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Though long considered our First Freedom given its prized place in the Bill of Rights, religious freedom is under direct attack in America.
As Dignitatus Humanae, the Church’s Declaration on Religious Liberty from the Second Vatican Council, states,
[T]he right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.”
As Catholics, we have a calling to defend the principle of religious liberty in civil society and to defend our Church when it comes under attack. And we have a right to demand that our lawmakers respect the religious liberty of the citizens they take an oath to protect and serve. Religious liberty used to be an issue that boasted bipartisan support. But recent times have seen it turned into a wedge issue used to undermine the very people it was designed to protect. Many today even argue that religion is a private issue and that believers are only entitled to a limited “freedom of worship” in the place of an all-compassing “freedom of religion.” But religious liberty has even come under assault in the private sphere, whether it’s Catholic hospitals pressured to provide drugs and services that violate core Catholic tenets, Catholic schools harassed with lawsuits for simply teaching what they believe, or nuns like the Little Sisters of the Poor, forced to go all the way to the Supreme Court to ask for the right to live out their charitable calling without having to violate their consciences.
But as Pope Francis has said, “Faith is not simply a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion,” (Lumen Fidei) and it cannot “be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life.” (Evangelii Gaudium) That’s why religious freedom has to be a robust liberty. It is derived from our very dignity, and that dignity cannot be suppressed or stifled.
At TCA, we are dedicated to the cause of religious liberty and its essential role in creating a free and just society