Bishop Poprocki: Proposed Gay Marriage Law is a Lethal Attack on Religious Liberty

Cardinal George and the bishops of Illinois have come out swinging against the proposed gay marriage law that has been introduced in the Illinois state legislature.

Illinois already allows civil unions between gay people.

I have not read this proposed law, but it sounds as if it would change the legal definition of marriage entirely. It also would not alter corresponding Illinois laws, which were probably originally intended to deal with discrimination based on race.

According to what at least one bishop is saying, this would lead to a situation where religious institutions which do not support same-sex marriage would be forced to participate in it.

This growing trend throughout the Western world to force religious people in general and Christians in particular to participate in activities which are against their faith is a huge step into active religious persecution under the law. For years the push has been to silence Christians by demanding that they not speak about or use any symbols of their faith in public places. This in itself is both discrimination and an attack on the civil liberties of Christians.

The new push is to broaden this move into legal discrimination in what amounts to a form of legal persecution of people of faith. It uses things like gay marriage and birth control to force Christians to actively violate their faith or face government fines and penalties. This is done in the name of  whatever lie is most useful. “Women’s health” is used in the case of using the ruse of birth control to advance the HHS Mandate. “Tolerance” is used in the push to force religious institutions to participate in gay marriages.

However, the availability of contraception is not at stake with the HHS Mandate. It is about using the brute force of government to attack religious liberty. In the same way, the push all over the Western world to force Christians to participate in same-sex marriages is not about tolerance. In fact, it is the exact opposite of tolerance. It is intolerance and active government discrimination against people of faith.

Bishop Thomas Poprocki of the Diocese of Springfield Illinois has written a letter to the people of his Diocese outlining his concerns about the proposed legislation. All the bishops of Illinois are writing similar letters and asking that they be inserted in Sunday bulletins.

I try to let you read full documents instead of excerpting them whenever I can. I also try to give you original sources. Whenever someone excerpts a document or paraphrases it, they are interpreting it. No matter how objective they try to be — and modern news sources don’t appear to try very hard — they must, by the nature of selecting what to quote and rewording things in paraphrasing, put their own interpretations into it.

I want Public Catholic readers to be able to form intelligent opinions based on the real facts.

Here is Bishop Poprocki’s letter in its entirety.


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Bishops Issue a call to prayer for life, marriage and religious liberty

Our bishops are calling us to incorporate their call for penance, prayer and sacrifice for life, marriage and religious liberty into our activities for the Year of Faith.

I have already been praying about these things. I’ve prayed every day for a long time about abortion. I plan to add one of the bishop’s ideas. My focus for this will be religious liberty.

I don’t think most Catholics realize the gravity of the threat to our liberties that the HHS Mandate represents. This threat is not just to Catholics, or even to religious people. If the government can attack the First Amendment so easily, then none of the freedoms Americans hold dear are safe.

I am going to publish the bishops’ full message concerning this call for penance, prayer and sacrifice to make it easy for you to read it. You can find a wealth of additional ideas, prayers and more detailed information at the USCCB website. I haven’t decided yet which of their suggestions I’m going to take. Which one of them will you do?

Here’s the statement from the USCCB website:

Call To Prayer For Life, Marriage, And

Religious Liberty

 The pastoral strategy is essentially a call and encouragement to prayer and sacrifice – it’s meant to be simple. … Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty are not only foundational to Catholic social teaching but also fundamental to the good of society. – Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, from the news releaseabout the Call to Prayer

Join the Movement

  • What: The U.S. bishops have approved a pastoral strategy to advance a Movement for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty. It is essentially a call to prayer, penance, and sacrifice for the sake of renewing a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty in our country. Click here for a one-page handout about the Call to Prayer that is suitable for use as a bulletin insert or flyer.

Unprecedented challenges call for increased awareness and formation, as well as spiritual stamina and fortitude among the faithful.

  • Why: The well-being of society requires that life, marriage, and religious liberty are promoted and protected. Serious threats to each of these goods, however, have raised unprecedented challenges to the Church and to the nation. Two immediate flashpoints are the following:First is the HHS Mandate, which requires almost all employers, including Catholic employers, to pay for employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs regardless of conscientious objections. This is a clear affront to America’s first freedom, religious liberty, as well as to the inherent dignity of every human person.Second, current trends in both government and culture are moving towardredefining marriage as the union of any two persons, ignoring marriage’s fundamental meaning and purpose as the universal institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and with the children born from their union. These challenges call for increased awareness and formation, as well asspiritual stamina and fortitude among the faithful, so that we may all be effective and joyful witnesses of faith, hope and charity.
  • When: In this Year of Faith, starting on the feast of the Holy Family (Dec. 30, 2012) until the feast of Christ the King (Nov. 24, 2013)
  • Who: All of the Catholic faithful are encouraged to participate
  • Where: Throughout the entire country; at your local parish, cathedral, school or home

How To Participate: 5 Ways

1. Host or attend a Eucharistic Holy Hour on the last Sunday of each month

5 Ways to Participate:
1) Monthly Holy Hour
2) Daily Rosary
3) Prayers of the Faithful
4) Fasting & Abstinence
5) Fortnight for Freedom 2013

2. Pray a daily Rosary

3. Prayers of the Faithful at daily and Sunday Masses

4. Abstain from meat on Fridays and fast on Fridays

  • For the intention of the protection of life, marriage and religious liberty
  • The practice of fasting: The general practice of fasting allows a person to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may be taken, not to equal one full meal.
  • “The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1438
  • For more information on fasting and abstinence, see the USCCB Fast & Abstinence page

5. Participate in the 2nd Fortnight for Freedom (June/July 2013)

  • Goal: A visible, vibrant reminder of the God-given nature of religious liberty, the right to bring our faith into the public square, and the rights of individuals and institutions to conduct their professional lives according to their religious convictions
  • Key issue: Potential Supreme Court rulings on marriage in June 2013
  • Key issue: The need for conscience protection in light of the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate
  • Key issue: Religious liberty concerns in other areas, such as immigration, adoption, and humanitarian services

 

Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.

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Patheos Election Month: The Most Important Issue For Catholics Is …

I almost took a pass on this one.

Something about Catholics picking out one issue and saying “That’s it! That’s the only thing you need to care about in this election!” seems wrong to me. I don’t think you can trim the Gospels down to an issue, or for that matter to an election, or the democratic process itself.

Following Christ means giving all of you, your whole life, and not just your vote. Too many people these days have convinced themselves that voting right is the equivalent to living right, and living right is all the grace or goodness any of us will ever need. My main complaint about that tidy little approach to Christianity is that I don’t believe it’s Christianity at all.

What kind of Christianity can it be that leaves out Jesus, the Gospels and the Cross?

However, no matter how broad our call, we are also tasked with living out our faith by the decisions we make when we go to the polls and cast our votes. We do this not as a substitute for following Christ day by day, but as part of it.

Clearly, the one issue that threatens my Church, which is the Catholic Church, above all others is the HHS Mandate. I would argue that this Mandate threatens not only Catholics, but all churches. I would follow that argument with another; that the HHS Mandate threatens not just religious people, but secularists, as well.

The HHS Mandate is a broadside fired straight through the First Amendment. The First Amendment not only protects the right of religious people and churches to practice their faith without government interference, it also protects the rights of those who are not religious to ignore and argue against faith without religious interference.

The First Amendment is a wall built around individual conscience and freedom of belief which has allowed us to believe and not believe in harmony with one another for over 200 years. It’s ironic that the forces which seek to tear down this wall are the ones who benefit from it the most.

Atheists are fond of pointing to the excesses of religious practice in the hands of fallen people, even while they seek to practice those same excesses themselves in their attacks on religious faith. What they leave out of their calculations is that the same First Amendment they are working so hard to turn into an instrument of oppression can, once it is fashioned, become an instrument to be used against them.

We live in a time when political activists have become so enamored with their various visions of a brave new tomorrow that they seek to abandon the basic freedoms of speech and religion on which they base their own claims. They would deny those who disagree with them the same freedoms of self-expression and right to organize that they used in their own march to a successful presentation of their arguments.

Thus we have laws and campus rules that deny Christian clubs the right to organize on college campuses because they require their members to express a commitment to traditional Christian principles. The argument is simple: Those principles are opposed to views that other people want to further, in particular same-sex marriage and abortion. So, the clubs must either bend to those views or disband.

All these acts of religious oppression were forerunners and foundation builders for the HHS Mandate. They created a large group of people who have been taught to hate Christianity and Christians so much that they are willing to toss away their own freedoms, if those freedoms also protect the rights of Christians. When these people were presented with the HHS Mandate, they rallied around it in a knee-jerk, hating-Catholics-is-cool reaction.

That leads us back to the question of our votes in two weeks. There is no single issue that, to my mind, trumps the HHS Mandate. I view it as one of the most serious challenges to our Constitutional government since the Civil War.

All this is not to say that we should abandon every other issue and ignore whole chapters of the Gospels in order to fit our faith to political party dictates. Whoever wins this election, Christians are in for a real fight. Political candidates who patronize Christians in order to co-opt them are just as dangerous to our faith as those who attack us outright.

My hope is that no matter how this election turns out, Christians will awaken to the threat the HHS Mandate represents and realize that, even if it should be overturned in the future, it still represents a current threat.

To continue with my use of nautical terms, the hull has been breached. Simply rescinding this mandate does not change the fact that government has stepped over this line. It most certainly will happen again. We can not trust our freedoms to electoral whim, nor can we vest our defense of them in politicians.

We must begin, as Christian people, to take on the responsibility of standing up for our faith ourselves. Every time we have acceded to a diminishment of our rights, we have been faced with another, more extreme, demand that we accede further.

Catholicism is a comprehensive approach to the Gospels. If we are to be true to our Catholic faith, we must work to bring the Kingdom  by our faithful attempts to follow the whole Gospels. The reason why is simple: Jesus doesn’t ask for what’s left over after we give ourselves to everything else first. He wants all of us.

 
Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

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But Leave it There

I respected the woman speaking to me. She and I had the same background, shared most of the same beliefs. But we were at odds that day. She looked at me with the hot-eyed stare of a person who is not to be reasoned with and pointed her finger at me to emphasize her words.

“You can go to church as much as you want,” she said, “but leave it there.”

She was angry with me because I had passed a bill that, among other things, required unemancipated minors to either get parental consent or a judicial bypass before elective abortions.

The abortion wars destroy friendships in politics, and my friendship with this lady was ending over this bill. I could have said a lot of things to her that day, but I sensed some deep wound driving her anger, and I didn’t want to hurt her. So, I held my tongue. I knew as I walked away that this woman who had been my friend was now my enemy.

I also knew that her request that I leave my faith in the church pews was both arrogant and common. Accusations that people who believe in the sanctity of human life are trying to “legislate their religion,” or that they want to “build a theocracy” are standard commentary from the other side of the debate.

I try my best to never reply in kind. I don’t call people who favor legal abortion names. I don’t attack them for slips of the tongue or research their personal lives looking for sexual peccadilloes, embarrassing photos from long-past fraternity parties or ugly divorce testimony.

I do all I can to let them have the low road if they want it so much and keep my focus on the one thing I care about in all this, which is my simple belief that it is wrong to kill people. I won’t use my job to kill people. And I won’t help anyone else kill them, either. I know that sounds almost comically simple. But adhering to it in a legislative environment can get you cursed, reviled, slandered, picketed and, yes, advised to leave your faith at church.

I’ve been getting these demands that I be a sham Christian for years. Go to church all you want. We don’t care. But leave it there. The people who say this are usually in a froth of self-righteousness when they do it. They can look at you with such hatred that it almost scorches your skin. And they almost always toss in a canard about “separation of church and state” to give dignity to what is in reality an outrageous thing to say.

It’s ironic. People are always accusing politicians of being hypocrites, but in this instance we have a large segment of the population actually demanding it of them.

“Go to church all you want, but leave it there” has nothing at all to do with separation of church and state. There is nothing in the First Amendment that says that elected officials may not reference their personal religious and moral beliefs in the decisions they must make.

I don’t believe this lady was worried about separation of church and state. I think she wanted me to live and vote according to her beliefs rather than my own. That’s the core of these attacks. It’s that you’re not doing what they want you to, and attacking you with bogus nonsense about separation of church and state and building a theocracy sounds better than just pitching a fit and saying “Do what I tell you or else!”

Unfortunately, this line of reasoning has advanced far beyond me and what an angry lady said to me in the hallway outside the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Today we have the Health and Human Services Department of the United States Government telling the largest religious denomination in America virtually the same thing and backing it up with what amounts to a draconian threat.

Teach what you want from the pulpit they tell the Church. But if you don’t bend to the government and violate those same teachings in your institutions, we will fine and penalize you out of business. That’s the gist of the HHS Mandate compelling the Catholic Church to provide insurance coverage for birth control and abortifacients for the employees of its institutions.

What it all comes down to is that the Federal Government is telling the Catholic Church “Say mass as much as you want. But leave it there.”

And, yes, this time it really is a violation of separation of church and state.

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Cardinal Dolan Explains Catholic Opposition to the HHS Mandate

YouTube Preview Image

Cardinal Timothy Dolan gave a brief interview a few months ago concerning the HHS Mandate. The YouTube video above contains the entire interview. The lawsuits it refers to were filed at that time by many Catholic organizations around the country in opposition to the mandate.

I think we are fortunate to have someone like Cardinal Dolan who is willing and able to engage the public at this critical time in our history. The way he conducts himself in this interview does us proud. He provides us with one of the few examples we have right now of how to oppose an issue with civility and courtesy.

Religious freedom hangs in the balance in America. It is absolutely imperative that we turn this mandate back.

The fight isn’t just for the Catholic Church, or even for people of faith. It is for every American, even those who support the mandate. If the government continues down this path of attacking religious freedom, then the rights of all Americans are endangered.

Ironically, those who, in their zeal to attack Christianity, oppose religious freedom and the rights of individual conscience, are just as much at danger as the rest of us. A government which attacks its own Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom will not hesitate to attack them. The precedents they are seeking to establish in order to attack the exercise of religion can and almost certainly will, if they are allowed to stand, be turned against them on some day in the future.

That is because the precedents have to do with the power of government to overreach the Constitutional boundaries which have held it in check for over 200 hundred years. If a government can force religious institutions to bow to itself in the manner the HHS Mandate would do, then that government is verging on tyranny.

I say that because the right to believe and to act on that belief are the core freedoms that any individual possesses. If the institutions through which we express and act on this belief can be attacked, then that goes to the heart of the freedom itself. The practice of ignoring the actual wording of the First Amendment to justify this only works because our educational system has left people ignorant of what the Constitution actually says.

This is the First Amendment. Read it and cherish it. It is under attack from our own government.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

For more information about the HHS Mandate, go here.

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The ACLU, the HHS Mandate, and Religious Freedom

For decades, the American Civil Liberties Union has been the self-appointed defender of civil liberties in this country.

When they stood up for prisoner’s rights, I cheered. When they sued to allow members of the KKK to demonstrate peacefully, I was uncomfortable, but I knew it was consistent with the ACLU’s mandate and I respected this consistency. It spoke to me of integrity.

But when the ACLU began to twist the Bill of Rights to promote an agenda that furthered one side of the culture wars, I decided that it was no longer consistent. I’ve watched as this once great organization has abandoned its mandate and squandered the respect it once had to promote one viewpoint over another in the public debate we call the culture wars time and again.

The ACLU has worked assiduously to drive religion in general and Christianity in particular from the public square. In case after case, they have filed suit against city parks, state governments and courthouses all over the country in order to force them to remove statues, plaques and ban celebrations that smacked in any way of a Christian viewpoint. You would think that the mere sight of the Ten Commandments on a plaque was a violation of the Bill of Rights equal to using torture to obtain a confession in a criminal case.

I’ve long considered this orchestrated attack on religious expression as part of a well-thought-out and deliberate plan to drive religious people and religious thought entirely out of the marketplace of ideas in this country. It has gone so far that people today honestly think it’s a violation of separation of church and state if an elected official says the name “Jesus” in a public debate, as if freedom of speech just dries up and goes away where Christians are concerned.

But then the ACLU took the ridiculous position that the HHS Mandate requiring the Catholic Church to violate its teachings on contraception and abortion or face fines and sanctions was not a violation of religious freedom.

The HHS Mandate is in fact a monstrous violation of the guarantee in the First Amendment from government intrusion into religion. The ACLU used plenty of verbal razzle-dazzle to justify their position. (They are, after all attorneys with the verbal skills that go with the profession.) But their arguments were bizarre, factually inaccurate and self-refuting. I read the reports and I felt as if I was standing beside the grave of the American Civil Liberties Union and all it has stood for.

It’s very difficult, abandoning everything you believe while trying to maintain a public perception that you still believe it. Politicians try to do it all the time. That is why they are so distrusted. The ACLU’s arguments in support of the obvious attack on religious freedom that this mandate represents put the them in the same league, and for the same reasons.

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It’s Eat a Chicken Sandwich for Freedom of Speech Day !

It’s eat a chicken sandwich for freedom of speech day. Enjoy.

I got the idea for this card from a very similar one I saw on Tumblr. If I find that card again, I’ll give you the person’s name.

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In Defense of Chick-Fil-A

This article comes from Mother Jones, which is named after a famous supporter of organized labor and has a long tradition of backing liberal causes, including gay rights.

The article contains a quote from the American Civil Liberties Union defending Dan Cathy’s right to free speech. Dan Cathy is the president of Chick-Fil-A.

Hopefully this comment, however left-footed it may be, is a harbinger signifying that the ACLU has reverted to its roots and once again taken up supporting the Bill of Rights. Now, if  we can only get them to support the other half of the First Amendment and stop defending the HHS Mandate!

Mother Jones

In Defense of Chick-Fil-A

Democratic politicians should stop blocking Chik-fil-A restaurants over the anti-gay views of its president.

By Adam Serwer | Thu Jul. 26, 2012 9:19 AM PDT


Dan Cathy, the president of the fast-food franchise Chick-fil-A, doesn’t like same-sex marriage. He believes that [1] “we’re inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.” The company has put its money where its mouth is, lavishing anti-gay rights groups with millions of dollars in donations [2].

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a Chicago Alderman named Joe Moreno has pledged to block construction of a Chick-fil-A restaurant in his ward [3] over Cathy’s anti-gay views. Boston Democratic Mayor Thomas Menino is also trying to block construction of a Chick-fil-a restaurant over its president’s anti-gay views.

Menino and Moreno have it wrong. Blocking construction of Chick-fil-a restaurants over Cathy’s views is a violation of Cathy’s First Amendment rights. Boston and Chicago have no more right to stop construction of Chick-fil-As based on an executive’s anti-gay views than New York City would have had the right to block construction of an Islamic community center blocks away from Ground Zero. The government blocking a business from opening based on the owner’s political views is a clear threat to everyone’s freedom of speech—being unpopular doesn’t mean you don’t have rights. It’s only by protecting the rights of those whose views we find odious that we can hope to secure them for ourselves.

“We think there’s a constitutional problem with discriminating against someone based on the content of their speech,” says John Knight, director of the LGBT rights project at the Illinois branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. And Illinois law does not demand that restaurants have anti-discrimination policies in place—”It’s a good idea for restaurants to have those policies,” Knight says, but the law doesn’t require it.

Even so, Illinois and Massachusetts residents are still protected. There are federal laws against discrimination in employment and public accommodation on the basis of race, sex, religion, and national origin. Federal anti-discrimination law does not yet protect people on the basis of sexual orientation, but Illinois state law does [5]. So does Massachusetts state law [6].

Chick-fil-A should not be prevented from opening business because of the views of its leaders, or his donations to anti-gay causes. But gays and lesbians in Illinois and Massachusetts have the right to be free from discrimination in employment based on who they are. They also have a right to protest, boycott, and make Chick-fil-A’s customers aware that their purchases fund anti-gay activism. If Chick-fil-A discriminates in hiring or refuses to serve customers on the basis of sexual orientation, the local authorities can and should hold him accountable.

Until then, the politicians should get out of the way.


Links:
[1] http://www.christianpost.com/news/chick-fil-a-president-says-gods-judgment-coming-because-of-same-sex-marriage-78485/
[2] http://equalitymatters.org/factcheck/201207020001
[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/chicago-alderman-says-hell-block-chick-fil-a-expansion-in-northwest-part-of-the-city/2012/07/25/gJQAnPIt9W_story.html
[4] http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/07/rahm-emanuel-needs-back-chick-fil
[5] http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2266&ChapterID=64
[6] http://www.mass.gov/mcad/forEmployers.html

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Rally for Religious Freedom OKC

 
Due to concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad, the Catholic bishops have
called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious
freedom, from June 21 to July 4th.
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City are answering the call and are organizing a “Rally for
Religious Freedom!” We invite all Christians, our Jewish brothers and sisters, people of other faiths and all
who wish to defend religious freedom!Date and Hours:
– Saturday June 23, 2012
– Starts at 1:00 p.m. (Doors and concessions open at Noon).Admission:
– AdmissionFREE. Donations accepted at arena entrance ($10 suggested donation).
– Seating is general admission.
Location:
– Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens, Oklahoma City, OK 73102. Click for map & directionsRally Details:
– Several speakers will address religious liberty, why it is so important to our country, how it is under
threat today and what we can do about it. Speakers include: Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of OKC,
Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Representative Rebecca Hamilton, Pastor Frank Cargill, William Federer,
Prof. Michael Scaperlanda, Prof. Teresa Collett, Steve Ray, Pastor James Taylor, Pastor Ronnie W.
Rogers and more.
– Patriotic music by Mountain Smoke
– Videos on religious freedom
June 23, 2012 – 1:00 to 4:00 PM
Cox Convention Center Arena
The First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the
right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Founding Fathers on
Religious Liberty
“It cannot be emphasized too strongly or
too often that this great nation was
founded, not by religionists, but by
Christians; not on religions, but on the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very
reason peoples of other faiths have been
afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom
of worship here.” – Patrick Henry
“To obtain religious as well as civil
liberty, I entered zealously into the
Revolution.… God grant that this
religious liberty may be preserved in
these States, to the end of time, and that
all who believe in the religion of Christ
may practice the leading principle of
charity, the basis of every virtue.” –
Charles Carroll
Copyright 2012 – St. Peters’s Fellowship, Inc.
An Oklahoma Not for Profit Corporation
Website Themes by CoffeeCup Software

Please pray for the success of the rally, for religious liberty both here and in other
nations, and for our leaders to be receptive to God’s will. You can support us by
attending the event and with donations to sponsor the cost of the event. Click on the
“Donate” button to help defray the costs.

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Fortnight for Freedom OKC

Calling all Oklahomans who believe in religious liberty! 

Rally for Religious Freedom June 23, 2012

Cox Convention Center, OKC

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