Hey everyone. There's some really important stuff going on regarding the freedom of religion in the United States that we all need to know about.
There's a health care mandate that will force some people, mainly Catholics, to pay for things they believe to be wrong. But the underlying problem won't just affect the Catholic Church, but all religions.
I don't want to get too in to politics on this blog, at least not right now, but this is an important issue of morality I've been wanting to bring up. Please know that I am not trying to offend or attack those who disagree, but present and stand up for what I believe to be true and inform you all of this important issue in our country today. And with that, we're off!
Religious liberty is awesome
One of the greatest things about the United States is that we have freedom of religion. Originally, many people moved to the "New World" to escape religious persecution in their own countries and practice the faith they believed to be true. In the Bill of Rights, the very first amendment says that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
So how is this being threatened?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that health care plans have to include contraception, sterilization, and pills that can cause abortions. The Catholic Church, and some others agree on certain issues, believes that these are morally wrong. But this mandate will force institutions to pay for this, against their consciences.
And people can't get exemptions?
In order for hospitals, schools, charities, etc to qualify as a "religious institution" and be exempt from this mandate, they can only employ and serve people of their own faith. Meaning Catholic hospitals and charities can only help Catholics. Which is pretty much insane. If they don't comply, they would face fines big enough to shut them down. In 2010, the National Catholic Register reported that one in six patients are treated in Catholic hospitals (article here). That's a lot of people. There was a proposed accommodation, but it basically didn't change anything.
It will affect more than just Catholics
While it seems like this is about Catholics and contraception (which is widely available, even if it's not included in your health care plan), the big problem is how it sets a precedent for the way religious institutions are defined. Once the definition is made so narrow, more and more people who don't qualify will be put in a position where they could be forced to violate their beliefs or face the consequences. Anyone could be required to do what they believe is wrong. And the other big thing - if religious liberty is set aside here, won't it just be easier to set it aside again?
But we're taking a stand!
You know how God always brings good out of evil? Well, there have definitely been good things coming from this situation. One of the biggest is that it has brought so many people together - not just Catholics, but lots of denominations and religions; anyone who wants to be able to freely practice their religion and preserve those rights for the next generations. We're not letting our freedom go without a fight!
Please join us to preserve our religious liberty! Stay informed, tell others, look out for ways to get involved in your community (like contacting senators/representatives or attending events) and of course, pray. Here's one suggested prayer:
Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty
O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
To learn more about the issues, I'd suggest reading Twelve Things Everyone Should Know About the Contraceptive Mandate. It's easy to read, not that long, and really helps to clarify things. There is also a lot of information in the religious liberty section of usccb.org.
I sincerely thank you for reading this! If you have any questions or are looking for more information, let me know and I'll try to find some answers for you.
Thus ends the most serious post I've ever written. So let's add one bit of fun!
God bless you all, and God bless America!