Abp. Chaput: Religious Freedom in Danger

News: US News
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 15, 2016   

"Threats against religious freedom in our country are not imaginary or overstated"

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PHILADELPHIA (ChurchMilitant.com) - Archbishop Charles Chaput is warning that religious freedom is being threatened through loss of traditional morality. 

In an article published last week, the head of the Philadelphia archdiocese said the rapid loss among government leaders of moral assumptions previously held by America's Founding Fathers concerning God, man and natural rights is endangering religious freedom.

"Our system works precisely because of the moral assumptions that undergird it," he wrote. "And those assumptions have religious roots."
Zeroing in on the heart of the problem, he lamented, "The trouble is that this ennobling idea of human nature, nature's God and natural rights is one that many of our leaders no longer share. We ignore that fact at our own very serious peril."
The archbishop explained that politicians no longer believe that basic realities as "personhood, marriage and sexuality," are rooted not only in religion but also "in permanent truths knowable to reason." As a result of reducing "moral convictions" to "subjective belief," which they suppose are merely a "product of accident or culture," it follows that political leaders think such beliefs "can't be rationally defended" and therefore "should be treated as a form of prejudice."

The prominence of the fundamental natural right to religious freedom can be seen from its primary position in the bill of rights, noted the archbishop. He also marked the various attacks on this right, emphasizing that these threats aren't "imaginary or overstated."

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas highlighted a few of these real dangers threatening religious freedom in a letter to his flock while speaking to them about self-professed Catholic senator Tim Kaine.

It is ironic that Senator Kaine expressed such profound concern about imposing his religious beliefs on others, while supporting efforts:

  1. to coerce the Little Sisters of the Poor and other faith-based ministries to violate their conscience by including abortifacients, contraceptives and sterilizations in their employee health plans;

  2. to put small business owners (e.g., florists, bakers, photographers, etc.) out of business with crippling fines if they decline to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies;

  3. to force every American taxpayer to help fund abortion.

Former secretary of state and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who was in politics for more than 30 years, went so far in 2015 as to declare, "Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed."
Countering this trend of separating authentic morality from government, President-elect Donald Trump, while still on the campaign trail back in September, sent a letter to pro-life groups affirming that he is committed to the following:
  • Nominating pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

  • Signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.  

  • Defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions, and reallocating their funding to community health centers that provide comprehensive health care for women.  

  • Making the Hyde Amendment permanent law to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.

Archbishop Chaput explained that in the eyes of the Founding Fathers, religion wasn't just about the practice of worship as politicians would have us believe, nor was it some "vague spirituality." Acknowledging the different religious views held by the Framers of the Constitution, the archbishop, quoting the legal scholar Harold Berman, pointed out that nonetheless they "understood religion positively as 'both belief in God and belief in an after-life of reward for virtue, and punishment for sin.' In other words, religion mattered."


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