For the second year in a row, the USCCB has issued a call for a Fortnight for Freedom, running from June 21 to July 4. As the website states, “The U.S. bishops have called for … a two-week period of prayer and action, to address many current challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, Supreme Court rulings that could redefine marriage in June, and religious liberty concerns in areas such as immigration and humanitarian services.
Look, this sounds good. I applaud the effort of the bishops. But I remember what happened last year. Unless priests respond with meaningful statements and actions, this call for religious liberty will fall on deaf ears among an uninformed and confused laity. How many Catholics after last year’s Fortnight for Freedom went to the ballot box and voted for the very man threatening that religious liberty, particularly via his HHS mandate and redefinition of marriage? That man, of course, is Barack Obama. And the answer is that a majority of Catholics pulled the lever for him last November.
Let’s be blunt: The ignorance and disconnect among everyday Catholics to the realities of public life is nothing short of astounding. If a priest reads a nice statement about the importance of Americans supporting religious freedom, he will get nods from every head in the pews. None will disagree. The most devout Obama supports will enthusiastically assent. They fail to make the connection. They don’t get it.
I’m not asking priests and bishops to be overly political or do things they’re not comfortable doing. They must, however, be clear about what they’re saying. Besides, the election is over anyway. It needs to be made explicit to the laity that America’s current president is threatening their religious liberty through the HHS mandate, and so are liberals/progressives generally with their embrace of same-sex marriage.
If this isn’t made clear in the fortnight ahead, then this is destined to be less a Fortnight for Freedom than a fortnight for failure.
For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.
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