Catholic Bishops Start ‘Fortnight For Freedom’ Initiative, Issue Rallying Cry For ‘Religious Freedom’

from Huffington Post – by David Gibson –  Religion News Service (RNS) –

The nation’s Catholic bishops are calling on the faithful to pray and mobilize in a “great national campaign” to confront what they see as a series of threats to religious freedom, and they are setting aside the two weeks before July 4 for their “Fortnight for Freedom” initiative.

The exhortation is contained in a 12-page statement released Wednesday (April 12) by the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, and its chief concern is the Obama administration’s proposal to provide contraception coverage to all employees with health insurance, including those who work for religious groups.

The statement represents the hierarchy’s latest effort to overturn that policy, and it includes an explicit threat of widespread civil disobedience by the nation’s 67 million Catholics.

“If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them,” the statement says. “No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.”

The document cites a number of other perceived threats to religious freedom besides the contraception policy, such as harsh immigration laws that could impede the church’s social ministry and university policies targeting campus student religious groups.

The statement also makes a concerted effort to portray the Catholic campaign as bound up with the fight to defend American values from an overbearing central government.

“What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society — or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it,” the statement says. “This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.”

The “Fortnight for Freedom” covers the period during which the church calendar recalls “great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power,” as the bishops put it — such as John the Baptist, who was killed by Herod; the apostles Peter and Paul, who were killed in ancient Rome; and Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, who were executed under England’s King Henry VIII.

Religious progressives and church-state watchdogs quickly pushed back.

The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, head of the Interfaith Alliance, argued that while he agrees there are genuine threats to religious freedom, the bishops’ fight against contraception coverage means that “the Catholic Church’s definition of religious freedom is one that is only concerned with its own beliefs and practices and makes no room for those whose views differ.”

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, head of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, noted that many church-affiliated agencies operate on taxpayer dollars and therefore should follow public policy guidelines.

“When taxpayers are forced to support sectarian agencies that refuse to meet the needs of women, gay people and other communities that’s a real violation of religious liberty,” Lynn said. “If the bishops want to run sectarian social services, they ought to collect the money from their parishioners, not the taxpayers.”

In their statement, the Catholic bishops deploy both the soaring rhetoric of American patriotism and the vivid examples of Catholic martyrs in calling for two weeks of parish activities, devotions and public rallies that would begin on June 21 and conclude on July 4. By invoking martyrs and saints, the bishops aim to recall the church’s sacred history of “resistance to totalitarian incursions against religious liberty.”

The bishops have grown increasingly concerned about the advancement of laws promoting or protecting gay rights, for example, and fear that churches and affiliated agencies that use taxpayer dollars will have to comply with nondiscrimination policies.

But it was the Obama administration’s release of a policy mandating that all employers provide free birth control coverage in their health care plans that sent the hierarchy into overdrive. The bishops have couched the fight as a battle for religious freedom because they say they know Americans — including the vast majority of Catholics — do not agree with church teachings against contraception.

The White House has proposed modifying the mandate so that insurance companies would provide the contraception coverage separately to employees and with no cost to the faith-based employer. But the bishops — as well as their conservative allies in other denominations and the Republican Party — say that accommodation is insufficient.

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America is on its second wake up call. If you want to read a book that will blow your mind and change your perspective of God’s presence in America… the book Harbinger’s by John Cahn. It definitely gave me a better perspective on politics and what is required of us as a nation and as a country from God’s perspective.

Ron Raby

POTUS was the real “Trojan Horse”


Rich- Not only will we see much more invasion of our private lives, we will see a landslide of errosion. What will be left for the administration to fear in a lame duck term? NOTHING. This is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s imperative, if we want to save any semblance of this country to get Obama out of office! I still cannot imagine what people were thinking that voted for him in the first place. He was THE MOST radical Senator we had. There was no one that was farther left than Barrack Obama. Ted Kennedy (rest his soul) was not even as radical as Obama was! And as far as “Catholics” go, they voted for him by a large margin………THE MOST pro abortion legislator that we had in the Senate. Either people didn’t do their homework, or they were so taken with the “rock star” that they… Read more »

Rich Durante

It is time for all Christians to unit and vote out of office this administration and all the others that support them. This is only the first steps to removing our freedoms, if he is re-elected we will see many more acts like this one.


Why do we catholics always elect liberals then spend our time praying so that they (the liberals) can act like conservatives.

Howard Wolf

This is reflective of this president’s arrogance. He even bites the hands that fed him. The Catholic Church was one of the forces instrumental in bring about the so called “Affordable Care Act.” I have said weeks ago and I still believe, he won’t get away with this. This is the biggest church in America that he is kicking in the shins and humiliating.

Walter M. Rckinger III

Hurray for the Conference of US Bishops. They are finally getting it! I blame the liberals that had a strangle hold on the church for so long for the loss of so many souls during thir reign of power. Just think, this Easter season over 100,000 individuals converted to the Catholic faith in the US alone.

The OLD Warhorse

Read some of the comments and it brought to mind the old saying”

When they came for the Jews, I wasn’t a Jew so I didn’t speak up.
When they came for the Gypsies, I wasn’t a Gypsie so I didn’t speak up.
When they came for the Slavs, I wasn’t a Slav so I didn’t speak up.
When they came for ME, there was nobody left to speak up.

It doesn’t matter who or what “The Government” is going after, we must all stand up and shout, NO!

For a hundred years, our freedoms have been chipped away and we have been slowly turned against each other. It has now nearly reached the point of no return. IF we allow this administration to get away with this there will be no return. IF we allow this administration another 4 years, our Republic will be gone forever.


I posted within the hour. Where is it? It was perfectly polite. I see my name, but not the post. ??

Ruth Ledergerber

God’s laws are clear. There cannot be “some” who try to justify their own thinking by disparaging the church’s stance.
Those “some” whose thinking is skewed might be surprised by truth when they meet their Maker.

John Moreno

I am 82 years old and have the memories of all the challenges this country has faced through the years. I have never been so concerned about our future. In the past our citizens were united against foreign enemies. Now our challenges come from fellow citizens and our own government. Divided we will fall. Pray for our faith and our country


Thank God the Church is waking up. They have been playing footsie with the devil re some of these issues for years.I thank God also for Obama who came right out and verbalized his lack of respect for our Church and it’s people.Now we understand clearly and can vote accordingly. It does not matter if you do or do not use birthcontrol,it is about forcing people who do not believe in it to pay for those of us who do .If I was the Church I would start closing all schools,universities ,hospitals and all services. We might be smaller but we will be truer to our Catholic Doctrine and beliefs. It will put a big hole in what is good about our society,but perhaps when good that goes it will once again be
appreciated and rebuilt w/o the devils children who have infiltrated our community.


I was raised Catholic but walked away from a Church I no longer recognized.
Since 1962 the church has repeatedly lectured from the pulpit the merits of liberal candidates and has for years supported the redistribution of wealth and encouraged government welfare programs.
As I see it the chickens have come home to roost! What socialist government has ever maintained a rapport with religious organizations?
What were they thinking?
I pray the church is strong enough to right the wrongs they themselves have brought about.
I left the church not my God.

Terry Stone

I never thought that Religious Freedom would be an issue in the United States. What we have now is the slippery slope. People have a right to live according to their faith outside of a church building. If this attempt to limit the practice of one’s faith goes into effect, what else can be restricted?


I am not a Roman Catholic therefore I have no personal obligation to follow thr tenets of the Catholic Church. If you believe in and practice contraception, so be it. If you don’t believe in and consequently don’t practice contraception, so be it. Religious freedom is indeed part of the issue but only part. At issue here is the slow and steady erosion of personal liberty. Our creator, not the government, instilled free will in all humans, and the government is making every effort to eliminate this. The government is too involved in our personal lives.


I am not a Roman Catholic therefore I have no personal obligation to follow thr tenets of the Catholic Church. If you believe in and practice cotraception, so be it. If you don’t believe in and consequently don’t practice cotraception, so be it. Religious freedom is indeed part of the issue but only part. At issue here is the slow and steady erosion of personal liberty. Our creator, not the government, instilled free will in all humans, and the government is making every effort to eliminate this. The government is to involved in our personal lives.


Our bishop posted a letter (when the birth control rule was first issued) stating that “we cannot and will not abide by this rule that subjugates our conscience and morals! That statement was received in my church with a standing ovation and applause! I can’t tell you how proud I was to be in the company of such wonderful religious patriots!

David Squiers

The biggest ruse in recent politics was the ability of the Obama administration to portray a threat to religious freedom as a “war on women ” by the Republican party. Aided by the media, it seems to be working. Very unfortunate and dishonest.

Mom in FL

I agree with both Jana and VirgoVince. I would not put my trust in the Huffington Post.