catholic parishes about the importance of religious freedom, said that religious freedom both 'allows us to teach the truth about our Catholic faith' and carry on the work of the Gospel 'without being pushed out of the public square,' " wrote Peter Smith, National Catholic Register.(2) Samuells said, "(CFFR) has helped educate families about their children's constitutional right to pray and wear religious identification in public schools and that the wall of separation of church and state was meant to keep government out of the churches, not to keep the church out of the public square."...  "(The Founders) knew that when the government steps in and tells people what they can and cannot believe, or what conscience they can and cannot follow, there is always tyranny.  In order for our country to flourish, they wanted a moral and religious people." (3)

 

(ncregister.com, 6/29/21(1); ncregister.com, 6/29/21(2)(3); loc.gov; nationalhumanitiescenter.org;

cnbc.com, 6/17/21; jurist.org, 6/19/21; the federalist.com, 6/17/21)

-----

Happening Now:   Religious Freedom Wins in  Supreme Court

In an unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Catholic Social Services adoption agency in Philadelphia that had lost its contract with the city in 2018 because it would not certify same-sex couples as foster parents on religious grounds. The high court ruled the city violated the Free-Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

The annual observance of Religious Freedom Week began as the Fortnight for Freedom in 2012, when the Church and other religious liberty advocates were concerned about threats to the Defense of Marriage Act. (1)  In 2021, the U.S. Bishops continue to see threats to Catholic institutions in many different areas of concern.  Also, this year's observance comes as the Supreme Court is due to rule on a Philadelphia First Amendment case that has implications for religious freedom in the area of foster care and adoption.  "Domestically, a major area of concern continues to be freedom for Catholic institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and child welfare service providers, to carry out their missions with integrity," said a bishops' press release.(2)

 

The Church is encouraged to "Pray - Reflect - Act" on the following themes:

  • Adoption & Foster Care

  • Catholic Social Services during the Pandemic  

  • The (Misguided) Equality Act  

  • Church Vandalism 

  • Catholics in Nigeria  

  • Conscience Rights for Medical Professionals

  •  Solidarity with Christians in Iraq  

  • Free Speech (3)
     

"The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty collaborated with the Office of International Justice and Peace to raise awareness and show solidarity with people throughout the world who suffer for their faith, from the persecution of Christians in Nicaragua to highlighting Pope Francis's trip to Iraq this year." (4) Through prayer, education, and public action during religious Freedom Week, the USCCB hopes to promote the essential right of religious freedom for Catholics and for those of all faiths.  

 

"Religious freedom remains one of American's most precious possessions.  And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it. - Pope Francis

(aleteai.org, 6/3/21(1)(2); catholicphilly.com, 6/4/21(3); camdendiocese.org, 5/2021; catholicnewsherald.com,

 6/2/21; dosafl.com, 6/3/21(4); catholicvote.org, 6/2/21(5)

-------

Happening Now:   Ruling that Vermont Cannot Deny Aid to Catholic School Students

 

Vermont's Town Tuition Program (TTP) provides funding for students in towns where the public school system does not cover all grade levels.  When TTP administrators refused funding to four students who chose to attend a Catholic high school, their parents and the diocese sued and won at the Court of Appeals.  "Four years ago, the Supreme Court reminded states that it has repeatedly confirmed that denying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion ...," wrote Judge Steven Menashi.  "Officials who administer Vermont's (TTP) nevertheless continued to discriminate against religious schools and students in violation of the first Amendment." (5)

Each year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) observes Religious Freedom Week.  It begins on June 22, the feast day of SS Thomas More and John Fisher, two English martyrs who fought religious persecution in the early 16th century.  The week includes the Nativity of St. John the Baptist on June 24 and ends on June 29, the feast of SS Peter and Paul, two apostles martyred in Rome.

The theme chosen for this year is Solidarity in Freedom.  "Solidarity means much more than engaging in sporadic acts of generosity.  It means thinking and acting in terms of community." (1)

The Bishops invite all "to pray, reflect and act to promote religious freedom." (2)  The USCCB offers resources for each day focusing on different areas of religious freedom at   www.usccb.org/ReligiousFreedomWeek

 

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

~ Pope Francis

(Fratelli tutti, 116 (1); catholicphilly.com(2); aleteai.org, 6/3/21; 1.cbn.com, 6/6/21(3); toddstarnes.com, 6/7/21(5); Tinker v. DesMoines 1969(4)

Happening Now:   

A Victory! 2nd Grader Will be Allowed to Read Bible During Recess

A second grader in Illinois who liked to sometimes read her Bible both silently and aloud during recess had it taken away when her teacher said, "You can't be doing that."(3) 

Her parents reached out to American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ) who wrote a letter to the district explaining a Supreme Court ruling that "students do not shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates..." (4)  "We're happy to report that after reading our letter, the school thanked us for educating them and removed all restrictions on Gabrielles's reading," the ACLJ reported. (5)

"I never imagined I would be fired for being a Christian," said Student Senate President, Jack Denton, after winning a federal lawsuit against Florida State University (FSU).(1)

His First Amendment freedoms of religion and speech where denied after his private message conversation among Catholic students was screenshot, shared on social media and went viral, leading to dismissal from his paid leadership role.  The conversation had involved a member of the group asking them to financially support organizations that advocated "for things that are explicitly anti-Catholic."(2)

In the settlement agreement, FSU agreed to issue a statement regarding its commitment to protecting students’ First Amendment rights and will restore Denton's lost wages and legal fees.

"If I stay silent while my brothers and sisters may be supporting an organization that promotes grave evils, I have sinned through my silence.  I love you all, and I want us to all be aware of the truth," said Denton.(3)

"To me, faith is the most integral part of who I am.  I can't separate it, and I wanted to talk about the hope that I personally have found in Christ and the freedom He's given me in hopes that maybe I could share that with my peers before we diverge our paths," said Elizabeth Turner, a Michigan HS valedictorian.(4)  However, the principal demanded she remove references to faith from her graduation address.  Elizabeth had written, "For me, my future hope is found in my relationship with Christ.  By trusting in him and choosing to live a life dedicated to bringing his kingdom glory, I can be confident I am living a life with purpose and meaning." (4)

First Liberty Institute attorneys sent a letter to the principal demanding Elizabeth be allowed to reference her faith in her speech.  "Graduation is a time for celebration, not censorship... All public schools should protect the private religious expression of their students."(5)

The school then revised their decision.  "We are grateful to school officials for acting swiftly to ensure that religious students can freely exercise their right to express their faith in a graduation speech," said First Liberty.(6)

"Public schools have no business compelling teachers to express ideological beliefs that they don't hold, nor do they have the right to suspend someone simply for respectfully providing their opinion at a public meeting," said an Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney representing a Virginia teacher suspended for voicing his objections to two proposed school policies during the public comment period of a school board meeting.(7)

ADF explained the school board's actions violated the Virginia Constitution when it punished the teacher by retaliating against him for expressing his conscientious beliefs in a public forum, and also violated his free exercise of religion by discriminating against his religious beliefs.

 

(church militant.com, 5/28/21(1); christianpost.com, 5/28/21(2)(3); toddstarnes.com, 5/27/21(4);globenewswire.com, 5/26/21(5); 1cbn.com, 5/27/21(6); lifesitenews.com, 6/2/21(7)

… we honor the bravery of those who forged this Nation to ensure self-evident truths about the endowment by the Creator of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Should those who swear to protect and defend the Constitution be obliged to surrender their First Amendment Rights?
- Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services, USA

 

Americans paused again on the last Monday in May to celebrate Memorial Day as they honor those who died in the nation's wars.  We love and are grateful for all those who are prepared to confront threats to our nation and even die to keep us free.

 

Recently, both members of Congress and retired military leaders have voiced concern about protecting the rights and freedoms, including Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech, for our current service members.  This concern was in part,  prompted by Department of Defense Sec. Austin who said, "Extremism presents a complex and unique challenge to DoD.   We must meet this head-on, working to stamp out extremism among the ranks, permanently."(1)  

 

 "The U.S. Army produced training materials that labeled Christians and Catholics as religious extremists alongside Hamas and al Qaeda, never mind the fact that evangelicals and Catholics continue to comprise the majority of those serving in uniform today.  Labeling religious and political beliefs that are held by tens of millions of Americans as extremist is to declare them unwelcome and unfit to serve...," said First Liberty Institute in testimony before Congress. (2)   "At a time of turmoil and instability, during which our nation faces many external threats, (this) message is inappropriate and offensive to our service members and those they defend."(3)

 

"We are in a fight for our survival as a Constitutional Republic like no other time since our founding in 1776.  The conflict is between supporters of Socialism and Marxism (that opposes religious belief and practice) vs. supporters of Constitutional freedom and liberty," wrote over 120 retired generals & admirals in an open letter.(4)

 

Catholics can be thankful that, per the Archbishop for Military Services, Timothy P. Broglio, “ the military is the largest single source of vocations to the priesthood” in the United States.(5)

 

(media.defense.gov, 3/4/21(1); washingtonexaminer.com, 3/24/21(2); theepochtimes.com, 3/24/21(3); jpmedia.com, 5/12/21(4); washingtonpost.com, 5/5/21; newsweek.com, 3/24/21;

militarytimes.com, 9/18/20): ewtn, news in depth,5/31/21(5)

 

Those who take an oath to defend our Constitution, knowing that defense may cost them their very life, merit our ardent defense of their Constitutional liberties. - B. Samuells, Catholics for Freedom of Religion