(4th in A Fortnight for Freedom Series, For Greater Glory PLEDGE) No one's laughing. But there was apparent irony in Harrisburg, PA this past Friday at a "religious freedom" rally on the capitol steps. While priests, ministers and rabbis continue to exhort their faithful to practice their faith outside the four walls of their church or synagogue and not just for an hour on Sunday, there is a concerted assault on such freedom underway in America today.
This past Friday's rally to stand up for religious freedom in Harrisburg, PA featured an especially outstanding presentation by Thomas Shaheen of the Pennsylvania Family Institute that was both brief and irrefutable, and was complemented by a brochure handout given to attendees by the dedicated volunteers of The American Society for Tradition, Family and Property, which was both longer and a more straightforward appeal to Christians which, if read and understood, is irrefutable.
The crowd of 250 listened to a variety of speakers including one who fired up the crowd and seemed to "own" the phrase used by Obama at his rallies - "fired up, ready to go." But this reporter especially focused on the Shaheen and TFP presentations because they appeared such wonderful complements to one another.
Shaheen spoke of the major difference between "freedom of worship" versus "freedom of religion," a distinction which he felt is lost on many people.
President Obama speaks of "freedom of worship" to mean that within the four walls of your church, he does not wish to interference with your ability to worship as you please. So Shaheen reports, the President in seeking support from Christians for his reelection, says.
In his 2008 election victory, President Obama persuaded a majority of Catholics who voted to cast their ballot for him. With the Catholic Bishops' criticisms of his Obamacare "mandate" (edict) to force them to act in a manner contrary to their Church teaching, there is a question as to whether or not he will be able to get a majority of this key constituency to vote for him again.
The Pennsylvania Family Institute speaker gave good solid reasons for concerned Christians and especially Catholics to be critical of the President's claim to be supportive of religious freedom.
The President differentiates in how he feels the federal government can regulate religious practices at your school, daycare center, workplace, any business you operate or work at, any ministry you may be involved with.
How you interact with those who are being provided social services, the poor, etc., in other words, is a matter of WHERE do you do this?
If you are doing worship INSIDE of a church, Shaheen advises, the President claims he will leave you alone.
If your worship is OUTSIDE of your Church, the President says that is not religious worship and so, the federal government can regulate how and what you may do.
And so, Christian employees, employers, students, teachers, may all be regulated by the federal government, according to the President and his ObamaCare regulators.
Shaheen reports on the direct result of this attack on those who practice their religion by ministries that reach outside of their church.
In Boston, Massachusetts, the state's "same sex" marriage law has put the Catholic Church out of business with their charitable work among the poor with adoptions. The Church refuses to bow to the government requirement which outlaws their practice of seeking homes for children which have both a mother and a father.
Shaheen reported on a case unfolding the very week of the Harrisburg rally, in New Mexico, where a wedding photographer was sued because he was not willing to work for a gay couple at their same-sex wedding. So-called "civil libertarians" who have long insisted that this is an issue that involves freedom, are strangely silent as the law there, is used to attack the lady who doesn't want to be forced to violate her own religious principles.
The PFI speaker reported that despite her referring the same sex couple to somebody else who would be willing to do their work, an appeals court has already ruled that the same-sex couple can take away her freedom by forcing her to work for them or pay a penalty.
This is clearly an indefensible attack on religious freedom but the defenders of the policy claim that how people worship IN THEIR CHURCH is not being interfered with by any government.
Shaheen reported that there are also attacks on religious freedom on college campuses, with both Catholic and also evangelical student groups being attacked because of their rules that require their leaders to share their same faith.
Imagine that: a Catholic Club cannot require that a President or officer must be a Catholic, a Jewish Club cannot require that an officer must be Jewish? That sounds absurd but again, the defense of this assault on religious freedom is that they are not interfering with how you practice your religion when you are in your church or synagogue.
In other words if you do what your priest or rabbi says and go OUTSIDE of your place of worship to practice what he is teaching, then the Obama administration and their supporters believe they may counter what you are doing, prohibit what you are doing, punish you for following your faith.
In the northeast part of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Family Institute speaker reports that some municipalities are now regulating and taxing the church annex or church hall that is used for other charitable and religious purposes by the church and by its congregation.
So when parishioners use the very building that their church donations helped pay for and which they thought was an integral part of the practice of their faith for for soup kitchens and food distribution and other assistance to the poor, for fellowship meetings, for assistance to pregnant women trying to avoid abortion if they can get help from somebody, for seminars and lectures and religious speakers and teaching, for prayer meetings and gatherings - all of this does not count as religious freedom in the eyes of President Obama and his allies.
This is not "worship" which only counts, they are saying, if it is inside the four walls of the church itself.
In other words, outside of the Church, the prohibition of the First Amendment that the government shall not interference with our religious freedom, simply does not apply.
Effectively, people of faith are being told once again: stay inside your church and be quiet.
There would be no Christian hospitals or churches in America, if this thinking were to prevail.
Those who use "right and wrong" as the basis for forming their opinions about public policy issues are appalled at this latest effort to silence people of faith and banish them from the public square.
Shaheen concluded his remarks at this past Friday's Harrisburg, PA "stand up for religious freedom" rally by saying firmly, "this is not about the Catholic Church, it is not a contraception or abortion or gay rights issue, but is about our freedom of religion. We need to stand together to defend this constitutional right. This is a constitutional issue. It is about our freedom or worship."
Backing up Shaheen's rally remarks was a brochure handed out to the attendees by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property," entitled, "Confronting Religious Persecution in America."
This author has long been impressed with the TFP from seeing them at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in DC. They confront insanity and hypocrisy of the left with calm reason and simple but very through explanations of their traditional Catholic views and this brochure was no exception.
They take dead aim at the January 20, 2012 "edict" of Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement ObamaCare, noting that every single U.S. Catholic Bishop has strongly denounced it and that a lawsuit by an array of Catholic institutions has been filed to overturn it.
TFP notes that Catholic Institutions comprise 12.7 percent of America's hospitals and care for 5.6 million patients annually, according to a 2009 report published by the American Hospital Association.
TFP compares the Obama administration's attack on the Catholic Church to what happens to subjugated Christians and Jews in Muslim countries which outlaw any practice of their religion and even forces them to pay special taxes and penalties on account of their faith.
There are also a variety of regulations, restrictions and outright persecution of those who practice their Christian or Jewish faith in Muslim countries. America is now heading in that same direction.
The new ObamaCare rules are but the start of such regulation, restriction and persecution of Christians, according to TFP's brochure at the rally in Harrisburg.
They report that the Catholic bishops protest the new HHS rules because they put Catholics in a dilemma: they may "either violate their consciences and the divine mandate to preach the Gospel to all peoples or stop providing healthcare coverage thereby incurring heavy penalties."
The Bishops state that they will not comply. But they also do not wish to be driven out of the public square, put out of business, forced to retreat into their walled churches.
That is why TFP publishes its literature and participates in rallies such as this one in Harrisburg - to support the American bishop's third alternative: "calling upon all Catholics and men of good will to vigorously engage in the political process to reverse this unjust government ditat that subserves the First Amendment rights of all."
The bishops and TFP urge support for "the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act" bill introduced in Congress (H.R. 1179 in the House, S. 1467 in the Senate) and urges everyone to write to your Congressmen and your two Senators to ask them to sponsor this legislation, speak out for it, vote for it, enact it.
The TFP goes a step further, pointing out that the secular left which is behind Obamacare, are natural supporters of socialism. They do not recognize the rights of God-created men but place all men as subservient to the state. Their natural hostility to the Church and to Christians and people of faith leads them from socialism to totalitarian dictatorship to suppress and silence those who oppose them.
TFP urges prayer and fasting, and action to overturn ObamaCare. Their brochure concludes with the recommendation that all of us pray for victory in the battle ahead, and they especially commend the Prayer to
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen."
This reporter suggests that people of faith and those interested in learning more about our concerns should watch the new movie, For Greater Glory, starring Andy Garcia, to gain a better understanding of what happens when the government tells Christians that they must stay quietly inside their Church and stop manifesting their faith outside.
It is a true story of what happened to the Catholic Church in Mexico, which faced an all out effort to destroy them in 1926. Watching the movie may require some effort because as an independently produced movie it is not showing in all the local movie theaters.
My sources in south central Pennsylvania report that a group of Christians - both Catholic and Protestants - have pledged to bring the movie to York County, even if they have to rent a hotel ballroom to show it. One couple in their ranks say that they have a commitment from a local movie theater to show the movie as soon as it can be obtained. It appears that this may be the best way to see the movie - ASK (Ask and thou shalt receive, seek and ye shall find, Knock and the Movie will be shown Unto you).
Regardless of whether you have watched the movie or wish to pledge to watch it when it becomes available, one way you can signal your support for religious liberty - besides supporting such organizations as the Pennsylvania Family Institute (PFI) and Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) is to "sign" a PLEDGE of support to watch the movie, help spread the word about it and to vote in 2012 to preserve religious liberty: For Greater Glory Pledge.
As part of my "Fortnight for Freedom" series (as requested by US Catholic Bishops' Conference) I have posted three articles about the movie and ask you to pass the word. Several of my articles were (of course) strongly criticized by the secular liberal-liberaltarian element that always acts as if they are at war with Christians. You can go to the article and click LIKE (which recommends it to your Facebook friend list) to help boost my positive reviews, FOR GREATER GLORY. And yes, at least one more article is coming now that we've seen the movie. I write regularly at RED STATE in behalf of the "values voter" issues. In addition to your "like" at the RedState site you can of course, also FORWARD this, or pass on the link to any one of these articles if you prefer. Viva Cristo Rey!
HanoverHenry of RED STATE is Pat Henry on Facebook, and I'm on the lookout for new friends there. I maintain a 5x a week, weekdays writing schedule at RED STATE.
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