Fortnight for Freedom 2013 starts June 21st, (that’s tomorrow!) and will last two weeks until July 4th. During this time the US Bishops have called upon Catholics to pray and act regarding religious liberty in our country. Many threats exist to traditional values and religious freedom in America. The USCCB has compiled a list that you can find here. Other countries also face threats to religious liberty, for more on their stories check out these articles.
Religious liberty is not just an American issue, nor is it just a Catholic issue. All people of faith should be concerned about these developments. If issues such as abortion, the legalization of gay marriage, and discrimination against Christians concern you then please join with us during the Fortnight for Freedom. Pray and act. Pray formally, pray informally, get others to pray with you. Just pray. If you don’t know how to act, ask God to show you what you can do to stand up for religious liberty. Look over this list of 14 ideas to get involved. While the list is meant for parishes, it might give you some ideas.
Right now, one of the most prominent threats to religious freedom in our country is the HHS mandate. On August 1st almost every health plan will be legally required to cover services such as contraception, sterilization, and drugs that can cause abortions. Many religious organizations and institutions will not be exempt from compliance with this mandate, neither will private companies who may morally object to such services.
If the mandate comes into effect without any sort of additional exception for conscientious objectors, then, as my pastor noted, civil disobedience would be necessary. I know that may sound extreme, but we must recognize what is at stake. Catholic institutions, such as hospitals and universities, can not morally provide for contraception, sterilization and abortifacients. Any law that requires that is unjust. To obey it would be to tolerate injustice, violate our consciences, and provide morally objectionable services which could (if not would) lead to the deaths of more unborn children. When it comes to unjust laws the catechism says this:
“If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience.” (CCC 1903)
Moreover, what this comes down to is: will we as a church obey God or the government? If this is the question, the answer is, of course, obvious. We must put God first. At the same time, let us pray, especially during this Fortnight for Freedom, that this mandate may be overturned, that our conscience rights may be respected.
There is a bill in Congress right now that promises to do just that. The USCCB’s Fortnight for Freedom pages talk about HR 940 the Health Care Conscience Rights Act. Congress.gov’s page for the bill can be found here. According the records the bill has been in committee since early March. That’s almost 4 months! Meanwhile, HR 1797 The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was introduced and passed in less than 2 months!
We must spread the news about this bill: tell your friends, call your representative, shout it from the rooftops. Passing this bill will make all the difference.
Perhaps things don’t have to be extreme. Perhaps civil disobedience will be unnecessary. But we must be ready to stand up for our beliefs wherever and whenever. Saturday is the feast of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. Both were martyred for standing up for what they believed in the face of an unjust government. Their feast is a great way to begin the Fortnight. You can read more about them here.
Visit Fortnight4Freedom.org or religiousliberties.org to learn more, download prayers, or get inspiration of ways to get involved. You can also check back here for more on the Fortnight in the coming days.
Pray. Act. Spread the news.