Another Fortnight for Freedom

(Each year dioceses around the country arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. This year the Fortnight for Freedom is from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day.  It is I who have requested permission from Msgr. Charles Pope to reprint his articles. ~Beckita)

Fortnight for Freedom: Please Spend Some Time Working and Praying to Defend Your Religious Freedom

By Msgr Charles Pope                                                                                                June 22, 2017

There has been a steady erosion of religious liberty in the United States in recent years. It has been challenged through a broad range of incidents, requirements from the medical world, health insurance mandates, and court decisions. We often take our religious freedom for granted, but it is under substantive though sometimes subtle challenge. We are in the midst of a sea change; we are being told that religion has no place in the marketplace, in the public forum.

It is one thing to request that the government, in its official capacity, refrain from sponsoring sectarian prayer, but it is quite another to tell believers that they are not allowed to express their religion, refer to God, or pray in any sort of public way.

Further, religious exemptions — historically granted when religious beliefs and government policy collide — are gradually being removed, not included at all, or interpreted so strictly that they can never apply. Catholic institutions are gradually being pressured to provide contraceptives in medical plans, to cooperate in adoptions by gay couples or single parents, to provide spousal benefits to gay couples, and to cooperate in providing abortion coverage (by not being able to opt out of plans that provide such coverage).

Some of the erosion of religious liberty is subtle, hidden deep in the details of legislation and the strict interpretations of various judges. It requires the Church and other religious organizations to fight on multiple fronts in a wearying number of cases involving (arcane but significant) legal minutia.

On some level, the erosion of religious liberty is simply due to the sheer number of legal maneuvers occurring in multiple jurisdictions simultaneously. The Church and other religious entities may win an individual battle in one case only to have to face multiple appeals and similar battles in other jurisdictions. Keeping the faithful organized and alert, and maintaining the legal resources to meet every challenge is difficult. It is a kind of death by a thousand cuts.

Consider the following small sample involving the Church and/or fellow Christians:

•  Catholics Charities no longer able to provide adoption services –  As reported by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington — which has provided support to children and families for over eighty years — had a partnership with the District of Columbia for its foster care and public adoption program.  However, in 2010, a law redefining legal marriage to include two people of the same sex took effect.  The District then informed Catholic Charities that it would no longer be an eligible foster care and adoption partner.  Why?  Because, as a Catholic organization, Catholic Charities was committed to placing children with married [opposite sex] couples so that each child would have the experience of a mom and a dad.” Similar “decertification” occurred in foster care/ adoption services in Boston, San Francisco, and Illinois. “In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois.

•  Christian business owners threatened with fines and/or decertification – Increasing numbers of laws are being passed which seek to force business owners with firmly held religious beliefs to choose between providing services that violate those religious beliefs and suffering potentially devastating legal/financial consequences. A few such cases follow:

oNew Mexico – The owners of a photography studio refused to photograph a same-sex “commitment ceremony” because they did not want to participate in a ritual that contradicted their beliefs. In 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied the owners’ appeal, affirming the lower court opinion that the studio violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act.
oIdaho – In 2014, two Protestant ministers (a husband and wife) who operate a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene refused to officiate at a same-sex “wedding.” City officials informed the ministers that this violated the city’s ordinance outlawing discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of “sexual orientation.” The city eventually chose not to prosecute the ministers.
oWashington – A florist who turned down a request to provide flowers for a same-sex “wedding” was sued by the Washington State Attorney General. In February 2017, the Washington Supreme Court ruled against the florist on the basis that she had violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws, despite the fact that she had served this particular customer (who she knew was in a same-sex relationship) for almost ten years before declining to participate in this particular event.
oColorado – Two men “married” in Massachusetts approached a Denver bakery to make a “wedding” cake for their “wedding” reception in Denver. For religious reasons, the owner of the bakery declined to make the cake. The two men filed a complaint with the Colorado Division of Civil Rights, which found that the bakery had violated the law. The Colorado State Attorney General’s office then filed a complaint against the bakery, resulting in further rulings against the bakery. The baker has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
oVermont – For allegedly not hosting a “wedding” reception for a same-sex “couple,” the Catholic owners of a bed and breakfast establishment settled a discrimination lawsuit, requiring them to (1) pay a $10,000 civil penalty, (2) pay $20,000 to a charitable trust, and (3) not host wedding receptions of any kind. Upon settling the lawsuit, the owners of the bed and breakfast said, “No one can force us to abandon our deeply held beliefs about marriage.”
oNew Jersey – The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights found that a Methodist organization violated a public accommodations law by not allowing a same-sex civil union ceremony to take place at its boardwalk pavilion.

Business owners should not be compelled to act against their deeply held religious beliefs. There are plenty of businesses willing to serve those who wish to engage in these controversial behaviors, which challenge long-held (even ancient) moral understandings. If a Christian baker refuses to serve a person with same-attraction who seeks to buy a cake, simply due to the customer’s sexual orientation, that would constitute an unreasonable act of discrimination by the part of the baker. However, if this same person seeks to engage the Christian baker to provide a cake that directly celebrates and/or affirms an act that the baker considers sinful, that would impose an undue and unnecessary burden on the baker. This is because it compels the baker to either violate his conscience or face serious legal and/or financial consequences.

•  Catholic employers required to cover objectionable medicines and “medical” procedures – The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate — which requires coverage for sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients, abortion-inducing drugs — still contains language requiring religious institutions to facilitate or fund such coverage even if it is contrary to their moral teaching. This is because the federal government claims the right to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.

•  Catholic humanitarian services organization required to provide or refer for objectionable medicines and “medical” procedures – After years of excellent performance by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its grant specifications such that MRS was required to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services, in direct violation of Catholic teaching.

•  Christian student organizations not officially recognized on campus – In its history of over 100 years, the University of California Hastings College of Law has denied official recognition to only one student group — the Christian Legal Society — because it requires its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.

•  Christians may not rent school buildings to hold services – In 1994, New York City’s Department of Education denied the request of the Bronx Household of Faith and several other Christian Churches to rent space from public schools on weekends for worship services, even though non-religious groups were permitted to rent the same space for numerous other purposed. In 2011, a federal appellate court upheld New York City’s ban (on allowing private worship services to be conducted in vacant public schools on weekends) and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. The city’s policy is a simple case of discrimination against religious believers: people may assemble in vacant school space for any peaceful purpose—except religious worship.

These sorts of bans, legal motions, suits, and fines, are becoming increasingly widespread, and the legal landscape is often shifting. This steady “drip, drip, drip” is helping to erode religious liberty and free speech related to religion.

It is essential that we remain vigilant in these matters. Some want to exclude Christians — indeed all believers — from the public marketplace of ideas. There are increasing numbers of strident secularists who insist that the only legal place for religious expression is inside of a church building or on church-owned property. This is not right and it is not constitutional:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of a religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution).

Christians and other religious individuals have no less right to free speech, to assemble peaceably, or to petition the government, than any other individuals or groups. Yet many are increasingly arguing that the mere fact that a religious perspective is involved (or that this perspective is not in keeping with recent moral shifts in our culture) should exclude religious people altogether from having a place in the public square. Indeed, in many cases they argue that we should be fined and forced out of the marketplace.

Recognize that in many public schools, our children can be exposed to almost any philosophy, some of them aberrant and with limited supported from the general populace. At the same time, even referring to the Bible as an historical factor in this nation’s history may trigger a lawsuit. Condoms are freely distributed in most schools, yet the mere presence of a Bible is often greeted with hostility by school administrators. Providing information about (and even celebrating) “gay pride,” “transgenderism,” and “gender diversity” is often required in schools, but the mere mention of Jesus (or Christianity) or Christian students quietly praying voluntarily in the school courtyard is often forbidden. This is exclusion of the Catholic and biblical vision is both inequitable and illegal.

Religious Liberty is about more than institutions such as the Catholic Church having rights. The point is that you have a right to the free exercise of your faith. There are people, organizations, and governments agencies seeking to limit or even eliminate your right to religious liberty.

You also have the right to free speech, and there is nothing in the Constitution that says your free speech rights don’t include religious topics or references to God and the biblical moral view. Many people and organizations are seeking to legally silence any religious speech and any religiously based motivations.

Don’t let this happen. Be sober and vigilant about these threats to your liberties. Insist that Christians have the same rights that other citizens do in speaking to their values publicly and in seeking to influence public discussion and public policy.

We need to be alert in these matters and stay thirsty for justice. Work with your local diocese and take part in needed actions such as contacting your representatives when laws are under consideration.

The USCCB maintains a website with a wealth of information on this topic, and it is updated frequently: Fortnight for Freedom.

 

About Beckita

Beckita, widow, mother and grandmother, lives in Missoula, Montana. After more than thirty years of service, she retired from two careers: elementary school educator and director of liturgical music ministry in a local parish. Serving the Catholic Church in many capacities since early childhood, she now provides care for a nearly 90 year old priest of Chinese origin and collaborates with him in evangelizing the Chinese people. For more than twenty-five years, she has welcomed words from heaven concerning these sobering times in which we live and, like so many, takes seriously Our Lord and Our Lady’s call to intercede for the return of souls to God. Responding to heaven’s call for prayer, for her, included making pilgrimages to shrines in Europe, Asia and South America. She says these travels, added to her years as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa in the mid-seventies, have expanded her heart to hold dear all peoples of the world. She is a longtime member of TNRS community and when she began reading Charlie’s posts, immediately, she found that his mission and message harmonize well with Church approved private revelation of our times. In September 2015, she accepted an invitation to become part of TNRS Answers Team. As events of the Storm evolved, last fall (2016), she accepted Charlie’s invitation to become managing editor of TNRS should he need to leave the site. With great gratitude to and for Charlie, founder of TNRS, and with great respect and admiration for the lifelong experiences and God-given gifts he brought to bear on his work at this site - she knows we all know he’s irreplaceable – still, she considers it a great privilege to serve the TNRS community.
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40 Responses to Another Fortnight for Freedom

  1. Pam says:

    Our Lady of Anerica told Sister Mary Ephrem over 50 years ago that we would undergo chastisements here “hitherto unknown by her children in America.” If the Bishops would process her image as Our Lady of Anerica into the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and enthrone it in a place of honor, she said she would protect America and there would be greater miracles here than have been granted at Lourdes and Fatima. Not necessarily miracles of the body, but of the soul.” The Bishops will not do it. Thus our problems today. This would be our “Jericho” moment. What is taking so long?

    Liked by 6 people

    • Beckita says:

      Welcome to commenting, Pam. Wouldn’t this be a different world if all of Our Lady’s expressed requests, whenever and wherever she has appeared, were heeded and fulfilled? Blessed be God and His Mother that They continue to remain with us despite our stiff-necked ways. We humans have a long history of stiff-necked ways, don’t we? May we who have responded continue to pray, mortify and take next right steps as Our Lord and Our Lady lead us through God’s unfolding Plan. God bless you.

      Liked by 10 people

    • BD says:

      Yes Pam and Sister Millie (Sister Mary Ephrem) told me directly way back in the late 1980’s the enthronement of OLA in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception would most likely not take place until after the Chastisement. She prayed incessantly for the conversion of the American people and the enthronement of OLA because the consequences of failing to heed the Blessed Mother’s warnings would result in a chastisement with unimaginable devastation.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Beckita says:

        Please, BD, keep talking to your dear friend, Sr. Millie, for us. We join you in asking her to continue interceding for us in these sobering days filled with so many trials. Thanks, BD. Thanks to Sr. Millie as well.

        Liked by 4 people

  2. Helen Montana says:

    Amen. They are so violently opposed to anything or anyone that is associated with Our Lord. The reason, I think, is that they KNOW (at least at some level) that Jesus is Lord and God and if they acknowledge this fact, they acknowledge their own darkness. This way they don’t have to change, they don’t have to acknowledge their sins because in their minds, there is no such thing as sin. So when they look at a Christian, they immediately get angry because they know we do not embrace sin like they do and they may feel we are judging them , when in fact they are judging themselves – which only makes them angrier. The answer has to be simple, and only HE knows what that answer is.

    Liked by 10 people

  3. gerrymackrell says:

    Satan is using every means possible to attack Christianity. His work is never done. The results of this work is very apparent in the world today.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Karen says:

      Yes Gerry. Please pray for our Cardinal Pell, he has always believed that there has been an unjust campaign against him.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Beckita says:

        Absolutely been praying and will continue praying for Cardinal Pell, Karen.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Annie W. says:

        Prayed for the Cardinal today, God bless and help him. He seems to have been a voice of reason over the years; I”m sad this happened to him.

        Between Mark Mallet today and the article here, I would be despondent without the gift of faith! It’s like a dark, heavy cloud is everywhere, but we must pray, pray, pray!

        The recent comments/conversations about Garabandal were very interesting. I’ve always believed in the apparitions, but learned from Joe’s information. Thanks, Joe!

        Liked by 4 people

      • Mick says:

        Yes, Karen; praying for Cardinal Pell.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. CrewDog says:

    Ya need another “SIGN” that the Lavender Lunatic Left is attempting to ignite Civil War II? Gettysburg?? Most people with Public School diplomas of the past 40 years can’t place Civil War I in the correct century and have no knowledge of Gettysburg or the battle there … and believe that Abe Lincoln was a Democrat …… Very Strange … Weird Really!!!?? The “Spark” that lights off many of Humanity’s calamities could not be imagined before.
    “Another Battle for the Soul of America at Gettysburg”
    https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/06/28/another-battle-for-the-soul-of-america-at-gettysburg/

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Liked by 6 people

    • for the sake of ... sorrowful passion says:

      In the pjmedia link above, Rick Moran says “I don’t know if I’m just past the point of outrage that nothing the left does angers me anymore, but reading this just fills me with an intense sadness.”
      That’s how I was feeling as I read Msgr. Pope’s article … until I scrolled down to the end.
      … then I smiled.
      What consolation it gave me to see Our Lady of All Nations, standing with the world
      beneath Her feet, in front of Her Son’s Cross, asking NOW for the Holy Spirit.
      Gives one the eternal perspective, doesn’t it.

      Liked by 7 people

  5. Bob says:

    So in the name of “Tolerance” we won’t tolerate those who disagree with us. Benedict was right. The “Dictatorship of Relativism” is at hand”. As Crew Dog says,” God save all here”.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Christopher J says:

    Has anybody considered how we got here? We’re to the point where we need to pray for religious freedom. Seriously? Could one suppose if The Church had maintained some semblance of masculinity over the last 50+ years there wouldn’t be so many Obama and I’m With Her–> bumper stickers in Catholic church parking lots? No, sorry, we can’t get political from the pulpit! We’ll loose our precious 501 3b (or whatever) tax-exempt status! [big gasp] (content edited out )

    Like

    • Beckita says:

      I understand your anger at where we are, Christopher. Still, I edited out the accusation against Cardinal Pell. He is innocent until proven guilty. Further, we’re not a blog where generalized smears of the clergy at the Vatican, or any group, are cleared in comments. May the Lord have mercy on us all.

      Liked by 3 people

    • joanne1950 says:

      There are plenty of left leaning organizations that are political. Cardinals, Bishops and priests are citizens of this country with the same rights of Freedom of Speech as any one of us. They should not be cowered by threats of non charitable status by the government. So when confronted by the antithesis of Christ they must speak and as voting citizens they are entitled to speak. Arch bishop Chaput did.

      Liked by 5 people

  7. Such an offense to our Almighty God, all of these actions the Good Monsignor addressed. Sometimes I pray for the Great Storm to culminate and the cleansing/rebuilding to begin, soon Lord Jesus, because the intensity of blasphemy and insults to our God and our faith are so painful and overwhelming.

    I just re-read Charlie’s article “The Flaming Sword of Judgement” from June of 2015. Having just finished the beautiful “Queen of Heaven” program at our parish, put out by Tan Books, I clearly saw and felt all that Charlie explained in that article. No words for how I have been so profoundly enlightened by the words on this blog, Beckita….yours, Charlie’s and all those who come here for reassurance that God does have a plan and that we are not alone. It is always so good to be reminded that God’s ways are not our ways. Continued prayers for our priests, Pope Francis and all religious who are ordained to shepherd God’s people Home. God bless all here.

    Sorry for the rambling, sometimes it’s all so hard to put into words, but I know all those here will get my gist, and many probably feel the same, yet say it so much better! 😏

    Liked by 7 people

    • Beckita says:

      Yes, Reets Charlie. I certainly share your opening sentiment and I know so many who also wish to simply get on with it so we can get to the other side of this Storm with a world renewed in faith with God at the center of every dimension of life. Thanks for checking in. It’s always great to hear from you. God bless each of us at TNRS and all of our families.

      Liked by 5 people

  8. audiemarie2014 says:

    I don’t know if this has been posted somewhere before, but hope everyone will pray for baby Charlie, his parents, and all concerned in this very sad situation. Thank you. God bless all.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-40423371

    Liked by 5 people

  9. jaykay says:

    Dear friends, just back (after a few refreshments… cough) from our Rally for Life in Dublin, Ireland, this afternoon (it’s post-midnight over here… cough, again). It was… overwhelmingly successful, better than we could have dreamed. God be praised. To give a flavour, I just posted this on Father Z’s site, in response to a comment by an excellent Irish Capuchin Father, God bless him.

    Comment from jaykay, with the Capuchin’s comment above in quotes:

    ““There have been dark days before and in the end Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph!”

    Largely, I think, that will come about through the sensus fidelium. 80,000 people marched through Dublin city centre today to defend the right to life of the unborn as established by the 8th amendment to our constitution, now under threat by a secularist government (won’t dignify them by a capital G). 80,000 people is a large number by any standards, but to put it in U.S. perspective, that’s 1.7% of our population – of yours: nearly 5 million. Yep, that was the sensus fidelium in participatione actuosa. There were possibly 500 pro-aborts, in all their weird and wonderful guises, at the mid-point where they usually are. You can guess about their slogans. They were standing, as per usual. Yet the establishment media are already out there with the lies, of course. “breakingnewsireland.ie” reported (hah!) that “thousands of people took part in counter-demonstrations”. “Counter-demonstrations”, as though the 80,000 of us who walked 2 miles and held a massive rally at the end could be compared… aaahhh, the mind, it boggleth.

    Truly, he is the father of lies.

    Liked by 8 people

  10. jlynnbyrd says:

    Happy 4th of July to all in the United States of America. Here is an Independence Day card from a favorite artist in England! 🙂
    I pray that all around the world we may soon celebrate the God-given unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Amen.

    https://www.jacquielawson.com/ecard/pickup?code=6933910493089&source=jl999&utm_medium=internal_email&utm_source=pickup&utm_campaign=receivercontent

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Joe Crozier says:


    Happy Independence Day to all my American friends.
    (I may have posted this before)

    Liked by 3 people

    • SteveBC says:

      Thank you, Joe! We had a wonderful Fourth here on the coast in Massachusetts. We had a number of friends over to sit on our porch looking out over the bay to watch the town’s fireworks show from a barge out on the water and then to hang out and spend time swapping stories and catching up with each other. Very fine. Small-town USA with friends in from a few other areas of the States. I have come to treasure it. We have many problems, but for a little while they were set aside.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Joe Crozier says:

        Thank you for sharing your treasure with me Steve – it doesn’t get more precious – friendship, celebration, stories shared by the shining sea – thanks for letting me be there. I think of the one quote I know from Michael Joseph Savage who was a much loved Prime Minister of New Zealand. He was a devout Catholic. “We might make mistakes but we will make other things too.”

        Liked by 4 people

    • Beckita says:

      Thanks, Joe! Yes, this was posted before by someone else and I’m so glad you posted it again. Previously, this posted rendition prompted you to share a memory of visiting Florida with your wonderful rumination about your time in this country. When is NZ’s Independence Day? Do you have one?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joe Crozier says:

        Hi Becks
        We don’t have an Independence day day in New Zealand but I am happy to share yours.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Beckita says:

          Ah! Everything we have is yours, Joecro. Always happy to share with you and each other. Love your PMs quote: “We might make mistakes but we will make other things too.” It exactly fits the New Beginning we, at TNRS, have been considering, studying, discussing, embracing, believing and dreaming, doesn’t it? Soon, and very soon, may God and His Ways be the Center of the lives of every person, family and society in all the world.

          Liked by 4 people

    • Mick says:

      Thank you, Joe! You have sent that clip before, and I love it every time (it never fails to bring tears to my eyes). 🙂

      Our family had a nice July 4th. We went to a parade in a small about half an hour from our house (our little town didn’t have a parade). The people at the head of the parade were old veterans, who got a hearty round of applause from the sizable crowd which lined Main Street. Right after the vets was the float on which rode the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus in full regalia. It was quite a sight. It made me so happy to be an American, to be a Catholic, and to live in (well, just outside) a small town.

      Liked by 3 people

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