Celebrating the Fortnight for Freedom 2015

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ed Uthman https://www.flickr.com/photos/euthman/

I’ve overlooked the Fortnight for Freedom this year because of the rush events ranging from Pope Francis’ encyclical to the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage.

Let’s take today this weekend to meditate and pray over what it means to have the immense privilege of being a Christian who is also an American.

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Fortnight for Freedom: Standing for Religious Liberty on Thursday, June 26, 2014

 

The most important thing we can do to stand for religious liberty today is to take action in support of Meriam Ibrahim, who has been detained — again — and charged — again — with a crime related to her conversion to Christianity.

Mrs Ibrahim is being held at a Khartoum police station. This time, she’s charged with using a “forged” passport. According to reports in The Independent, the government of Sudan is refusing to recognize her passport because it was issued by the government of South Sudan. Sudan does not recognize Mrs Ibrahim’s right to a passport from South Sudan because they do not recognize her marriage to her Christian husband, who is a citizen of South Sudan.

Mrs Ibrahim’s husband is also an American citizen.

The crime they have charged her with is punishable by a 7-year prison sentence.

Please email, call or write the Sudanese Embassy and tell them that you support Mrs Ibrahim and request that the Sudanese government release her immediately.

You can contact the Sudanese Embassy by email here.

You can contact the Sudanese Embassy by phone or letter here:

Embassy Of The Republic Of Sudan
2210 Massachusetts Ave
Washington DC,20008,
Ph: 202.338.8565
Fax: 202.667.2406

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We are Catholics

We are Catholics. And we will be heard.

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Gay Marriage, HHS Mandate and The Fortnight for Freedom 2013

Prayer, study and peaceful action.

What are you going to do for the Fortnight for Freedom 2013?

Bishop Francis Malooly of Maryland gives one of the most clear and easily understood outlines of the issues the Church and all Christians are facing in America today.

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Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Introduction

Stop slogan-voting. Stop hate-voting. Stop being manipulated.

We are in a fight for religious freedom in America. Religious freedom is sometimes called the “first freedom.” It is, after all, enshrined in the First Amendment. But there is another reason to call it the “first freedom.” Religious freedom is the basic human freedom on which other freedoms are built. It strikes to the core of our souls, of who we are as individuals and how we view ourselves and other people. All the questions of human worth and the proper relationship of government to the individual person have their genesis in the right to religious freedom.

If the government takes on itself the power to subjugate religious institutions, to bring them under its heel, it will also take onto itself the power to, as Elizabeth I said, “open a window” into its citizen’s souls. That is what is at stake.

The only hammer we the people have in this debate is our vote. Like the good citizens we are, we do vote. We vote. And then the people we elect proceed to represent the same special interests they represented before we voted. We change the people who hold office, but we can’t change the direction of government. It’s as if we pull a lever and find it’s not connected to anything.

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about all this; praying about it, and trying to decide what I can do in my small Oklahoma world to aid in this fight. I think that the truth is our best weapon.

I am going to write a series of posts which I will publish here on Public Catholic every Monday. I want to use this series to tell you the truth about politics as I understand it. That means I’m going to tell you some things you don’t want to hear, including things about we the people that we don’t want to face. What I’m going to say isn’t The Truth. It’s not absolute. It’s not part of the eternal verities by which we all should seek to live. It’s not anybody’s gospel, not even mine. It’s just how I honestly understand the process and what I think is true about our situation.

While what I say is not The Truth, my ideas are certainly informed opinions. I’ve spent many years in elected office and many more on the political sidelines. I’ve been on the inside of at a least one of the critical issues we face as a nation,

You can disagree with me all you want. It doesn’t bother me in the least. My goal isn’t to manipulate you into thinking as I think. My goal is to jump-start your understanding and to inspire you to begin thinking for yourself.

We the people are giving away the power of our vote by letting ourselves be manipulated into hate-voting and slogan-voting. It’s time to stop.

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President Obama, Human Trafficking and the Catholic Church

I first heard about the attempts to force Catholic shelters for trafficking victims to refer these women for abortions when I was sitting on the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. It was one of those moments when I just saw red.

I had the article I was reading copied and took it across the chamber to one of my friends on the Republican side. “Can you believe this?” I said as I laid it on her desk.

It’s interesting that I did not feel there was anyone on my side — the Democratic  side — of the chamber who would share or even understand my outrage. I don’t even have any Democratic friends who feel as I do.

I keep pushing Republicans who read this blog to get their party to “walk their talk” concerning life issues, and I mean it. Republicans are not walking their talk and that has to change.

But I also know that the other side of the stalemate we’re experiencing is that the Democrats are walking their talk. They are pushing abortion from every possible platform they can find. And they are doing the same in their attack on the Catholic Church.

I published a post Monday, Stop Slogan Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Part 5. Women’s Health = Slogan Voting that goes into this in more detail. I apologize if I bring you down with this stuff, but it’s so important for people to understand.

For today, I will just say that I think the criticisms Congressman Lankford levels against the Obama administration’s policy concerning the Catholic Church generally and this issue in particular are spot-on.

Congressman Lankford, who is a Southern Baptist, and I both spoke in opposition to the HHS Mandate at the Rally for Religious Freedom in Oklahoma City last June.

If I remember correctly, I was the only Democratic office-holder who was there.

This article containing Congressman Lankfords comments reads in part:

Congressman questions Obama’s commitment to
fight human trafficking
By Michelle Bauman
Obama speaks at the United Nations Sept. 25, 2012. Credit: UN Photo, Jennifer S. Altman.

.- New efforts announced by President Barack Obama to fight human trafficking have renewed criticism of his administration for preventing a highly effective Catholic group from receiving funds to aid victims.

In a Sept. 25 speech at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City, Obama praised the work of those who have “decided that their conscience compels them to act in the face of injustice.”

He pointed to his Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in working to fight human trafficking and mentioned the Catholic Church as a faith community that is “truly doing the Lord’s work” in its anti-trafficking efforts.

Obama announced a new executive order to prevent human trafficking through new regulations for U.S. contractors and subcontractors, including a prohibition on trafficking-related practices such as charging recruitment fees.

Large contract holders will be required to implement awareness and compliance programs, and a process will be created to identify industries with a problematic history.

The order also requires additional “guidance and training” for those responsible for enforcing the new measures.

The announcement, however, drew criticism from Representative James Lankford (R-Okla.), who said that the president has put his own political gain before the good of trafficking victims.

While he says that he “wants to promote awareness of human trafficking,” Obama has a “record of removing the experts at providing these services,” Lankford charged in a statement responding to the president’s speech.

He pointed to the administration’s decision last year not to renew a grant with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services to aid human trafficking victims.

An independent review board gave the bishops’ group superior ratings for their work over several years. However, the group was passed over for a grant renewal, and the funds were instead given to an organization with a significantly lower score.

The decision came after new guidelines for grant applicants indicated that “strong preference” will be given to organizations that offer referrals for the “full range of legally permissible gynecological and obstetric care.”

Critics contended that the administration was putting the promotion of abortion before the needs of trafficking victims.

The bishops’ group “was not eligible for assisting victims of human trafficking solely because they would not encourage victims of abuse to seek an abortion or contraceptive drugs,” Lankford said. (Read more here.)

 

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Photos from Rally for Religious Freedom OKC

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Adrianna Gonzalez, co-producer, Test of Fire, introducing the film.

Pastor James Taylor addresses the rally Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Representative Rebecca Hamilton, speaking to the rally 

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt addresses the rally.

Theresa Collette, professor, University of St Thomas School of Law, addresses the rally.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

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Rally for Religious Freedom June 23 OKC

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rigths Reserved.

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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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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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