“The fact is that men of the present day want to be able freely to profess their religion in private and in public. Religious freedom has already been declared to be a civil right in most constitutions, and it is solemnly recognized in international documents. The further fact is that forms of government still exist under which, even though freedom of religious worship receives constitutional recognition, the powers of government are engaged in the effort to deter citizens from the profession of religion and to make life difficult and dangerous for religious Communities.” -Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignitatis Humanae), no. 15 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:
Dignitatis Humanae provides that “the exercise of religion, of its very nature, consists before all else in those internal, voluntary and free acts whereby man sets the course of his life directly toward God.” (Dignitatis Humanae, No. 3.) Therefore, individuals are “not to be forced to act in manner contrary to [their] conscience” nor “restrained from acting in accordance with [their] conscience . . . .” (Id.)
The Second Vatican Council also “declare[d] that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.” (Dignitatis Humanae, No. 2.)
Further, Dignitatis Humanae provides that “[r]eligious communities  have the right not to be hindered, either by legal measures or by administrative action on the part of government, in the selection, training, appointment, and transferral of their own Ministers . . . .” (Dignitatis Humanae, No. 4.)