RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WEEKLY

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

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

 

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

 

Following are some little known facts about the American Constitution:

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

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

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

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

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

 

Principles of Religious Liberty and the Constitution:

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

 

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

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

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

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Happening Now:    Major win for Religious Liberty Advocates

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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Principles of Religious Liberty For Constitution Week

September 19, 2021

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

(dar.org(1); ciis.edu(2)(5); nationalday.com(3)(4); trinitydc.edu; uscode.house.gov.;

 Constitution of the United States

 

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

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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Celebrating Constitution Week, September 17-23,

in All Schools

September 12, 2021

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

 - John Adams, 1765

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

 

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

 

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

 

These rights include:

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Be Silent No More!

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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

It's OK For Students to Pray in Public Schools

September 5, 2021

"The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man: and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate." ~James Madison, 1785.

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Recent Rise in Attacks on Some Religious Groups

Threaten Everyone’s Religious Freedom

August 29, 2021

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Christianity Is Growing Faster Than Any Time in History

But Declining in Europe & America

August 22, 2021

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

*  Latin America had 16,988 each day.

*  Asia had 13, 443 each day.

*  North America had 1,999 each day.

*  Oceania had 473 each day.

*  Europe had 8 each day. (5)

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

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

 

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

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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Where in the World is Christianity Growing and Why?

August 15, 2021

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

“Rise in Christian Persecution Worldwide” continued:

August 8, 2021

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

 

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

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

 

Open Doors identified three main trends driving the increase:

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

faith or none.  Christians will only be freed from persecution

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

 

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

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

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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Significant Rise in Christian Persecution Worldwide

August 1, 2021

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Continued Assaults on Religious Liberty:

A Christian Flag and a Chapel and Prayer Trail

July 25, 2021

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

- Pope Francis

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From the  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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Happening Now:   Religious Freedom Wins in  Supreme Court

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

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

 

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

  • Adoption & Foster Care

  • Catholic Social Services during the Pandemic  

  • The (Misguided) Equality Act  

  • Church Vandalism 

  • Catholics in Nigeria  

  • Conscience Rights for Medical Professionals

  •  Solidarity with Christians in Iraq  

  • Free Speech (3)
     

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

~ Pope Francis

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

Happening Now:   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

Catholic Bishops and other faith leaders are once again urging  people to contact their U.S. Senators via social media, email, or by phone as they prepare to vote on the misguided "Equality Act."  The House of Representatives passed this well-intentioned but ultimately harmful legislation that "discriminates against people of faith, threatens unborn life, and undermines the common good" (1) on February 25, 2021 and it can be voted on by the Senate at any time now.

 

The USCCB (US Conference of Catholic Bishops) explain that while the so-called Equality Act purports to protect people experiencing same-sex attraction and gender discordance from unjust discrimination, in fact, the bill would discriminate against people of faith  because of their beliefs about life, marriage and sexuality.  The Equality Act also "exempts itself from the bipartisan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, thereby infringing on religious freedom and making it more difficult for individuals to live out their faith."  (2)  "It would mean that Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Mormons, Muslims and many other religious communities could not raise religious objections ... In effect, religious entities would be secularized." (3)

 

According to the USCCB, these are some of the direct effects and possible consequences of this legislation: (4)

 -  Require religious organizations to cover gender "transition" procedures in their health insurance plans;

 -  Force girls and women to compete in sports against males who identify as female;  

 -  Force girls and women to share locker rooms, showers, restrooms, and dorms with males who identify as female;

 -  Shut down Catholic and other Foster Care and Adoption Agencies who will only place children in homes with a married mother and father;  

 -  Force small business people to support events or create products that violate their beliefs or be put out of business;

 -  Likely require taxpayers to fund elective abortions and likely force doctors and hospitals to perform abortions against their conscience or beliefs.

 

Minority Christian leaders have proposed an alternative to this Act called the Fairness for All Act, which they say would protect religious liberties as well as preserve the rights of the LGBT community.  "Black and Brown Christians worked too hard for the Civil Rights Act to have it revised in ways that would take away basic rights and funding from our communities.  The Equality Act needlessly pits the concerns of diverse communities against each other." (5)

 

(usccb.org/equality act(1)(2); CatholicLeague, April, 2021(3); usccb.org/stopping-equality-act(4); 1.cbn.com, 3/18/21(5); christianpost.com, 5/16/19; deseret.com, 3/4/21; npr.org, 3/18/21)

 

Be Silent No More!

Call: U.S. Capital Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to any Representative or Senators's office.  Email: Find Senator's email at www.senate.gov ; Find Representative's email at www.house.gov

 

"Our contest is not whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil & religious liberty."   - Samuel Adams,  Founding Father

Religious liberty is increasingly under attack by those who believe it cannot and should not coexist with our other freedoms.  However, religious freedom is a God given, fundamental human right and American value enshrined in our Constitution and protected by the Bill of Rights.

 

Freedom of religion protects the conscience of all people since it allows us to think, express and act upon what we deeply believe.  This freedom of conscience is critical to the health of a diverse society by allowing different faiths and beliefs to flourish.  "We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege; let them worship (or not) how, where, or what they may," said Church of Latter-day Saints leaders.(1)

 

The American Founders understood the importance of religion for human, social, and political flourishing.  That's why they styled religious freedom as the First Freedom and the foundation upon which all other freedoms are guaranteed and protected and without which the new Republic would fail.

 

"The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained."   - George Washington, 1789

 

Americans supported the Founders' understanding of religious liberty when they overwhelmingly endorsed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the International Religious Freedom Act that were signed by President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

 

However, a direct denial of conscience rights occurred on Sept. 8, 2016, when the chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued this statement:  "(t)he phrases 'religious liberty' and 'religious freedom' (are) code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia (and) Christian supremacy ..."(2)

 

"If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to.  This is the last stand on earth."   ~President Ronald Reagan 

 

(inhofe.senate.gov, 9/16/20; newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org,(1); americancharter.org. 11/1/19(2); catholicvote.org, 5/6/21(3); providencemag.com, 6/15/20)

-------

Happening Now:  Citing Concerns for Children:

The Tennessee legislature passed a bill to ban public  and charter schools from teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT).  "CRT teaches that American democracy is a lie," said State Sen. Kelsey.  "It teaches that the rule of law does not exist and is instead a series of power struggles among racial groups.  It is harmful to our students and is antithetical to everything we stand for as Americans and as Tennesseans." (3)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

What is Religious Freedom and What's at Stake if We Lose It

May 23, 2021

Critical Race Theory continued: "By a landslide vote, they don't want racially divisive 'critical race theory'(CRT) taught to their children or forced on their teachers," said newly elected Texas school board member Hannah Smith after parents overwhelmingly rejected candidates in favor of CRT.   "(This vote) is a referendum on those who put personal politics and divisive philosophies ahead of ...students and families and their common American heritage and Texas values." (1)

More school districts around the country are also supporting school board candidates who oppose critical race theory as harmful to their children.

 

"There's no room in our classrooms for things like critical race theory," said FL Gov. DeSantis.  "Teaching kids to hate their country and to hate each other is not worth one red cent of taxpayer money." (2)

 

Legislation hoping to ban the Marxist ideology of CRT has been introduced in many states (NH, FL, IA, OK, AK, etc) in an effort to push-back against the government  proposals to overturn an executive order of Sept., 2020, that banned instilling "divisive concepts"  that claim "an individual, by virtue of his/her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive ..." (3).

 

Critical race theory has gradually proliferated in recent decades through academia, government structures, school systems and the corporate world.  It views individuals through the lens of Marxist principles of the "oppressors" (bourgeois - white people) and the "oppressed" (proletariat - everybody else).

 

In April, the administration proposed offering grants for K-12 history classes that use curriculum in support of critical race theory and other ideologies that teach the United States is inherently racist.  In a letter to the Secretary of Education who is endorsing and promoting CRT, House members from Colorado & South Carolina wrote, "CRT commits to an unremitting attack on Western institutions and norms in order to dismantle all aspects of society...  CRT is antithetical to the fundamental values and beliefs of America and the American dream." (4)

(nypost.com, 5/3/21(1); theepochtimes.com, 3/31/21(2)(3); dailywire.com, 4/27/21(4); wnd.com, 4/27/21; educationviews.org, 5/3/2; dailymail.co.uk, 5/3/21; freebeacon.com, 4/22/21(5); persecution.org, 4/28/21)

 

"I have a dream that my 4 little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."     - Martin Luther King Jr.

------

Happening Now:  Shifting Focus Away from International Religious Freedom:

Sec. of State Blinken reversed a 2020 executive order that directed federal agencies to "prioritize international religious freedom in the planning & implementation of U.S. foreign policy."  Blinken vowed to "repudiate" the focus on religious freedom in foreign policy, which he said came at the cost of other human rights issues such as gay rights & abortion. (5)

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN A MINUTE

Current Ideologies That Jeopardize Religious Liberty

And Judeo-Christian Founding Principles - Continued

May 16, 2021

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)

---------

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