Freedom is not free

29 Jun

Looking down into Canaan Valley, WV, calls to mind the undeniable existence and presence of God — our God. Our religious freedom is being challenged by the very government sworn to protect us under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

If I walk out into the field, look!
Those slain by the sword;
If I enter the city, look!
Those consumed by hunger.
Even the prophet and priest forage in a land they know not (Jer 14:18).

I’m not sure the Fortnight for Freedom, June 21-July 4, made sufficient impact on Catholics. It was a two-week call to action and prayer for the sake of our religious liberty.

The Supreme Court has upheld the so-called “individual mandate” which will tax people who do not buy insurance. But this issue is not really the challenge of “Obamacare” to our basic freedom of religion.

 The federal government seeks to tell Catholics and other people of faith just what faith and religion are and where they can be experienced and expressed. The issue of religious freedom was raised by the government’s insistence that our Church provide insurance coverage for abortion, sterilization and contraception. In trying to redefine Church, religion and faith our government is in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

 This is a real challenge of Obamacare: You believers can exercise your religion inside your churches, but your religion ends as you step out of that building.

 Our bishops have clearly stated that as Christians we have the duty and privilege to bring our values and faith into the public forum. This is freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

 This bold and crass violation of our First Amendment cannot stand and it will not prevail. The First Amendment does not guarantee freedom FROM religion, but freedom OF religion.

 If people of faith don’t wake up, we’ll soon be in a land where “priest and prophet” and John and Susie Believer will no longer find freedom of any kind.

 In Steubenville in mid-June, during the Franciscan University’s annual retreat for priests, deacons and seminarians, someone observed that our Catholic priests are beginning to feel victimized.

Following on the heels of the sex abuse scandals, in which all priests suffered embarrassment and were often ridiculed and held in suspicion, we now have the public efforts to silence not only the Church but God himself.

 In this social boil, priests are going to feel the brunt of stress. They will have to fight the liberal media which campaigns relentlessly to make faith seem superstitious and therefore foolish. Our priests – as well as deacons, religious and lay teachers and catechists – will have to address congregations who are not fully informed about and formed in their Catholic faith.

 The Church must be activated – and the Fortnight for Freedom is only a beginning of any effort to fortify the Church.
Moreover, this sense of urgency concerns more than defense of our religious faith.

 There is an urgent need to promote actively God’s Word and will in our nation – for it was upon freedom of religion that our nation was founded. It is on freedom of religion that it will endure.

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