Homeschool vs Govt Schools: Vatican Says Let Parents Decide

Archbishop Francis A Chulicatt speaks to the UN in support of homeschooling.

Public schools do not offer an equal chance for a good education to all students. Some public schools are excellent. Others are soul-killing factories. From my experience, it seems that this divides along economic lines.

Wealthy parents, who have access to private schools for their children, also have the option of sending them to the best public schools. Poorer parents often have no choices. They are forced to send their children to sub-standard, dangerous, inner-city public schools.

The deterioration of our society is apparent in the students themselves. Violent, disruptive children from dysfunctional families are common. In my House district I’ve had children as young as 7 or 8 or who were so violent and disruptive that they were uncontrollable. One elementary age child could not be left alone with younger children for even a short period of time because he would try to kill them by choking them.

Many of the children in these schools grow up without hope of a future. In spite of years of sex education they seem to have a complete lack of morality concerning personal sexual behavior. The girls regard getting pregnant while they are teens as an achievement. The boys brag about the number of out of wedlock children they have sired.

Homeschooling is the only viable alternative for many people. Private school tuition is more than they make, and even if they could afford it, their children would be unhappy as the lone working class child in a school where all the other kids come from wealthy families. The lifestyle of the other children would be too different from theirs and too unapproachable.

The choice between public and private schools is a no-win scenario for lower income parents. Homeschooling is the one option they have. The great thing about it is that homeschooling works. I can say from my own experience as a homeschooling mom that homeschooled kids learn. They have no trouble in college or holding jobs when they’re grown.

They don’t suffer the emotional and moral damage that is inflicted on children who spend their formative years in the pressure cooker of an inner city public school. They have strong friendships with other homeschooling kids that last into adulthood. They bond deeply to their families and their faith.

That’s why I was so happy to see the article, Homeschoolers applaud Vatican position on homeschooling. It is great to know that once again, my Church supports families in doing what is best for our children. If you’re interested in homeschooling, read it and smile.

Advocates of homeschooling applauded a statement by the Vatican’s representative to the United Nations in which he defended parents’ right to homeschool their children. Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said in remarks to the international body, “Parents … have the right and duty to choose schools inclusive of homeschooling, and they must possess the freedom to do so, which in turn, must be respected and facilitated by the State.” He added, “For some time now, my delegation has noticed a disconcerting trend, namely, the desire on the part of some to downplay the role of parents in the upbringing of their children, as if to suggest somehow that it is not the role of parents, but that of the State.”

Speaking at the Economic and Social Council at the UN on behalf of Pope Benedict, Archbishop Chullikatt “States are called to have respect for the freedom of parents to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions which equally applies to their right to make judgments on moral issues regarding their children.”(Read the rest here).

I am Proud of the Bishops

I am proud of the way that the United States Catholic Bishops have handled the HHS Mandate.

If the various blogs, Facebook comments and internet rants I’ve read are any indication, I would guess that the bishops have been and are subjected to a continuous dose of what amounts to verbal abuse. I wouldn’t be surprised if the USCCB and each of the various bishops has their own Crazy People File. If they do, I’m sure it bulges with emails and letters that would, as my grandmother used to say, “curl your hair.”

I don’t know how this behavior got started, but it seems that a large number of Catholics are everlastingly irate with the bishops because they won’t sufficiently hate whoever it is the Catholic in question feels deserves hating. Personally, I respect the bishops for sticking with the entire gospel of Christ.

What I love best about the Catholic Church’s approach to politics is that it has steadfastly refused to be the moral apologist for either right or left wing nutso politics, but has instead insisted that the whole of the faith be adhered to and followed. In today’s political world, that takes guts. It can and does get you attacked and slandered. However, it is the only way to be part of the political debate and follow Christ.

One of the most important facets of leadership is that you have to lead. You cannot just parade around under the halo of your own self-importance and take positions of pragmatic cowardice. What this means to people who are in positions of Christian leadership is that they are required, REQUIRED, to follow Christ, even when it puts them at odds with the powers that be. That often means that they have to do things that, in the world’s way of thinking, are just plain stupid.

In my own position as an elected official I’ve had to cast votes, make speeches and take stands that were moronic by smart politician standards. I’ve been forced to call the lightning down on my own head over and again by putting myself out there in the face of angry advocates with blood in their eyes. I’ve had to go against my own political party one day, and then turn around and oppose the other political party the next.

I’m not the brightest bulb in the firmament, but I am smart enough to know that, from a political standpoint, what I am doing is stupid. I sometimes joke with my friends that I’ve been called to be a fool for Christ. After years of getting kicked around, I’ve come to accept it. Jesus didn’t call us to follow the world. He called us to follow Him.

We have a saying in Oklahoma politics: “jump out in front of that lynch mob and turn it into a parade.” That’s a colorful way of describing the fine art of getting in front of popular opinion and pretending to “lead” the mob where it wants to go. The most sophisticated application of this principle in today’s politics is the egregious practice of using polls and focus groups to determine what party positions should be and what the puppet people political parties run for office should say they believe.

This kind of flim-flam political campaigning has become the way the smart folks do it. The reason is that it nearly always works. The flim-flammers get elected. This  is not leadership. It’s craven callous manipulation of the electorate to gain power by any means.

It is also something that a Christian leader may never do. Christian leadership, like all leadership, requires you to lead. But Christian leadership has the added requirement that before you lead, you must first follow. In this way, Christian leadership is not so much a matter of being a good leader, as it is being a good follower. Christian leadership must first and always be predicated on following Jesus. It doesn’t matter if your leadership is as a bishop, or a politician, a corporate head, a shop foreman, parents raising a family, or as a young person among your friends. If you are a Christian, your leadership must be lived within the confines of the gospels of Christ.

This means following both the Ten Commandments, AND the Sermon on the Mount, not some truncated half-Christianity that has been trimmed to fit your political party or life situation. It means following Jesus first, then adding whatever particular wisdom or skills you might bring to the situation on top of that.

Which is why I am so proud of the American bishops. The politically smart thing, the easy, cheap thing to do would have been to kiss Caesar’s ring and accept this mandate. Other bishops in other countries have done this with similar mandates just recently. They acceded to the government, took the money, and refused to lead their flocks for Christ. To their everlasting honor, the American bishops dug in and decided to fight.

They are fighting in a Christian way. Not by slandering individuals, but by standing up for the right of the Church to live its teachings. They aren’t trying to destroy people, including the people who are trying so hard to batten down the Church. The United States bishops are leading in a positive way. Their fight is a fight for religious freedom and that is what they are talking about.

I am proud of the way that the United States Catholic Bishops have handled the HHS Mandate. Proud to follow their leadership.

Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus

What would it take to make you deny Christ?

Would you deny Jesus to save your life? Would you deny Him to save your child’s life?

What would it take for you to turn your back on Jesus?

Christians die for their faith all over the world, right now, this minute. Christians are raped, splashed with acid, stoned, beheaded, sold into slavery every minute of every day because they refuse to deny Jesus. They are the martyrs of our times, and we, who are not facing martyrdom, do very little to support them.

That doesn’t mean that those of us who are safe, fed and fat are not challenged in our soft and cozy faith. It just means that the challenges come at us in more subtle, less costly ways that we  don’t always recognize. Take, for instance, the insistent request in certain circles that we not “offend” people of other faiths or no faith by talking about our Jesus. This kind of gentle push to deny Our Lord can come from surprising sources, sources which disarm us by who they are.

My friend and fellow public catholic, Linda Cavanah, is an example. Linda is the founder and director of All Things New, an Oklahoma ministry which engages in the life-saving work of rescuing, sheltering and healing women from sex trafficking and prostitution. Linda makes a lot speeches about sex trafficking and prostitution in many different venues. When she was asked to speak at a large mainline church near one of Oklahoma’s two major universities, she assumed that this particular speech would be on Christian-friendly grounds.

A few days before the speech the church’s assistant pastor emailed her. He asked her to avoid mentioning Jesus or talking about her faith in her speech. He said that people from many faiths, including people of no faith, would be in the audience, and his church didn’t want to offend them by talking about Jesus. Linda emailed back, telling him, no, she couldn’t do that. If that was his requirement, he would have to find another speaker.

When the pastor did not reply to her email, she sent another. When he didn’t reply to that, she was in a quandary. Was she supposed to show up for the speech or not? She finally decided to go ahead and show up and see if they still wanted her to speak. She went, prepared to leave if that was what they wanted.

When she got there, no one told her to leave, but she wasn’t exactly welcomed, either. The associate pastor who had sent the email and his senior pastor huddled on the other side of the room, glancing at her while they talked and rolled their eyes in what anyone who’s been treated this way would recognize as distaste. Despite their obvious contempt and woeful lack of hospitality, they let her speak.

She talked about how Jesus had saved her from the same thing from which she was working to rescue other women. She said straight out that her ministry was based on faith in Christ. Of course, she also (and mostly) talked about the horrors of sex trafficking and what we can do to stop it. No one in the audience raised any objections.

So. Two “pastors,” men who are supposed to be shepherds of Christ’s flock, try to stop a woman from saying the name Jesus while speaking to a gathering in their church. They do this in a church that has the image of Christ in its stained glass windows and the name of Christ on its altar. I could do a whole post on that. But the real point is that my friend didn’t let them bully her into silence about Jesus. She stood firm. She refused. She got dissed by two “men of God” for her effort, but I have to think that God Himself was pleased with her.

This leads me back to my first question: What would it take to make YOU deny Christ?

Assuming that you are not one of the people who is facing death for standing for Jesus, what would it take to make you deny Him?

Would you do it to keep your job?

Would you do it to keep or get government funding for your ministry?

Would you do it to satisfy government regulations that conflict with your faith so you could keep your ministry’s doors open?

Would you do it to avoid having your classmates, co-workers, even your family, belittle, mock and make fun of you?

Would you do it to avoid the humiliation of a public trashing on the internet and by media talking heads?

Would you do it to avoid being labeled a “bigot,” a “hater,” or a fool?

Would you do it to get into a fraternity or sorority?

Would you do it to get a date with the best looking, most popular guy or girl in school?

Would you do it to get an “A” from that professor who talks about “theists” and claims that only atheists are rational?

What would it take to make you deny Christ? Before you answer, consider this: You’ve already done it. I have. You have. We all have.

I don’t think there’s one Christian in our entire American culture who hasn’t at one time or another gone along to get along in matters of faith. We’ve kept quiet; at family dinners, political gatherings, in the classroom, on the job. We’ve laughed at jokes belittling God or Christians, even when we felt dirty for doing it. We’ve joined in and repeated these jokes ourselves.

We have all denied Christ in the simplest way possible; by what we’ve said and what we haven’t said. I’ll talk another time about how we deny Him with what we do. For now, let’s just stop and consider how many times and in how many ways each of us has denied Him with what we’ve said or not said.

Public Catholics get pushed every day to deny Christ. We are bullied, badgered, belittled, mocked and shamed for our faith as a matter of our daily work. In the case of politicians, most of this is a not-so-subtle attempt to change the way we vote on issues of public policy. The interesting thing is that it works. Not with me. I’ve kept my mouth shut to keep the peace when I shouldn’t have. But nobody ever bullied me into voting against my faith. I just won’t do it.

Linda Cavanah is also a Public Catholic. She’s not an elected official, but her work and ministry place her in the public eye. She passed the test with that speech. I’ve seen her pass the test over and over again.

I think the reason the two of us are so stubborn about this is that Jesus forgave us for so much. He loved us from death to life and we know it. Deny Him? Deny the One Who saved us from the living pit of our self-made hells? No. The very thought is anathema.

If you came to Christ by an “easier” way, you may not realize quite so graphically what He saved you from. You may not feel to the marrow of your bones that you owe a debt you can never repay. You may even think, as some Christians evidently do, that it was God’s lucky day when He got you. It may be easier for you to overlook the seemingly small requests to accede to the larger culture and keep quiet about Jesus. Maybe, down deep where not even you know it, the truth is that Jesus doesn’t matter to you as much as the good opinion of the people around you.

Besides, you ask, what good would it do? After all, you are just a drop of faith against the tsunami of secularism and nihilism that is rolling over our society. What does it matter in the great scheme of things what you do?

The answer is simple: It matters to Him.

We are called to be the leaven, the mustard seed, the light and salt that brings the Kingdom. It does not matter who you are or what you do, you will be faced each day with opportunities to speak for Jesus or keep silent. You will decide a thousand times in every thousand days you live to either stand up for Jesus or sit down and say nothing. That may seem like a trial, but it is in reality the great opportunity to speak for Christ which is available to every one of us in our present world. It is your chance to do something that matters for Christ.

I am not talking about being strident. This is not a call to lecture, hector, speechify. What I am suggesting is that we, all of us, every Christian man, woman and child, stop being silent when Our Lord is attacked, when our faith is belittled, when the only Hope of humankind is drug through the mud of incivility and debasement that has become our public debate. Most of the time, all you have to say is, “I am a Christian, and I am not comfortable with this discussion.” That will cause an uneasy silence, but it will also make the point.

Every once in a while you may come across one of those devil-driven souls who feel a sense of self-righteous entitlement when it comes to attacking Christians. They may turn on you and say ugly, degrading things to you and about you. If you are female, they may even band together with others of their kind in an attack on you as a girl or a woman.

I can tell you from personal experience, that is hard to take. I’ll blog another time about Christian men who stand by and do or say nothing while this happens. It’s enough for now to tell you that I have been called every degrading name our misogynist culture uses to attack women, including all the vicious names for women’s body parts. Ironically, most of this was done in the name of “women’s rights.” It was a way of punishing me for converting to pro-life.

It hurts. It has to hurt. But remember: They did the same thing to Jesus. He warned us about this. He said that if they did it to Him, they would do it to us, too. It is not a curse to suffer for Jesus. It is a privilege. As Jesus told us, “rejoice and be glad,” when people attack you for standing up for Him. They are giving you the Kingdom of Heaven.

There’s an old hymn that goes, “Stand up, stand for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross.”

In our world, we might better sing, “Don’t be embarrassed by Jesus. Don’t be ashamed of His Name.”

Survey: Increasing Hostility Toward Religion in USA

In what may be one of the more poignant stories of the week, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute released a survey Monday that details the rise in hostility toward religion in America.

Just a week ago, a gunman attempted to enter Family Research Council headquarters in Washington DC, wounding a security guard. Law enforcement has treated this as an incident of Domestic Terrorism. That certainly puts an explanation point at the end of yesterday’s press release from the Family Research Council.

According to CNA/EWTN news,

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2012 / 05:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A report examining court cases from recent years has found that hostility towards religion has grown to unprecedented levels in the United States.

The newly-updated Survey of Religious Hostility in America serves as “a testament to the radical shift in our culture’s worldview” on religion, said Kelly Shackelford, president of Liberty Institute, and Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.

On Aug. 20, Shackelford and Perkins announced the release of the updated analysis, describing “more than 600 recent examples of religious hostility” in the U.S., most occurring in the last decade. Read more here

The full report on the rise of hostility toward religion in the USA can be found here.

The Crazy People File

“Crazy People”

The folder with this name sits on my hard drive. Whenever I get an email that merits the title, I drag it into the “Crazy People” file. After 16 years in public office, the file has swollen to gigs of nutty emails that most likely would embarrass their senders if they read them today.

I have a theory that people don’t know how they sound in the emails they send to elected officials. They forget that other people are on the opposite end of these nasty diatribes; that they read them, react to them and file them away.

Several years ago, members of the Oklahoma House were spending what seemed like an endless day on the House floor. We were hearing one bill after another. Since it was close to the end of session, we’d voted on all these bills many times before; in committee, in the full House the first time, then again in the full House when they came back from the Senate, and now, in the full House again after they came out of conference committee.

We spend a lot of time together in the House of Representatives, kind of like people locked on a ship that’s adrift at sea. We’d heard each other’s speeches on these bills until we could all recite them together.

On that day, we were tired, over-stimulated and stressed; all combined with an almost numbing boredom. It gets like that late in every legislative session. Mainly due to the boredom, we started talking about the emails we get.

Now there are certain people who evidently get up every morning and fire off a nasty email to all the members of the legislature before breakfast, kind of like some people go to daily mass and others run on their treadmill. Their names and the names they call us become familiar to all of us.

We started trying to figure out whose district these emailers were from. Finally, I emailed the one who we all felt was the most flamboyant and asked what part of the state he lived in. Nobody answers these kinds of emails, and I think it was the first time any of us had clicked “reply” on one of his. The person responded and asked why I wanted to know. I said that we’d been talking about him and were wondering whose district he lived in.

If it’s possible to sound abashed in an email, this person did. I really don’t think he realized that people read the stuff he was sending. In all the years since, he has never sent another blanket email to the Oklahoma House.

Of course, this person, hateful and goofy-sounding as his emails were, did not rise to the level that gets someone into the “Crazy People” file. It takes a special kind of venom, and usually a couple of threats, to land there.

The point I’m making is if you’re writing your legislator in support of Christian values, remember that someone will read what you send. Do your best to sound like a follower of Christ and not an escapee from a wingnut radio talk show. You can make your point just as well without calling people names or attacking their intelligence, beliefs, children, parentage or appearance.

Remember: When you say your are a Christian, other people judge Christ by you. Don’t be a negative witness for Christ just because you think it’s clever and witty to degrade other people with your speech.

Civility will not only make you a better witness for Christ, it will make you more persuasive about the positions you are advocating.

It can also keep you out of the “Crazy People” file.

WordPress to Patheos, What’s Happenin’

Dear Friends:

Moving a blog is a little bit like moving to a new house. There’s a lot more to it than you thought when you bought the thing.

Public Catholic Patheos will have its formal debut next Monday. I’m going to start publishing posts at Public Catholic Patheos before that. In fact, I plan to start in the next day or so. I hope you come over and look at things and give me feed-back.

My understanding is that if you come to the old Public Catholic site you will be re-directed to the new one, but that this won’t happen until everything is up and running on Patheos. Let me know if/when this starts working.

In the meantime, the site, which will be all-singing, all-dancing in a couple of days, can be found at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/. We’re still polishing the rough edges, but go over, have a look and tell me what you think. I welcome your feedback.

In Christ,

Rebecca

PS: Be sure to add that link to your bookmarks so you can find me later! You can also get Public Catholic Patheos by rss feed and a number of other methods that are on the site.

WordPress to Patheos, Oh My!

Dear Friends:

If all goes well, Public Catholic will start publishing through Patheos on Monday, August 6.

As to what happens if things don’t go well, I’m kinda clueless. I have never done anything like this before so it’s a learn-as-you-go and hope-you-get-it-right process.

I’ve been told that the experience will be seamless for people who follow Public Catholic on Twitter. Hopefully, the same is true of Facebook and Tumblr. It’s the people on WordPress who have me a little worried. I think, if I’ve got this straight, that you will see a link the first couple of days, then it will also be seamless. I may be wrong about that, but I think that’s it.

However it comes down, I hope you’ll be patient and stick with me. One of the things I’m trying to accomplish with Public Catholic is to build a community of Christians who support and learn from one another in our struggles to stand up for Jesus. The world is becoming increasingly hostile to us. That means we need each other. We are the brothers and sisters God has given us to help us make our way in doing His will.

I’m not and have no ambition to be a big-time blogger. I am just a small-time pew-sitting Catholic from Oklahoma who has walked what her pastor once called “a twisted path” to where I am now. I have a passion for encouraging Christians to return to our roots and be the light of the world that our Master told us we are. I want to share the things I’ve learned in walking my twisted path for you to use — or not use — as they will help you be the light of Christ shining out to the people around you.

The reason for the move to Patheos is to gain a wider audience for the things I’m trying to share. We’ve begun something special here at Public Catholic. You are among the finest, most intelligent Christians it has been my pleasure to know. I don’t know if you’re learning anything from me, but I learn from you every single day. My hope is that the move to Patheos will broaden the reach of what we’re saying.

This process has been in the works for a while. I had the honor of being able to decide between moving to Beliefnet or Patheos. They are both big-time web sites that, to be honest, I find a little intimidating. I decided on Patheos because it fosters community among its bloggers and encourages dialogue between them. It just seemed like a Public Catholic kind of place.

Money, that great bugaboo for Christians, is not an issue here. Patheos does pay, but frankly, I’m not big-time enough to hit their pay scale. Even if I did, the money is minuscule. I’m talking about maybe taking my husband out for a hamburger once a month minuscule.

Rest assured that if Public Catholic should ever start making substantial money, I’ll alert you to wear your galoshes and carry your umbrella when you leave the house. You’ll need them because there are going to be lots of pigs flying around. The reason for doing this is reach for my ideas, not jingle-jangle for my pocketbook.

That’s everything I know about this for now. I’ll try to keep you informed as things move forward. Say a prayer about this move, that everything about it will be within God’s will and plan.

In Christ,

Rebecca

Culture Warriors

I am creating the Culture Warrior Award to honor two stalwart culture warriors. These men stand for life, and they are in the fight for the long haul. They are two of Public Catholic’s finest Culture Warriors. We need more courageous blogs like theirs. You can find them at: http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com/ and http://scpeanutgallery.com/

Pray, Study, Take Action for Religious Freedom

This is a link to the story in our local newspaper about yesterday’s Rally for Religious Freedom OKC. If you have time, take a moment and read the nutso comments of the Christian-revilers. Don’t let their invective make you unhappy or angry. Just take a moment and pray for their conversion. God loves them just as much as He does you or me. He will change them if they let Him.

Oklahoma Catholics, Protestants, Rally for Religious Freedom

Then, resolve to never let nasty-mouthed bullying cow you into silence when it comes to standing up for Jesus. I’m not suggesting that you start fights with the kind of people who verbally harass and attack Christians. In fact, I’m not even suggesting that you go online and argue with them.

There’s a lot to be said for avoiding arguments with people who are not in their right minds. These folks’ comments aren’t so much comments as factually inaccurate sloganeering and slandering. I imagine that if you stood directly in front of one of them while they were spewing this, you’d end up with a face full of the spit that’s coming out with their high-volume verbiage. My guess is that they are mindlessly repeating what they’ve heard and what they say when they’re with people who agree with them.

Since they’re speaking mindlessly, what’s the point in trying to argue with them? They’re not in their right minds. Or at least I hope they’re not. That would be sad.

The point here is that it’s a waste of effort and an exercise in misery to try to talk to anyone when they are behaving like this. So …. don’t.

Here are some suggestions of what you might do instead:

Say a prayer for them and resolve to do at least one thing to help your fellow Christians get their collective heads out of the sand and stand up for Jesus.

Rather than trying to reason with people who sling accusations and bumper-sticker-speak like a gatling gun, invite a couple of your friends from church out for lunch. Bring along some information and enlist them in the fight. Ask them to take two of their friends out of lunch and enlist them.

If you are gifted with words, write a letter to the editor. That will give you the opportunity to state your views intelligently. If your letter gets published, don’t be upset if these same commenters come at the letter with their tripe. Don’t let it bother you if they get personal and ugly. Just concern yourself with getting your message out there. In fact, you might take this as an opportunity to write another letter re-stating your views in a courteous manner. Make the point that you aren’t engaging in ad hominem attacks. You are defending the Lord of all life … Who loves these people who are attacking Him and wants them to come to Him in repentance.

Host a letter-writing party for your Christian friends. Ask everyone there to write all of their elected officials of both parties. Leave no one out, including local officials. Tell them about the HHS Mandate. Say you oppose it.  Ask them to do the same. It’s ok for people to bring their computers and send emails. It’s also ok to write the letters on notebook paper by hand. You are their constituent. It’s their job to listen to you. You don’t need to be eloquent. What matters is that you care enough to write.

I’m deliberately suggesting non-confrontational ways for people to take a stand for Christ. I know that most people haven’t had years of getting publicly attacked for their faith like I have. I know it’s scary at first. But I also know that there is no greater honor than to be called an ugly name for standing up for Jesus. Don’t back down and don’t run and hide when people attack you because of Him. If you do that, you are not only allowing the Christian-haters to take over the public debate, you are cheating yourself of the chance to suffer, in a small way, for Christ.

No matter who you are or what you do for a living, you can do these small things for Jesus.

Remember: Standing up for Jesus is your vocation. It is the vocation of every Christian.

So, pray for a renewal of religious freedom in America and around the world. Study the HHS Mandate so you can talk about it intelligently. And take action by talking about it with your friends and family.

Stand up for Jesus! Do it now and do it every day for the rest of your life!

Pray for Religious Freedom in America

In my opinion, the HHS Mandate which would force religious institutions to violate their teachings or face crippling fines and sanctions represents one of the most serious challenges to America’s Constitutional Government since the Civil War.

This mandate is not a law. It is a government agency rule, established by vote of a small committee of private individuals who were not elected by or answerable to the American people. If allowed to stand, the mandate will establish the precedent that the government may coerce the ministries of whole denominations to violate their own moral teachings or be shut down by government fines and sanctions. This is a direct, deliberate violation of the freedom of religion which Americans have enjoyed for over 200 years. This mandate must not stand.

I feel it is our duty as Americans to oppose the HHS Mandate and to insist that our elected officials act to make certain that this violation of our basic liberties is turned back and that it never occurs again. My hope is that all freedom-loving Americans will join with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in their stand for one of the most important freedoms that Americans possess.

On this, the first day of the Fortnight for Freedom, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has released the following Prayer for Religious Liberty. If you agree with it, please pray it today and every day of the Fortnight for Freedom.

O God our Creator, from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome—for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us—this great land will always be “one nation, under God,indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.


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