President Obama took his attack on religion to the international stage earlier this week, telling a crowd in Northern Ireland for the G 8 Summit that parochial education leads to divided communities.
His timing could not be more perfect, because today marks the beginning of the United States Conferences of Catholic Bishops’ second annual Fortnight for Freedom.
You may recall last year during this period, Catholic Advocate launched the first ever virtual vigil. This year I’m proud to announce we’re doing it again, and with your help it will be even bigger and better.
Over the next 14 days, we’ll engage you in a variety of activities to promote religious liberty in America. From calling your members of Congress and supporting our efforts with a financial gift, to reflecting on carefully selected prayers, we hope you’ll participate in some way each day.
I’m excited to report that already today, three members of Congress—Rep. Diane Black (TN-06), Joe Pitts (PA-16), and Chris Smith (NJ-4)—held a forum to speak out against the Obama administration’s attacks on religious freedom. Over the next two weeks, dozens more events like this will occur throughout the country.
Today Catholic Advocate is leading the charge to contact members of Congress about HR 940, legislation that would fix the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that requires all employers to pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of religious or moral objection by enacting conscience protections.
We can’t emphasize enough how critical it is for Congress to pass this legislation. The Obama administration continues to push its secular agenda and has no qualms about destroying our religious freedom in the process. Last month, the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic, telegraphed to an audience at Harvard the Administration’s decision about supposed “accommodations” to the mandate hours before the comment period ended. This was a slap in the face to not only people of faith, but anyone who exercises their voice in the public square. This is our chance to level the playing field and deliver a huge victory for religious liberty.
We’ve done all the legwork for you; all you have to do is follow this link, enter your zip code to locate your members, and hit send! Of course we welcome you to edit the letter we’ve prepared for you, if you’d like.
As Americans of faith, we have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to preserve religious liberty, not only for us, but for generations to come. This is our chance, and there’s no room for compromise. We must enact conscience protections before the Obama administration completely tramples our religious liberty.
The 60-day comment period for the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate came to a close on Monday.
But the Obama administration announced that the free contraception mandate will go into effect in August before the deadline! HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday, “As of Aug. 1, 2013, every employee who doesn’t work directly for a church or a diocese will be included in the benefit package.”
According to Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, “in our Catholic tradition, the right to religious freedom proceeds from the inherent dignity of each human person.” This is why Catholic Advocate has done so much over the past three years to alert people of faith to the Obama administration’s assault on religious liberty and lobby Congress to pass conscience protection legislation. So today I want to take a moment to highlight some of the formal comments issued by Catholic organizations. I believe you’ll not only find these comments interesting, but a source of hope that we haven’t lost this battle yet. (more…)
The Obama Administration continues to push its secular agenda and has no qualms about destroying our religious freedom in the process. We cannot stand for this. More importantly, we cannot compromise.
The latest HHS mandate announcement is a veiled attempt by the Obama administration to silence us. The religious entities able to “opt-out” are still a minority of those affected. Our government should not be picking winners and losers when it comes to preserving our most cherished religious liberties.
Americans of all faiths must stand united and say no — to the HHS mandate and its new “compromises”, to the Obama Administration’s anti-faith agenda, and to the culture that accepts trampling upon the Constitution.
People of faith must unite. We cannot give in; we must stand strong.
This morning we applaud Governor Romney for speaking out again about the attacks on our religious liberties. The ad should be refreshing for people of faith who care about this issue versus President Obama’s campaign choosing to hire Georgetown student Sandra Fluke and continue to pursue the egregious HHS mandate.
The description of the ad is simple:
“President Obama has declared war on religion by forcing religious institutions to go against their faith. Mitt Romney will stand up and protect religious freedom whenever it is threatened.”
Remember this day as the day our most cherished liberty evaporated. Religious liberty had a good run. It nearly survived 221 years from when the Constitution’s First Amendment went into effect.
That’s right — you will wake up tomorrow and we will have allowed secular ideologues to strip us of our rights.
August 1st will be remembered as the day our most cherished liberty was thrown in a government dumpster and hauled away. A day when family owned small businesses were forced to abandon their religious beliefs to provide certain products and services for free to comply with the HHS mandate. And if they don’t, they will be taxed and fined at a time when job creators are struggling with the costs and bureaucratic red-tape at every level of government barely allowing them to stay in business.
While the courts have provided a reprieve for one family business in Colorado, the government will never be able to repair the broken conscience of thousands of others until this mandate is removed.
The clock has also started ticking for Houses of Worship and other religious institutions to apply for an exemption or violate their beliefs next year on August 1, 2013. Unfortunately, the requirements are so rigid and narrow most will actually not be exempt, and at any time during the next year the Federal government can rescind the reprieve. In addition, if you are a new religious non-profit formed after February 2012 there is nothing you can do.
Congress has held over a dozen pro-life votes in Congress the past two years. Those are important. However, there has only been one vote to specifically address the religious liberty violations contained in the HHS mandate proposed on Friday, August 5, 2011; announced on Friday, January 20, 2012; and published as final on Wednesday, February 15, 2012. That’s right…Washington has known about the HHS mandate for a year and it has been in place now for nearly six months.
I have heard members of both parties say they respect our religious liberties and acknowledge this is a problem. Then now is the moment for them to hear from us that it is time to finally act.
Congress will leave at the end of this week for the traditional August recess. They will not return until the week of September 10th. Being an election year, they will be spending as much time around their states and districts as possible during this period.
We are encouraging people of faith to visit with their Member of Congress during the August recess and urge them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act to fix the HHS mandate and additional conscience violations contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
As you learn of town halls, other events, or are able to obtain a meeting with your representative, please update us in the comment box below.
The Fortnight for Freedom was concluded with Mass celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on July 4, 2012. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia delivered the Homily.
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC
Paul Claudel, the French poet and diplomat of the last century, once described the Christian as “a man who knows what he is doing and where he is going in a world [that] no longer [knows] the difference between good and evil, yes and no. He is like a god standing out in a crowd of invalids . . . He alone has liberty in a world of slaves.”
Like most of the great writers of his time, Claudel was a mix of gold and clay, flaws and genius. He had a deep and brilliant Catholic faith, and when he wrote that a man “who no longer believes in God, no longer believes in anything,” he was simply reporting what he saw all around him. He spoke from a lifetime that witnessed two world wars and the rise of atheist ideologies that murdered tens of millions of innocent people using the vocabulary of science. He knew exactly where forgetting God can lead.
We Americans live in a different country, on a different continent, in a different century. And yet, in speaking of liberty, Claudel leads us to the reason we come together in worship this afternoon. (more…)
We launched the Virtual Vigil for Religious Liberty to support the Bishops’ call for a two week period of prayer, education, and action in support of religious liberty, and today it comes to a close. 5,256 people of faith joined with us and now it’s time to move forward with new resolve and purpose.
Each year on the 4th of July, we remember the blessings of liberty we enjoy in America. We are reminded that 236 years ago today, a courageous group of men, with their lives being threatened, gathered in Philadelphia to finalize our Declaration of Independence which begins:
“The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“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.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…” (more…)