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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