Bishops protest more actions as attacks on religious freedom, call for Catholics to act

As promised, the country’s Catholic bishops are ramping up their campaign against what they see as attacks on religious liberties, … Continued

As promised, the country’s Catholic bishops are ramping up their campaign against what they see as attacks on religious liberties, particularly those of religious conservatives.

On Thursday the bishops released a proclamation that expands their concerns beyond those they’ve focused on in the past year — such as the White House move to require some faith-based social service groups to include contraception coverage for employees in their health care plans and a push to have them consider same-sex couples as potential adoptive or foster parents.

The document, which U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops staffers said last month was in the works, mentions objections to new local measures, including one in Alabama requiring churches to turn over illegal immigrants and another in New York City limiting the right of churches to use public school buildings for worship on weekends.

The document aims to stir patriotic longings and action this summer. It calls for “all the energies the Catholic community can muster” to focus activism and prayer on the issue of religious freedom from June 21 to July 4, what the bishops are calling “A Fortnight for Freedom.”

It isn’t entirely clear how this whole issue is resonating among Americans and what impact it might have on the presidential race. The bishops named concerns about religious liberty their top priority last year, but the topic didn’t gain traction until this year when several GOP candidates adopted the argument that the White House has launched a “war on religion.” Many Americans (Catholic and otherwise) joined the bishops in opposing the contraception mandate earlier this year, but public energy appeared to die down once the White House offered an alternative that was accepted by some Catholic groups.

GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has criticized the contraception mandate but has not been as vocal on the broader issue of religious freedom as have his former campaign rival Rick Santorum and primary challenger Newt Gingrich.

The bishops are not the only ones raising concerns. Religious liberty lawyers across the spectrum have said for some time that a legal collision is inevitable between the civil rights of gays and lesbians (to marry, to adopt) and the rights of religious groups that oppose same-sex relationships to refuse to perform certain services for them.

Participants in this week’s Q Conference, a group of progressive-leaning evangelical leaders meeting in Washington, talked about the contraception mandate and other religious liberty issues. Social critic and author Os Guinness drew applause Wednesday night when he said the solution wasn’t in “endless litigation.”

  • thebobbob

    If you work for a “Church” then you give up your rights. If you work for a Corporation you don’t. It’s not about beliefs, it’s about control.

    End tax breaks for Churches and Corporations.

  • usapdx

    More damage has been done to the RCC by the RCC ADMINISTRATION. Just look at Europe in general. Ireland’s RCs in a large percent have lost faith in their church with all the cover up of sexual abuse crimes of children. In the USA, the bishops are always speaking on political matters. Congress should just repel the TAX EXEMPT law and let them talk their heads off. Why should groups with large assets and income be tax exempt in the first place with the USA packing a $15 TRILLION debt? Why should they have access to congress or the president more than any other citizen. The USA RCC administration should review the supreme law, the Constitution. I feel sorry for the good clergy that have some of these bishops for a boss.

  • calfacon

    “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Seneca the Younger (ca. 4 BC – 65 AD)

  • jack824

    Cardinal Dolan seems to looking to turn the Church into a religious version of the NRA. I couldn’t get over him spending Easter Sunday – the highest holy day of the Catholic Church – on a political talk show.

  • urkmonster

    Evil men-they are knowingly asking others to submit to what they protest others are asking them to also endure.

    The religion should only apply to those who chose that religion. Subjecting others against their will is a very dangerous path.

  • trouztrouz

    I find it highly hypocritical that any employers would cite an inability to force their religious beliefs onto their employees as a threat to their own religious freedom.

  • DavidJ9

    Why do we care what the corrupt agents of a foreign nation want. When they come clean about their coverups, we might be willing to listen to them, but not about sex or family life since they clearly know nothing about that.

  • Maire2

    This past week, the Vatican imposed silence on an Irish priest (Fr. Tony Flanagan) who merely discussed issues like contraception and women as well as married men in the Catholic priesthood. He has been forbidden to write his regular columns or to publish. His superiors have sent him to a monastery for contemplation of the Church’s teaching. I have heard NO objection from the American bishops to this stripping of freedom of speech and conscience from one of their own. Yet the bishops think American Catholics will join them in protesting actions that the bishops mistakenly think limit their own freedom of conscience? The hypocrisy is too transparent!
    .
    But more to the point, the bishops’ silence about/consent to censorship shows that they do not understand the rights protected in the US Constitution. Perhaps when none of the laity shows up for their “Fortnight for Freedom,” they will begin to understand that freedom of religion does not endown them with the right to deprive others of their freedom of religion.

  • usapdx

    No one can take a right from a American. A American can pratice or not pratice a religion. The supreme law of America is the Constituion which is by WE THE PEOPLE, not of any religion what so ever. The American RC bishops should read the supreme law, the Constitution.

  • tony55398

    This is why we need a single payer plan, based on Medicare, premiums to the government, payments to the healthcare industry.

  • jarandeh

    Thank you for your input, Bishops.

    Oh, and by the way, Tax Day is coming up – just wanted to remind you so your politically active organization doesn’t forget to pay up for the privilege of getting involved in US policy!

    Remember, render unto Caeser . . .

  • tony55398

    Bishops are political by nature, their ambition is what drove them to become what they are, obviously most are Republican and conservative. Whatever the Bishops motivation they should follow their master and stay out of politics, or if they follow their master, then who is their real master. One of the temptations of Christ was to become a ruler of all through governmental means, a temptation that the Church as fallen victim to through the ages.

  • CathyB3

    How’s about this neat little pray in.

    How about the death penalty – not enough guts to step out strong on some thing everybody seems to love?

    Also about praying to get rid of predator priests and sending those who cover for them to jail with the rest?

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