U.S. Bishops call for project of prayer, fasting to begin 30 DECEMBER to defend Life, Marriage, Religious Liberty – FR Z POLL

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Did you know that the Bishops of these United States of America have asked for Catholics to pray, fast and abstain on Fridays, and take part in a holy hour each month?

Click HERE.

Call To Prayer For Life, Marriage, And Religious Liberty

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.

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 toward redefining 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 as spiritual 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

They make suggestions for ways to participate at the site I linked, above.

A couple questions.


Before reading Fr Z's blog entry, did you know about the USCCB's "Call To Prayer For Life, Marriage, And Religious Liberty"?

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Do you plan to participation in the USCCB's "Call To Prayer For Life, Marriage, And Religious Liberty"

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Emanations from Penumbras, One Man & One Woman, Our Catholic Identity, POLLS, Religious Liberty, Year of Faith and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Random Friar says:

    I’ve heard zilch, nada, zip, diddly-squat, nil, bupkus about this before encountering it just now. I don’t think I got any material here in the parish from the USCCB or the local ordinary.

  2. Darren says:

    The bishops need to improve their means of communicating these things, like requiring parishes to announce it at mass, in the bulletin, at least a couple weeks before the start date. Or something like that… …heard nothing of this at my parish.

  3. jameeka says:

    Ah, I see why it has not been more promoted— look at the origination.

  4. jbas says:

    I (a Pastor/Parish Priest) apparently read enough of this to think it important enough to send to our bulletin editor, but I admit I did not read it entirely until just now, and so didn’t realize all it entails. I’ll try to do a better job promoting it from now on.

  5. Gail F says:

    I run a local Catholic news website; I saw this mentioned on Twitter and checked the USCCB web site — nothing on it then. I wrote to them for the press release and received it that day, so I did a story. However, this was shortly before Christmas and I get the feeling that, whether it came from the USCCB or not, the US bishops were all busy with Christmas stuff. I have never heard it mentioned again anywhere (until now). I’m hoping this is a matter of bad timing and nothing more, but it doesn’t inspire confidence! BTW I did ask about why the Friday fast was a suggestion rather than a rule, and got a nice and rational reply — it takes a LONG time to change a rule and requires permission from Rome. But, as the Friday fast is already optional, the bishops can suggest at any time that people do it for a new intention. Bureaucracy avoided and fast action, although to the suspicious (who? anyone on this list?) it looks a bit wishy-washy.

  6. ReginaMarie says:

    How about we faithful pray, fast & abstain…and the Bishops & priests do their part by preaching from the pulpit about what the Church actually (& beautifully) teaches on the issues of contraception, abortion, divorce, pornography, homosexuality, cohabitation, etc…??

  7. Jim Dorchak says:

    I will not participate in anything the USCCB puts forth as they have been too deceptive in the past. I DO NOT TRUST THEM AND I CONTINUE TO RECIEVE CONTRADICTORY MESSAGES FROM THEM! I do not think they know what they are doing and therefore they do not have my support.

    [Fairly stingy response!]

    Fr. Z's Bitter Fruit Award

  8. Dr Guinness says:

    It’s already the 31st here…

  9. disco says:

    I get all my Catholic news from WDTPRS!

  10. mamajen says:

    I hadn’t heard a thing about this. When the Fortnight for Freedom was done, my Catholic friends posted about it repeatedly on FB and even changed their profile pictures as a reminder…so apparently someone has dropped the communications ball here.

    I do think it sounds like a very good idea. I will not be taking part in fasting (from food anyway) due to my pregnancy, but I can certainly do the other things. Remembering will be the hard part.

  11. Kent says:

    What say we offer the above mentioned penances for a restoration of the liturgy and start addressing the causes and quit trying to bandage the effects.

  12. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    For the sake of clarity:

    1) If our family already abstains on Friday, then Friday fast could be added?

    2) If we already pray a family Rosary, would we ADD the intention, REPLACE the intention, or ADD a supplementary Rosary, in order to meet their Lordships’ request?

    3) The Holy Hour is assumed to be a “public” one, in the sense that this isn’t the sort of thing intended for private hours at all hours of the night? Could one have a much simpler format, instead of all the long-winded petitions?

    4) What, exactly, does participation in the second “fortnight for Freedom” entail, and doesn’t whatever it is involve leadership from our parish priests?

    If I may respond to the poster who received the sour lemon:

    when bishops find that traditionally-minded Catholics have their backs (to use a vulgar expression) they’re much more likely to consider that these same Catholics aren’t crazies or enemies to be fought, denounced or whatever. Besides: aren’t these practices which their Lordships recommend precisely the ones which, traditionally, Catholics engaged in as simply living their faith? If we are unwilling to participate merely because the bishops have asked us to do so, what might said bishops conclude about us?

  13. george says:

    We attend the TLM as much as possible, so Prayers of the Faithful don’t apply. We already do a pretty good job of abstaining from meat on Fridays and do 1-5 holy hours a month. We’ll try to kick up the family rosary and get better at that…

    Chris Garton-Zavesky, you mention “having their backs” as being a vulgar term. I always thought that was a military term meaning “I’ve got your back covered.” Is that not correct?

  14. Terry1 says:

    Father has two more masses to offer after our mass is over, so it is up to us to honor a holy hour. I thought that if some of my fellow parishioners are willing to participate I will volunteer to lead a Liturgy of the Hour after mass. Leonine prayers after mass? Other ideas?

    Am I to understand that the USCCB is standing firmly behind the Holy Father’s call for a Year of the Faith? Amazing if true. We are now just beginning efforts to tackle the New Evangelization, through the liturgy, without any help from Boise, don’t know where they have been in any of this.

  15. CatholicByChoice says:

    In my opinion these recommendations would be far more influential with the majority of lay people if the announcements began like this: “We the Bishops and Priests of the USA are committing to fasting, performing penances and extra prayers for (fill in the blank) and invite the US Catholic community to join us.”

  16. Long-Skirts says:

    ReginaMarie said:

    “…Bishops & priests do their part by preaching from the pulpit about what the Church actually (& beautifully) teaches on the issues of contraception…homosexuality…cohabitation, etc…??


    There are some couples
    O so nice
    As nice as nice
    Can be.

    They have their weddings
    Roses and rice
    And plan forever
    Just “we”.

    No more.

    They know the latest
    Things to do
    That pleasure their skins
    And each pore.

    “What need for seeds
    And eggs take space
    We desire to be
    In lust –

    Our lives are erotic
    And our blood does race
    In cholesterol-free
    We trust.”

    Some of these couples
    Are Bob and Rick
    Some are Michael
    And Sue.

    No matter their genders
    Each has his trick
    Of blending secretions
    Like stew.

    Much money they’ll save
    On themselves these few
    From their vows ’til their graves
    They’ll live well…

    But because their intent
    Was a-party-of-two…
    Alone they’ll be seated
    In Hell!

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    I sent an email to some local pastors about this Friday evening and got a reply from one of them (Fr Rick Heilman) who was already heroically doing something highly similar and for the same intentions. The others are truly very good priests but have not been very bold in trying to organize efforts in regards to the HHS mandate, and I doubt they had any active intention of doing anything with this. My own pastor happened to be out sick today. I hope that they will want to do something with this. I think people should bring this to the attention of their pastors. It is meant for the priest to take the lead, what the USCCB has outlined is not just something for lay people to do entirely privately though of course parts of it could be done privately, like daily rosary and Friday abstinence and fast.

  18. kat says:

    I know why we as Americans “like” religious liberty, and desire it here due to circumstances. But I cannot really pray to God for it in good conscience. Jesus did not come and die for us in order for everyone to have the “right” to deny Him. But I will pray and do penance for the good things the bishops are asking for. And I am glad to see them leaning in the right direction.

  19. thymos says:

    Is this just a suggestion, or a requirement? Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to participate, but that point isn’t clear to me.

  20. JKnott says:

    I did read about this somewhere, but never saw any elaboration or follow up on it.
    This Sunday would have been an ideal time for “follow up” in a sermon. Unfortunately, due to a snowstorm, I had to attend one of the local Catholic -lite parishes. The deacon gave an entirely secular humanist ‘counseling’, with silly examples, of how various family members should interact in various daily instances. Nothing religious in the least.
    In addition to religious freedom and marriage, we should be including pastors and clergy to pray and fast for, too many of whom, for whatever reason, are not in touch with the latest current events and tweets on the “mind of the Church.” Clergy is fiddling in the parishes while Rome burns.
    Prayer and penance is non negotiable anyway if hell is to be avoided.
    We need to prepare for martyrdom.

  21. Timothy Mulligan says:

    It’s not appropriate to fast during Christmastide.

  22. Gail F says:

    Answers to Qs:
    1) These are not requirements, but suggestions. If you look at my comment above, you will see that the reason for that is partly practical — the bishops have to vote on rule changes, and then have them approved by Rome, which takes many months. It is not a case of being afraid to make a rule because people might not follow it, it is a case of doing something quickly.
    2) If you already abstain on Friday’s and/or say a family rosary every day, then as I understand it the request would be to add prayers/intentions for religious liberty to what you already do, not to ask you to do even more. The idea is to get people used to fasting and praying, which many (most?) Catholics don’t do regularly.
    3) The Holy Hour sheet is also a suggestion — the point is to have a Holy Hour, not to mandate every moment of it.
    And speaking of Holy Hours… every parish in the country had one today, right? Ha ha. Let’s see if the word gets out by next month.
    4) Fortnight for Freedom: I’m sure we’ll all hear details when it is closer to the time.

  23. Andkaras says:

    @ long skirts, you forgot the part about their pets. But seriously ,we want Fr. Z to be proud of us for our virtues,don’t we? and not behave like ghetto catholics who are in some kind of a cocoon. The NCRegister has kept many of us up to date on this issue,even suggesting 10 prayers the Bishops have requested that we say including the prayer for the new evangelization found on the USCCB website. EWTN listeners are also aware as are those who listen to Ave maria radio, and the group that I belong to is also complying with the request. Perhaps a good attitude to adopt would be that of John the Evangelist as he waited outside the empty tomb deferring to Peters role, ordained by our Lord no less as the one to lead. There is no telling how many graces that kind of humility has won for the church through the years.

  24. RichR says:

    I get all my Catholic news from WDTPRS!

    Same here. I’m seriously considering canceling subscriptions to other periodicals because I just come here and get a more thorough analysis.

    Oh yeah, that reminds me……gotta donate to WDTPRS tonight.

  25. RichR says:

    Just became a regular monthly donor. That was easy.

    Money well spent.

  26. dillyra says:

    My local parish is not in a period of adding devotions, it is in a period of reducing them. An example of this is that the lay faithful have to put the Blessed Sacrament away instead of having Benediction 50% of the time because no deacon shows up.

    Though my family will certainly increase prayers for all of these intentions I fear that there will be no word on the parish level. My diocese avoids anything political.

  27. off2 says:

    Not sure my Yes should be counted as I am Eastern Orthodox. We already fast Fridays and other times. It’s my intention to add addl prayers to my rule. This is am area where we can work together.

  28. joeclark77 says:

    I second kat’s point. I don’t like the idea of praying for religious liberty. That was never a good idea now, and I also think it’s a poor line of attack against the HHS mandate. “Religious freedom” doesn’t give you the right to violate general laws because of your religion, so, if the HHS mandate is morally licit law then religious freedom is no defense. It’s like we’re declaring that we’re a member of a special protected class (like union members or gays) and the HHS mandate is fine for everyone else as long as we’re exempt. We should oppose the HHS mandate because abortion and contraception are evil, period.

    Instead of praying for “religious liberty”, I add to our daily Rosary a prayer for life, marriage, and “that this nation may be renewed in holiness” or some wording like that.

  29. Andrew_81 says:

    I “third” kat’s point.

    I am happy to do extra penances, prayers and other sacrifices for the protection of marriage, end to abortion and the grace for the hierarchy to zealously fight for the restoration of true Catholic principles in our country.

    I am glad to see that more Catholic actions (like prayer and penance) are being promoted, with less focus on political action (hence putting our priorities in order–active works should flow forth from our prayer life as Dom Chautard writes).

    That said, I cannot and will not pray for the promotion of the error that is “religious liberty”. Perhaps we can understand that term in an orthodox way (that the Catholic Church as the sole Bride of Christ) as spiritual mother of all has the right to her freedom … but that is not what we mean by the term usually.

    What is meant is exactly what is condemned by the Magisterium (cf. Pius IX, Quanta Cura/Syllabus of Errors; Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos; Pius VI, Quod aliquantum.

    Fighting in court to protect ourselves using “religious freedom” since it is a “right” guaranteed to us is simply using the liberals’ own error against them. Praying for success in such is a fine practical measure. This cannot be a Principle, however, because in principle it is an error.

  30. Andrew_81 says:

    Re: Joe’s “second”:

    Indeed. The argument against the HHS mandate for violating our “religious freedom” is a fair practical measure. While founded on false principles, it may practically provide us protection from the HHS mandate.

    It can’t be our principled argument against the mandate, because as you say: the mandate is not immoral and wrong because it violates our “religious freedom” but because it promotes something which is inherently immoral. It is just as wrong even if Catholics in their religious organizations and corporations were exempted from it and no one was forced to “violate their conscience”.

    It’s one thing for lawyers to argue in court using “religious freedom” to stop the mandate. It’s quite another to make this our main public argument against the mandate.

  31. mark1970 says:

    Initially I’m not sure whether to participate becaue I live in the UK, and this has been proposed by the US Bishops due to attacks on life, marriage and family in the US. But as we’re having similar problems in the UK, I may offer private prayers for these intentions.

  32. Peter G says:

    Greetings from Australia!
    I am sure we all face the same problems in all english speaking democracies world wide.
    As yet there has been nothing from our Bishops Conference on this issue but it is the middle of our summer and consequently holiday time here.
    We may hear something in the new year,but even if we don’t I should have no trouble getting something happening in my parish as my Parish Priest is very orthodox and very pro-active on these issues.
    Wishing Fr.Z and all fellow bloggers at WDTPRS a safe,happy and holy 2013.

  33. JonPatrick says:

    Strange to have a period of fasting and prayer to start on Dec. 30th within the octave of Christmas, when we are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Christ. Are the bishops following the lead of the secular world in declaring Christmas over on Dec. 26th?

    To add to what Kat/Joe/Andrew_81 said above, it would be as if the Church in the South in the 1950’s, rather than supporting the Civil Rights movement, had requested an exemption from the authorities from the requirement to provide separate but equal facilities because it violated the Church’s religious freedom. Instead the right thing to do was to oppose segregation as it violated the Natural Law as well as God’s Law. (I don’t know in fact what the position of the Church in the South was in the 1950’s, I just use this as a hypothetical example).


  34. Supertradmum says:

    kat and seconders…never give up right one has and fight to keep one. History shows us that such rights once gone never return.

  35. Andrew_81 says:


    A nice as your encouraging phrase sounds, it’s straight out of the liberal anti-Catholic talking points that came out of the French Revolution.

    Church History also shows that as soon as Catholics compromise on the smallest point, we’re sunk. Look at the sad state of the Church today — it’s the result of well-meaning (and perhaps some not) Catholic in the 19th century trying to find a compromise with the errors of Humanism and the Enlightenment. It is not the only example …

    The false “right to religious freedom” as commonly understood may be accidentally helpful to the Catholic Church — it prevented Protestant governments from attacking the Church and Catholic in great measure until now — but it is fundamentally against right thinking — Pope Gregory XVI called it “insanity”.

    The reason: it means that while the true religion (Catholicism) has the right to propagate the Faith, so to do schismatics, heretics, infidels, and those who would destroy the societal and moral order have just as much a protected right to propagate their errors. But, as the old phrase goes: “Error has no rights”.

    But this HHS mandate is not a matter of “religious freedom” anyway. The argument doesn’t even leave the gate, because it’s not about religious beliefs any more than Abortion or Homosexual Marriage or Divorce is about religious beliefs.

    First, they are all contrary to the Natural Law. Then, Church opposes these. She does this not because of some dogma but because they are fundamentally contrary to nature and thus evil. Homosexuality is evil because it is against nature. The Church therefore opposes it. We don’t need to cite Sodom to prove this. Reason alone can show this. Philosophy can demonstrate the existence of God, and can prove these things evil, without recourse to even an drop of Revelation.

    It’s against the Natural Law. Because it is against the Natural Law, whose author is God, it is also “against my religion”. So the argument for “religious freedom” even absent its erroneous foundation, is already dodgy footing, because it make this an issue of religion, which it is not.

    That said, this erroneous “right” is given us. So since we’re not going to win protection with the Natural Law argument, we can at least try to use this liberal error against the liberals in its place (in court), but in the public realm, it can’t be the basis for our argumentation if we hope to uphold right reason and Catholic principles.

  36. SKAY says:

    I agree Supertradmum.
    There is a reason this administration is trying to destroy this right in our Constitution.
    Christianity and the Catholic Church is their problem because we do believe that our rights come from God–NOT them.

    Our founding fathers also believed that.

    “God who gave us life gave us liberty” And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

    Thomas Jefferson 1781

    We have staked the whole future of American civilization , not upon the power of government, far from it.We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capicity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God”
    James Madison 1778

  37. wmeyer says:

    A nice as your encouraging phrase sounds, it’s straight out of the liberal anti-Catholic talking points that came out of the French Revolution.

    That does not make it an error; not everything which came out of the French Revolution was bad.

    That said, this erroneous “right” is given us.

    It is entrenched, and you will not, by an absolute insistence on the one true faith, gain ground in this country. Better to accept that, as Pope Benedict has said, the greatest danger we face is secularism. Well, the secularists are opposed to religious freedom, and prefer to pervert that into freedom from religion. As Fr. Z says, brick by brick: first, we must strengthen ourselves and our parishes, setting the example we hope others will follow.

    Before you seek to alter the 1st amendment, understand that if it could be done–which is a very long shot, indeed–the likelihood is that the revision would not be what we might wish.

  38. Michelle F says:

    The lack of communication inside the Catholic Church in the United States is stunning to me.

    I have attended Masses at two different parishes in two different cities this month, and I have picked up bulletins at both of them. I have also received all issues of my diocese’s newspaper for the whole year, including the latest issue which was published 12/21/2012 and arrived in my mailbox on 12/26, and there wasn’t a single word said about this prayer & fasting initiative. There is plenty of Social Justice feel-good fluff in my diocesan newspaper, but nothing about this or anything else that relates to the actual practice of our religion (“social justice” being something practiced by non-Catholics, and not an exclusively Catholic phenomenon).

    My Bishop is a member of the USCCB, so I assume he knows about this initiative from the USCCB.

  39. joeclark77 says:

    No one’s talking about altering the first Amendment. What the first amendment does is (1) forbid the Congress from establishing a “state religion” and (2) forbid the Congress from prohibiting the free exercise of religion. What it does NOT do is say that your religion gives you an exemption from general laws because you say so. For example, Muslims are not given an exemption from the laws against mutilating their daughters just because they claim FGM is a religious practice. The law that forbids mutilating your daughter was not passed with the intent to suppress Islam. (On the other hand, a law against male circumcision would almost certainly be intended to persecute the Jews, and I think the 1st amendment would forbid it.) So… if you can prove that the HHS mandate was created for the specific purpose of persecuting Catholics, then maybe the 1st amendment is an argument for overturning it.

    If, however, the HHS mandate was created simply for the purpose of expanding abortion, contraception, and other evils, then I don’t think any honest interpretation of the first amendment prohibits it. The argument to be had is not about religious liberty, per se, but about the evil of the HHS mandate. There’s also an argument about the government’s power to compel you to purchase something against your will, but we’ve already lost that one in the Supreme Court.

    So, no, there was never any “religious freedom” of the sort that you imagine. There is a freedom from a government that would compel you or forbid you from practicing any particular religion. That’s not really our best weapon against the HHS mandate.

  40. Andrew_81 says:

    That does not make it an error; not everything which came out of the French Revolution was bad.

    You’re right, we did get many martyr saints for the Church …

    Before you seek to alter the 1st amendment, understand that if it could be done–which is a very long shot, indeed–the likelihood is that the revision would not be what we might wish.

    No one is seeking to alter the constitution or any law. Such has not been suggested here. Those are your words. Perhaps were this country Catholic, we could think about it …

    Rather, I’m concerned with our rhetoric. Our discourse and effort should be to promote the Natural Law and true Catholic principles. “Religious freedom” is not one of those and we undermine ourselves if we promote it without also expounding on the True Principles.

    For example, I’m happy to take advantage of tax breaks each April, even if they are poorly founded. I’m also happy to use the canard of “religious freedom” to stop the government from forcing Catholics to violate the Natural Law, or punishing them for keeping the Natural Law. That’s the “brick by brick” part.

    But at the same point, we’d better make the discourse about the Truth: the mandate is a violation, not of “religious freedom” (which does not correctly exist as commonly understood), but of the Natural Law.

    If we fail to do that, if we win this battle (which is at least a reasonable possibility), the discourse will stop on how good “religious freedom” is. We’ll have inadvertently, in covering our tails, promoted indifferentism and secularism.

    It is entrenched, and you will not, by an absolute insistence on the one true faith, gain ground in this country. Better to accept that, as Pope Benedict has said, the greatest danger we face is secularism

    But, the First Amendment is the basis of American secularism. It established a completely agnostic and secular state (also condemned by the Magsiterium). Shall we fight “secularism” with indifferentism?

    Tactics have to consider the principles and practical solutions. We have to enunciate principles, but often fall back on practical strides toward these principles, without violating them. So, no, we can’t promote indifferentism as a good. But that does not mean our only answer is to stand on our soapbox and parrot the same stark truth.

    We need to find practical solutions to problems, we can’t get stuck in the world of ideals or ideas. But we also can’t ignore ideals and ideas.

  41. heway says:

    I’m connected my Bishop’s blog, etc., so the message was emailed to me last week….could have been sooner, like 3 weeks before. I did not put it in our bulletin as our pastor is on vacation and we get a new pastor next week. The celebrant was a retired priest, kind enough to fill in. I’m not all excited about abstaining from meat as we don’t eat much of it anymore — not healthy. Otherwise, we won’t have a Eucharistic celebration every month, because we are a mission. We already say the Rosary as a congregation before Mass and some of us gather during the week.
    At my increased age, I’m ready for greater sacrifices, with some creative changes, not the same ol’.

  42. SKAY says:

    Along with prayer and Father Z’s suggestions – a practical way for me to help will be to contribute what I can to those willing to take on the fight legally for those needing help against the creeping evil that this administration is.. They may be willing to take on cases along the lines of some of the suggestions made here on the HHS mandate.
    The ACLU is well funded and it is clear what their agenda is and they succeed because many cannot bear the burden of fighting them..
    Sadly-50% of “catholics” voted for this administration’s agenda to continue-knowingly.

    They have just won a battle for the Boy Scouts–but I am sure that will not be the end of this fight.

  43. Southern Catholic says:

    @Joeclark77 – The HHS mandate does undermine the 1st amendment because it narrowly defines what a “religious entity is”, such that a religious entity is only one that employs those of that religion, and it only serves people that religion. Such a definition is establishing what a religion is, which contradicts the 1st amendment.

  44. Andrew_81 says:

    The HHS mandate does undermine the 1st amendment because it narrowly defines what a “religious entity is”, such that a religious entity is only one that employs those of that religion, and it only serves people that religion. Such a definition is establishing what a religion is, which contradicts the 1st amendment.

    It might be a bad definition but I’d imagine that you would have difficulty asserting that such a definition is the “establishment of religion”.

    The sense of the Establishment Clause is that: (1)Congress is not permitted to set up a religious body (i.e. a “church”) and (2) that Congress cannot make a law showing preference for one religion over another.

    There are several examples of laws which prohibited some exercise of religion, but in these the general standard is called “compelling interest” which means that the government may do something that restricts someone from practicing their religion only if they can show “compelling interest” in doing so, and the prohibition must be of general applicability (i.e. not specific to a religion). An example of this would be the use of drugs in some pagan religions, which the government can regulate, because they can generally regulate the sale, manufacture and use of drugs.

    There is an argument against the HHS Mandate using the Sherman Test (applicable to Federal Laws) , in that the government is not permitted to “substantially burden” the exercise of religion, but then we have to establish that the objection to providing contraceptives and abortifacients is actually contrary to our religion … in fact, it is contrary to our moral beliefs … but perhaps a court will accept this. If accepted this would mean that exemptions cannot be for a “religious entity” but would be akin to a “conscientious objector” on matters of religion.

    Still, legal arguments aside, our objection is on moral grounds, not religious. And “religious liberty” is still a bad argument in principle, even if it wins protection in court.

  45. Gail F says:

    Oh please. Let’s get rid of religious liberty, shall we, and see how THAT works out for us. Our country guarantees us religious liberty; if you think religious liberty is bad then by all means don’t pray for it as a good in itself — pray for it as our government living up to our constitution and not throwing it in the trash. I agree that religious liberty, as a concept, can be a BIG problem. Buthere is no chance at all of getting the US government to reject the HHS mandate because contraception, sterilization, and morning after pills (and direct abortion — we all know it’s coming) are wrong. That is a whole different battle, and definitely one we should fight. But the battle here is that people whose religion teaches those things are wrong are being forced to provide them. No church, organization, and no school or hospital — whether owned by a church or by a private person — should be forced to provide those things if the owners’ religion teaches they are sins. That’s what this is about.

  46. Supertradmum says:

    Gail F, some people should have a less provincial attitude. I completely agree with you. In Malta, it takes a long time to get married, even in the Church, because of socialist state laws demanding certain things from the couple before they marry. Also, the governments are in charge of the Catholic schools, which waters down the curriculum. In addition, a person told me yesterday it is only a matter of time until abortion is enshrined in law, as the socialists want it.

    Look what happened in Ireland. Either this month or next month, abortion will be the law of the land. Not enough people fight for religious liberty in these countries.

    We need religious liberty. Those who cannot see this are doomed to witness one of the most repressive American lifestyles they will ever encounter. Taxes on children, taxes on Churches and priests having to do civil gay marriages, giving sermons against abortion will be added to hate crimes, as somebody is sure to be offended, Catholic blogs, tweets, etc. will be illegal as they will be considered spewing out hate, and so on….We are in the fourth stage of a five stage progress to tyranny and persecution, including imprisonment and fines in America. And, will be worse in the States, as the government is organized for take-over. Europe will just dissolve into chaos and anarchy, but America will be a tyranny without religious freedom.

    This is not a new development and those who have been paying attention saw this coming in the 70s.

    Wake up, folks and fight for your bit of turf before you lose it forever in your lifetime.

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