An Overview of Specific Examples
XVI spoke last year about his worry that religious liberty in the United
States is being weakened.
religious liberty the “most cherished of
our most cherished freedom is under threat.
Consider the following:
Is our most cherished freedom truly under threat?
- HHS mandate for
contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. The mandate of the Department of Health and
Human Services forces religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product
contrary to their own moral teaching.
Further, the federal government tries to define which religious
institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious
- Catholic foster
care and adoption services. Boston, San
Francisco, the District of Columbia, and the State of Illinois have driven
local Catholic Charities out of the business of providing adoption or foster
care services—by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts,
or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples
or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.
immigration laws. Several
states have recently passed laws that forbid what they deem as “harboring” of
undocumented immigrants—and what the Church deems Christian charity and
pastoral care to these immigrants.
against small church congregations. New York City
adopted a policy that barred the Bronx Household of Faith and other churches
from renting public schools on weekends for worship services, even though
non-religious groups could rent the same schools for many other uses. Litigation in this case continues.
against Catholic humanitarian services. 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 contract specifications
to require MRS to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in
violation of Catholic teaching.
students on campus. In its
over-100-year history, the University of California Hastings College of Law has
denied student organization status to only one group, the Christian Legal
Society, because it required its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from
sexual activity outside of marriage.
religious groups to host same-sex “marriage”
or civil union ceremonies. A New
Jersey judge recently found that a Methodist ministry violated state law when
the ministry declined to allow two women to hold a “civil union” ceremony on
its private property. Further, a civil
rights complaint has been filed against the Catholic Church in Hawaii by a
person requesting to use a chapel to hold a same-sex “marriage” ceremony.
Yes, Pope Benedict XVI recognized just last year that various
attempts to limit the freedom of religion in the U.S. are particularly
The threat to religious
freedom is larger than any single case or issue and has its roots in secularism
in our culture.
The Holy Father has
asked for the laity to have courage to counter secularism that would
“delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which
are determining the future of American society.”