Is religious freedom a “given” in America today?

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia thinks no.  In a recent article for his archdiocesan newspaper, he calls for everyone to wake up to the threat we face.  As the archbishop describes the brazen and aggressive attacks on religious freedom by the Obama administration: 

Coupled with the White House’s refusal to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and its astonishing disregard for the unique nature of religious freedom displayed by its arguments in a 9-0 defeat in the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor Supreme Court decision, the HHS mandate can only be understood as a form of coercion.  Access to inexpensive contraception is a problem nowhere in the United States.  The mandate is thus an ideological statement; the imposition of a preferential option for infertility.  And if millions of Americans disagree with it on principle – too bad.

How much have you read, heard, or seen in the mainstream media about these issues?  Many people have heard about the IRS harassment of conservative groups; how many know that the IRS also targeted pro-life groups, and specifically targeted the religious aspect of their organizations?  

We live in an increasingly secularized society, where any public expression of faith is seen as odd, if not downright threatening.  The ACLU, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and other such groups have changed the very basis of discussion.  When a prayer is offered at a high school graduation, a tiny number of students proclaim themselves offended, the ACLU sues, and judges agree that any such prayer is a sign that the public school supports religion.  In Steubenville, Ohio, the town council updated the city’s seal, maintaining a cross on the symbolic skyline.  The major employer in Steubenville is Franciscan University, and the cross represents the school’s chapel.  Atheists from Wisconsin, who apparently are offended at great distance, pressured the town council into removing the cross.  The city can’t afford to defend a lawsuit.  Religious people meekly submit, fearing that they will be labeled as “intolerant” and “fanatical.”  Our society has moved from restricting public prayer to forcing people of faith into violation of that faith.  And the American people yawn, or focus on the latest reality TV show.  

We have moved away from a society with robust religious freedom–the freedom to live your faith in the public square.  We maintain (for a little while) a more anemic freedom of worship–you can go to church on Sunday, but don’t you dare discuss anything religious with anyone, lest you offend them.  Fairly soon, that will also apply to your children.  


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One Response to Is religious freedom a “given” in America today?

  1. Wait a minute. There is a difference between practicing your religious faith and imposing it on others. The defense of marriage act is a law based on religious reasons to deny other people civil rights of equality. Letting someone marry who they want is freedom. Passing a law that some people cannot marry is restrictive based on religion not reason or empirical evidence.
    Public expression of faith is not threatening anyone. What is threatening is when religious expression is used for horizontal purposes at a public forum. We go to graduations a public meeting expecting to get what the purpose of the gathering was about. But, bait and switch gives us religious activity mixed with what was promised. The power of the public gathering is being usurped to promote religion as well as express it. No one stops those in attendance from religious expression. What is being stopped is using the public stage that was designated to gather people for one purpose from being used for another purpose that of promoting religion. Pray all you want in the audience. That is your freedom of religion. Using the public stage as your own bully pulpit is the problem.

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