Protect freedom to worship and serve Print
Thursday, Jun. 29, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

At their spring assembly held June 14-15 in Indianapolis, the U.S. Catholic bishops voted to made their ad hoc religious liberty committee a permanent committee.

In some ways, it is unfortunate that we need this committee at all. However, freedom of religion has eroded in our country as it has in many other parts of the world.

Freedom curtailed

Although Catholics in the United States can worship freely in our churches and homes, the freedom to practice our religion in the public arena has been questioned and even curtailed.

For example, religious employers have been required to provide coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, and contraceptives for their employees, even when the employers are morally opposed.

Some religious agencies that facilitate adoptions and placement of children in foster care have also been required to provide services to same-sex couples, even though this violates the agencies’ religious beliefs.

Freedom to serve

The bishops’ religious liberty committee has been working closely with state Catholic conferences across the country in promoting religious freedom, reported a Catholic News Service article.

The Texas Catholic Conference recently worked with that state’s Legislature to put in place conscience protection for religious agencies that facilitate adoptions and place children in foster care.

On June 15, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law the Freedom to Serve Children Act, which prohibits the state government from discriminating against religious-based agencies.

In Michigan, the state Catholic Conference sponsored a “Freedom to Serve” project, which included a series of television commercials promoting religious liberty.

The advertisements focused on the contribution that Catholic Charities agencies make to the common good in Michigan. For example, they were one of the largest providers of bottled water in Flint, where residents were exposed to dangerous levels of lead in the water supply.

The Catholic Church, its agencies, and its members provide many services in our communities to people of all faiths. We should be allowed to continue to serve people without acting against the teachings of our faith.