RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WEEKLY

Critical Race Theory:   American parents are increasingly looking for ways to block the spread of Marxist inspired Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the schools and the greater society.   "We're seeing what our kids are learning (as one result of seeing the zoom lessons) and our goal changes from opening schools to 'Oh my gosh.  What are we sending our children back to?'" said one Virginia parent (1)

 

CRT originated in universities in the 1990's and is a controversial idea for addressing racial issues. CRT is built on the intellectual framework of identity-based, godless Marxism.  It has spread to K-12 public and private schools, federal agencies, contractors, FBI, CDC, Sandia National (nuclear) Laboratories, Dept. of Homeland Security, and many more, where training and workshops are held to teach about "white privilege."  "Suggesting I do (have white privilege) is insulting.  Suggesting to my 9-year-old child she does is child abuse, not education," wrote parent Harvey Goldman to a Manhattan private school.(2)

 

Marxism, the foundation of Critical Race Theory, "is the social, economic and political theories of Karl Marx and provides the basis for most communist systems and theories," and the belief that our rights come from government. (3)

 

By contrast, Judeo-Christian values, the foundation of America, begins with the Declaration of Independence:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." (4)

(epochtimes.com,4/21/21(1); nycdailypost.com, 4/24/21(2); reference.com(3); americanthinker.com, 9/15/07(4); imperious.hillsdale.org, 3/30/21; pulpit&pen, 8/6/19; nypost.com, 9/15/20; independentsentinel.com 1/21/21; the federalist.com, 4/19/21(5)

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Happening Now:  Christian College Sues Over Forcing Men Into Women's Dorms :

College of the Ozarks in Missouri is suing this administration over a recent directive that redefines "sex" in the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), forcing religious institutions to permit students of the opposite sex in the same bathrooms, dormitories and dorm rooms.  Religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom asserts the executive order "requires private religious colleges to place biological males into female dormitories and assign them as females' roommates....Religious schools shouldn't be punished simply because of their beliefs about marriage and biological sex."(5) 

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Current Ideologies That Jeopardize Religious Liberty

And Judeo-Christian Founding Principles

May 9, 2021

"You will never do anything in the world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor."   - Aristotle

 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of former Georgia college student, Chile Uzuegbunam, who was prevented from expressing religious views in a free-speech zone on campus.  In an 8-1 decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the student "experienced a complete violation of his constitutional rights when respondents enforced their speech policies against him."(1)  The student wanted to speak with interested students about his faith but was silenced by a security officer until he obtained a special permit for a "designated speech area."  "When Uzuegbunam reserved a zone and again tried to share his faith, officials ordered him to stop because someone complained," said his Alliance Defending Freedom(ADF) attorney.(2)

 

"Groups representing diverse ideological viewpoints (atheist, Jewish, Catholic & Muslim) supported our client because the threat to our constitutionally protected freedoms doesn't stop with free speech rights or a college campus," said Kristen Waggoner, ADF attorney.(3)

 

Hundreds of Canadian Christians gathered at the GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta on Sunday, April 11, to protest and tear down a chain link fence that government officials erected to prevent worshipping.  Alberta Health Services(AHS) had closed the building and access roads were closed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  AHS said the church would remain closed until they "can demonstrate the ability to comply with Alberta's chief medical officer of health restrictions."(4)  In February, Pastor James Coates was charged with breaching COVID health guidelines that limited services to 15% of capacity and not enforcing masks and distancing regulations.  He spent 35 days in custody and paid a fine.

 

The worshippers peacefully gathered to sing hymns and listen to Bible readings outside, but the crowd grew, and some started to remove the fence.  Riot police dispersed the crowd.  "I'm very disappointed to see this kind of draconian and aggressive enforcement of health orders ...  It shows a very aggressive government that is not answering questions about its policies, but wants to push its weight around and try to make an example of GraceLife Church," said a JCCF attorney.(5)

 

The Indiana legislature sent a bill to Gov. Eric Holcomb that would classify religious services as essential during declared disaster emergencies and would prevent the government imposing any restrictions on religious services.  "Religious organizations provide essential services that are necessary for the health and welfare of the public during a disaster emergency," the bill reads.(6)

 

"I hope its another 500 years before we ever have another disaster ... like what our state and nation have experienced this last year," said State Sen. Eric Koch.  "But should that arise, this (bill) should protect that very enshrined right in our Constitution."(7)

 

(catholicnewsagency.com, 3/8/21(1); wnd.com, 3/8/21(2)(3); callingalchristians.net, 4/11/21(4(5)); cna.com, 4/13/21(6); apsnews.com, 4/8/21(7);

 

"In the world  you have tribulation, but take courage;  I have overcome the world."

John 16:33

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Some With Courage Are Defending Religious Freedom…Continued

May 2, 2021

"The Secret of Freedom - Courage"    -Thucydides  (Greek historian  - 5th century BC)

 

"Get out!  Get out! ... Don't come back without a warrant!," (1) yelled Pastor Artur Pawlowski to police and a public health officer as they "entered the church building uninvited on its holiest, most anticipated day for parishioners," during their church's Passover service in Alberta, Canada.  "If they want to inspect the building, they can call me and we can arrange that... I asked them to get out and they would not move," said the Polish Pastor.(2)

 

"I grew up under communist dictatorship behind the Iron Curtain, under the brute of the Soviets... It was like a ...flashback when those police showed up at my church.... And the only thing I could do is to fend off the wolves as a shepherd, and I used my voice to get rid of them."(3)

 

In a "Huge Win!" (4) California lifts capacity limits on churches and in home religious gatherings following five rebukes from the U.S. Supreme Court in five separate cases citing the First Amendment's right to religious freedom.  "This is the fifth time the Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit's analysis of California's COVID restrictions on religious exercise," the opinion said.(5)

 

"For over a year, the state of CA has targeted the faith community for discriminatory treatment depriving them of their fundamental right to worship.  It shouldn't take a decision from the Supreme Court, much less five decisions, for Gov. Newsom to realize that what he has been doing is unconstitutional," said Center for American Liberty founder and CEO Harmeet Dhillon. (6)

 

“Truth draws strength from itself and not from the number of votes in its favor.”                                  -Pope Benedict XVI

“Evil preaches tolerance until it is in power and then it seeks to silence good.”   

-Archbishop Chaput

 

Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips is again defending his freedom to practice his Christian faith in his refusal to create a cake celebrating a gender transition.  "Jack Phillips serves all people, no matter how they identify, but he cannot violate his conscience and create custom cakes celebrating all messages," said Alliance Defending Freedom. (7)

 

"And, he is not alone.  There are cases like these across the nation where an artist's livelihood - and in some instances, their homes and personal assets - are on the line simply for not wanting to speak a message that violates their core convictions.  ... our system of justice is being weaponized as nothing more than an arm of cancel culture to ruin people with whom one disagrees." (8)

 

(chrisitanpost.com, 4/7/21(1); christianitydaily.com, 4/8/21(2)(3); independent.co.uk, 4/7/21; dailywire.com, 4/12/21(4)(6); yahoo.com, 4/7/21(5); brnow.org, 3/39/21(7)(8); usatoday.com, 3/23/21)

 

"Courage is contagious.  When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened."  

-Billy Graham

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Some With Courage Are Defending Religious Freedom

April 25, 2021

"A nation that turns away from prayer will ultimately find itself  in desperate need of it."  

-  Rabbi Jonathan Cahn,  author of The Harbinger

 

As the world continues to confront coronavirus, many leaders have paused the reopening of their countries, announcing new constraints on travel, gatherings, churches, synagogues, and mosques.

 

Ireland:  "This Cabinet will go down in history as the most anti-Christian Government of all time ... to think people will be persecuted for going to Mass or having public worship," said a minister of the Irish Parliament.  "140 people or more were in this room today voting on legislation.  There's churches in this country bigger than this and yet you allow only 10 people in!," said another minister.(1)

 

Scotland:   A group of 27 church leaders  argued the Scottish government acted beyond their emergency powers.  Judge Lord Braid said the Scottish regulations disproportionately interfered with the freedom of religion.  "I have not decided that all churches must immediately open... All I have decided is that the regulations ... went further than they were lawfully able to do." (2)   Rev. Dr. William Philip said that the Scottish Ministers, "approach to banning and criminalizing gathered church worship was clearly an over-reach..." (3)

 

France was still under curfew in March and entered its third national lockdown on April 3, the day before Easter.

 

Germany is also still on lockdown with some relaxation promised at 7-day intervals for shops and service providers but no word yet of relaxation for churches.

 

Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship issued guidelines for Holy Week , calling for return to "normal experience of Christian life through the physical presence of the faithful at Mass." (4)

 

Canada:   GraceLife Church was "physically closed" by Alberta Health Services when authorities surrounded it with a chain link fence and blocked the entrance to the parking lot with police vehicles.  The pastor, James Coates, resumed preaching on March 28, after being jailed for 35 days in February and fined $1500, charged with violating health orders when he exercised his civil liberties by holding in-person services with the appropriate caution.  "Now they've chained the doors of the church, enclosing it in chain link fence," said the pastors wife.  "This is all under the guise of a health order ... I pray for all the pastors and Christians that still think this is about a virus and health order.  Clearly our Charter and criminal code mean nothing as long as the government can come up with a good enough story to disregard it.  God have mercy on our nation." (5)

 

(irishtimes.com, 3/25/21(1), 3/31/21 cruxnow.com, 3/10/21; bbcnews.com, 3/24/21(2)(3); churchtimes.co.uk, 3/12/21(4); northstarmeetingsgroup.com, 4/2/21; toddstarnes.com,4/7/21(5)

 

"When we worship together as a community of living Christians, we do not worship alone; we worship with all the company of heaven."  - Marianne H. Micks, Professor of Historical Theology

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Canceling Worship Persists in Europe & Canada

(A Harbinger for Further Restrictions in America?)

April 18, 2021

"Opponents of Christianity will believe anything except Christianity."    - G.K.Chesterton

 

"Cancel culture is the modern social attitude that controversial speech or behavior must be punished through public shaming, silencing, boycotting, firing, bankrupting, de-platforming, etc.  The result is that the so-called offender's influence, presence, and/or reputation is 'canceled out.'" (1)

 

In America today, Christian figures and symbols have increasingly become the subject of debate and vandalism as protestors pull down statues of saints, such as St. Junipero Serra in CA, calling him a colonizer when he actually combated the cruelties of the Spanish colonizers.  One prominent activist said that taking down statues of Jesus is acceptable so long as they depict Jesus as white, saying, “They are a form of white supremacy." (2)

 

Opposition to core Christian beliefs on life, marriage, and gender, have affected many institutions and resulted in numerous lawsuits.  An example is the Little Sisters of the Poor, forced by the government to provide objectionable healthcare insurance, have taken their case to the Supreme Court three times.  Last summer, Msgr. Charles Pope, a popular D.C. priest, became a victim of the cancel movement after he led a religious procession to the Emancipation Memorial and read Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.  He received so many online attacks, he had to shut down his accounts.  (gotquestions.org/cancel culture, 2021(1); washingtonexaminer.com, 6/23/20(2); 1.cbn.com, 6/26/20;  rt.com, 6/23/20; crosswalk.com, 11/5/20)

 

Happening Now:  Satanic Temple suing Boston City over Opening Prayer

 

The Satanic Temple has sued Boston after the city council declined to allow Satanists to deliver an invocation at the start of its meetings.  The group, which has lodged freedom of religion challenges nationwide, said that the council's policy for its opening prayer is discriminatory and unconstitutional because it does not permit prayer from every religious organization that wishes to deliver one.

 

However, our laws do not require that Satanism be protected as a religion because it is, in fact, not a religion.  It is irreligion or anti-religion, meant to deny devotion to God.  "Its goal is to produce a society where religion is no longer viewed as a duty or inalienable right.  Thus, granting Satanism religious-freedom protections undermines rather than strengthens religious-freedom rights by directly attacking their foundation: the existence of a Creator who is the source of unalienable rights." (3)

(indcatholicnews.com, 2/1/21; returntoorder.org, 1/31/21; thecatholicthing.org, 5/6/17(3)

 

"Evil triumphs when good men do nothing."   - Thomas Jefferson

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Canceling Christianity Continues in America

April 11, 2021

"All the Nations you have made will come and Worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your Name.  For you are great & do marvelous deeds; you alone are God."    Psalm 86: 9-10

 

Santa Clara, CA:  The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Santa Clara County's ban on indoor worship services, ordering California's only holdout to fall in line with the rest of the state following the Court's earlier ruling telling CA that it cannot ban indoor church services because of the coronavirus pandemic.  "Banning indoor worship and yet allowing people to gather at airports...and retail shopping is unconstitutional - and the Supreme Court has said so several times," wrote Bishop Oscar Cantu. (1)

 

British Columbia, Canada:  As of February, 2021, there were still no in-person Catholic masses, no worship services, anywhere in the province.  Religious leaders are seeking clear guidelines but are losing hope there will be changes to the current policy in time for Easter services.  Religious freedom law firms are now beginning legal challenges.

 

Greece:  Christians had defied a government ban and held Epiphany services in January, 2021 and are expected to do this again for Easter.  "State orders are one thing and faith is another," said a 38 year-old worshipper. "No law can order us what to do." (2)

 

Scotland:   The Scottish Government has revised its lockdown restrictions and said, "should progress suppressing the virus continue," it will permit churches to re-open for communal worship beginning on March 26 with an attendance cap of 50 people. (3)

 

Italy:  Unlike some countries, Italy has approved a fresh round of tight anti-Covid restrictions nationwide to be implemented between March 15 and April 6.   The whole country will be at the maximum level of restriction during Easter weekend, April 3-5.

 

(mercurynews.com, 2/26/21(1); citynews1130.com, 2/8/21; us news.com, 1/6/21(2);

 christiaitytoday.com, 3/10/21(3); inhuanet.com, 3/13/21)

 

"Here is my Creed.   I believe in one God, the Creator of the Universe.   That He governs it by His Providence.   That He ought to be Worshipped."    -  Benjamin Franklin

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Trying to Restore Some Freedom to Worship at Easter

April 4, 2021

Easter, 2020, found most churches in America unconstitutionally closed or restricted for in-person worship.  Limiting, or outright prohibiting, in-person religious services was one of the most controversial directives that states made in 2020 in an attempt to slow the coronavirus pandemic.  Ten states prohibited church gatherings altogether.  Most states implemented guidelines with various levels of restrictions, and 15 states allowed religious gatherings to continue without any limits.

 

Churchgoers in several of these states fought against orders banning religious services and, in each case, achieved some level of success modifying the restrictions.   CA Pastor Tim Thompson said, "The whole idea of separation of church and state is that the state can't run the church.  The state can't tell the church what to do." (1)

 

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.  I do not shrink from this responsibility - I welcome it."   President John F. Kennedy

 

As we begin Holy Week, 2021, and after many prayerful protests and court cases, the most onerous restrictions have been eased but not altogether rescinded.  Each state has developed its own form of control.  In Maine, Bishop Robert Deeley is not satisfied with the recently expanded gathering limits to 50 people.   He said, "I think that not giving more latitude to people to be able to exercise their Constitutional right to worship is harming them." (2)

 

The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down restrictions on some religious gatherings in New York and in California, the Court recently granted an appeal from a church that challenged the states restrictions on church services, singing and chanting.

 

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the most recent case:  "Government actors have been moving the goalposts on pandemic-related sacrifices for months, adopting new benchmarks that always seem to put restoration of liberty just around the corner." (3)

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Happening Now:  Third-grader Forced to Remove "Jesus Loves Me" Mask

 

"Public schools have a duty to respect the free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney in a lawsuit defending a Mississippi 9-year-old ordered to remove her mask. (4)  "Other students within the school district have freely worn masks with logos of local sports teams or even the words 'Black Lives Matter.'  This student deserves an equal opportunity to peacefully express her beliefs." (5)

 

(christianheadlines.com, 4/18/20; dailycaller.com, 5/12/20(1); blaze.com, 4/30/20; wmtw.com, 2/18/21(2); latimes.com, 3/10/21; deseretnews.com, 2/12/21(3); nypost.com, 11/5/20 (4)(5); lifenews.com, 11/2/20)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Many Churches Ease Restrictions for Holy Week & Easter 2021

March 28, 2021

The Equality Act has garnered criticism from both feminists and faith leaders who called it "flawed, hateful, and unthinking extremism." (1)   "The act is essentially an all-out assault on religious freedom...,"said Paul Jonna, counsel for the Thomas More Society. (2)

 

"(This) Act has been advertised as a fight against bigotry.  In truth, it’s a fight against freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution - (a fear) shared by both radical feminism and traditional religion," wrote Rabbi Yaakov Menken, director of Coalition for Jewish Values and Natasha Chart, chair of Women's Liberation Front. (3)  "We agree entirely that the Equality Act is a fatally flawed and even hateful piece of legislation... Congress is prepared to declare anyone who follows the Bible's definition of marriage or who believes women's sports, prisons and shelters should be reserved for biological women, to be in violation of civil rights law." (4)

 

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), representing over 1500 traditional, Orthodox rabbis in matters of public policy, calls the Equality Act "a direct attack on Jewish religious values and practices." (5)

In a letter to the House of Representatives, the CJV wrote:

"The Equality Act expressly declares that the Book of Genesis 2:24, and all Jewish laws

pertaining to marriage as a sanctified union between a man & woman, are nothing more than engaged in discriminatory stereotypes.  This is a disgraceful attack upon Jewish Biblical beliefs, rendered no more excusable by the fact that other traditional religious groups have similar tenets" (6)

 

"Simply put, the Equality Act as written insults our nation’s foundational commitment to the rights of religious believers.... (It) would aid those who seek to deny America's religious heritage and who seek to portray religious Americans as bigots and haters.  Such hostility toward religion should not be promoted, even unwittingly, by federal law," wrote Rabbi Avi Shafran. (7)

 

(thebostonpilot.com, 2/26/21(1)(2); newsweek.com, 2/24/21(3)(4);

 religiousnews.com, 2/25/21(5)(6); abcnews.com, 2/25/21(7)

 

"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 a gift of God?  Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."     - Thomas Jefferson

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Both Religious Leaders and Feminists Alarmed About Threats to Religious Freedom

March 21, 2021

"The Constitutional Freedom of Religion is the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights."  Thomas Jefferson

 

Two anti-religious freedom/anti-freedom bills that lingered in the House and Senate for over two years are likely to be signed into law soon unless all Americans learn about and oppose these threats to freedom.

 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) recently wrote:

"The Equality Act, passed by the House of Representatives on Feb. 25, does the exact opposite and needs to be opposed.  Instead of respecting differences in beliefs about marriage and sexuality, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith....  (It) would impose sweeping regulations to the detriment of society as a whole.... In brief, the Equality Act will:

*  Regulate thought, belief, and speech

* Explicitly retract religious freedom

* Threaten charitable services                              

*  Hinder quality health care                                                            

*  Exclude people from various career paths and livelihoods

* Endanger privacy (1)

 

"Whatever crumb of religious liberty that might be left after enactment of the Equality Act, would likely be swept up by the Do No Harm Act, a more comprehensive bill that would effectively render RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) null and void." (2)   "The Do No Harm Act would strip away the rights of millions of Americans who, because of their faith, are pro-life or support traditional marriage. (3) 

 

Individual business owners could be forced to participate in, and thus endorse, speech and events they believe are morally objectionable.  For example, a baker may be forced to create a cake design he finds morally objectionable; a florist, photographer, or tee-shirt designer could be forced to similarly design a product that violates his conscience or religious beliefs.  Each of these situations have come before the Courts and each time, the business owner’s freedom of religion was protected by RFRA.

 

"This bill would strip the heart out" of religious freedom law, wrote Dr. Doug Laycock, Un. of Virginia. (4)  "Religion's vast benefit to the whole of American society will only last so long as people of faith maintain the freedom to exercise religion, not just in their home or place of worship, but at work and in the wider community," said Matt Sharp at the Alliance Defending Freedom, (5)

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Be Silent No More!      Contact your Elected Officials:

Call the Capital Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to any Representative or Senator's office.  Find Representative's emails at www.house.gov  Find Senator's emails at www.senate.gov

 

(ncregister.com, 2/22/21(1); firstthings.com, 1/25/21(2); thehill.com, 6/8/18(3); deseret.com, 1/8/21(4)(5)

 

"Remember Civil and Religious Liberty always go together:  if the foundation of the one be sapped, the other will fall of course." - Alexander Hamilton

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Losing Religious Freedom as We Know It - Part 2

March 14, 2021

Bishops, Ministers, Rabbis, and all people of good will who value Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Conscience, and Freedom of Thought, are alarmed at the recent passage of the misnamed "Equality Act" and the impending "Do No Harm Act" that in reality promote 'inequality' and will 'do much harm.'   "This legislation seeks to change what is true, what is scientific, and what pertains to free speech and religious liberty," wrote Msgr. Charles Pope. (1)

 

"America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedom,

 it will be because we destroyed ourselves."  Abraham Lincoln

 

While the stated goal of the "Equality Act" is to amend existing civil rights laws to ban LGBTQ discrimination in the workforce, housing, education, and other areas of life, in reality, this "inequality act" would wrest special privileges for sexual orientation and gender identity.  It seeks to impose an "administrative conscience" (2) which would supersede and destroy individual conscience rights.

 

The Equality Act will:

"eliminate women's privacy & safety, forcing them to share public bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and even battered women's shelters with biological males.  (It) penalizes female athletes by allowing biological men to compete in women's sports ..."

" erode parental rights and position the government over churches and other faith-based institutions, potentially dictating how their facilities are used, who they hire, and punishing them for not affirming their view of human sexuality that directly contradicts orthodox biblical teaching."

" politicize the medical profession and denies biological reality..."

"dramatically expand abortion access and jeopardizes long-standing federal conscience laws."(3) 

 

"The Equality Act explicitly exempts itself from the requirements & protections of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (4) which was unanimously approved in 1993, signed by Pres. Clinton.

 

"We are at a critical point in our culture. Either we are going to stand up and insist on reality or have an alternative 'reality' imposed on us...Either we are going to fight for our religious liberty and freedom of speech - and ultimately, freedom of thought - or they will be taken from us," wrote Msgr. Charles Pope. (5)

  

(ncregister.com, 2/22/21(1)(5); ncregister.com, 2/25/21(2); prnewswire.com, 2/19/21(3); catholicvote.org, 2/25/21(4); firstthings.com, 1/25/21; deseret.com, 1/8/21; thehill.com, 6/8/18)

 

“It is error alone which needs the support of government.  Truth can stand by itself.”  - Thomas Jefferson

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Losing Religious Freedom as We Know It - Part 1

March 7, 2021

As Presidents’ Day of 2021 passes, we should recollect and honor some Presidents who championed and protected Religious Freedom:

George Washington - “The establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive which induced me to the field ..."

John Adams - “Nothing is to be more dreaded than a national government meddling in religion."

 

Abraham Lincoln - "He from Whom all blessings flow, must not be forgotten."

 

Ronald Reagan - "Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant, and the rule of law under God is acknowledged."

 

Bill Clinton - “Let us instead respect one another's faiths, fight to the death to preserve the right of every American to practice whatever convictions he or she has." (1)

 

Donald Trump – “Our republic was formed on the basis that freedom is not a gift from government, but that freedom is a gift from God.”  (2)

 

Happening Now:  The So-Called "Equality Act" Discriminates Against Faith & Freedom:

"Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity," wrote the U.S. Catholic Bishops (USCCB) but the soon to be voted on Equality Act "in many ways does the opposite and needs to be opposed." (3)  It is a radical assault on religious liberty, the right to life and privacy rights and more accurately called the "inequality act."  

Instead of respecting differences in beliefs and biology, marriage and sexuality, the Equality Act would: "punish faith-based organizations such as charities and schools ..., force girls and women to compete against boys and men in sports, share locker rooms and shower spaces with biological men who identity as women; risk mandating taxpayers to fund abortions; force people in everyday life, especially health care workers, to support gender transition; and expand what the government considers a 'public' place, forcing even some parish halls to host functions that conflict with Catholic beliefs." (4)

 

(firstliberty.org, 2/12/21(1); National Prayer Breakfast, Feb.2, 2017 (2); usccb/equality act (3)(4); prnnewswire.com, 2/19/21; washingtonpost.com, 2/18/21; cnsnews.com, 2/19/21; adflegal.org/equality act)

 

Be Silent No More!  

Capital Switchboard 202-224-3121;

Representative's names at www.house.gov; Senator's names at www.senate.gov

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Presidents Who Championed Religious Freedom

February 28, 2021

"A nation that forgets its past has no future."  -   Winston Churchill

 

At the beginning of the 20th century, social engineers embraced John Dewey's Pedagogic Creed of 1897 that said, "Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.  In this way the teacher is always the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of heaven." (1)

 

Dewey, a philosopher, psychologist, and considered the "Father of American Education," became an agnostic/atheist and "replaced Christianity with a religion of his own, secular humanism," (2) that embraces human reason and secular ethics, while specifically rejecting religious dogma.  Dewey was co-author of the Humanist Manifesto (1933), that believed the time has passed for belief in God, and that prayer and worship are to be replaced by efforts to promote social well-being. "His work provided a foundation and a foot in the door for the secular humanist movement...the dominant religion in America today," wrote Brad Harrub, author & researcher. (3)

 

"If you don't know history, then you don't know anything.

 You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree.”  -  Michael Crichton, author  

 

Thus, knowing John Dewey's  philosophy, parents can understand why history has been made almost irrelevant in most American schools.  America's actual founding on escape from religious persecution, individual liberty, Religious Freedom, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the best place for freedom, hope, and opportunity, has been replaced by efforts to undermine, ignore and diminish the country's founding principles.

 

"We cannot give up.  America is too important ... and so is the future of our children. ... Let us in 2021 remain together as a community and keep proclaiming the authentic American ideals and principles - our historic values," said Rabbi Aryeh Spero, Conference of Jewish Affairs.

 

(westernconservatory.com, 1/13/10(1); teachdiligently/john dewey(2); focuspress.org, 2/23/18(3); heritage.org, 5/7/20)

 

"It's your country ... fight for it."  -  Rabbi Aryeh Spero

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

The Decline of Teaching Factual American History in Public Schools - Part 2

February 21, 2021

“Glorious indeed has been our Contest… I hope we shall not forget

that to Divine Providence is to be ascribed the Glory and the Praise.”

                                                                                           - George Washington 1783

 

The principles that made America unique among all nations are those of faith in God as the creator and moral governor of the Universe, together with religious freedom, protected and guaranteed in the First Amendment.

 

Celebrating Presidents Week (in some states called "Ski Week") in February

 

George Washington's birthday is Feb. 22.  Abraham Lincoln's birthday is Feb. 12.  But, instead of honoring these great leaders on their actual birthdays, we combine them into one generic holiday called Presidents Week when schools are closed and most stores hold holiday sales.  

 

Instead, students should learn the accomplishments of these exceptional leaders, their devout faith in God and reliance on His guidance, and their role in establishing and maintaining our "One Nation under God."  

 

"How is it possible to overlook the significance of the leader who signed the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves during the middle of the Civil War?  Washington was so respected by his men at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War he could have been the king of the new nation.  Instead, Washington wanted to help create a nation built on liberty," wrote former Gov. Scott Walker. (1)

 

American history - a once valued subject - is no longer a priority in public schools.  This ignorance of history predicts troubling consequences as children grow up ignorant and unaware of the essential beliefs of Freedom, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Conscience, which founded our nation.  "Children need to learn how to take original sources - not doctored textbooks - and analyze them ... to come to their own conclusions."  (2)

 

(washingtontimes.com, 2/20/20(1); westernconservatory.com, 1/13/10(2);

charismanews.com, 7/4/18; nypost.com, 1/22/17)

 

"America will never be destroyed from the outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."    - Abraham Lincoln

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Celebrating Presidents Week (in some states called "Ski Week") in February

February 14, 2021

Are they taught that religious freedom is the first and the foundational freedom?

 

It is generally agreed that John Dewey (1859-1952) is the Father of American Education and his "contributions to government schooling are still recognized as being monumental even though he died over 60 years ago," wrote researcher Brad Harrub. (1)  When at Columbia University, he put in place a framework for training thousands of teachers which shaped thinking on education in the U.S. and around the world.  

 

However, Dewey was not primarily an educator but a philosopher and psychologist and not concerned with teaching new information.  He was concerned with inculcating new attitudes and was considered a "social engineer" wrote education reformer, Bruce Price. (2)

 

Dewey's thought was strongly influenced by Charles Darwin's theories and he conceived of education as synonymous with an evolutionary process. Therefore, he believed the individual’s duty was not to himself, God, or his family, but to his culture.  Dewey once wrote, "Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent." (3)

John Dewey's views on philosophy and education flowed from the naturalist views of Darwin.  He replaced Christianity with secular humanism which he described in his essay, A Common Faith: "Here are all the elements for a religious faith ...Such a faith has always been the common faith of mankind.  It remains for us to make it explicit and militant." (4)

 

The Decline of American History in Public Schools - Part 1

 

"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." Edmund Burke, statesman.

 

"By reducing the importance of U.S. history in public schools, we deprive American children of an opportunity to learn their heritage.... The study of history cultivates an understanding and appreciation for the ideals the nation was founded upon," wrote news editor Daniel Doherty. (5)   The foundational ideals of freedom: freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and freedom of speech, are rarely emphasized or even taught.

 

Sadly, only 13% of U.S. High School seniors showed proficiency in their knowledge of American history, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2010.

 

(focuspress.org, 2/23/18(1)(3); americanthinker.com, 10/1/12(2); teachdiligently.com/john dewey(4); townhall.com, 10/22/11(5); nypost.com, 1/22/17; washingtontimes.com, 2/20/20)

 

"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." – George Washington

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Parents - Do You Know What Your Children Are Learning in School?

February 7, 2021

"Historically, religion and its adherents have often been oppressed by government.   By contrast, America has been singular in its dedication to preserving the freedom of its people to expect and experience religious freedom.  That is now rapidly changing," wrote Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty law firm. (1)   In the past year there have been a number of violent attacks on churches, church gatherings, statues of Jesus, Virgin Mary, saints and monuments.  Churches, synagogues and other church services have been banned or severely restricted, while liquor stores & casinos are allowed to be open.  "A nation truly committed to religious freedom would, in a time of national crisis, welcome the essentiality of religion's exercise - not ban it." (2)

 

Religious liberty court cases have increased at an alarming rate.  From the Constitution’s ratification until 1940, there were only 3 Supreme Court cases challenging religious freedom.  But since then, more than 75 cases have come before the high Court.  Religious freedom has been under increasing siege for eight decades now. (3)

 

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.

 It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

John Adams, Founding Father and second president.

 

Speaking at the Univ. of Notre Dame Law School on Oct. 11, 2019, A.G. William Barr said that attacks on religious liberty have contributed to a moral decline in this country.  "Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values." (4)

 

"The moral problems Barr mentioned in his speech - plus murder, mayhem, and other forms of anti-social behavior - will continue until we regain our moral footing," wrote Dr. Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University.  "I am all too afraid that a historian, writing a few hundred years from now, will note that the liberty America enjoyed was simply a historical curiosity.  Then it all returned to mankind's normal state of affairs - arbitrary abuse and control by the powerful elite." (5)

 

(newsweek.com, 8/5/20(1)(2)(3); dailysignal.com, 10/23/19(4)(5); the guardian.com, 10/19/19;

deseret.com, 12/29/04; frc.org, 12/2/10)

 

“It’s the duty of everyone to defend religious freedom and promote it for all people.”

- Pope Francis

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

The Decline - & Possible Fall - of Religious Freedom in America

January 31, 2021

"America didn't create religious liberty.  Religious liberty created America."

Gov. Bobby Jindal

 

The Jews first migrated to the American colonies when they fled from Brazil where they had settled upon fleeing the Portuguese Inquisition in the 1500's.   But a Portuguese conquest of their area of Brazil in 1654 confronted the Jewish population with the prospect of a new Inquisition.  Avoiding this new threat, a shipload of 23 Jewish refugees arrived in New Amsterdam (soon to become New York) that same year.  This small community attracted more refugees and in the following decades, still seeking religious freedom, Jewish communities grew in Newport, RI, Philadelphia, PA, Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA.

 

An Independent Spirit Grows in the Colonies:

Over the next 100 years, diverse circumstances and ideas converged to inspire colonists to believe that individual freedom, not government domination dictated by powers far removed from their circumstances, was their God-given right.

 

Increasing population and prosperity, religious freedom in the individual colonies, the philosophy of the Enlightenment that men had certain fundamental rights which no government had the right to infringe upon, plus the 15 year long spiritual revolution of the First Great Awakening, all came together to form a new sense of identity.   By the mid-1700's, colonists had been living in America for 150 years, each colony had formed its own government and people were used to a great degree of freedom.

 

However, the British Parliament was incrementally passing more trade laws, taxes, and restrictions to benefit Britain more than the colonies.  While the colonists had asked for the same political rights as people in Britain, the king had refused.  Thomas Paine, political philosopher and activist, wrote,

 

"It is repugnant to reason to suppose that this continent can longer remain subject to any external power ... there is something absurd in supposing a Continent to be perpetually governed by an island." 

 

Paine also wrote,

"Let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is King.  For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other." 

 

(wikipedia.org/history of Jews in Brazil; myjewishlearning.com/Jewish-immigration; loc.gov/exhibits/religion; lotusarise.com, 4/18/20; charismamag.com, 7/31/19)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

America As a Religious Refuge in the 17th Century - Part 2

January 24, 2021

Refusing to compromise passionately held religious convictions, in 1620, 102 Pilgrims, followed by thousands of Puritans from 1630 - 1640s, fled European persecution for the British North American colonies.  The New England colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were established as "plantations of religion." (1)  Some settlers came for secular motives but the great majority left Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct.  They enthusiastically supported the efforts of their leaders to create "a city on a hill" or a "holy experiment," whose success would prove that God's plan for his churches could be successfully realized in the American wilderness. (2)  Even colonies like Virginia that were planned as commercial ventures, were led by self-proclaimed "militant Protestants."

 

The Puritans settled in Massachusetts with a goal to make the church more holy.  By 1690 they were the largest religious group with 50,000 living in MA.  Since they believed theirs was the only true religion, they expelled those who disagreed.  Puritan minister, Roger Williams, disagreed with compelling others to agree with him and was forced to leave the colony in 1636.   He went on to establish the colony of Rhode Island founded on the principle of religious freedom.

 

America is Still an Asylum for those Seeking Religious Freedom

 A U.S. core value is the right to be a member of any religion you choose and to worship openly.  This is why America grants religious asylum to those who have been persecuted for their beliefs.  The Commission on International Religious Freedom was formed in 1998 to study the impact and violations of religious freedom around the world. (3)

(loc.gov/exhibits/religion (1)(2); manythings.org; reference.com, 3/28/20; politcalasylumusa.com; mtsu.edu/first amendment; Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, 2020)

  

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Happening Now:  Religious Freedom Day, January 16 

On Jan. 16, 1787, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was signed into state law and is one of the most important documents in early U.S. religious history.  It was the model for the religious clauses of the First Amendment of the Constitution, ratified in 1791.

 

Each year, the President of the United States issues a Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day.  In 2020, Pres. Trump wrote:

"On Religious Freedom Day, we honor the foundational link between freedom and faith in our country and reaffirm our commitment to safeguarding

the religious liberty of all Americans."

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

America As a Religious Refuge in the 17th Century - Part 1

January 17, 2021

"Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid."

Matthew 5:14

  

Almost 400 years ago, in 1630 aboard the Arbella, Gov. John Winthrop wrote a now famous sermon titled, "A Model of Christian Charity” to his fellow Puritans to prepare them for planting a new society in a perilous environment.  These brave people, fleeing from religious persecution in Britain, would understand from the very beginning the standards and principles that they would live by to ensure the success of the colony.  Winthrop preached the importance of Christian virtues of faith, charity and love as a foundation bedrock upon which to build their new society.  "When God gives a special commission, He looks to have it strictly observed in every article.... We are entered into covenant with Him for this work.   We have hereupon besought Him of favor and blessing.”  (1)

 

The Puritan settlement was an experiment.  If the colony failed, not only functionally but especially morally, Winthrop feared they would lose the grace of God.  But, should they succeed, they would become a beautiful beacon of religious piety and freedom.  He wrote:

"For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill.  The eyes of all people are upon us.  So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world."(2)

 

Does Freedom Matter?

Too often Americans take freedom for granted but it is never guaranteed.  The restrictions upon freedoms of individuals, groups, schools, businesses, and houses of worship during the current pandemic have highlighted how fragile freedom really is.  Today, some retain their freedoms and others are denied.  "While the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues and mosques," wrote Justice Neil Gorsuch. (3)  Yet, ignoring the Constitution and restricting freedom, especially religious freedom, has become commonplace in America.

 

 landmarkevents.org (1)(2); thefederalist.com/ john winthrop; medium.com, 3/15/15(2); arcofhistory.org; thefederalist.com, 12/1/20(3)

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Happening Now:  Honoring Religious Liberty Martyr, St. Thomas Becket

 

"Thomas Becket's death serves as a powerful and timeless reminder to every American that our freedom from religious persecution is not a mere luxury or accident of history, but rather an essential element of our liberty.” "It is our priceless treasure and inheritance.  And it is bought with the blood of martyrs.

President Trump’s “Proclamation on 850th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket.”

Issued Dec. 29, 2020

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

What Are the Origins of America's Unique Freedom & Judeo-Christian Principles?

January 10, 2021

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 nine 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. 

 

"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

Our Story: Religious Freedom in Peril

January 3, 2021

"Of course, there are dangers in religious freedom and freedom of opinion.

But to deny these rights is worse than dangerous, it is absolutely fatal to liberty."    

-  President Harry S. Truman

 

San Francisco, CA:  As new restrictions are imposed on churches that will now ban indoor worship services in some counties, Abp. Salvatore Cordileone said, "Worship is both a natural and a Constitutional right.  My people want to receive the Body and Blood of Christ; they need it, and have every right to be free to do so."(1) The new health order treats religious worship as a "non-essential" activity, while allowing hair & nail salons, massage parlors, and tattoo parlors to remain open.  The Archbishop criticized the government for "demoting worship" and further said, "But the government still chooses to treat worship as less important than shopping for shoes." (2)

However, in May, 2020, Pres. Trump said, "Today, I am identifying houses of worship, churches, synagogues, and mosques, as essential places that provide essential services." (3)

 

Mississippi:  A 3rd grade girl was banned from wearing her "Jesus Loves Me" mask even though "Other students within the school district have freely worn masks with logos of sports teams or even the words 'Black Lives Matter,'" said an Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney. (4)  School administrators forced her to remove the mask because it had a "religious message."  (5)

The school's action was a clear violation of the U.S. Department of Education's Guidance on students' religious freedom which states:   "Students may display religious messages on items of clothing to the same extent that they are permitted to display other comparable messages."(6)

"Public schools have a duty to respect the free expression of students that the First Amendment guarantees to them. ... No public school student should be singled out for peacefully sharing her religious beliefs with fellow students," said ADF counsel.  (7)

 

Kentucky:  A Federal Appeals Court recently overturned a lower court's decision that declared Gov. Andy Beshear cannot order private religious schools to stop in-person instruction to prevent the spread of Covid-19.  This lower court (U.S. District judge) said the First Amendment protects religious schools' right to make decisions without government interference.  "If social distancing is good enough for offices, colleges, and universities within the Commonwealth, it is good enough for religious K-12 schools that benefit from Constitutional protections."  (8)

However, the new ruling from the Federal Appeals Court stated, "We are not in a position to second-guess the governor's determination regarding the health & safety of the Commonwealth at this point in time." (9) thereby denying First Amendment protections to religious schools.

The Kentucky Attorney General who supports First Amendment protections, said, "...we're already hard at work to take this matter to the U.S. Supreme Court." (10)

(wpsdlocal.com, 11/27/20(8); courierjournal.com, 11/29/20(9)(10); cna.com, 11/28/20(1)(2); nypost.com, 5/22/20(3);  pjmedia.com, 11/5/20(4)(7); gogateways.org, 11/18/20(5)(6)

 

“Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.

It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.  – William Pitt

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

2020 Ends: With No End to Discrimination Against Religious Freedom

December 27, 2020

"Religious freedom is more than the 'freedom to worship' at a synagogue, church, or mosque.  It means people shouldn't have to go against their core values and beliefs in order to conform to culture or government," wrote the Heritage Foundation, a public policy foundation.  "Religious freedom protects a person's right to live, speak, and act according to their beliefs peacefully and publicly." (1)

 

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito recently spoke about his concern that religious liberty is under threat in the United States and warned that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic was acting as a "stress test" for Constitutional liberties.  He fears that religious liberty is emerging as a "disfavored" and "second tier" right.

"The pandemic has obviously taken a heavy human toll...But what has it meant for the rule of law?" said Justice Alito.  "The pandemic has resulted in previously unimaginable restrictions on individual liberty ... We have never before seen restrictions as severe, extensive, and prolonged as those experienced for most of 2020." (2)

 

Justice Alito raised concerns about the closure of churches on Easter Sunday and the closure of synagogues during the Jewish holidays of Passover and Yom Kipper.  "The covid crisis has served ... to highlight disturbing trends that were already present before the virus struck." (3)   He said that cases the court hears today follow a trend of eroding religious liberty.

 

Justice Alito was critical of states restricting worship services and especially cited the Nevada case. "Take a quick look at the Constitution.  You will see the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, which protects religious liberty.  You will not find a craps clause or a blackjack clause or a slot machine clause.  Nevada was unable to provide any plausible justification for treating casinos more favorably than houses of worship." (4)

 

What's at stake?   Heritage wrote, "Religious freedom prevents the cultural majority from using the power of the state to impose their beliefs on others.  This protects everyone - religious and nonreligious alike - from the government becoming so powerful that it can tell people what to think and how to act. ... A government that intrudes on conscience will not hesitate to intrude on our other freedoms." (5) 

(heritage.org (1)(5); catholicnewsagency.com, 11/13/20(2)(3)(4); christianpost.com, 11/13/20;

 freedomforum.org, 11/17/20)

 

 “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

 

"But a Constitution of government once changed from freedom, can never be restored.

Liberty once lost is lost forever."   - John Adams

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Warning!  Religious Freedom: What's at Stake If We Lose It

December 13, 2020

"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 also of their rights.” -  George Washington

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Nov. 25, 2020, that NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order to enforce strict attendance limits on places of worship designated as coronavirus hot spots, violated the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause and actively discriminated against religious institutions.  The majority decision ruled in favor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and the Jewish congregations of Agudath Israel of America, because the regulations treated the houses of worship more harshly than comparable secular facilities.  "The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment's guarantee of religious liberty," wrote the majority decision. (1)

 

New York's rules, which the justices found to be "severe" and "inflexible," don't apply to retail stores in the same neighborhoods and in some places there are no attendance caps at all.  "Not only is there no evidence that the applicants have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 but there are many other less restrictive rules that could be adopted to minimize the risk to those attending religious services," the Court held. (2)

 

"This is an historic victory," said Rabbi Chaim Zwiebel.  "This landmark decision will ensure that religious practices and religious institutions will be protected from government edicts that do not treat religion with the respect demanded by the Constitution." (3)

 

In August, the pastors of two Colorado churches filed a "Lawsuit (that) calls both the federal government and Colorado leaders into account for their violations of the right to free exercise of religion among other abuses of power, primarily resulting from Gov. Jared Polis' COVID-19 related Executive Orders," said Thomas More Society attorneys. (4)

 

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Domenico ruled, "The Constitution does not allow the State to tell a congregation how large it can be when comparable secular gatherings are not so limited, or to tell a congregation that its reason for wishing to remove facial coverings is less important than a restaurant's or spa's." (5)

(boisestatepublicradio.org, 11/26/20(1); msn.com, 11/26/20(2)(3); denver.cbslocal.com, 10/20/20(4); pjmedia.com, 10/21/20(5); npr.org, 11/26/20; nypost.com, 11/26/20)

 

"I think it is appropriate that we pay tribute to this great constitutional principle which is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution:  the principle of religious independence, of religious liberty, of religious freedom."   -  President John F. Kennedy

of religious liberty, of religious freedom."                     -  President John F. Kennedy

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Supreme Court Rules for "free exercise" of Religious Freedom

December 6, 2020

"Of the many influences that shaped the American concept of liberty, the first and most formative was faith," wrote author Matthew Spalding. (1)

 

"Indeed, America was the first country in all of history that was deliberately formed to protect and promote religious freedom.  Our founders rightly noted that people don't give people freedom - God does,” wrote columnist Rebecca Hagelin.(2)

 

The freedoms we enjoy in America today originated in Judeo-Christian ideals that date back to the Pilgrims in 1620, the Puritans who followed them in 1630, and were the foundation for the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776 and signed by the Founding Fathers.  

 

Two years after the first Thanksgiving, Gov. William Bradford made an official proclamation for a second day of Thanksgiving in 1623, to thank God for their abundant harvest and for "freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.” (3)

 

Aboard the Arabella in 1630, in route to Massachusetts Bay, Puritan leader and lawyer John Winthrop wrote the lengthy document, A Model of Christian Charity, that became a model for future constitutional documents in the colonies and beyond.  It read: "We are a Company, professing ourselves members of Christ, ...  we shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when He shall make us a praise and glory ..." (4)

(We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles by M. Spalding(1); focusonthefamily.com, 6/30/15(2); americanthinker.com, 11/28/19(3); winthropsociety.com(4)

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Happening Now:  The Attack on God in Modern America

 

The two essential pillars that serve as stabilizing factors in any society, faith and family, are under attack during these tumultuous times.  

 

Amid the Covid-19 crisis, in Nevada, casinos are open but churches must remain closed.  In California, the governor told churches their congregants can no longer sing worship songs, even while wearing protective masks.  In Portland, Oregon, flags as well as Bibles are burned in the streets.  In many cities and states, vandals are targeting churches and religious statues.

 

"Do not be under the illusion that these protests and riots are anything but an attempt to dismantle all of Western Civilization and upend centuries of tradition and freedom of religion," wrote Journalist Miles Cheong. (1)

(dailysignal.com, 8/6/20; townhall.com, 8/6/20(1); newsweek.com, 8/5/20; freedomwire.com, 4/15/20)

 

“Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government - and all blessings which flow from them - must fall with them.”  Jedediah Morse 1799

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

From the Pilgrims to the Founders:

Building a Nation for Religious Freedom, Life and Liberty

November 29, 2020

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. "

1 Chronicles 16:34

 

1621  Grateful Pilgrims reaped a bountiful harvest the summer following the deaths of almost half their people during their first winter in New England.  The 3-day feast was to thank God and to celebrate with their helpful Native friends.  "By the Goodness of God we are ... far from want," wrote Pilgrim Winslow.

 

1777  Continental Congress, First National Proclamation of Thanks:

"... it is the Duty of all Men to adore the ... Providence of the Almighty; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to Him for Benefits received ..."  Samuel Adams

 

1789  President George Washington proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving be held to thank God for giving the American people the opportunity to create a Constitution to preserve their hard won freedoms.

 

1863  During the Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed a national day of "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens," making Thanksgiving an official federal holiday. 

(wikipedia.org)

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Happening Now:  Restricting Religious Freedom in 2020

 

Churches in California and Minnesota filed lawsuits in August against governors of their states challenging the restrictions placed on gatherings of more than 10 people that they contend are violations of religious liberty.  "Gov. Walz (MN), a former teacher, gets an F in religious liberties," said counsel for Thomas More Society. “Other states, including Texas, Illinois and Ohio, have excluded churches from Covid-19 mask mandates."(1).  

 

Religious plaintiffs have prevailed in some lawsuits.  In June, a federal judge blocked New York State from enforcing restrictions on indoor religious gatherings to 25% when other types of gatherings were allowed at 50%.

 

In Washington D.C., the Dept. of Justice stepped in to support the Capital Hill Baptist Church who is suing the mayor over the city limiting church services to 100 people while allowing large gathering protests and rallies.  "The Dept. of Justice is committed to upholding all the civil rights provided under the First Amendment, be it peaceable assembly in protest or practicing faith," said U.S.attorney for D.C. (2)

 

"From the first settlers seeking freedom to practice their faith, to our founding values starting with the First Amendment ... Americans of all faiths (and no faith) have (come to expect) ever-expanding religious liberties.  It's part of American exceptionalism," wrote Knox Thames in Christianity Today. (3)

 

(u.s.news.com,8/13/20(1);  wtop.com, 10/2/20(2); christianpost.com, 8/26/20; christianitytoday.com, 10/7/20(3)

In November, Americans prepare for the holidays and think about how our country came to be and why it is unique among all the nations of the world.

 

Freedom of religious expression is a key to understanding early American history and the founding of our nation.  The British colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the 17th century by men & women who, in the face of European persecution, refused to compromise passionately held religious convictions and fled Europe.  Although some settlers came for secular motives, the great majority left Europe to worship God in the way they believed to be correct.  They enthusiastically supported the efforts of their leaders to create "a city on a hill" or a "holy experiment."

 

In the founding documents, our founders quoted thousands of Bible scriptures, opened and closed sessions with prayer to God, and openly stated that they used the Ten Commandments in writing the laws.   "There are more than 4,500 recorded, public quotes by our Founding Fathers about the Bible, God, and the importance of ethics based on Christian principles," wrote author Randall Niles.(1)"History is clear:  Judeo-Christian ethics are at the foundation of the United States of America.   Morality was never seen as relative - it was always based on Natural Law and the authority of Scripture."(2)

 

(libraryofcongress.gov; biola.edu, 7/2/20; drivethruhistory.com, 5/5/17 (1)(2)

 

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Happening Now:  1776 Commission Established to Restore Patriotic Education

 

On Nov. 2, 2020, Pres. Trump signed an Executive Order to form the 1776 Commission with the goal "to better enable a rising generation to understand the history and principles of the founding of the United States in 1776, and, through this, form a more perfect Union..." The order further states: "The formation of a republic around these principles (Laws of Nature & Nature's God) marked a clear departure from previous forms of government, securing rights through a form of government that derives its legitimate power from the consent of the governed. Throughout its national life, our Republic's exploration of the full meaning of these principles has led it through the ratification of a Constitution, civil war, abolition of slavery, Reconstruction, and a series of domestic crises and world conflicts.  Those events establish a clear historical record of an exceptional Nation dedicated to the ideas and ideals of its founding.”

 

"Against this history, in recent years a series of polemics grounded in poor scholarship has vilified our Founders and our founding. Despite the virtues and accomplishments of this Nation, many students are now taught in school to hate our own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but rather villains.  This radicalized view of American history lacks perspective, obscures virtues, twists motives, ignores or distorts facts, and magnifies flaws, resulting in the truth being concealed and history disfigured."

 

(whitehouse.gov;  msn.com, 11/2/20; dailycaller.com, 11/02/20; nypost.com, 9/17/20)

 

“The history of our nation’s protection of religious freedom makes clear that preserving America’s liberties depends on understanding God-given rights.”    B. Samuells, Pres.; Catholics for Freedom of Religion

As all freedoms and especially, religious freedom, are under assault around the world, we speak and pray on November 11 to honor the Americans who have served in all areas of the military in defense of liberty.

 

Veterans Day originated as "Armistice Day" on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the signing of the armistice ending World War I on the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918.  Unlike Memorial Day that honors service members who died in service to their country, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans - living or dead - to give thanks for serving their country honorably during war or peacetime.

 

From WWI to the present post-9/11 conflicts, approximately 40 million have served in all branches of the military.  Women have been approximately 9.1% of active members. These military men and women who protect the U.S. come from all walks of life and from every state.

 

(history.com/topics/veterans; va.gov, 11/2019; military.com/veterans; archives.gov; nationalww2museum.org)

 

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Happening Now:  3 Killed in Knife Attack at Notre Dame Basilica, Nice, France

French bishops ordered a "death knell" to ring from every church of their country, as an act of mourning, after 3 people were hacked to death in Notre Dame Basilica in the southern Mediterranean city of Nice on Oct. 29th while they were preparing for Mass. 

 

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, wrote, "Entrusting France to the protection of Our Lady," Pope Francis "wholeheartedly gives his apostolic blessing to all those affected by this tragedy." (1)

"... with this attack in Nice, it is freedom of religion (under attack)." said French Prime Minister  Castex. (2)

(nypost.com, 10/29/20; cruxnow.com, 10/20/20(1); fox2detroit.com, 10/29/20(2)

 

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Be Silent No More!

Elected officials and their staff listen to, read and tabulate citizens' concerns and opinions when making decisions for their state and for the country.  Do not be silent.  Please contact one or more Senator or Congressman each week to encourage them to share your values.  Call Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to any Representative or Senator's office.  Find Representative email at www.house.gov    Find Senator's email at www.senate.gov

Excerpts from National Catholic Register (NCR), October 17, 2020:

 

"Pray, and vote - for the future of your country.” Michael Warsaw, publisher NCR

 

"In this year's election, the choice isn't really between" two presidential candidates - "it is a choice between two completely different views of America."

 

“One campaign has built itself on the notion that America is a great country, with much to offer.  It embraces a vision that sees religious practice and belief in God as central to the country's private and public life.”  In this understanding of America, faith is not to be exiled behind a misconstrued 'wall of separation' but “is “critical to the flourishing of America.”

 

"Under this view of America, people of faith are seen as a large part of the solution to the challenges our country faces, just as they have been central to so many positive movements in American history - from the right-to-life movement... to the great causes for justice and rights of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries."

 

"This view does not hold that everything (or every founder) in America is perfect."  But it does believe that "the tools exist within our Constitution and system of government to fix those problems that arise without having to completely change our system of laws and government."

 

The other campaign’s view is that "America has much to atone for and little to be proud of. Traditional religious ... values are seen as a form or vehicle for discrimination, not a central element of the country." “Abortion isn’t just celebrated: its export with taxpayers’ dollars” is a priority for them.” Religious freedom, including conscientious objections by the Little Sisters of the Poor, are dismissed and subverted. 

 

"America's progress in areas of racial equality" and hope of improvement within the present system is dismissed.  Religious people who disagree with a "redefinition of sexual values and the family" are "labeled bigots."  “Traditional religious beliefs are seen as a major threat to the country, and religious values are seen as out of step with the newfound progressive ones.  So called American "imperialism" is condemned but the "imperialism of communist countries" is overlooked.  Overlooked too, is that "a religion-embracing America that believes its peoples' rights come from God has done better for its people over time...”

 

These visions, "more than the candidates themselves, are what is on the ballot.  We are casting our vote for a long-term vision of America, not for a person."

(ncregister.com/author/michael-warsaw, October 17, 2020)

Election Prayer

Lord God, enlighten the minds of our people in America.  May we choose a President of the United States, and other government officials, according to Your Divine Will.  Give our citizens the courage to choose leaders of our nation who respect the sanctity of unborn human life, the sanctity of marriage, the sanctity of the family, and the sanctity of the aging.  Grant us the wisdom to give You, what belongs to You, our God.  If we do this, as a nation, we are confident You will give us an abundance of Your blessings through our elected leaders.  Amen.                             

Composed by Father John Anthony Hardon, S.J.

"Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness;

 that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."   Isaiah 5:20

 

“Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” from USCCB

 

Political and social questions require citizens to develop a well-formed conscience.  "Conscience is not something that allows us to justify doing whatever we want, nor is it a 'feeling' about what we should or should not do.  Rather, conscience is the voice of God resounding in the human heart, revealing the truth to us and calling us to do what is good and shunning evil."(1) “There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God & neighbor and are called 'intrinsically evil' actions.  These actions must always be rejected and opposed."(2)

 

In “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” the US Conference of Catholic Bishops states, “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.” (3)

 

"As we all seek to advance the common good - by promoting religious freedom, by defending human life from the moment of conception until natural death, by defending marriage, by feeding the hungry and housing the homeless - it is important to recognize that not all possible courses of action are morally acceptable." (4)  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "Some things are always wrong and no one may deliberately vote in favor of them.  Citizens support these evils indirectly if they vote in favor of candidates who propose to advance them." (5)

 

Pope Francis said, "We are living in an information driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data - which leads to superficiality in the area of moral discernment.  We need to develop critical thinking and encourage development of moral values."(6)

(usccb.org/forming consciences, p.18, (1); usccb.org/consciences, p.19 #22(2);usccb.org/consciences, p.16(3); usccb.org/consciences, #20(4); ccc2240 (5); Evangelii Gaudium, #64 (6); lifesitenews.com, 9/21/20 (7)

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Happening Now:  San Francisco Archbishop Denounces Draconian Restrictions

"One person at a time inside this great Cathedral to pray?  What an insult!  This is a mockery," said Archbishop Cordileone on Sept. 20, 2020.  "Why can people shop at Nordstrom's at 25% capacity but only one of you at a time is allowed to pray inside this great Cathedral? ... I never expected that the most basic religious freedom, the right to worship - protected so robustly in our Constitution's First Amendment - would be unjustly repressed by an American Government."(7)

--------

Be Silent No More!

Elected officials and their staff listen to, read and tabulate citizens' concerns and opinions when making decisions for their state and for the country.  Do not be silent.  Please contact one or more Senator or Congressman each week to encourage them to share your values.  Call Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to any Representative or Senator's office.  Email:  Find Representative’s email at www.house.gov.  Find Senator's email at www.senate.gov.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Embracing Goodness & Truth

October 25, 2020

When its hospital denied access to a Catholic priest who was asked to administer sacraments to a trauma patient injured in a car accident, the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services intervened causing the University of Maryland Medical System to amend its COVID-19 visitor policy. "The Trump Administration has made it a priority to defend Americans' right to practice their faith, at all times and especially during this pandemic," said Secretary Alex Azar. "As our work with the Univ. of MD Medical System shows, we can deliver healthcare, combat COVID-19, and protect religious freedom all at the same time."

 

(1) The case of a juror removed from deliberation because he sought divine guidance, will be heard by the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals. "Dismissing a deliberating juror for believing prayer is effective denial of the noble and civic duty to serve as a juror to hundreds of millions of Americans who seek divine guidance through prayer," said counsel for First Liberty.

 

(2) The Dept. of Education issued a final rule that expands religious liberty protections on college campuses and allows the Department of Education to suspend or cut federal funding from colleges that violate the First Amendment. It ensures the equal treatment of religious student groups at public universities. "This administration is committed to protecting 1st Amendment rights to students, teachers, and faith-based organizations. Students should not be forced to choose between their faith and their education...,"said Sec. Betsy DeVos.(3)

 

(HHS.gov, 7/21/20; christianpost.com, 7/21/20(1); firstliberty.org, 9/24/20(2); law360.com, 9/24/20; thefederalist.com, 9/11/20(3); catholic league.org, 9/10/20; FredLucasWH, 9/23/20; thefederalist.com, 9/25/20(4)(5)

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Happening Now: Executive Order Ensures Babies Born Alive Receive Proper Care "I will always defend the sacred right to life," said Pres. Trump at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. "This is our sacrosanct moral duty." (4) The Sept. 25, 2020 order directs HHS Sec. Alex Azar to implement an "Executive Order on Protecting Vulnerable Newborn & Infant Children" that recognizes "the human dignity and inherent worth of every newborn or other infant child, regardless of prematurity or disability, and to ensure for each child protection under the law." (5) It is uncontested that many children have been born alive following an abortion and left unattended to die alone, sometimes for many hours (Centers for Disease Control document, 2019).