Religious freedom threat level raised

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Policies of the federal government under the Obama administration have ignited a blaze of concerns about fundamental religious liberties in America.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the US bishops conference, wrote a letter to the president recently.

The Administration’s assault on DOMA [Defense of Marriage Act], Archbishop Dolan said, will “precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions.”

“Will”…?

Archbishop Dolan especially objected to the Justice Department’s legal arguments that equate those in favor of DOMA to racists. It is “particularly upsetting,” he said, when the Administration attributes to those who support DOMA “a motivation rooted in prejudice and bias.It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing,” he said.

He underscored the Church’s position recognizing “the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction” and said “we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person.”

“Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it,” he said. “While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides.The law should reflect this reality.”

Archbishop Dolan advised President Obama: “push the reset button on your Administration’s approach to DOMA.”

“Our federal government should not be presuming ill intent or moral blindness on the part of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, millions of whom have gone to the polls to directly support DOMAs in their states and have thereby endorsed marriage as the union of man and woman.Nor should a policy disagreement over the meaning of marriage be treated by federal officials as a federal offense—but this will happen if the Justice Department’s latest constitutional theory prevails in court.”

Archbishop Dolan asked President Obama to “end its campaign against DOMA, the institution of marriage it protects, and religious freedom.”

“Please know that I am always ready to discuss with you the concerns raised here and to address any questions that you may have.” he added. “I am convinced that the door to a dialogue that is strong enough to endure even serious and fundamental disagreements can and must remain open, and I believe that you desire the same.”

Archbishop Dolan was offering a statesman-like presumption of goodwill in warning that if this course is continued, it “will” result in a national conflict. Because it actually has.

Just days ago, the bishops assembled a new ‘task force’ to tackle this new and historic threat to religious liberties.

Saying they are increasingly distressed over government policies that promote contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage and amount to an assault on religious freedom, the U.S. bishops have established a committee to shape public policy and coordinate the church’s response on the issue.

The Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty was announced Sept. 30 by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., was named chairman of the new committee.

“There is a common and factually grounded perception that religious liberty is increasingly under assault at the state and federal level in the United States, whether through unfriendly legislation or through rules and regulations that impede or tend to impede the work of the church,”…

He says the government is playing God.

Emerging threats to religious freedom have inspired the U.S. bishops to establish a new committee for its protection. Its chairman sees government taking God’s place as the source of the “first freedom.”

Bridgeport Bishop William E. Lori told CNA on Sept. 30 that a “principal and overarching error,” connecting several different threats to the free exercise of faith, is “the view that it is the state that grants religious liberty, and not God.”

“Even though religious liberty is enshrined at the head of the Bill of Rights, in the First Amendment, there is an increasing tendency to make it a lesser right – and to make it quite relative to other, ‘newly-discovered’ rights in our law and in our culture,” said the Connecticut bishop, whose 2010 pastoral letter “Let Freedom Ring” addressed the subject of state intrusion against believers.

The chair of the new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty said respect for “religion as a merely private affair” remains largely intact.

But he warned that the “institutional conscience” of religious hospitals and similar establishments is being threatened at high levels – as are the conscience rights of individuals in “clutch situations” like filling prescriptions or issuing marriage licenses.

“Their rights are being trampled upon,” said Bishop Lori.

In his letter announcing the new committee’s formation, Archbishop Dolan said that the “basic right” to religious freedom “is now increasingly and in unprecedented ways under assault in America,” especially from an “an increasing number of federal government programs or policies that would infringe upon the right of conscience of people of faith.”

The ‘national conflict of enormous proportions’ is not coming. It is here.

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