Religious Freedom Week 2018

by Ed Harpring

Religious Freedom week is especially providential this year. In the last two days the Supreme Court has decided two significant wins in favor of for Religious Freedom.  As Catholic News Agency reported on June 25, the Supreme Court vacated a Washington state ruling against local florist Barronelle Stutzman, who in 2013 declined to make flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

“The U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back to the Washington Supreme Court, instructing that the case be reconsidered in the light of Masterpiece Cakeshop decision earlier this month.

In the Masterpiece case, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Christian cake baker Jack Phillips, who had declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown an impermissible hostility toward religion in their handling of the case.”

And today, June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra. This case challenges a California law forcing pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for the abortion industry. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of NIFLA under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued the following statement praising the ruling:

“In an important victory for the free speech rights of pro-life organizations, the Supreme Court today has affirmed that that the First Amendment protects the right of all organizations to choose for themselves not only what to say, but what not to say. This includes allowing pro-life pregnancy care centers to continue providing life-affirming support to both mother and child without being forced by governments to provide free advertising for the violent act of abortion in direct violation of the center’s pro-life convictions.  The decision is an important development in protecting pro-life pregnancy centers from future efforts to compel speech in violation of their deeply held beliefs.”

Full statement click here.

Also, Archbishop Kurtz recommends watching the daily short videos pertaining to different issues of Religious Freedom. The USCCB has developed eight short videos, about a minute and a half to just over two minutes each, which discuss areas of challenge.  Day 4 of Religious Freedom Week, for example, features Archbishop Timothy Broglio talking about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.  On Day 5, Bishop Joe Vasquez talks about issues relating to refugees and migrants.  On Day 6, we hear from
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who talks about threats to religious freedom in the area of health care, such as health care providers being coerced into participating in abortion procedures.

Other videos include Bishop Robert Barron, on Day 3, challenging us to speak boldly in the public square and Archbishop Kurtz on Day 8, bringing it all together.

Finally, Archbishop Kurtz spoke via Skype last night on EWTN News about some specific Religious Freedom issues. You can watch the video here.

Our First, Most Cherished Liberty is Freedom of Religion. Our Catholic Bishops boldly proclaim “We are Catholics. We are Americans. We are proud to be both, grateful for the gift of faith which is ours as Christian disciples, and grateful for the gift of liberty which is ours as American citizens. To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.”


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