Skip to comments.Fortnight of Freedom informative for all faiths
Posted on 06/20/2012 1:48:06 PM PDT by iowamark
As readers of this column will know, I write often about religious freedoms in your country and even abroad. And lately there has been much in the news about how the healthcare overhaul instituted by the Obama Administration has affected those religious freedoms.
Religious institutions, including Catholic schools, charities and hospital, are not exempt from the new healthcare mandate that requires employers to purchase contraception, including abortion-producing drugs, and sterilization coverage for their employees.
Many have raised their voices in opposition to this requirement that religious institutions and individuals violate their own basic moral teaching in their health plans. Most of those who are speaking out are Catholics because this affects them most directly. But many who are speaking out are Americans of other faiths who recognize that their beliefs could be the next target.
My good friend, Leonard Derden, himself a Catholic, sent me the following regarding what is called Fortnight of Freedom. It is fourteen days that Catholics are encouraged to set aside for prayer concerning religious liberty. I thought no matter your religious persuasion or background, you might find this interesting and informative.
So what follows is not from me directly, but I do agree that we should all be diligent to both fight and pray for our freedoms that this country was designed to enjoy from its inception:
During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, citizens of the United States shone the light of the Gospel on a dark history of slavery, segregation, and racial bigotry. The civil rights movement was an essentially religious movement, a call to awaken consciences.
In his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. boldly said, "The goal of America is freedom." As a Christian pastor, he argued that to call the United States to the full measure of that freedom was the specific contribution Christians are obliged to make. He rooted his legal and constitutional arguments about justice in the long Christian tradition: "I would agree with Saint Augustine that 'An unjust law is no law at all.' A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law."
Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified. Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.
The Church does not ask for special treatment, simply the rights of religious freedom for all citizens. Rev. King also explained that the church is neither the master nor the servant of the state, but its conscience, guide, and critic.
Catholics and many other citizens of the United States have strongly criticized the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. For the first time in our history, the federal government will force religious institutions to fund and facilitate coverage of a drug or procedure contrary to their moral teaching, and purport to define which religious institutions are "religious enough" to merit an exemption. This is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide such coverage even when it violates our consciences.
What we ask is nothing more than the right to follow our consciences as we live out our teaching. This right is not only about our ability to worship. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all the people of the United States. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? Without religious liberty properly understood, all the people of the United States suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that religious people make every day.
What is at stake is whether the people of the United States will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society---or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for a Fortnight for Freedom, a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4, 2012. You can go to their website at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/fortnight-for-freedom/ for more information.
Thank you for this important post.
OMGoodness! Thank you!
Sometimes as Catholics we feel pretty abandoned. It’s been really heartening to see MANY religions represented at the Rallies for Religious Freedom.
Lord Love every one of you!