Each weekend as we gather together to celebrate Mass, or on those special occasions when we gather to celebrate the sacraments of baptism or matrimony or even a funeral Mass, we do so with the belief that our great nation provides us with this freedom. In essence, we take for granted the privilege to worship which so many fought and died to achieve and which still eludes too many people in this world.
Unfortunately, there has been a slow and steady erosion of this sacred right within our society, and some of us fear that if we don’t begin to reverse the course of this societal change, one day we may no longer have the same freedoms we now enjoy.
Too farfetched? Think this is an exaggeration? Consider a few of these examples:
– The new health care law passed two years ago may force religious organizations, including Catholic schools and hospitals, to provide birth control or abortions in direct contradiction to the Church’s teachings. This threat is so severe that the Church is being forced to sue the federal government over the implementation of this part of the health care law.
– There is much discussion about how to reform failing school systems – particularly in our inner cities – yet parochial schools that often outperform the public schools are almost always excluded from any voucher or other programs that are proposed because of the "fear" of government’s supporting religious-based programs.
– School systems looking for a suitable facility to host graduations have been forced away from excellent facilities by ACLU lawsuits because those facilities are owned by religious organizations.
– Lawsuits and court actions appear almost every day, preventing people from expressing their religious beliefs in any numbers of ways, including by keeping cheerleaders from putting Bible quotes on pep rally signs, or classrooms being prohibited from having a Christmas tree or holding a Christmas pageant. "Happy holidays" has become the theme of the season. Meanwhile, the same organizations suing to prevent these religious expressions will also spend millions in lawsuits to defend a student’s right to wear suggestive t-shirts or use the restroom of their choice regardless of their gender, all in the name of freedom of expression.
These are just a few examples, and each one taken alone may not be a tremendous threat, but many of us believe that they are representative of an overall movement in this country that must be addressed. It is so easy to let a little bit of liberty slip away in the name of political correctness till one day you realize that all those little bits have now formed a wall that keeps us from that freedom we once enjoyed.
Defenders of Faith
Who are we? We are your friends, neighbors and co-workers. We come from all walks of life, range in age from the 20s to retirement years. We hold different political views yet we are united on one important issue – preserving our religious freedom. For some of us, the belief in the sanctity of human life has always been a driving force in our life and in our efforts to defend our faith. For others it is the gradual erosion of the manner in which faith is regarded in our society that has led us to this point of speaking out.
We do have one common bond: we are all part of the Catholic faith which brings us together each weekend, uniting us in our belief in God’s grace and love. Our faith is an integral part of our lives, and we believe that no matter how much our society advances, only God can provide the direction and moral basis to allow that growth to be positive and reflective of the many gifts God has bestowed upon us.
That is why we have formed a new ministry at St Catherine of Siena, Defenders of Faith. Similar ministries have formed in other parishes, and it is our hope that this effort will also include our working with members of other denominations. Our goal is to educate and advocate on behalf of our religious freedoms and to speak out when we see those freedoms threatened in any form. We will work with government leaders, the news media, community organizations and our own parish to discuss these vital issues and seek ways to keep faith in our society.
Our goal in writing this letter today is to begin that process of education and afford to all who share our concerns an opportunity to join us in this ministry. You may not have a great deal of time to share, but adding your voice of support will allow us to reach out to all within our parish and beyond. Many a great movement has started with just a few voices, and we have it within us to harness the great spirit which exists in the St. Catherine community and to join with others to begin to reverse these erosions of our freedoms. Join us if you can, even if just in prayer.
We would like to leave you with two thoughts:
"Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged."
– Ronald Reagan
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." –
James Madison, speech, Virginia Convention, 1788
This was written by Craig Taylor on behalf of Defenders of Faith of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in West Simsbury.