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Sat Dec 22, 2012, 01:27 PM

The crusade for religious liberty

by Pat Perriello | Dec. 20, 2012

The Catholic bishops in the United States seem determined to hitch their wagon to the star of religious liberty. This is quite ironic in that the 2000-year history of the church is in no way a demonstration of acceptance or support for this democratic concept. The inquisitions, the burning of heretics, and the establishment of the church as the absolute authority throughout the Middle Ages were not events particularly evocative of the notion of religious liberty. Even today, we see the church determined to impose its will on governments in countries like Ireland and the Philippines.

Nonetheless, it appears from an article from the National Catholic Register that religious liberty has become a major project of time, energy, and the expenditure of financial resources for the U.S. church. The effort also embraces an attempt to bring in the Catholic lay community to advocate for this distorted notion of religious freedom. It appears they believe they can use this dubious pathway to achieve greater power and influence over the government of the United States.

Their understanding of this concept appears to apply only to the Catholic church but does not really consider freedom for any other individual or group. I find their crusade so at odds with my understanding of the American tradition of religious liberty that I feel there should be a counter project espoused by Catholics to challenge the position of the bishops on this issue. A group needs to come forth to represent the views of Catholics who disagree with the direction of this project and who have a more accurate understanding of what religious liberty actually means in these United States.

For the present, let us just look at a few of the specifics that are mentioned in the article. Let's start with the overall rhetoric. The implication is that the United States is some third-world country or dictatorship that is out to crush religious freedom. They speak of the need to be a watchdog against the denial of religious liberty. They want to establish groups whose job it is to ferret out every incident of the denial of religious freedom. They speak of the erosion of religious liberty."

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/crusade-religious-liberty

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