Archbishop Chaput’s testimony on religious freedom

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, in his testimony to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, discussed religious freedom under attack in the United States.  He makes four main points:

1. Religious faith and practice are cornerstones of the American experience…To put it another way:  At the heart of the American model of public life is an essentially religious vision of man, government and God.  This model has given us a free, open and non-sectarian society marked by an astonishing variety of cultural and religious expressions.  But our system’s success does not result from the procedural mechanisms our Founders put in place.  Our system works precisely because of the moral assumptions that undergird it.  And those moral assumptions have a religious grounding.

 

2. Freedom of religion is more than freedom of worship.  The right to worship is a necessary but not sufficient part of religious liberty.  For most religious believers, and certainly for Christians, faith requires community.  It begins in worship, but it also demands preaching, teaching and service; in other words, active engagement with society.  Faith is always personal but never private.  And it involves more than prayer at home and Mass on Sunday – although these things are vitally important.  Real faith always bears fruit in public witness and public action.  Otherwise it’s just empty words.

 

3. Threats against religious freedom in our country are not imaginary or overstated. They’re happening right now.  They’re immediate, serious and real.  Last year religious liberty advocates won a significant and appropriate Supreme Court victory in the 9-0 Hosanna-Tabor v EEOC decision.  But what was stunning even to the Justices in that case was the disregard for traditional constitutional understandings of religious freedom shown by the government’s arguments against the Lutheran church and school. Hosanna-Tabor is not an isolated case.  It belongs to a pattern of government coercion that includes the current administration’s HHS mandate, which violates the religious identity and mission of many religiously affiliated or inspired public ministries…

 

4. From the beginning, believers – alone and in communities – have shaped American history simply by trying to live their faith in the world.  We need to realize that America’s founding documents assume an implicitly religious anthropology — an idea of human nature, nature’s God, and natural rights — that many of our leaders no longer really share.

 

Please read the entire article–it’s very good and worth your time.

 

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