RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WEEKLY

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

 

"It is deeply concerning that the U.S. Senate has voted to proceed toward passage of the "Respect for Marriage Act," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan, USCCB Chairman for Religious Liberty.  "The Catholic Church will always uphold the unique meaning of marriage as a lifelong, exclusive union of one man and one woman. ... we are joined by millions of ...reasonable and sincere Americans - both religious and secular - who share this time-honored understanding of the truth and beauty of marriage." ..."but the provisions of the Act that relate to religious liberty are insufficient." (1)

 

The Respect for Marriage Act is a bill that seeks to reinforce the already legalized same-sex marriage rights.  In 2015 the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell vs Hodges, that the 14th Amendment requires states to recognize and license same-sex marriages.  However, after the Dobbs decision which ruled that federal abortion rights are unconstitutional and the issue of abortion must be decided within each state, many supporters of same-sex marriage want to reinforce the 2015 decision in case the court ever overrules the Obergefell decision.

 

Unfortunately, religious freedom "protections" in this new version of the “Respect for Marriage Act” are entirely inadequate and also threaten the institution of marriage in multiple ways. (2)

·         It further embeds a false definition of marriage in the American legal fabric.

·         It jeopardizes the tax-exempt status of nonprofits that exercise their belief that marriage is a union of one man and one woman.

·         It endangers faith-based social-service organizations by threatening litigation and liability risk if they follow their views on marriage when working with the government.

·         It could make religious freedom and free speech cases harder to win.

·         It opens the door to federal recognition of polygamous relationships.

 

"Obergefell created countless religious liberty conflicts, but this Act offers only limited protections.  Those protections fail to resolve the main problem with the Act: in any context in which conflicts between religious beliefs and same-sex marriage arise, the Act will be used as evidence that religious believers must surrender to the state's interest in recognizing same-sex civil marriages.  Wedding cake bakers, faith-based adoption and foster care providers, religious employers seeking to maintain their faith identity, faith-based housing agencies - are all at greater risk of discrimination under this legislation," said Cardinal Dolan in his statement. (3)

“It is the duty of everyone to defend religious freedom and promote it for all people.” -Pope Francis

(usccb.org, 11/17/22(1)(3); adflegal.org, 11/3/22(2); thewashingtonstand.com, 11/17/22; ncregister.com, 10/7/22; deseret.com, 11/21/22; congress.gov, 7/17/22; the week.com, 11/18/22; law.com, 11/4/22)

Deceptively Named “Respect for Marriage Act” Denies 
Religious Freedoms and Causes Deep Concern Among Bishops

December 4, 2022 

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.   - George Santayana

  

Few Americans realize that New England's first form of government was collectivism (socialism) and practiced what Karl Marx would promote two centuries later as: "each produced according to his ability, and each received according to his need."  The Pilgrims, a pious and decent people, discovered that even the best men cannot thrive under an incentive-crushing system. Within two years of the First Thanksgiving, the colonists had reaped shortages and starvation.

 

Writing in the History of Plymouth Plantation, Gov. William Bradford said that with the survival of the colony at stake, they contemplated upon "how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery."  They decided to abandon the collectivist model of government in favor of a freer model.  So, they "assigned to each family a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number, for that end ..."

 

A happy Gov. Bradford wrote, "This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been ...  The women now went willingly into the field and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression."  

 

Thus, the Pilgrims now wished to work because they got to keep, and then trade, the benefits of their labor.  They discovered that freedom is a much greater stimulus than force.

"Instead of famine, now God gave them plenty," wrote Gov. Bradford, "and the face of things was changed to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God ... Any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day."

(libertyunderfire.org; townhall.com; historyofmassachusettes.org; History of Plymouth Plantation)

 

"Posterity - you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom.  I hope you will make good use of it." - John Quincy Adams

Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, and a Failed Experiment: Part 2

November 27, 2022 

A Quick History:  The Mayflower set sail from England on Sept. 6, 1620, and arrived at Cape Cod on Nov. 11, 1620.  The ship moved on to Plymouth with its 102 Pilgrims and on Nov. 21, 1620, they drafted and signed the Mayflower Compact, a legal document, "in the presence of God, and of one another, (to) covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic."

Weakened from the 65-day voyage and unprepared for the harsh winter, by spring, half had died from starvation and disease.  Fortunately, with the help of local Native Americans (Indians), the 53 remaining Pilgrims learned to plant and harvested an abundant crop by fall.  Thus, the First Thanksgiving was to celebrate a successful harvest and give thanks to God.

The Experiment:  The Pilgrims 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 women engaged in domestic chores for their neighbors.  Few did more than the minimum because the incentive to excel was destroyed. Within two years, the results were 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."

Gov. Bradford also spoke about another problem from this created famine… thievery.  "much was stolen both by night and day..."

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

 

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

George Santayana, philosopher, poet, cultural critic

Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, and a Failed Experiment: Part 1

November 20, 2022 

“The new rule in development has the potential for adverse effects on Catholic employers, but could prove devastating to Catholic health-care providers, including Catholic hospitals that care for one in six hospital patients in the United States.”  - Peter Jesserer Smith; National Catholic Register, Nov. 17, 2021 

 

"The same excellent care will be provided in a Catholic hospital to all patients, including patients who identify as transgender, whether it be for a broken bone or for cancer," said four committee chairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  "But we cannot do what our faith forbids.  We object to harmful procedures, not to patients." (1)

 

The recently published Health and Human Services (HHS) Section 1557 Super Rule would deny religious freedom since it allows no exceptions for religious or conscience beliefs or for certain insurance plans.  The proposal is part of the HHS department's attempt to clarify a section of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), to ensure that all medical practitioners and institutions be willing and able to provide services like transgender surgeries, "gender affirming care," puberty blockers for children as young as 12 years old, abortions, assisted suicide and more. (2)

 

"Sadly, (these) proposed regulations threaten our ability to carry out our healing ministries, and others' to practice medicine.  They mandate health care workers to perform life-altering surgeries to remove perfectly healthy body parts," said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and three other archbishops.  "Assurances that HHS will honor religious freedom laws offer little comfort when HHS is actively fighting court rulings that declared HHS violated religious freedom laws the last time they tried to impose such a mandate.  This is a violation of religious freedom and bad medicine." (3)

 

The U.S. Bishops stress that Catholic health care ministries serve everyone, no matter what their race, sex, belief system, or any other characteristic.  The 2,400-member Catholic Medical Association called the proposed rule "coercive" and a "clear violation of First Amendment protections." (4)

 

"Every health care facility, especially those of Christian inspiration, should be a place where care for the person is practiced and where it can be said: 'Here you do not see only doctors and patients, but people who welcome and help each other: here you can experience the therapy of human dignity."
- Pope Francis

 

(aleteia.org, 7/28/22(1)(3)(4); catholicbenefitsassociation.org (2); ncregister.com, 10/25/22; usccb.org; America magazine.org,9/26/22)

Religious Liberty and Catholic Health Services at Risk

If Latest HHS Super Rule is Mandated

November 13, 2022 

A California judge has ruled in favor of a Christian cake designer in the latest court decision regarding the conflict between religious freedom and same-sex marriage.(1)  This is the latest in a series of court decisions over several years regarding wedding vendors - such as cake designers, florists, photographers and artists - who refuse to use their creative talents for same-sex ceremonies because of their biblically based belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

 

The evidence showed that the baker, Cathy Miller, both employs and serves LGBT people but that she has a long-standing policy for refusing to bake cakes that violate her Christian beliefs. (2)  

"The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create a cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in a celebration of a marital union her religion forbids," wrote the Superior Court Judge.  "For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment." (3)

 

Some Bad News for Religious Freedom

A Colorado Christian baker, Jack Phillips, who won a partial victory of 7-2 at the US Supreme Court in 2018 when he declined to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, is now on trial for refusing to design a transgender birthday cake for a woman who requested a specialized cake in honor of her gender transition.  Phillips’ attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom explained that forcing him to create a message contrary to his religious beliefs violates his right to free speech. Phillips also objects to making cakes with other messages he opposes, including Halloween items. (4)

 

"It's one thing to be sued repeatedly; it's another to watch your family suffer harassment and face death threats, be forced to lay off longtime employees, and lose a substantial part of your business," reads a statement from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). (5)  "No American should be bullied or banished from the marketplace simply for living and working consistently with their faith," ADF stated.  "Opponents of religious freedom want to strip away our freedom to live and work consistently with our deeply held beliefs.... Praise God that Jack refused to give up his freedom without a fight.  He knows it's not just his own religious freedom on the line - it's yours too." (6)

 

(christianitytoday.com,10/25/22(1)(2); ncregister.com,10/26/22(3); deseret.com,10/24/22; nytimes.com,10/15/22; christianco.com,10/11/22(4)(5); 1cbn.com,10/7/22(6)

 

Rosary for America - Elections 2022 - Please Pray with Us

Let us pray together to implore God's blessing on our Nation as we choose our leaders.   Led by Catholics for Freedom of Religion on Sunday, Nov. 6, rosaries will be prayed on the hour from noon through 5 pm. 

To add your presence to this important petition of prayer, call 681-999-0162; Access Code 801851#

"Civic engagement is part of the task of discipleship.  It is part of the vocation of all God's faithful who are called by Jesus to be 'salt of the earth' and the 'light of the world." - Bishop Andrew Cozzens

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Some Good News for Religious Freedom

November 6, 2022 

"As a Catholic bishop and Roman Catholic cardinal, I condemn these actions against non-armed families, against children; it's threatening for children, terrorizing them.  There is no reason and no justification for this brutal action against these peaceful families,"(1) said German Cardinal Gerhard Muller when he visited the home of Mark Houck who was arrested on Sept. 23, 2022, by several armed and unexpected FBI agents in the early morning hours and charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. In 2021, Houck had protected his 12-year-old son from an aggressive male escort at an abortion facility in PA where he regularly prays the Rosary, hands out literature and occasionally does "sidewalk counseling." (2)

             

"Persecution of the good people is always a sign of the beginning of dictatorship and tyranny," said Cardinal Muller. "But the United States has always had the leadership for democracy, and democracy doesn't work when there is no respect for basic rights ... We are citizens of the states and not serfs of some ideological leaders." (3)

 

Another Pro-Life Parent Arrested by FBI

"It was all very shocking.  No one can believe the federal government would do something like this, with two cars and four armed FBI agents," said Paul Vaughn, father of 11 children in TN, after the FBI agents came to his home at 7:00am on Oct 5, 2022, pounding on the front door so loud that it reportedly made the whole house shake. (4)(5)

"Paul Vaughn's arrest in front of his wife and 7 of his children, including the 18-month-old child she was holding, followed by his indictment on federal charges, is yet another attempt on the part of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to frighten and intimidate Christians and committed life advocates," said Thomas More Society senior counsel, Stephen Crampton.  "We believe the evidence will show that Paul did not violate the FACE Act, and we look forward to a chance to prove that in court." (6)

 

"We believe that authority was abused in this situation.  Especially when contrasted with the utter lack of interest, let alone investigation and arrest, of those committing genuine acts of violence against churches and pregnancy resource centers," said Attorney Crampton.  "It seems clear that the FBI is carrying out an agenda ... - to terrorize - Christians and the pro-life community, while excusing and even condoning those on the pro-abortion side engaged in much more serious and harmful acts." (7) 

 

"Government exists not only to make rules, but to ensure justice.  If a government fails to provide equal justice under the law, it must be replaced by one that does."

James Madison, Founding Father and 4th President

 

(ncregister.com, 10/12/22(1)(3); christianpost.com, 9/27/22((2); ncregister.com, 10/18/22(4)(6((7); lifenews.com, 10/7/22(5); washingtontimes.com,10/16/22; liveaction.org, 8/9/22)

Quoting Pope Francis on elections and the faithful’s civic duty to vote, Bp. Andrew H. Cozzens added “Civic engagement is part of the task of discipleship. It is part of the vocation of all God’s faithful who are called by Jesus to be the ‘salt of the earth’ and the ‘light of the world.”  “This is not a duty that any of us can delegate.”

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Cardinal Muller Visits Pro-Life Father of 7 Arrested by FBI

October 30, 2022 

"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, will be persecuted." -2 Timothy 3:12

According to a 2022 Pew Research Center report, over 75% of the world's population live in countries with high or very high governmental and/or societal restrictions on religious freedom.  Throughout the Middle East, Church leaders - from Jerusalem to Iraq - are concerned that the Christian population is emigrating at alarming rates.  The very birthplace of Christianity now faces the serious threat of losing its heritage because Christians are fleeing systematic violence in their homeland. (1)

 

In Southeast Asia and Africa, the countries of Myanmar and Nigeria are now seeing the most brutal persecution.  "Myanmar authorities brutalized us," said a 30-year-old Muslim refugee.  "They burned down our houses, raped our mothers and sisters, burned our children.  We took shelter in Bangladesh to escape that brutality." (2)  These killings by the Myanmar military led to over 700,00 Rohingya Muslims into overcrowded, disease-ridden camps.

 

Christians are the particular target of persecution in Nigeria.  More Christians are killed for their faith in Nigeria than in the rest of the world combined. (3)  "Nigeria is currently one of the scariest places to be a Christian," says an Open Door's analyst.  "The country has witnessed an explosion of violence in recent months.  Attacks are happening almost on a daily basis.... (This) is what is happening across West Africa - the agenda, and the process and model of persecution are being implemented elsewhere with impunity."(4)

 

"The United Nations estimates that over 82 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide, the highest number on record.  Many are displaced due to conflicts, real or manufactured, over religion..." (5)

 

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account"  -Matthew  5:11

(usccb.org, 2022(1)(5); humanrightswatch.org, 8/24/22(2); opendoorsuk.org, 5/10/22(3)(4); bbc.com, 5/24/22; anglican.ink, 9/16/22)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Globally, Religious Freedom is Under Siege

October 23, 2022 

“The Bible clearly says that faithfulness and persecution often go hand in hand.” -Evangelist Billy Graham

On Sept. 23, 2022, Catholic pro-life activist, Mark Houck, was arrested by a fully armed team of FBI agents at his home in PA in front of his wife and seven young children after the agents had pounded on the door in the early morning.  "They said they were going to break in if he didn't open it.  And then they had about 5 guns pointed at my husband, myself, and basically at my kids," said Mrs. Houck. (1)

 

Houck is accused of assaulting a male Planned Parenthood client escort outside a Philadelphia abortion clinic on Oct. 23, 2021, under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.   Houck regularly prays the Rosary, hands out literature, and does some "sidewalk counseling" outside the clinic.  On this day, when "the escort began harassing Mark’s 12-year-old son, they walked down the street away from the building entrance.  The escort followed them and when he continued yelling at the boy, getting within his personal space, Mark pushed him away," wrote a spokesperson. (2)  The man fell down but was not seriously hurt, requiring only "a Band-Aid on his finger," said the spokesperson. (3)  After local authorities declined to press charges, the escort pressed charges in Philadelphia municipal court, but the case was dismissed when the man repeatedly failed to show up for court dates.

 

If convicted, Houck could face 11 years in prison.  "This case is being brought solely to intimidate people of faith and pro-life Americans," said Peter Breen, Thomas More Society senior counselor. "Mark Houck is innocent of these lawless charges and we intend to prove that in court." (4)

 

In the meantime, "Nobody responsible for the nearly 100 attacks, including firebombs and vandalism, on pro-life pregnancy centers has been charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ), wrote Greg Price of xStrategies. (5)  These frequent attacks, many by pro-abortion group "Jane's Revenge”, were seemingly ignored after the Supreme Court decision in June on Roe v Wade. "This kind of overreaction for a minor infraction of the law is deeply troubling and it becomes even more troubling when paired with the under reaction by the DOJ when the pro-life side is targeted," wrote William Donohue, Catholic League president. (6)

 

Berkeley develops "Jewish-free Zones"

Nine student groups at U.C. Berkeley created "Jewish-free Zones" when they adopted a rule forbidding pro-Israel speakers at school events.  The controversial bylaw, promulgated by a pro-Palestinian group on campus, says it aims to stop the spread of Zionist (pro-Israel) beliefs.

 

"It is troubling to broadly exclude a particular viewpoint from being expressed," said Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who is Jewish.  "This would mean that I could not be invited to speak because I support the existence of Israel, though I condemn many of their policies." (7)

 

(christianpost.com, 9/27/22(1)(2); catholicnewsagency.com, 9/27/22(3)(4)(6); 1cbn.com, 9/27/22(5); ncregister.com, 9/27/22; nypost.com, 9/29/22); nypost.com, 9/30/22(7); newsweek.com, 10/2/22

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Legalized Religious Persecution Comes to America

October 16, 2022 

Christianity has made numerous contributions to the world, demonstrating that it turned the ancient world upside down and laid the foundation for positive changes in societies around the world.  While some choose to list the faults of those who claim to be Christians but have done great harm, the actual good done in the name of Christ is astonishing.

 

 "It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the coming of Christianity.  It brought with it, for one thing, an altogether new sense of human life.  For the Greeks had shown man his mind; but the Christians showed him his soul.  They taught that in the sight of God, all souls were equal, that every human life was sacrosanct and inviolate," wrote Yale historian R.R. Palmer. (1)

 

"The gospel not only converts the individual, but it changes society.  On every mission field ... the missionaries carried a real social gospel.  They established standards of hygiene and purity, promoted industry, elevated womanhood, restrained anti-social customs, abolished cannibalism and human sacrifice, organized famine relief, checked tribal wars, and changed the social structure of society," wrote Princeton Prof, Samuel Zwerner." (2)

 

Despite its humble origins, Christianity made more changes on earth for good than any other movement in history.  "Education, social reform, medicine, democracy, the arts and modern science all owe much of their current existence to the teaching and ideas of the followers of Jesus Christ," wrote author David Robertson.(3)

 

*  Following Emperor Constantine's conversion in A.D. 325, the churches built hospitals, hospices for travelers and houses for orphans, widows and the indigent.  Historians note that charitable organizations are almost unknown in the ancient world until the time of Christ.

*  Christians took real, practical steps helping the sick.  The Emperor Charlemagne (800-814) decreed that every cathedral was required to have an attached hospital.

*  Monasteries generated the copying of Scripture and other literature, especially from Greece, and their libraries provided the inspiration for the first universities in the 12th and 13th centuries.

*  Christianity places a high value on truth and that truth about the existence of God can be discovered through observation of the natural world, thus having a positive impact on the development of the sciences.

*  Christianity produced a middle class not known to mankind.  It had always been the rich and the poor, the elite and the serfs or slaves.  But with Christ, the carpenter, there was now honor in all work as a God-given calling, helping to produce a vibrant middle class.(4)

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom."  -Corinthians 3:17

 (dailycaller.com, 12/22/17(1)(4); christianunion.org, 5/3/16(2): chnistiantoday.com(3); byfaith.co.uk; discover.hubpages.com, 9/17/18; coldcasechristianity.com, 10/22/21(4)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

The Unique Contributions of Christianity to the World

October 9, 2022 

"The Rosary is a magnificent and universal prayer for the needs of the Church, the nations, and the world.” -Pope John XXIII

  

"Our Christian faith is based, not on abstract speculation, but on historical events.... The Church's feasts are acts of thanksgiving for actions of God that have affected the course of human existence," wrote Fr. George Rutler, Pastor of Church of St. Michael in NYC.   (1)

 

Anticipating the Muslim threat to take over the Mediterranean Sea and be in a position to conquer European Christian nations, in 1569, Pope Pius V urged the Christian faithful to pray the Rosary and seek the intercession of the Blessed Mother to defeat the Muslim aggression. (2)  He "understood the tremendous importance of resisting the aggressive expansion of the Muslin Turks better than any of his contemporaries appear to have.  He understood that the real battle being fought was spiritual; a clash of creeds was at hand, and the stakes were the very existence of the Christian West," wrote G.K. Chesterton in his poem "Lepanto." (3)

 

On October 7, we celebrate the improbable victory of Christian naval vessels over those of the Ottoman Muslims who outnumbered the Christians by two to one and whose ships were manned by 15,000 Christian galley slaves.  The Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, was the greatest naval engagement known until World War I. (4)

 

Pope Pius V interpreted the event as the movement of Providence in favor of the Church and European civilization.   He asserted that the triumph properly belonged to the Mother of God and that her intercession had moved the "Holy League" of Christian vessels to victory.  He added a new feast day to the Liturgical Calendar - October 7 would henceforth be the feast of Our Lady of Victory.  His successor, Pope Gregory XIII would change the name of this day to the feast of the Holy Rosary. (5)

 

Let us pray:  We pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Victory, Patroness of the United States.  Blessed Mother Mary, we place our country in your care, remembering your intercession in the Battle of Lepanto.  Teach us to imitate Jesus, as you did, and always to follow Him with your courage so that religious liberty, His gift to all mankind, may be preserved throughout the land.  Amen 

 

crisismagazine, 10/7/16(1)(4); simplycatholic.com(2); thecatholicdormitory.blogspot,10/7/13(3); madisoncatholicherald.org, 10/26/17(5); ghirelli.com, 1/1/19

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

What Happens When Entire Nations Pray for Religious Freedom?  It's Happened Before - It Can Happen Again

October 2, 2022 

"Of all the dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports."  George Washington, Farewell Address

 

"Like the Founders themselves, many Americans in the early years of the Republic truly regarded the Constitution as a miracle. ... (Americans) declared that the formation and adoption of our new system of federal government represented a political achievement unprecedented in human history.  They looked upon it, moreover, as an event that was actually 'influenced, guided and governed' by the hand of God.'  ... Our Founding Fathers believed the Constitution was destined to bless all mankind - and that it is 'incumbent on their successors' to preserve and defend our national charter of liberty."  (1)

The Founding Fathers attached supreme importance to "the role of religion in the structure of the unique civilization which they hoped would emerge as the first free people in modern times." (2)

 

The True Meaning of "Separation of Church and State"

In recent weeks, some commentators in media and Congress have declared the phrase "Separation of Church and State" is found in the U.S. Constitution and therefore any reference to or mention of God is not permitted in America.  This assertion is FALSE and has been identified as "Huge Lie #1" by Catholics for Freedom of Religion. (3)  In fact, the phrase is not in the Constitution at all but is from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury, Connecticut Baptist Church in support of individual freedom of conscience and religion and the open practice of faith without government interference as, Jefferson reiterated, was intended in the First Amendment.

 

Our Founders fought for a nation where, in the words of Pastor John Leland, all would be "equally free - Jews, Turks, Pagans, and Christians." (4)  They knew from history that an attack on anyone's religious liberty would be destructive to everyone's religious liberty because where government, through power, can dictate, there is no liberty.

 

(The 5,000 Year Leap, W. Cleon Slousen,(1) (2, pg.76); "It's OK for Students to Pray" pamphlet from Catholics For Freedom of Religion(3); ciis.edu; KrisAnne Hall. 6/26/13(4)

 

"The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it."   - Albert Einstein

"The Constitutional freedom of religion is the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights."  Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father

On September 17, 1787, The Continental Congress approved, and 39 men signed, the proposed Constitution for the United States of America then sent it to the states to be ratified.  This document created the federal government, established its only legitimate powers and the boundaries within which power could be exercised.

 

"We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." - Preamble of the Constitution of the United States

 

All public schools that receive federal funding are required to hold Constitution Day events (see Public Law 108-447) during the week of Sept. 17-23 each year.  Is your school following the law and celebrating freedom with age or grade appropriate activities so that students can learn about their inalienable rights and freedoms protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights?

 

Our government exists to serve its citizens, not to empower itself. To prevent the abuses of power they felt under the British monarchy, the Founding Fathers framed the Constitution carefully, distributing power over 3 branches of government, outlining its powers, limitations on those powers, and the rights of citizens.   "Powers not assigned to one of the three branches are left to the individual states." In this way, the Constitution’s framers wisely separated and balanced government powers to safeguard the interests of majority rule and minority rights of liberty and equality.  

(dar.org; constitutioneel.live; thomastalks.org, 9/17/21; KrisAnneHall, 6/26/13; ciis.edu; nationalday.com)

 

"No power over the Freedom of Religion (is) delegated to the United States by the Constitution."    James Madison, Founding Father

Twenty-one years ago today, when terrorists destroyed the twin towers of the iconic World Trade Center, they attacked not only New York City, but the idea of America itself as founded on the principles of Freedom, Faith, Family, Life, Limited-government, Law and Authentic Goodness. (FLAG). Thousands died that day, not as combatants but as Americans, living the liberties of our Republic under a Constitution based on rights from our Creator. These Americans lived, worked and visited this city where the rule of law and goodwill toward others prevailed in spite of human imperfections.  Hundreds of them chose as their life’s work to rush toward danger when help was needed. On Sept.11, they perished in harm’s way.

 

We pray for them in grateful remembrance.  We pray for comfort for their loved ones as a nation still grieving the loss of each one of them. Let our lives reflect respect and appreciation for the liberties they had no chance to defend that day.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"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 fall, there will be anarchy throughout the world."   -Daniel Webster, Lawyer and Statesman

"Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword or shooting them with a sharp arrow." -Proverbs 25:18

False Claims that "In God We Trust" is a Christian Nationalist Project:

"The national motto, In God We Trust, asserts our collective trust in a sovereign God," said a Texas State Senator after schools started to receive donated posters of the motto that they will be required to display in accordance with a new state law.(1)  Senate Bill 797 requires schools to display the posters in a "conspicuous place" as long as they are "donated" or "purchased by private donations" which has resulted in signs being displayed across the state.(2)  Those opposed are arguing the law imposes religion on students.  "Alone, (the posters) are a basic violation of the separation of church and state.  But in the broader context, it's hard not to see them as part of the larger Christian nationalist project," said Sophie Ellman-Golan of JFREJ. (3)  However, no group has yet spoken out against the national motto, In God We Trust, being printed on every dollar bill and coin.  Nor has any group acknowledged that the national motto does not specify a Christian or Jewish or Muslim or any other denomination God.  Since a Christian nationalist project does not exist, many see this objection to the posters as an attack on Christianity itself.

 

False Claims the Catholic Rosary Prayers are "An Extremist Symbol":

A writer for the widely read The Atlantic magazine has recently gained much attention with his claim, "Just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional Catholics.  On this extremist fringe, rosary beads have been woven into a conspiratorial politics and absolutist gun culture.  These armed radical traditionalists have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and turned it into something dangerously literal." (4)   "It looks to me like the guy who is politicizing the Rosary and treating it as a weapon in the culture war is ...(writer) Daniel Panneton," said Professor Robert George, Princeton Un. and former chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.  "... it's hard to miss the classic anti-Catholic tropes in the piece..." (5)  "The politically elite core in media ... mean to topple every natural and supernatural sign (of Western civilization)," said Professor Chad Pecknold of Catholic University of America. (6) "The article is a long-running stream of inaccuracies, logical fallacies and distortions," said Dominican Fr. Pius Pietrzyk.  "The notion of 'spiritual combat' has been with the church from time immemorial. ... In no way does the notion of Rosary as 'combat' imply physical violence." (7) 

 

(cnn.com, 8/21/22(1); foxnews.com, 8/20/22(2); axios.com, 8/21/22(3); theatlantic.com, 8/14/22(4);  

ncregister.com, 8/16/22(5)(6)(7); deseret.com, 8/16/22

"Prayer is the best weapon we possess, the key that opens the heart of God."- Saint Padre Pio

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." -1st Amendment of U.S. Constitution

 

New York - New York Police Department Officer Marjel Kola, is suing the department after they denied him a religious exemption and fired him on June 17, 2022.  Kola is a native of Albania, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and has been a transit cop for over 4 years.  He received the "Cop of the Month" award in June 2021.  

When the Covid vaccine became mandatory, Kola applied for a religious exemption and was immediately denied.  "I believe in God and put the trust in God.  Why should I put something in my body that I don't trust?" he said. (1)  He appealed and submitted a letter from his pastor stating that Kola has been an elder of the church since 2017 and follows its teachings. Still, he was terminated in June.

Air Force - Air Force officials were ordered on July 27, 2022, not to discipline airmen who are seeking religious exemptions to the military's Covid vaccine mandate.  U.S. District Judge Matthew McFarland asked the military to make its case as to why he shouldn't enter a preliminary injunction, which is a longer-lasting measure.  "Defendants fail to raise any persuasive arguments," Judge McFarland said.  The small number of religious exemptions granted is "farcical".   The Air Force "has effectively stacked the deck against service members seeking religious exemptions." (2)

Chicago - The "first class wide lawsuit for health care workers over a Covid shot mandate" in the United States was settled for over $10.3 million on July 29, 2022, Liberty Council reported.(3)   The lawsuit was against NorthShore University Health System, located in the suburbs of Chicago, on behalf of current and former workers who objected to its Covid shot mandate on religious grounds.  They refused the shot due to its association with aborted fetal cells, according to Liberty Counsel.  523 workers had requested and were denied a religious exemption or accommodation. NorthShore had approved the request from one person.

(theepochtimes.com, 8/8/22(1); therayfield.com, 8/8/22; truthpress.com, 7/29/22(2); younews.com, 7/28/22; legitgov.org, 7/30/22; ncregister.com, 7/31/22(3); chicagotribune.com, 8/2/22)

 

"The framers of our Constitution meant we were to have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion."   - Evangelist Billy Graham

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

A rewriting of the Title IX Dept. of Education rules puts at risk the safety, privacy, and equality of girls and woman at schools that are federally funded.  This recently proposed regulation "removes protections for religious institutions that adhere to a traditional belief on sexuality, gender, and marriage by eliminating previous protections that were reaffirmed in 2020." (1)

 

In 2010, when that administration expanded the definition of  "sexual discrimination" in Title IX regulations to include alternative sexual identities, many religious schools sought assurances they wouldn't be forced - in violation of their sincerely held religious tenets and teachings - to open single-sex dorms to members of the opposite sex, to open bathrooms and locker rooms to individuals whose subjective self-gender identity runs counter to their biology, or to hire openly married same-sex couples. (2)

 

The long-standing religious exemption, guaranteed in 2010, was reaffirmed in the 2020 Title IX regulation.  "Yet even though Title IX's religious exemption is firmly grounded in statutes, regulations, and judicial decisions, the recent 2022 draft Title IX regulation removes the religious protections without providing any justification for the proposed change. (3)

(fedsoc.org, 7/22/22; ed.gov/news, 6/23/22; heritage.org, 7/18/22(1)(2)(3);   theconversation.com, 6/22/22)

 

"There is no question that we are living in the most troubled times.  Fundamental truths about human life, about marriage and the family and about the conscience, are being called into question... But we are full of courage because we know that our Lord is with us.  He's called us to be His soldiers on the ground, working with Him for the salvation of the world." - Cardinal Raymond Burke

"Religious liberty is fragile, and religious intolerance and persecution have been recurring features of human history."  -Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

New federal regulations proposed by the US Dept of Health and Human Services would cripple Catholic and other faith-based institutions from hospitals, healthcare, education, and social services and would deny rights of conscience to Catholic employers, healthcare providers and other millions of faithful Americans.  Among other things, the regulations would:

*  Force doctors to perform gender transition procedures, including surgeries, and mandate insurance coverage for them

*  Enshrine gender identity and sexual orientation ideology into education and mandate students be allowed to access restrooms, locker rooms and sports according to their asserted gender.

*  Discriminate against religious beliefs in social services

*  Suppress faith-based groups at college campuses

*  Remove conscience protections for health care professionals' conscience rights

*  Would not afford equal treatment to faith-based charities. (1)

 

"For centuries, the Church's ministries of healing, education, and social services have borne witness to Jesus Christ and built up the common good," wrote the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).  "Church institutions are expressions of Christian ministry dedicated to human flourishing.  Most Americans understand that mission-driven organizations should be free to operate in accordance with their missions.  But a cascade of changes to current regulations is being adopted by various executive agencies that would prevent Christian ministries - and others - from carrying out their work, harming the public who benefits from them." (2)

 

The proposed HHS rule…” also disregards medical professionals’ duty to provide sound care and tramples on the deeply held religious beliefs of many by forcing them to participate in the practices of gender transitions and abortion,” said Jason Thacker of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). (3)

 

These new regulations trample on the religious liberties and conscience rights of health care providers, hospitals, physicians, group health insurers, third party administrators of health plans and all employers with fifteen or more employees…and must be stopped.

 

(usccb.org, 7/25/22(1)(3); healthaffs.org,7/25/22; aeaweb.org, 7/25/22; tax.thomasreuters.com, 7/28/22) (BaptistPress.com, 7/27/22(2)

 

America's commitment to religious freedom is 'essential.'  ... It constitutes one of our most treasured and jealously guarded constitutional rights." -Statement from U.S. Attorneys General

"We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through.  I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully.  We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel,"

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, future Pope John Paul II,

Philadelphia, PA, Eucharistic Congress, August 1-8, 1976.

 

Many people say there has never been a harder time in the United States to be a Christian because our First Freedoms - Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech - are so frequently under attack by secularism that repudiates ancient Christian teachings about life, marriage and family.  These losses of heritage and hope could be restored by heeding the words of those who are new converts to the Christian faith, "I wanted what they had." (1)

 

These converts cite three main characteristics of Christians that attract them: 

1.  They are "witnesses to beauty and truth, in an age when these precious commodities are undervalued - an age in which some of the most vaunted academic institutions on earth deny they even exist."

2.  Since religious illiteracy is rising, and so many have never read scripture, these converts look to Christians and their public example to learn what it means to be "Christian."   A passage in Hebrews says, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unaware."

3.  One of the features that set Christianity apart from the very beginning was the selfless caring for others that set into motion what many call the first great awakening - the turn to Christianity by pagan Rome.  Telling of how Christians behaved during the plague in 312-313 A.D, a Greek historian wrote, "All day long some of them (Christians) tended to the dying and to their burial, countless numbers with no one to care for them." (2)

This distinguishing charity made a lasting impression on the pagans of yesterday and has the power to do the same today. St. Francis of Assisi told us,” The deeds you do may be the only sermon some people will hear today.”

 

(thecatholicthing.org, 5/14/22(1)(2); usccb.org(3)

 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has launched The National Eucharistic Revival to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist that invites all people to experience the Christian faith and to say, "I wanted what they have."(3)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

The Next American Awakening

August 7, 2022 

There is a "polite persecution" in America and the world that "takes away from man and woman their freedom as well as their right to conscientious objection."  - Pope Francis

 

"I haven't been tortured or thrown in prison.  I have my fingernails.  I have a few extra gray hairs.  But the thing is (polite persecution) is going beyond nondiscrimination into pushing a particular set of ideas," said Rev. Dr. Bernard Randall, bishop of the Church of England and former chaplain at a Christian K-12 school in Cambridge, in his address at the annual International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington D.C., June 28-30, 2022. (1)  Three years ago, Rev. Randall was fired from his chaplain position for "gross misconduct" and reported to Child Protective Services and the British Government Anti-Terrorism Prevent Program as a potential violent extremist or instigator of violent extremism after he gave a school chapel sermon in which he said that it is okay for students to believe that biological sex in unchangeable, marriage is between a man and a woman, and that gender identity language was incoherent, if they came to such conclusions.

 

Rev. Randall believes it is important to fight against the religious discrimination he experienced as a professing Christian.  "My story sends a message to other Christians that you are not free to talk about your faith.  It seems it is no longer enough to just tolerate (alternate sexual or marriage) ideology.  You must accept it without question and no debate is allowed without serious consequences.  Someone else will decide what is and what isn't acceptable, and suddenly you can become an outcast, possibly for the rest of your life." (2)

 

Catholics For Freedom of Religion is dedicated to educating all Americans about the facts of First Amendment religious freedom - what it is, how dearly it was purchased for us and how quickly it can be lost.  Through education, prayer and inspiration, each American is empowered to act, according to his conscience, to preserve religious liberty.  CFFR has developed the following materials and programs to assist in this goal:  

 

Empower Our Children: “Students of Faith":  Our lesson empowers students, parents, and teachers by revealing "THE BIG SECRET" ... "Public Schools are not God-Free Zones!"  Video and Guide at www.cffor.org

Educational Bulletin Items:  "Focus on Religious Freedom":  Emailed weekly to parishes and individuals upon request through email to info@CatholicsforFreedomofReligion.org

Prayer for our country: “Rosary for America”: Praying for the intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of America, to protect each state and guide our leaders in accordance with our Judeo-Christian principles and the principles of our founders. Printable version at www.cffor.org

 

(irfsummit.org; 1cbn.com, 6/28/22; washingtonstand.com, 7/5/22(1)(2); globalpeace.org, 6/30/22)

 

"The defense of religious freedom transcends partisanship and politics, and the protection of conscience serves as a fundamental cornerstone of the flourishing of just, free societies.” -The International Religious Freedom Charter, July, 2021

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Victims of Polite Persecution in 2022

July 31, 2022 

Following the June 24, 2022, ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that returns the question of abortion access to the individual states, numerous churches and pro-life centers across the country have been firebombed, attacked, and vandalized.  "We should not be surprised by this level of violence and intimidation.  The natural progression of advocating for the killing of babies in the womb is to advocate for violence outside the womb as well," said the Texas Right to Life group. (2)

 

Churches and locations around the country have been the victims of hundreds of pro-abortion protests that include smashed and decapitated religious statues, desecration of the Eucharist, stolen tabernacles, churches spray painted with graffiti, satanic symbols, messages and obscenities, arson, molotov-cocktails, property theft, smashed windows, and protestors disrupting Masses. 

 

"The FBI is investigating a series of attacks and threats targeting pregnancy resource centers and faith-based organizations across the country," said a statement from the FBI. "The FBI takes all threats seriously and we continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners and will remain vigilant to protect our communities." (1)

 

"The President condemns the attacks," said the White House deputy press secretary.  "He has always denounced violence, threats, and vandalism committed against anyone, for any purpose.  And he explicitly repeated these values in his remarks reacting to the Dobbs (abortion) decision, calling for all protests to be peaceful."  (3)

 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, June 24, 2022:

"This is a historic day in the life of our country, one that stirs our thoughts, emotions and prayers.  For nearly 50 years, America has enforced an unjust law that has permitted some to decide whether others can live or die; this policy has resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of pre-born children, generations that were denied the right to even be born.

"America was founded on the truth that all men and women are created equal, with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  This truth was grievously denied by the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized and normalized the taking of innocent human life.  We thank God today that the Court has now overturned this decision." (4)

(kiowacountypress.net, 6/24/22(1)(2)); catholicnewsagency.com, 6/30/22; washingtonpost.com, 6/24/22; nytimes.com, 6/24/22; foxnews.com, 6/30/22(3); usccb.org, 6/24/22(4)

 

"As religious leaders, we pledge ourselves to continue our service to God's plan of love for the human person, and to work with our fellow citizens to fulfill America's promise to guarantee the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people." -U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Churches and Pro-Life Centers Attacked

July 24, 2022 

"Almighty God hath created the mind free ..." -Inscription on Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

 

Most of the nation's 56 Founders were openly religious, believing with Samuel Adams that "true Religion and good Morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness."  After signing the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, Samuel Adams wrote, "We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom men ought to be obedient.  He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them.  From the rising to the setting of the sun, may His kingdom come!"

 

"And for the support of this Declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."     -  The final line of the Declaration of Independence

 

With this pledge, the 56 Founders were willing to sacrifice everything for God and for liberty.  Many of them and their families suffered hardship that few today remember:

- Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died.

- Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

- Nine fought and died from wounds or hardships of war.

- A Virginia planter and trader saw his ships sunk by the British navy and he died in poverty.

- Others also lost all their worldly possessions and died bankrupt.

 

(The Faith of Our Fathers, by Alf Mapp; courant.com, 7/4/18; lehrmaninstitute.org; see the American Minute)

 

"(Freedom) is a challenge held out to each generation and it must constantly be won over for the sake of the good." - Pope Francis

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

The Faith of Our Founders – Freedom Requires Sacrifice

July 17, 2022 

"There is nothing neutral about Maine's program," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.  "The state pays tuition for certain students at private schools - so long as the schools are not religious. That is discrimination against religion."   (1)

 

 In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court decided in favor of families challenging a Maine law that prohibited them from receiving a state school tuition benefit because they chose to send their children to religious affiliated schools.  Since some rural areas of Maine lack the student population sufficient to justify building a public school, the state provides a tuition benefit parents can use to pay for the school of their choice - unless the school is religious.  In fact, some families have used this tuition benefit towards some academically selective prep schools.  In a similar Montana case in a 2020 Supreme Court ruling, Justice Roberts wrote, "A state need not subsidize private education.  But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious." (2)

 

"The Court has again affirmed that states cannot exclude religious schools from generally-available public benefits based on their religious affiliation or exercise.  In our pluralistic society, it is vital that all people of faith be able to participate in publicly available programs and so contribute to the common good," said Cardinal Dolan and Bishop Daly, chairmen of the USCCB Committees for Religious Liberty and Catholic Education. (3)

 

Supreme Court Affirms Freedom of Religion and Speech for High School Football Coach

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of HS coach and former U.S. Marine Jo Kennedy's right to pray quietly in thanksgiving after football games.  The coach prayed for less than a minute on the 50-yard line after games when the players and coaches had already shaken hands and he was no longer coaching.  

 

In the fall of 2015, Bremerton school officials tried to put an end to Kennedy's practice of thanksgiving by amending district policies with a new ban on "demonstrative religious activity, readily observable to students and the attending public."(4)

 

"Respect for religious expression is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic - whether these expressions take place in a sanctuary or on the field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head," explained Justice Neil Gorsuch for the Court's majority.  This decision also reminds the lower courts to be particularly vigilant when schools undermine the twin freedoms of religion and speech.  "That the First Amendment doubly protects religious speech is no accident.  It is a natural outgrowth of the framers' distrust of government attempts to regulate religion and suppress dissent," wrote Gorsuch. (5)

(firstliberty.org, 6/24/22(1); washingtonpost.com, 6/21/22(2); aleteia.com, 6/21/22(3); ncregister.com, 6/21/22(4)(5)

The high court "has rightly ruled that the Constitution protects not just the right to be religious but also to act religious."   - Cardinal T. Dolan & Bishop T. Daly

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Supreme Court Rejects Maine's Ban on Tuition Aid to Religious Schools

July 10, 2022 

"Freedom is a gift and a personal responsibility. " - Pope Francis

The First Great Awakening, a religious revival begun in the 1740s, infused the American colonists with a zeal for independence in religious practice as well as government, thus reinforcing the principle of freedom from religious persecution and for religious freedom, that brought the first settlers to America.  

 

After almost a year of trying to resolve their differences with Britain concerning many grievances, together with taxation without representation (the colonists had no say in the decisions of the English Parliament even though they were English citizens), in May 1776, the 13 colonies sent delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.   After nearly two months of prayer, discussion and debate, these "Founders" approved the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson.

 

"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." 

 

"Religious thinking, religious questioning and religious faith permeated the Revolution and the Founding," wrote world history author, H. McDougal.  "The American cause was profoundly religious for Protestants and Deists alike because both identified America's future with a Providential (God) design." (1)

"Samuel Adams was the archetype of the religiously passionate American founder ... an apostle of liberty ... a man of deep religious conviction whose confidence, zeal, and endurance in the struggle for freedom was grounded in belief that an intervening God was on his side," said history professor S. Still. (2)

 

(The Faith of Our Fathers, by Alf Mapp(1)(2); str.org; lehraminstitute.org; hnp.org)

 

"We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient.  He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye holds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them.  From the rising to the setting of the sun, may His kingdom come!"  - Samuel Adams, Founding Father

"Religious freedom allows the Church and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and to serve the common good."   USCCB, June 2022

Each year, the U.S. Catholic Bishops launch Religious Freedom Week on June 22, the feast day of SS Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher because these men, who gave their lives for the freedom of religion and freedom of conscience, are role-models for us to follow.

 

It's good to love one's country, but ultimate loyalty is due only to Christ and his Kingdom.   These men loved their country but when the law of King Henry VIII came into conflict with the law of Christ, they submitted to Christ.  They bear witness to the truth that no government can make a claim on a person's soul by compelling him to compromise his conscience.

 

More About the Eucharistic Revival - Begun on June 19, 2022

 

The Bishops of the U.S. are calling for a 3-year grassroots revival of devotion and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  They believe that God wants to see a movement of Catholics healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist and sent out in mission "for the life of the world." (1)

 

"My hope is that truly a fire of love for Our Lord and the Eucharist will be ignited in our country and people will come to discover that Jesus has always been with us," said Franciscan Sister Alicia Torres.  "He has never abandoned us...There's so much new life available through a relationship with him, particularly through his True Presence in the Eucharist."  (2)

(eucharisticrevival.org (1); usccb.org; nationalcatholicregister.com(2)

 

Catholics For Freedom of Religion Celebrates Tenth Anniversary

 

Please join CFFR on June 26, 2022, St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, NY, at 11:00 Mass, as we celebrate 10 years of ministry to educate and advocate for First Amendment Religious Freedom for all.

 

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;"   John 6:51

Again this year the U.S. Bishops have declared June 22 - 29, 2022, Religious Freedom Week.  We are all called to defend the God-given right to religious liberty which continues to face grave threats in the U.S. and the world.  Religious freedom allows the Church and all religious communities, to live out their faith in public and to serve the good of all.

 

The USCCB chose June 22, the feast day of SS.Thomas More (1478-1535) and John Fisher (1469-1535), the patron saints of Religious Freedom, to begin this important week when Catholics and all Americans are urged to pray, reflect and act to promote religious freedom.

 

SS. Thomas More and John Fisher were talented and brilliant Renaissance men who contributed to the humanist scholarship of early modern England.  Thomas More wrote theological and philosophical treatises during his career as a lawyer and government official.  Bishop John Fisher was notable as an administrator and for his dedication to preaching.   Above all their accomplishments, these men bore witness to a deep faith in Christ and his Church.

 

Both men were opposed to King Henry VIII’s divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, when he petitioned the pope for an annulment in order to marry Anne Boleyn.  Henry then claimed to be the supreme head of the Church in England, asserting sovereign power over English Christians and demanding they sign an oath of supremacy agreeing that King Henry was supreme head of the Church.  More and Fisher refused to sign the oath because this law of the king came into conflict with the law of Christ.  Ultimately, they were executed since they followed their consciences and submitted to Christ.  Thus, SS. Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher gave their lives for the freedom of religion and for freedom of conscience.

 

(usccb.org; catholicnewsworld.com; catholiccourier.com, 6/24/21)

 

"I die the King's good servant, but God's first."   - St. Thomas More, 1535

 

Catholics For Freedom of Religion Celebrates Their Tenth Anniversary!

Please join Catholics For Freedom of Religion parish volunteers on June 26, 2022, at St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, NY, at 11am Mass, as we pray for religious freedom for all and celebrate ten years of ministry to educate and advocate for First Amendment Freedom of Religion for all.

"Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions.  He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience.  Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters."   -Catechism of the Catholic Church #1782

 

In a direct threat to conscience rights and religious freedom to all countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a document in March 2022 that stated, "If it proves impossible to regulate conscience objection in a way that respects, protects and fulfills, abortion seekers' rights, conscientious objection in abortion provision may become indefensible."   Alyssa Koren, director of United Nations advocacy at Alliance Defending Freedom International said, "Put bluntly, the WHO is looking to leverage its enormous influence and budgetary power to chip away at international provisions and eventually work to establish a new legal regime ... with no right to conscientious objection." (1)  

 

Koren explained, "International human rights law recognizes the unborn child as a rights-holding person, ... (therefore) no right to abortion exists." (2)    In addition, the WHO acknowledges that 75% of countries have legal penalties for abortion.   "... it is imperative that we consistently assert that international law is pro-life," said Koren.  "Authentic respect for human rights requires safeguarding the right to life of the unborn, in addition to ensuring that mothers and their families have the resources and support necessary to welcome new life."(3)

 

Freedom of conscience and religion are assured by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international declarations.  However, "the fact that the World Health Organization would promote a frontal assault on such a fundamental right as freedom of conscience shows how irresponsible it has become," wrote the Catholic League. (4) 

 

(catholicworldreport.com, 3/21/22(1)(2)(3); catholicleague.org, 3/28/22(4)

 

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."       

- Edmund Burke, (1729-1797) statesman, philosopher, writer

"There is no religious liberty if we are not free to express our faith in the public square and if we are not free to act on that faith." - Archbishop William E. Lori

 

A federal judge ordered that a fired Southwest Airlines flight attendant's lawsuit proceed to trial.  "(This) decision acknowledges that, at its core, this case is about an individual worker's right to object to how forced union dues are spent by union officials to take positions that are completely contrary to the (religious) beliefs of many workers forced under the union's so-called 'representation'," said President Mark Mix, National Right to Work Foundation.(1)  When Charleen Carter objected to union officials using union dues to attend a pro-abortion event in Washington D.C. in 2017, she was fired.  "What we have here is Southwest Airlines, ...and the Transport Workers Union basically teaming up to thwart the (religious) ideological views of one of their employees," said Mr. MIx.    (2)

 

Two fired Alaska Airlines flight attendants sued the carrier and the Association of Flight Attendants union, saying they were discriminated against for posting "biblically based" comments to a company message board.  They had each questioned the airlines public support for the federal Equality Act, a bill now in Congress, that would remove protections granted under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  "Alaska Airlines 'canceled' Lacey and Marli because of their religious beliefs, flagrantly disregarding federal civil rights laws that protect people of faith from discrimination," said senior counsel for First Liberty Institute. (3)

 

The so-called Equality Act is strongly opposed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), since it would erode religious freedom and enshrine the redefinition of marriage and gender ideology into law, requiring people to conform regardless of their religious beliefs.  "Instead of respecting differences in beliefs about marriage and sexuality, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith," the USCCB warned. (4)  "It cancels by name specific provisions of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, putting religious employers such as churches and private religious schools, hospitals, adoption agencies, and others at severe risk or lawsuits," wrote CEO Robert Netzly, in the Christian Post. (5)

 

(americanews.com, 5/17/22(1); matthewadum.com, 5/15/22(2); thechristianpost.com, 5/18/22(3)(5);

 catholicworld.com, 2/19/21(4); washingtontimes.com, 5/17/22)

 

"Religious freedom is the lifeblood of the American people, the cornerstone of the American government." - Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

"Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:13

 

As Americans, this Memorial Day we remember those who died in service to our country. But as Catholic Americans, we reflect on the meaning of true freedom - a freedom we as Catholics are called to live to the fullest.

 

In The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II shows that when freedom is no longer based on objective truth, it destroys itself.  When a person declares himself totally self-governing, autonomous, deciding his own truth, as in a secular state, then people will eventually reject each other, as each person seeks to have his own interests prevail.  Such a society does not become more free; it becomes less free as vice, corruption, brutality and oppression inevitably increase.

 

One reason we human beings are willing to fight and die for freedom is because the need for freedom is imprinted into our very nature.  By virtue of our ability to reason and our free will, we are impelled to seek truth, especially religious truth.  Our creator instilled this drive in us so that we would seek Him, for He is truth.  Having found truth, we must live it and to do this we must be free from coercion.  Therefore, if attacked, human beings will rightly and necessarily die for true freedom.

 

This Memorial Day, Catholics rightly honor our fallen brothers and sisters, and we remember our Church, which has defended the dignity and freedom of the human person for 2,000 years. (1)

The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II; catholic.org/news; Michael Terheyden(1)

 

“There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.” - Alexander Hamilton

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

Recent court filings uncovered by the Catholic Benefits Association show the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is working to establish sweeping sex-discrimination regulations to dismantle the religious-liberty protections in health-care law.  "Discovery of a 74-page legal memorandum attached to a court filing ... revealed that HHS has promised to revise its mandates on health plan coverage and performance to include surgical abortion, cross-sex hormones, gender-transition surgeries, gender-affirming cosmetic surgeries and voice modification ... contraception, abortion drugs and sterilizations," wrote Tom Tracy, Catholic News Service.(1)  The new mandate "would not only disallow religious exemptions but would have a broad cost and compliance impact on all U.S. employers." (2)

 

"The forthcoming HHS regulation presents an existential threat to Catholic health care because the penalties to noncompliance will include private enforcement, class-action lawsuits ...  The penalties may also include loss of Medicare and Medicaid funding and even imprisonment for noncomplying health care executives," said attorney Mark      Nussbaum, advisor to CO - Catholic Benefits Association.(3)  "Such sanctions can shut down any hospital network. ... Such performance mandates will harm health care in the U.S. overall, given that Catholic hospitals provide an estimated 1/6 of hospital beds nationally." (4)

 

"Until November, 2021, when our attorneys discovered it in a 74-page court filing, nobody knew about it," said Doug Wilson, CEO of CO-based Catholic Benefits Association.  "The general public has almost no awareness of what may be coming.  It is written to end Catholic health care.  The requirements are so beyond Catholic teaching that Catholic employers of every sort would be faced with complying or shutting down," Wilson said. (5)

 (catholicnews.com, 4/5/22(1)(2); americamagazine.org, 4/5/22(3)(4); ncregister.com, 11/17/21; cruxnow.com, 4/5/22(5)

 

"Religious freedom is the lifeblood of the American people, the cornerstone of American government."   ~Cardinal Timothy Dolan

"Under the Constitution, a government may not treat religious persons, religious organizations, or 

religious speech as second-class." (1)    -Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh

 

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in a 9-0 vote on May 2, 2022, that the city of Boston, MA, wrongly banned Christian flags from a community flag program in City Hall Plaza and that the city of Boston discriminated against Camp Constitution when it denied its application that referred to a "Christian flag." (2)     This is "viewpoint discrimination."  For the previous 12 years, Boston approved 284 flag-raisings by private organizations with no denials until now.  

Soon to retire Justice Stephen Breyer said, "... Boston's refusal to let Camp Constitution raise their flag based on its religious viewpoint 'abridged their freedom of speech.'"(3) Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel wrote, "The city of Boston's exclusion of religious expression from an otherwise wide-open public program amounted to discrimination based on viewpoint and is therefore unconstitutional.  ... this is about the protection of our First Amendment rights, which extend equally to all Americans, without government punishment." (4)

 

H.S. Football Coach Silent Prayer Now Before Supreme Court

On April 25, 2022, the Supreme Court heard the case of former high school football coach Joseph Kennedy who was fired after his practice of a silent, one-minute prayer at the 50-yard line following games at a Washington School district.  This case could affirm religious rights in public schools.  A ruling is expected in June. (5)

 

U.S. Bishops to Send Out Teams of "Preachers"

Sixty Eucharistic preachers have been chosen to share their faith that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, and that He has the power to transform the world.  These 60 Eucharistic preachers will form the "front line" of the Church's Eucharistic Revival, a three-year grassroots initiative aimed at increasing devotion and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. (6)

 

We are "living on the eve of one of the great spiritual revivals in human history."

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 

(ncregister.com, 5/2/22(1)(2); lifesitenews.com, 5/2/22(3)(4); abcnews.go.com, 5/2/22; nbcnews.com, 5/2/22; cbsnews.com, 4/25/22(5); nypost.com, 4/25/22; aleteia.com/revival(6)

"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”  Bill of Rights – 1st Amendment

 

Americans of faith are fortunate to live in a country with robust liberty protections in our Constitution and Bill of Rights First Amendment.  However, during these past two-plus years of COVID restrictions on religious activities, including full community worship, and their designation as "non-essential" while many secular activities were designated "essential," invites reflection on religious freedom in America today.

 

The Becket Law 2021 Religious Freedom Index found "Americans resoundingly believe that religious activities at houses of worship should be considered essential over secular activities." (1) These essential activities during a pandemic include worship and funerals with other religious ceremonies and community service following close behind.  "That Americans prioritized religious activities over secular ones during a pandemic provides a stark contrast to the COVID restrictions placed on houses of worship by local and state governments - rules that were both more restrictive and longer-lasting than those placed on many secular venues and businesses," wrote Katie Geary, Becket Fund. (2)

 

Many Americans are asking - What limits does the U.S. Constitution place on the government's suppression of religious liberty during a global health emergency, and what can believers do to secure their right to religious worship? (3)   The U.S. Supreme Court has considered these questions based on precedent and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.   We ask - Why did the founding generation protect religious liberty? (4)

 

The history of humanity is intertwined with faith and fundamental religious values that led to the modern understanding of human rights.  "Because their ancestors had escaped religious persecution in Europe, the founding generation saw the need to protect religion and viewed morality as necessary to the nation's success," wrote Prof. Anthony Koenc, Dallas College of Law. (5)  The First Amendment placed religion in a special category, uniquely shielding it from government interference.

 

"No doubt an emergency on the scale of COVID-19 justifies strong measures to protect the public, but we cannot lose sight of the fact that many of these measures are extraordinary assertions of government power that can dramatically constrain our basic freedoms.  The power of government must have limits."  Elder David Bednar, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (6)

(becketlaw.org/index/2021(1); dailycallernews.org, 4/22/22(2); accessiblelaw.intdallas.edu, 4/26/21(3)(4)(5);catholicnewsagency.com, 11/13/20; news.byu.edu, 6/18/20(6)

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear them from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”      2 Chronicles 7:14

 

In a time of global religious revival, people of faith in many countries also face significant ongoing persecution and denial of any religious freedom.  The same trends - expansion of religious zeal and religious repression - apply particularly to Christians.  The majority of countries in which Christianity is growing are located in Africa, Eastern Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula.  None of the top 20 is found in Europe, North America or Latin America.  Still, Christianity is the most widely practiced religion in the world with approximately 1/3 of the global population.

 

Even though the number of atheists has increased worldwide, a new 2022 report from Lifeway Research shows the world's population of religious people is growing even faster with more Christians now living in Africa than any other continent and Christianity is growing faster there than any other place in the world.  

 

Why is Christianity growing faster in Africa as well as in China where persecution and attacks on religious freedom are the most extreme?   Research organizations point to the success of underground churches, evangelization, more than 90 million Bibles printed this year alone, as well as over a million Christian martyrs in a 10-year period.  Many will quote Tertullian, the 2nd century Christian author who wrote, "Blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."

 

Religious revival is sorely needed in America today where a recent survey by the Freedom Forum showed only 14% of Americans consider religious freedom to be the most important freedom.  The religious revival in the colonies from the 1730s - 1740s, called the First Great Awakening, inspired Benjamin Franklin to write,

 

"Revival changes a nation from the inside out.   It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants.  From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious."

 

(baptiststandard.com, 10/4/17; 1.cbn.com, 2/4/22; christianpost.com, 3/24/21; doulospartners.org, 4/5/18;  washingtontimes.com, 2/1/21; cbsnews.com, 11/17/17; christianitydaily.com, 7/26/21)