Fortnight for Freedom Issue #13: Catholics walk in Des Moines, Iowa for religious freedom.

The Catholic Diocese of Des Moines sponsored the Independence Celebration Walk and Picnic. Organizers estimated 2,500 people participated.

The crowd gathered at noon at the St. Ambrose Cathedral in downtown Des Moines and walked to the Iowa Capitol. The Most Rev. Richard Pates, bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines, led the group, along with Gov. Terry Branstad, who said he attended the event on his own accord.

The event was a show of solidarity with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Fortnight for Freedom,” which began June 21 and will conclude on Independence Day. The two-week national campaign is intended to draw attention to what they say is the government infringement on their religious freedoms.

One of the key issues is a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ directive that nearly all employer health care plans – including Catholic universities and hospitals – must provide birth control and certain other medical services. The church says this requirement would include sterilizations and drugs that could cause abortions. A narrow exemption for churches exists, but moral and religious First Amendment objections continue to be issued by Catholic dioceses, universities, hospitals and charitable institutions now suing the federal government over the matter, as well as other Christian and Jewish groups.

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Fortnight for Freedom Issue #12: President Obama’s lack of grace will surely lead to the downfall of his particular regime.

by Doug Lawrence

It’s historically clear that the majority of the Founding Fathers of the United States truly believed in God and were indeed “cultural” Christians. It’s also true that most of the Fathers were, as is President Obama, anti-Catholic in their particular attitudes and personal beliefs. So, the stark difference in world-view between the original framers of the U.S. Constitution and President Barack Obama likely has little or nothing to do with the Catholic Church, itself.

The Founding Fathers were men who benefited from a traditional classical education, where God, country, family, property, human rights and personal responsibility were recognized as the cornerstones of modern Western civilization. Their subsequent actions reflected their particular beliefs, and the results were nothing less than astounding. In fact, the world has yet to discovered any acceptable substitute.

President Obama’s life journey, belief system and personal world view (from what little we actually know of him, for sure) is the antithesis of the traditional American experience.

The man grew up in foreign lands, he never had any real family or property, he was raised by strangers (some were very strange, indeed), and he was eventually adopted, educated, groomed and promoted by the band of political radicals, perverts and terrorists that presently make up large portions of the membership of the socialist Democratic Party of the United States, which is itself dedicated to supporting and promoting the most radical political agenda the world has ever seen … except perhaps, for a few particularly unfortunate European countries and a handful of communist dictatorships.

President Obama claims to be a Christian, but the fruits he inevitably produces and promotes are not good ones. He stocks his cabinet with radical secularists who promote vice over virtue and the rights of man over God. He stacks the courts in much the same way, and Congress evidently goes along. He looks like a regular family man, with a wife, a dog, two kids and a steady job, but he governs like a radical, perverted, communist dictator who cares little for anything but himself and his particular radical ideology.

The only reasonable explanation for all of this is a profound lack of grace.

Saint Paul tells us that God provides all of us … even non-Christians … with sufficient grace to do what God expects:

And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity… (2 Corinthians 12:9)

When we choose to cooperate with God’s Grace … the wonderful free gift of totally undeserved mercy, goodness, power and wisdom … more is “automatically” provided as necessary, from God’s infinite abundance.

In addition to the actual, physical, easily observable results of that grace, a certain physical and spiritual transformation of the individual also typically occurs. Virtue becomes prized. Vice is summarily rejected. Faith in God “blooms”. Absolute truth is recognized and promoted. Hope for the future (with God’s continued help) proliferates. Love abounds (the charitable kind … not the morally empty, free and cheap kind), human dignity is cherished and affirmed, and the world becomes a better place.

So, if these United States are not in better shape than they were four years ago, the most likely cause is failure to cooperate with God’s grace. Failure of the people in the church. Failure of the people in government. Failure of the people in the corporations. Failure at the highest levels of leadership … particularly this strange President, who appears to actually have so little in common with the people of the United States.

Probably the best example of what happens when we choose to ignore God, reject his grace, and rely only on ourselves can be found in Exodus, chapter 7. Crack open your Bible and take a peek.

In the mean time, referring to the Book of Matthew, Chapter 7, verses 15-20:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them.

Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.

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Fortnight for Freedom Issue #11: Recent speech shows the First Lady has already adopted the Catholic position against the HHS Mandate. Will her husband?

In a speech today to a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the First Lady explained her concept of citizenship by likening it to the ministry of Jesus.  Her explanation corroborates the same point that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops have been making for months about the intrusive nature of the HHS contraception mandate, emphasis mine:

“It’s kind of like church,” Obama said. “Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal. It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well, especially in those quiet moments, when the spotlight’s not on us, and we’re making those daily choices about how to live our lives.

“We see that in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to the four walls of the church,” she said. “He was out there fighting injustice and speaking truth to power every single day. He was out there spreading a message of grace and redemption to the least, the last, and the lost. And our charge is to find Him everywhere, every day by how we live our lives.”

Obama, who is not a regular churchgoer, said citizenship like the practice of faith is “not a once-a-week kind of deal.”

“Democracy is also an everyday activity,” she said. “And being an engaged citizen should once again be a daily part of our lives.”

Yes, indeed He was.  So do churches to this day, ministering to the sick and the poor, “the least, the last and the lost” that Mrs. Obama references here.  Furthermore, Jesus did not limit His ministry to just those disciples who followed Him, but ministered to many, including Romans, in the course of His evangelization.

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Kansas Gov. Brownback: “Freedom is a gift from God, not a privilege a government is entitled to take away. This unconscionable mandate must not be allowed to stand.”

TOPEKA — Thousands of people rallied Friday at the Kansas statehouse with Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and the state’s Roman Catholic bishops against a federal mandate for health insurance coverage of birth control, protesting it as an attack on religious freedom.

The event was part of a nationwide “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign organized by Catholic bishops nationwide in opposition to the policy announced in January by President Barack Obama.

Speakers urged the crowd to keep protesting the mandate and remain active politically.

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“We serve others not because they are Catholic, but because we are Catholic.”

Washington rally brings 2,000 together in support of religious freedom

Fortnight for Freedom Issue #7: Why Fortnight for Freedom is necessary.

Under President Obama, religious freedom has been directly attacked when it has not been simply neglected or disregarded. This, after all, is the administration:

  • whose State Department has largely put on ice its statutory obligations under the International Religious Freedom Act;
  • in which we have heard the phrase “freedom of worship” increasingly supplant the broader “free exercise of religion”;
  • that opposes statutory conscience protections for chaplains and other personnel in the military in the wake of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” while it also undermines the continued enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act;
  • that has frozen out the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services agency from federal contracting, despite its proven track record of success and efficiency in dealing with the scourge of human trafficking, because the Catholic agency will not refer victims for abortions or contraceptive services;
  • that has argued, with a straight face, that the First Amendment offers no shelter for religious institutions to enjoy a “ministerial exception” to federal employment statutes—and subsequently suffered a forceful 9-0 rejection of its view by the Supreme Court;
  • that promulgated the infamous Health and Human Services mandate for no-cost coverage of contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacients under every employer health plan except those offered by the most narrowly defined “religious institutions”—a definition so narrow that 23 lawsuits have been filed against HHS on behalf of 56 plaintiffs, including Catholic dioceses, charities, health-care institutions, fraternal and missionary organizations, universities, and broadcasters, and some non-Catholic religious institutions as well.

The Obama administration, especially with its HHS mandate, poses the largest and most immediate threat to religious freedom in America today. But in the Easter week statement of their Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” the bishops also notice other threats to which we should be alert.

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Catholics, Protestants rally in Oklahoma City for religious freedom.

A religious gathering punctuated by fiery speeches and standing ovations brought Catholics and Protestants together Saturday, united against a common enemy.

Rally for Religious Freedom speakers, including a Roman Catholic archbishop, a Pentecostal leader and a Southern Baptist pastor, said threats to religious liberty should trouble all people of faith.

The rally at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City was hosted by a group of Catholic laity called St. Peter’s Fellowship, and it drew about 3,200 people. Organizers said it was held in conjunction with the “Fortnight For Freedom,” a faith initiative born out of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ outrage over a U.S. Health and Human Services mandate that effectively requires faith-affiliated organizations to pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.

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