“We have been staunch defenders of religious liberty in the past. We have a solemn duty to discharge that duty today,… for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a call to action this week urging strong lay involvement, outlining threats to First Freedom at all levels of government and abroad, and calling upon dioceses to pursue a “religious liberty fortnight,” from June 21-July 4.
The document includes the following concerns that call for immediate action:
- The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate forcing all employers, including religious organizations, to provide and pay for coverage of employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs even when they have moral objections to them. Another concern is HHS’s defining which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.
- Driving Catholic foster care and adoption services out of business. Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities adoption or foster care services out of business by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts, or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.
- Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. Despite years of excellent performance by the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require USCCB to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching. Religious institutions should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief, and they do not lose their religious identity or liberty upon entering such contracts. Recently, a federal court judge in Massachusetts turned religious liberty on its head when he declared that such a disqualification is required by the First Amendment—that the government violates religious liberty by allowing Catholic organizations to participate in contracts in a manner consistent with their beliefs on contraception and abortion.
You can read more about the document at: http://www.usccb.org/news/2012/12-060.cfm.
The bishops’ document, “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty,” can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/our-first-most-cherished-liberty.cfm.