Monday, June 25, 2012

Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally, June 8, 2012, Richland, Washington

Mary Jane & Msgr. Dillon, our two elder freedom fighters at
the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally, Richland, Washington June 8, 2012
A partial view of the 200 people attending
The Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally at the Federal Building in Richland, WA
Some of our wonderful youth leaders - our hope for the future!
Judy Schultz, the leader of our local
Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Wake-Up Call for America: Defend Religious Liberty Before It Is Too Late

Catholics, Christians, all religions and those of no religion must unite to issue a clear, strong call for the defense and protection of our Constitutional religious liberty: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  America has always been a nation in which all are guaranteed the protection of their God-given rights to religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Yet in these times, we are facing unprecedented challenges to our treasured right to religious freedom from our own government and from rising and aggressive atheism. This is a call to all Americans to stand together to defend religious freedom.

In a healthy culture, science and sociology cooperate with faith and religion to bring order and protect human rights. Government guards the natural rights granted by God: the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our government has historically worked alongside religious organizations to serve the needs of the citizen, independently of one another but in harmony, in a unique system of cooperation and freedom that has served our country well since its founding. 


In stark contrast, China represents a chilling example of a repressive government that stifles religious freedom. The Chinese government believes that freedom is from the State, not from God. Religion, considered useful as “the opiate of the people,” is allowed to function only under governmental control, permitting limited freedom of worship while excluding religion and morals from the public square. The Chinese government does not permit the constraints of moral or natural law to interfere with national goals of accumulation of wealth and power, instead utilizing any means necessary to achieve these goals. Disregard for the environment, manipulation of the global economy, and exploitation of the worker: all are permissible under the banner of State Capitalism. Natural law is ignored as the government seeks to manipulate its own human population by means of their coercive and draconian one-child policy. In a country where the State reigns supreme, the government dictates every aspect of life and death.
 

In the United States, such human rights abuses have never been tolerated under our Constitution. American’s unique policy of freedom of religion and the free marketplace has positioned our country as a world leader.  Our prosperous economy, our military and moral strength, our leadership in innovation and ingenuity, all reflect the wisdom of our Founding Fathers in creating a government that respects and guards religious freedom and human rights.


Yet in recent years, there has been an alarming and parallel erosion of both our freedoms and our strengths. Changes which erode religious freedom have been introduced quietly, often without notice.  The most egregious example is the recent Mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services requiring all insurance plans to include free contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs without a religious exemption for Catholic or Christian charitable agencies, hospitals, social service agencies, or individual employers or employees. This represents an unprecedented attack on religious liberty and freedom of conscience. In its attempt to reduce religious liberty to Sunday worship and remove rights of conscience from the Christian institutions, which have historically lived out their faith as active providers of valuable public services, the government is taking a step that will have serious repercussions for all of us, regardless of our religious views.


In response to these attacks on religious liberty, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued a statement entitled, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the reasons for their concern: * 


“We are Catholics. We are Americans…To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other… That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together….


“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday.... It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith?”


 “This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue… That is our American heritage, our most cherished freedom… If our obligations and duties to God are impeded, or even worse, contradicted by the government, then we can no longer claim to be a land of the free, and a beacon of hope for the world.”


What can you do as a Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jew or Muslim at this critical time? Let us not allow theological or philosophical differences to divide us. Join with us in the “Fortnight 4 Freedom” prayer campaign, beginning on June 19th and culminating on the 4th of July, and stand with us in defense of our most cherished freedoms.


Rev. Dr. Mac Culver                                   Msgr. D.P. Dillon, Chairman
Rev. Art Moore                                           Nancy M. Murray


*For the full statement “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty”
 & for more information about the prayer campaign, visit the USCCB website:


Monday, June 4, 2012

STAND UP FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM!

AMERICA STANDS AT A CROSSROADS:
WILL WE STAND UP FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM?

Our nation’s founding principles of liberty, justice, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience are facing an unprecedented attack from the very government that is charged with the responsibility of protecting these freedoms. Which path will we choose – will we stand up for religious freedom or allow it to be redefined out of existence – and what might it mean to every one of us, regardless of our religious views?

St. Thomas Aquinas defines freedom as the ability to choose the good. How do we determine what is good and what is evil? The lines seem blurred in these times, but there is a clear path, well known to people of faith. We must form our consciences with guidance from God, the Ten Commandments, and the natural order of creation. Natural law and the tenets of the Judeo-Christian faith provide sure guideposts to help us to choose that which leads to life – and reject what leads to death.

Consider the issue of abortion, often defended as a “choice” - a “compassionate” solution to an unplanned pregnancy. But reference to God’s commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” and to natural law provides the truth. Nature reveals that the unborn child is a human being with a unique pattern of DNA from the moment of conception, a person that must be protected. When we reject God’s law and natural law, our freedom to choose life becomes license to choose death. Abortion is redefined as a “reproductive right”, leading to the destruction of millions of unborn children and the devastating toll of grief and regret experienced by millions of women and men.

The effort to legalize same-sex marriage is also presented in terms we associate with goodness: equality, civil rights, and compassion. But God’s commandment clearly shows that a man and a woman are to join as one flesh in a fruitful, lifelong, marital union. Nature also reveals that men and women are made to complete one another and to bring forth children. Marriage between two people of the same sex is not possible according to nature and God’s law, but the attempt to reframe the issue as one of equality has been quite successful. Already those who defend traditional marriage are being accused of discrimination or worse. The impact on religious freedom and freedom of speech is just beginning to be evident.

Now, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), government is attempting to redefine good medical care. The Department of Health and Human Services Mandate requiring all insurance plans to provide free contraception, sterilization, morning after pills, and even the abortion drug Ella, changes the meaning of preventative care. These drugs and procedures do nothing to prevent disease. Pregnancy is not a malignancy; it is a natural and healthy state that brings forth new life. In addition, contraception is already widely available and affordable and often subsidized by tax dollars. This mandate, not necessary for “access” to contraception, represents a deliberate and unprecedented attack on religious freedom and conscience protections. The use of these abortifacient drugs is morally repugnant to many employers and employees, yet the religious and conscience exemption for these laws is so narrowly drawn that most religiously affiliated organizations will not qualify. Catholic charities, hospitals, universities, schools, private Catholic employers and employees – none are exempt. The focus on contraception is aimed at isolating Catholic agencies from the mainstream, since contraception is so widely accepted as a “good”, while the inclusion of the abortion drug Ella is calculated to definitively strip our freedom of conscience. If the government can force a Catholic agency to pay for abortion, there are no more limits. This is an attempt to redefine freedom of religion as “freedom of worship”. If we are not free to live our faith in the public square, we no longer have freedom of religion.

If we do not stand together, our religious freedom and freedom of conscience will be a thing of the past. The great American experiment will have failed. Do not sleep while your rights are stripped. Stand with us now or you may stand alone later. Stand for truth, for freedom, for good.

TAKE ACTION!

  • Visit www.standupforreligiousfreedom.com for info about the Rally for Religious Freedom. The Richland, WA rally will be held June 8, 12 noon – 1:00 PM at the Federal Building

  • Join the Conference of Catholic Bishops in prayer for the “FORTNIGHT FOR FREEDOM” June 21st – July 4th www.fortnight4freedom.org

  • Come to the Rally for Religious Freedom at St. Joseph’s Church, Dillon Hall, 520 S. Garfield, Kennewick on Sunday, June 10th, from 3:00-4:00 PM

Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

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