A Catholic View of Religious Freedom in the United States
by Edwin Cook
In the fall of 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) formed the ad hoc committee for Religious Freedom, headed by Bishop William Lori. He appeared before the U. S. Senate on October 26 of that year to address the concerns of the Roman Catholic Church regarding the libertas ecclesiae (freedom of the church, as an institution) against perceived threats from groups advocating abortion and contraceptive rights.1 On November 8, 2011, he told Catholic News Agency (CNA) that the first goal of the ad hoc committee was “to lift up the whole area of religious freedom, beginning with the teachings of the church in Dignitatis Humanae—the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom” and also to recoup “the vision of our Founding Fathers of the United States” regarding religious freedom.2 For him, religious freedom, one of the chief cornerstones of American society, is being violated through restrictions on the free exercise of religion in the public square by some liberal groups.
Implicit in Bishop Lori’s statement regarding the religious freedom vision of our Founders is its compatibility with a Roman Catholic understanding of religious freedom. Is this a historically accurate characterization? Perhaps a short review of a Roman Catholic understanding of religious freedom and that of the American republic is in order. Modern Roman Catholicism struggles with adaptation to the prevailing democratic political systems of our world today, many of which allow for religious pluralism.3 Accustomed to centuries-long church-state relations in Europe in which the secular political order was based on Continue Reading…
- Bible Prophecy Truth website– Amazing resources at your fingertips from from Amazing Facts.
- Ellen White Answers– Provides good research to answer attacks on Ellen White and her writings. Maintained by Professor Jud Lake from Southern Adventist University.
- Dwight Nelson Sermon Series on The Temple– (Aug-Dec 09). Includes hot topics such as Creation/Evolution, Homosexuality, Nostradamus, etc.
- The Bible and Evolution article– Outstanding, simplified evidence and reasoning believers can share with skeptics.
- Creation Sabbath Resources– Great stuff, even after the fact!
- The Liberty Blog– Great up-to-date analysis of Continue reading
“The purpose of human rights is to defend and protect individuals, groups, and properties- not religions or ideas.”
– John Graz, Secretary-Seventh-day Adventist Pastor, Secretary-General of the International Religious Liberty Association and Secretary of the Christian World Communions. In his ministry Pastor Graz travels throughout the world working with church and government leaders to promote freedom of conscience and religious liberty. He recognizes that people and their property need to be protected rather than religions or ideas. Recognizing this allows governments to recognize human rights rather than protecting what might be false ideologies or totalitarian religious philosophies. To learn more see Liberty Magazine July-August 2009 article “Defaming Religious Freedom“. He Knows What He is Talking About. (H.K.W.H.T.A.)
Charles Osgood, “The History of Sunday”, CBS News Sunday Morning, February 1, 2009.
“Judith Shulevitz. In her upcoming book “The Sabbath World,” …is pushing for a return to laws that would shut down businesses one day a week.
“If everybody has to stop working, then they have to, sort of, pay attention to their family, to themselves, to their community,” she argues.
“So in this campaign, where do you even start?” Charles Osgood asks.
“I don’t pretend to have the answer in terms of legislation. I just start by trying to point out the benefits and to just say ‘Let’s remember the Sabbath. Let’s remember Continue reading
God is doing some amazing things around the world to gather His people into this movement! Check out these stories and see if there is something you can try in your district.
1. Seventh-day Adventists in South America united September 6 to deliver what may be a world record for a one-day evangelistic outreach, distributing close to 50 million magazines and tracts bearing a message of living with hope throughout the continent. Read more.
2. For the first time in more than half a century, Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders in its Northern Asia-Pacific Division held their mid-year Executive Committee meeting in the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. The May 2008 gathering was the first such meeting there since that country closed its borders in 1953. Read more.
3. Bhaju Ram Shrestha was kicked out of his house nearly 40 years ago for becoming a Protestant Christian in a Hindu majority country. Despite suffering for his faith, the 57-year-old has dedicated his life to the church in his native Nepal. Read more.
4. Consuelo Santiz had to contend with an angry mob when she joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. At first her new faith meant holding church secretly in her home at night. Later, as the Roman Catholic community learned a new denomination had entered the village, she saw members of her church family beaten and jailed. Breaking through the crowd surrounding a prison one evening in 2001 was the only way to deliver food to her imprisoned husband. His crime was becoming an Adventist. Read more.
“We’ve observed that the places with the most violent intolerance, more people join our church in the end. Once the situation is overcome, the church just flourishes.”
— Hortencio Vazquez, Religious Liberty Director, Upper Chiapas Mission in Southern Mexico
Since 1940, more than 33,000 Protestant Christians in Mexico’s southern state of Chiapas have been persecuted for their faith. Though religious freedom is guaranteed by the national constitution, that right is often usurped by local tradition. Because of the faithfulness of the Seventh-day Adventist members, in spite of persecution, there are now 180,000 Adventist believers in the state of Chiapas! Hortencio Vazquez is very involved in helping those who continue to experience persecution as the Adventist movement continues to grow. He Knows What He’s Talking About (H.K.W.H.T.A.). Read more.
Here are excerpts from a prominent British newspaper The Telegraph June 13, 2008
Article titled “George W Bush meets Pope amid claims he might convert to Catholicism” (Click link to read entire article)
- “George W Bush and Pope Benedict XVI have held an intimate meeting in Rome as rumours mounted in Italy that the president may follow in Tony Blair’s footsteps and convert to Catholicism.”
- “Several Italian newspapers cited Vatican sources suggesting that Mr Bush may be prepared to convert. One source told Il Foglio, an authoritative newspaper, that “Anything is possible, especially for a born-again Christian such as Bush.”
- “He added that while the Holy See deplored the war in Iraq, “on ethical matters he has always had a line that is practically identical to that of the Vatican.” Continue reading
Want to keep up with religious liberty issues? Check out the Liberty Blog sponsored by the North American Religious Liberty Association.
A recent post shows how the California Supreme Court decision that mandates state sanctioned gay marriage threatens religious liberty. Click here to read Continue reading
The political season was in full swing when I decided to preach a series titled “A Believers Guide to Government, Elections and Liberty.”
I stood to preach the first sermon–
“God is NOT a Democrat” I stated with conviction. Amens were heard amidst sighs of relief throughout the affluent, predominantly Caucasian congregation.
“And God is NOT a Republican” I said. There were a few quizzical looks on some of the faces as I allowed the thought to sink in.
“God is God, and He resists being put into any political box of human devising. When Jesus walked here on earth the political parties of His day kept trying to discover if He was more of a Pharisee or a Sadducee, a conservative or a liberal. Continue reading