Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn Connect on YouTube

The Religious Freedom We Have

June 25, AD 2013 17 Comments

Fortnight for Freedom

Catholic Free Press

I’ve been reading about the history of the liturgy which requires considerable reading about the clandestine activities of the early Christians. It’s difficult to grasp how the Church ascended and spread over the first eight centuries. There was always persecution and risk of martyrdom somewhere, even when there was peace elsewhere.

It is no different today. Media sources in 2013 report that about 100 million Christians are persecuted worldwide, with conditions worsening rapidly in Syria and Ethiopia. It is illegal to be a Christian in North Korea. My husband’s parents fled Cuba to raise their children and practice their faith in America. He tells me how quickly our freedoms can be violated by corrupt governments.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has declared a Fortnight for Freedom from June 21 to July 4, a two-week prayer campaign for religious freedom. I watch the news, I know that our President Obama has likened religious education to segregation, accusing Christians of causing division. I know there is an accusation of child abuse for teaching children about God and our faith. I hear the scorn and chiding of some non-believers against the Church and our priests, I see indolence and ennui preyed upon by the powerful, and yes, I wish people would wake up.

But you know what else? There’s a limit to my anxiety. I converted to Catholicism in this country too, in spite of what people say about the Church and religion, and I am probably among the most radical of converts, a convert who embraced the feminist, anti-religious message in an effort raise myself on the social ladder. None of that mattered when it came down to the deepest questions about life and love though, and I’d die before I’d deny the truth I’ve found now.

Maybe we’ll be persecuted in our lifetimes, maybe not, but for now, we still have the freedom that many of our fellow brothers and sisters did not, or do not, have. As we pray and stand up for our religious freedom, we also can exercise it by doing a good job of catechizing our children, attending Mass, availing ourselves of the other sacraments, and evangelizing. We can also pray anytime, anywhere we want, and there isn’t a person or a demon, a law or an insult, that can stop us. Freedom comes from God, and human laws can only go so far to violate our freedoms, for they cannot violate inner peace.

Subscribe by Email:
Hello, and thank you for reading. My name is Stacy Trasancos. I am a wife, mother of seven, and joyful convert to Catholicism. I write from my tiny office in a 100-year-old restored Adirondack mountain lodge that overlooks a small spring-fed lake. Read more about me here. Find me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or contact me by email. God bless you!
Filed in: Catholic Free Press Column, History, Theology • Tags:
  • Andre Boillot

    “I know that our President Obama has likened religious education to segregation, accusing Christians of causing division.”

    What you elude to was taken from a speech given in Belfast, Ireland – the text which reads:

    Because issues like segregated schools and housing, lack of jobs and opportunity–symbols of history that are a source of pride for some and pain for others–these are not tangential to peace; they’re essential to it. If towns remain divided–if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs–if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.

    He’s making a larger point about things which divide society and, to the extent that he mentions religious education, I think it’s safe to say, it’s in the specific context of the Irish Catholic / Protestant ‘Troubles’. I don’t think an honest reading of this leads one to the conclusion you’re presenting.

    • Bobby

      Given Obama’s history of condescension concerning Christianity(HHS
      mandate, bitter clingers to guns and religion) I think it’s safe
      to say that your masterful spinning of Obama’s speech would make Wolfman Jack envious :)

      • Andre Boillot

        First of all, “Christianity” was not united in opposition to the HHS mandate. Second, the ‘guns and religion’ statement was specific to areas of the economically under-developed southern US – again, hardly a stand-in for “Christianity” in general. He’s talking about the reactions of people that the economy has seemingly left behind.

        If by “spinning” you mean that I’m aware enough of the history of Catholic / Protestant conflict in Ireland (Belfast specifically) to see that he’s not making a general statement about religious education, then yes.

    • Howard

      The larger point actually has to do with the desire to eliminate difference altogether. The next logical step would be to eliminate home schooling, eliminate political differences, and eliminate any other differences that divide people.

      A complaint about the actions of individuals is appropriate to government and law, but it is not proper for government to make us all think alike. This speech is an obvious call to reduce peoples religious freedom as he is doing in America right now.

      • Andre Boillot

        Howard,

        “The larger point actually has to do with the desire to eliminate difference altogether.”

        I’m not seeing a call for homogeneity. I’m seeing a call to break down the types of divisions fostered by certain institutions or practices that keep people from seeing our shared humanity. That religion gets mentioned at all is limited to the specific history of the Catholic / Protestant “Troubles”, tied to the location of his speech (Belfast). To say that he’s equating religious schools with segregation is to, in my opinion, completely miss the context.

        I don’t see anyone making the argument that home-schooling keeps people from recognizing shared humanity in the same way that segregation does. You could make a good case that politics in this country has devolved to the point where the opposition is “the other”, but calling for an end to demonizing the opposition is not the same as calling for an end of parties.

        • Howard

          Andre, it is a mistake to equate the problems in N. Ireland with religious beliefs. I defy you to find anything whatsoever in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that supports the violence that has taken place there.

          The problem is political and only religious to the extent that the larger groups have two dominate religious affiliations. The issue is one that has continued since 1798 when the Irish of Britain wanted to separate just as we did and as France freed itself from Monarchy.

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/troubles

          If you make yourself aware of the attitude in Germany towards home-schooling you would see that they insist on homogenous learning for children – state decided.

          • Andre Boillot

            Howard,

            “Andre, it is a mistake to equate the problems in N. Ireland with religious beliefs. I defy you to find anything whatsoever in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that supports the violence that has taken place there.”

            I didn’t claim that the conflict was over religion, or that the Catholic Church supported the violence. Where on earth are you getting this from?

            “The problem is political and only religious to the extent that the larger groups have two dominate religious affiliations.”

            Absolutely right, which is why taking Obama’s reference to mean that religious education = segregation is to ignore the historical context.

            “If you make yourself aware of the attitude in Germany towards home-schooling you would see that they insist on homogenous learning for children – state decided.”

            Key word here being: “Germany”. Even if I grant that you’re well informed on this particular topic (I have no idea if you are, and I know I am not), I fail to see what it has to do with our conversation, or how you’ll lay German home-schooling policy at the feet of a certain President of the United States.

          • Howard

            Andre, re-read his speech.

            “If towns remain divided–if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs–if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division. It discourages cooperation.”

            He has equated the religious differences (two sets of schools) between people with the violence that has taken place. It is obvious what he said.

            I didn’t claim that the conflict was over religion..

            And what are the institutions you are referring to here, “I’m seeing a call to break down the types of divisions fostered by certain institutions……..”

            …I fail to see what it has to do with our conversation, or how you’ll lay German home-schooling policy at the feet of a certain President of the United States.”

            “At the feet”, I have no idea what this means. This president is Europe oriented. He has just told the people of N. Ireland how they should organize their lives. He does not restrict himself to U.S. affairs, and, there is a massive effort to homogenize the worlds thinking about abortion using bribery from our current administration.

          • Andre Boillot

            Howard,

            He has equated the religious differences (two sets of schools) between people with the violence that has taken place. It is obvious what he said.

            I think you’re missing the forest for the trees. First of all, he’s not just focusing on schools. Second, the crux, it seems to me, is that he’s talking about very specific kinds of differences – differences that lead to people not being able to see shared humanity.

            And what are the institutions you are referring to here

            For starters, the ones that Obama specifically mentions, like segregation.

            “At the feet”, I have no idea what this means.

            Lay at the feet of = hold responsible for.

            This president is Europe oriented.

            Well, I suppose I should be happy that you’re not saying he’s Kenyan oriented.

            He has just told the people of N. Ireland how they should organize their lives.

            Yes, encouraging school-kids in Belfast to do away with ideas that cause them to view their fellow man as sub-human = telling people how to organize their lives.

          • Howard

            First of all, he’s not just focusing on schools.

            But, I am focusing on an important part of his speech that I am sure he would like to change. Much of what he usually says reveals his intent.

            I don’t see how you can support an objection to “segregation” itself. If you do, and associate it with separate schools, then you have to show the bad effects are caused by the schooling.

            It is an emotionally charged word dating back to the civil rights era.

            I see nothing wrong with people segregating themselves voluntarily by their religious beliefs. It means the same thing as going to different religious schools. It means the same thing as having different political affiliations, it is the same as living in the South and living in the North. We segregate ourselves all the time. Segregation is not the problem, separate schools is not the problem, using violence is the problem.

            Now, if you equate going to separate schools with political violence as he does then I fear that you both are mistaken.

          • Andre Boillot

            Thanks for the chat Howard, I just don’t think we’re seeing the same things here.

          • Howard

            You’re welcome. Reason and logic do not change, desires can be unchanged.

  • Pingback: Living Gargoyles The Medieval Art of Gurning - BigPulpit.com

  • Isaac

    Howard, try googling “Holy Cross School Dispute”.

    Then try to insist segregated schools are not a problem. If you watch a video report, be warned, there are no words that I can use to tell you how digusting the behaviour of the protestant loyalists was.

    Although true that the “Troubles” also involved political, territorial and economic disputes, until you can point to a catholic loyalist group or a protestant nationalist one, you have to admit the religious aspect is intrinsic. I would even suggest it is the most intractable problem. Common ground can be found in many ways, a poor, disadvantaged protestant has much in common with a poor, disadvantaged catholic. But there is one, so far unsurmountable difference, religion.

    BTW, I speak as an Irishman who has often been in Belfast, before and after the ceasefire.

    • Howard

      I read the “Holy Cross” news report from 2001 and one from April of this year. Voilence acts have been committed by both sides over the years.

      I am not completely unaware of this problem although I am not Irish or British and have never immersed myself in the conflict. I did live in London (having arrived on Guy Fawkes Night, nobody even mentioned the word Catholic) and am aware of the ridicule of the Irish by the English and the persecution of Catholics since the reformation. I also have a friend of 60 years that was born in N. Ireland and still visits family there. I can guess that you being an Irishman would probably take a particular side in the issue.

      The two main groups, the unionists and the nationalists, are each pulling a different direction towards a political or national identity. There is no doubt that religion plays a part in their identity, a freedom from religious persecution of Catholics by British law for example. This is an impossible situation to solve without displacing one group or another unless you let self government and power sharing work.

      There may have been suggestions by others to integrate the schools I don’t think Obama could come up with that on his own, but the aim of integrating the schools would be an attempt to homogenize their identities and would eliminate Catholic moral teaching of the young leading to the moral degeneracy that we have here via our public school system.

      Christians and Protestants have lived in peace for centuries where there is no territorial dispute – the U.S. has been the example. That is the teaching that needs to be put forth not an attempt by a foreign power to dictate a forced solution on an unwilling people. This president is attempting to do the same thing here, homogenizing the population regarding moral values, attempting to force a resignation of religious objection with the HHS mandate.

      Read this history link
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/troubles

  • Pingback: My "Let It Be" Stage on “Gay Marriage” - Catholic Sistas

  • Pingback: My “Let It Be” Stage on “Gay Marriage” : Stacy Trasancos