The protection and promotion of the inviolable rights of man ranks among the essential duties of government. Therefore, government is to assume the safeguard of the religious freedom of all its citizens, in an effective manner, by just laws and by other appropriate means. Government is also to help create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfill their religious duties, and also in order that society itself may profit by the moral qualities of justice and peace which have their origin in men’s faithfulness to God and to His holy will.
Declaration on Religious Liberty
(Dignitatis Humanae), no. 6
December 7, 1965
Our Founding Fathers used only 725 words in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. They chose the first 16 carefully and well.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”
The freedom to practice one’s religion publicly without government interference is one of America’s most cherished freedoms. The Federal Government’s current HHS Mandate requires Catholic institutions to violate the very religious beliefs that move them to help the poor, educate young people and care for the sick. The government has told Catholic social service organizations, universities and hospitals that they no longer qualify as religious institutions.
This is an unprecedented intrusion of government in the free exercise of religion in America.
Think about it. Talk about it. Pray over it.
-Archdiocese of Chicago
Frequently Asked Questions:
This phrase, known as the “Establishment Clause,” started out as a prohibition on Congress’ either establishing a national religion or interfering with the established religions of the states. It has since been interpreted to forbid state establishments of religion, to forbid governmental preference (at any level) of one religion over another, and to forbid direct government funding of religion.
This phrase, known as the “Free Exercise Clause,” generally protects citizens and institutions from government interference with the exercise of their religious beliefs. It sometimes mandates the accommodation of religious practices when such practices conflict with federal, state, or local laws.
Religious liberty is inherent in our very humanity, hard-wired into each and every one of us by our Creator. Religious liberty is also prior to the state itself. It is not merely a privilege that the government grants us and that can be taken away at will.