US Bishops Call for Summer “Fortnight for Freedom”

Posted by Matt Yonke (April 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm)

CrozierWith the release of a new document entitled, Our First, Most Cherished Liberty: A Statement on Religious Liberty, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has upped the ante in the fight to protect religious freedom.

The document, issued in the throes of Obamacare’s examination by the US Supreme court, opens with a history of the Catholic Church and religion in general in American history. Our nation’s history of great respect for freedom of religion makes the current crisis all the more poignant.

The bishops then go on to outline several of the major threats facing religious freedom today: the HHS Mandate and Obamacare’s lack of conscience protections, governments threatening to regulate and dictate Church structures and governments, discrimination against Christian students and small churches, and the shuttering of Catholic adoption and foster care services in several states just to name a few.

All the Energies the Catholic Community Can Muster

What should Christians’ response to this unprecedented assault on religious freedom be?

The bishops, quoting Cardinal Mahoney, said we need to oppose these threats with “all the energies the Catholic community can muster”, meaning we must use every resource at our disposal to inform the public and fight all threats to religious freedom.

Rallies, prayers, vigils, public events and education campaigns, media exposure, letters to the editor—this is no time to hold back! If you can spread the word, do it!

A Fortnight for Freedom

In light of all this, the bishops are calling for a “Fortnight for Freedom”, two weeks of solid opposition to all of these unconstitutional threats on religious freedom—and all the threats to religious freedom around the world.

The bishops ask that, from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, Catholics dedicate to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country.

Here’s an excerpt that shows the sort of thing the bishops have in mind for this two-week period:

Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.

So please join in the effort the bishops have called the church to engage in. Let’s let the world know that we value our faith, our heritage and our freedom. Here is a prayer from the end of the document that we can all join in as we continue in the fight:

Almighty God, Father of all nations,
For freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1).
We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty,
the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good.
Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties;
By your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness,
and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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20 Responses to “US Bishops Call for Summer “Fortnight for Freedom””

  1. Racheal says:

    We’ve just written a religious, ecumenical “Declaration of Independence” one that doesn’t dictate how the government should run or what policies are needed, but how religious teachings influence and underpin every aspect of our lives.

    April 13th, 2012 at 7:14 pm
  2. Tommie Richardson says:

    You read my heart and my mind! I know there is a need for a “tsunami” of prayer to protect our religious freedom, the dignity of human life, the freedom of our Country! May Our Blessed Mother and Our Lord preserve our Nation! I would say keep up the prayers until after the election. Never let our guard down ever again.

    April 13th, 2012 at 9:25 pm
  3. Elizabeth Phalen says:

    Thank you very much to the Bishops of the US! You have been quiet oh so long…and the time is right to speak out so forcefully! May God be with all of us as we follow your lead and force the government to be true to the spirit and the LAW of the Constitution !
    Personally, I am looking forward to the day I do not have to defend my position as a Pro-Life Physician, refusing to refer for abortion for patients who request it, and denying contraceptives to others in order to have a clear and correct conscience. THANKS SO MUCH explaining and defending what we knew was right all along!

    April 22nd, 2012 at 11:58 am
  4. Colleen Kelly Spellecy says:

    Perhaps this website could become a source of ideas and suggestions for the Fortnight For Freedom. I am going to a meeting on Saturday with other concerned Catholics from the area to come up with a plan. I will be glad to share those ideas. Perhaps others would also.

    April 23rd, 2012 at 11:48 am
  5. Jody Jordan says:

    Hi Colleen, Would you mind sending on the results of your meeting and what ideas you came up with to engage your community in the Fortnight for Freedom ??

    Thanks, Jody

    April 24th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
  6. Julianne Wiley says:

    I need ideas for the Fortnight activities and also for the June 8 Rally for Religious Freedom. The barrier I’m running into is that Catholics say “Oh, the Supreme Coaurt is going to deal with Obamacare in June, so if they strike it down, PROBLEM SOLVED; but if they don’t, WE’RE STUCK, that’s the end of the line.”

    In other words, they don’t see an open vista and a context for action, they just see passively waiting for the Supreme Court to “save us.”

    And they don’t see the multiple facets of the assault on religious liberty. They see one-off incidents: they don’t see a campaign to eviscerate us on every level, which is what we’re facing.

    We need a “this is YOUR future, take responsibility for it” call to action. A political strategy that makes strong clear sense. And a spirit of “I will sacrifice EVERYTHING for my Faith and my Family, for children and grandchildren, so help me God!”

    I’m here in the Diocese of Knoxville, and I’m in.

    April 25th, 2012 at 8:41 am
  7. Philip Nachazel says:

    A large copy of the US Constitution framed and ready to withstand inclimate weather.
    Try to rally folks to take 2 or 1 hour shifts keeping watch over the belovef document. If you start campaigning now you may have enough souls to STAND GUARD.
    Pick a public place. Get the word out. And pray.
    I just came you with this while reading your post.

    April 26th, 2012 at 10:33 am
  8. Philip Nachazel says:

    Opps…beloved document.

    April 26th, 2012 at 10:34 am
  9. Convert Journal – Obama’s war on religion (update #6) says:

    […] Chickens and Sick LawsUS Bishops: Bloggers play ‘critical role’ in defending the ChurchUS Bishops Call for Summer “Fortnight for Freedom”USCCB appeals ruling that Constitution forbids religious accommodationWhy Religious Freedom?Why We […]

    April 29th, 2012 at 10:05 am
  10. Janice Rael says:

    It is not “religious liberty” to impose Catholicism on non-Catholics. We are not all Catholics. You can do whatever you want in your church. But you can not force your theology down the throats of the rest of America. We aren’t all Catholics.

    May 1st, 2012 at 9:31 pm
  11. JerseyJ9 says:

    A loss of privilege is not oppression, stop forcing your religion on people that don’t want to live by it.

    May 2nd, 2012 at 3:28 pm
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    May 4th, 2012 at 2:19 am
  13. Colleen Kelly Spellecy says:

    ALONG THE WAY: (these actions are not in any ordered fashion)

    .draw on our heritage of prayer and fasting (create gatherings)

    .use social media to bring ”message” to broad base

    .create music video, outlining the meaning / historical events which frame patriotic songs

    .create forums – speak about different saints who suffered for religious beliefs

    .sponsor Hillsdale Constitution course

    .offer 24/7 prayer

    .host movie series on freedom and conscience (e.g. A Man for All Seasons, Ghandi)

    .have daily prayer in a central location

    .work with other denominations

    .create bumper stickers, ribbons, signs, T-shirts, buttons

    .distribute copies of Constitution

    .send letters to the editors of local newspapers

    .make presentations to community organizations (e.g. Rotary, Kiwanis)

    .have petitions of support of the issue

    .collect stories from different religious traditions of struggles to keep their beliefs

    .create video to show in all parishes

    .be inclusive, not only of other religious traditions, but also integrate parish ministries

    .”Tie a (red) Ribbon” around trees to symbolize support

    May 4th, 2012 at 8:48 pm
  14. KYmountains says:

    Janice and Jersey:

    What we are asking for does not mean forcing Catholicism down anyone’s throats. If you and your non-Catholic employer want to include artificial contraception, abortion, sterilization, euthanasia, and physician assisted suicide services in your group insurance contract, go right ahead. Feel free. It’s a free country.

    But do not force religious organizations that teach these things are grave evils to include these things in their group insurance contract and to pay for them. This is forcing people to do things contrary to their conscience–to do evil!

    The freedom of religion is not a privilege that exists because a government feels like giving it to us or not. These are inalienable rights that belong to us and did before governments existed. We are endowed by our Creator with these rights because we are human.

    The First Amendment isn’t about the freedom of worship, what you do with an hour of your time on your religion’s designated sabbath. It’s the “free exercise thereof”–we get to live it out in our lives beyond that one hour.

    It doesn’t matter if you disagree with me and my religion or I disagree with yours. It’s a free country and we have to allow each other to live freely. And that is all we are asking for–the exemptions that already exist by law.

    Please don’t force me to commit grave evil, and I won’t force you to work for a Catholic employer who doesn’t cover the services you want.

    May 7th, 2012 at 9:44 am
  15. Bill King says:

    I am catholic I disagree with a lot of what the church teaches (actually more like force there positions us’ but this holds true

    “Morality is doing what is right no matter what you are told.
    Religion is doing what you are told no matter what is Right”

    May 12th, 2012 at 12:27 pm
  16. John Richards says:

    Looks like the death throes of the Catholic church in the US to me

    May 12th, 2012 at 2:22 pm
  17. Tony Houston says:

    If religious organizations are not prepared to provide services that contradict the dictates of their conscience, they need to stop crowding other providers out of the market.

    May 22nd, 2012 at 11:45 am
  18. Jacqueline S. Homan says:

    Any woman who wants to gestate some man’s genetic material for his benefit in almost a year of involuntary servitude is more than welcome to do so. But no woman owes such sacrifice and martyrdom to anyone — especially not to a society that has always treated women like garbage; a society that grants full personhood to 15 second old zygotes and corporations while denying that very same status of personhood to the woman in whose body that zygote is being hosted.

    Forcing women to get and remain pregnant against their will is a violation of human rights, period.

    The idea that fetal pain matters but the pain, trauma and disfigurement women are expected to suffer in childbirth as a mandatory punishment for having sex shows just how easily the UN Convention of Torture can be subverted when it’s women being targeted for sexual and reproductive torture.

    Denying women the human right to have control over what happens to our bodies by imposing a sexual double standard in denying us access to reliable contraception and abortion, and denying women adequate pain relief during childbirth without a scientifically valid reason (and there really isn’t any) while making sure Viagra and penis stents are legal, available, and covered by most insurance plans for any man that wants to have “recreational” sex — is state-sponsored discrimination, gender-specific torture and a crime against humanity.

    The legal language in Article 1 of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment spells out the definition of torture. This was ratified by the US Senate in 1994. Torture is the intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain or suffering by, or with the consent of, state authorities for a specific purpose. Methods of torture include rape, sexual assault, and forced childbirth.

    No matter how “pro-lifers”, social conservatives, and Christians want to spin it, the devastating effects and injuries of torture cannot be justified by “moral beliefs” or “faith.”

    In 2006, the same US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) that is today in 2012 promoting the sexual and reproductive torture of forced pregnancy and childbirth against an entire identifiable group of people (women), asserted that policies permitting torture and inhumane treatment are “shocking and morally intolerable.” The USCCB also said, “Let America abolish torture now — without exceptions.”

    Apparently, abolishing torture “without exceptions” doesn’t apply to women.

    This same powerful Vatican lobby group promotes the torture of women and girls with forced childbirth, even at peril to our health and lives, by influencing Congress and shaping public policy to deprive women of access to contraceptives and abortion — even in cases of rape or where pregnancy will kill a woman.

    That’s what “conscience clause” laws and “fetal personhood” laws being pushed by sadistic misogynists under the respectable habiliments of “moral beliefs” and “religious liberty”: Torture and chattel enslavement of women, no matter the harm and cost to us.

    This is not a question of “freedom of religion”, it is about women’s human rights, legal and judicial equity, and medical ethics that are being violated by others’ abuse of the extra privileges that religious organizations enjoy and use like a loaded weapon to push harmful laws and public policy that target women for harm and injustice based solely on women’s vulnerability to pregnancy and sexual violence in a culture of impunity centered on male privilege.

    When religious hospitals, Christian doctors, nurses, midwives and pharmacists serve the public, they serve people of different faiths. At this point, a sectarian institution or an individual of a particular faith relinquishes the right to coerce or force others into following a particular religious doctrine or teaching.

    Religious organizations cannot discriminate against employees of a different race or gender, or dictate how employees spend their paychecks. They cannot discriminate when hiring for non-clergy positions, even within a church. And they cannot use their religious or “moral” beliefs as grounds to deny another person, or class of persons, human rights to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity.

    Regardless of what faith one professes, a woman’s uterus is not designed to handle unmitigated, endless cycles of pregnancy and childbirth. A 2006 study pointed out that women who bear children at intervals of 18 months or less have a shorter lifespan and more health problems overall.

    Without the right to control whether or not she gets pregnant or carries an unwanted pregnancy to term, a woman faces a potential life-threatening or health-compromising pregnancy every year from menarche to menopause — for 30 to 40 years of her life, unless a high risk pregnancy or sudden childbirth complication kills her before middle-age like unmitigated childbearing did to 1 in 5 women as recently as 1950; 22 years before the US Supreme Court ruling on Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972) which gave unmarried women the right to birth control access regardless of marital status.

    To deny women the right to prevent or terminate an unwanted or medically risky pregnancy is to consequently deny her all basic human rights. It’s not a separate issue. It’s not a “special interest” issue. It’s not a frivolous issue. Not if one is a woman. It affects everything in her life. The right to determine what happens to your own body, the fundamental human rights of bodily autonomy and bodily integrity, are the sine qua non of ALL rights — including the right to “freedom of religion.”

    If women’s human rights can be discarded, ignored, or postponed, then lawmakers are once again placing issues that directly and specifically relate to men at the top. There is no democracy or fairness in any sense of the word if double standards drive the issues. Democracy, freedom, and justice for only half the population but not the other is real no freedom or justice at all.

    If women have no rights to self-determination and bodily autonomy, then the economy, jobs, education, infrastructure, defense, religious liberty, and all the rest no longer matters.

    May 22nd, 2012 at 3:12 pm
  19. Jacqueline S. Homan says:

    Cruelty and abuse against women is reaffirmed and legitimized by the prominence of religious influence in government policy and public affairs. No other group of people is allowed to be tortured, abused, maimed, oppressed, or enslaved in the name of “religious liberty.”

    In March 2010, Amnesty International released its own report, “Deadly Delivery”, on the increasing maternal death rate in the US, which is double those in Canada, Britain and Western Europe — all countries in which women have wide access to birth control and safe, legal medical abortion These are all countries whose abortion rates are far lower than those in the US.

    There is no question that an increasing lack of access to contraceptives, abortion, and voluntary sterilization due to the tremendous political and financial clout used by religious lobbies like the USCCB and the increased power over public policy have not only contributed to high maternal mortality and morbidity rates and the skewing of these statistics (which are used to justify legislation and shape public policy), but have also acted in synergy with deeply institutionalized misogyny to deprive women of human rights — in the name of “religious liberty” and “moral beliefs” — while actively promoting a de facto state establishment of religious policies that impact the public in violation of the spirit of the US Constitution.

    May 22nd, 2012 at 3:16 pm
  20. Bill King says:

    another POV

    May 28th, 2012 at 2:14 pm