UP Catholic 06 16 2017 E Edition Page 8

Each year dioceses around the coun- try arrange special events to highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. The Fortnight for Freedom is from June 21, which is the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, to July 4, Indepen- dence Day. Below is an article adapted from the website of the United States Confer- ence of Catholic Bishops on how to talk about religious freedom. For addi- tional resources on religious freedom visit www.fortnightforfreedom.org. 1. RESPECT Many religious freedom skeptics have plausible concerns. For example, they are concerned that all people should be treated with equal dignity. Indeed, the dignity of all people is the foundation for Catholic teaching on religious liberty. It is important that we not dismiss skeptics, but rather, that we listen to their concerns and take them seriously. So, if the skeptics have a point, what do we say? 2. A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT Religious freedom is a fundamental right. It means that the government cannot coerce people into acting against their consciences. This is im- portant for all people, not just people of faith. A government that makes one group choose obedience to the state over obedience to faith and conscience can force any group to submit to the states demands. Religious freedom underlies all other freedoms for every- one. 3. SPACE TO DO GOOD People of faith need religious free- dom to have the space to serve others. Oftentimes, religious liberty disputes arise when religious organizations are expected to sacrifice aspects of their faith in order to continue to serve the surrounding community. But it is our faith that inspires us to serve. Take the Little Sisters of the Poor, who live out their Christian faith by serving the elderly poor. These women have had to seek protection from a regulation requiring them to facilitate access to contraceptives, including abortion-in- ducing drugs and devices. Challenges to religious freedom often come from a mistaken view of religion, a view that sees religion as good only if it conforms to every value that happens to prevail today. Howev- er, the good that religious institutions do is inseparable from the parts that challenge prevailing norms. 4. AUTHENTIC PLURALISM Skeptics are often concerned about the effects that religious organizations have on people who do not share those religious beliefs. Skeptics tend to see a conflict between religious freedom and their vision of equality and choose a mistaken concept of equality over freedom. These are cer- tainly difficult issues. Here are points to consider: A pluralistic society makes space for people who hold views that run counter to the mainstream. Religious groups, and groups formed around a particular set of principles, need to be able to express their views with integrity. Should an animal rights or- ganization be required by law to hire a member of a hunting association? Of course not. Then, for example, neither should a religious organization be re- quired to hire people who oppose the teachings of that religion. It is crucial that our society not adopt the view that all groups least of all religious groups must conform to one view. True freedom results in a diversity that strengthens, rather than weakens, society. Some skeptics say that religious people impose their faith on others. However, when religious groups are accused of causing harm to others, the harm is often that they do not facil- itate an action. The craft store chain Hobby Lobby refused to cover aborti- facients for its employees. But Hobby Lobby is not preventing its employees from obtaining these devices. The Christian family that runs Hobby Lob- by refuses to participate in an activity it believes is immoral. It is similar when family-owned businesses choose not to participate in same-sex weddings. For example, lorist Barronelle Stutzman had served a customer she knew was in a same- sex relationship for almost a decade. However, she could not in good con- science create custom floral arrange- ments for the customers same-sex ceremony. She was happy to provide lowers for any other occasion but did not want to be forced to participate in a particular event that went against her Christian beliefs. Above all, the Church seeks to offer a better way. We are not simply asking for freedom from coercion so that we can be left alone. We believe that what we teach - about marriage, sex, family life, care for refugees, care for the poor, care for the sick, care for all vulnerable is good for society. When we see a culture that is often unloving and hostile to life, we work to bear witness to a healthier culture, a civili- zation of love, in which all people can lourish. 5. OWN IT When we engage in conversation as Catholics, people want to know what we think. Its good to represent the Church and the beauty of her teach- ings; its even better when we inter- nalize those teachings and reflect on our own experiences and reasons for caring about religious freedom. 8 June 16, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC www.upcatholic.org Funeral expenses are on the rise, Holy Cross Cemeteries has three ways to reduce cost to you and your family! Order before July 4, 2017 and receive... 1. 10% off Cemetery plots, Mausoleum and Columbarium (Cremation) spaces. 2. 10% off a Headstone or Memorial Marker designed by Holy Cross Cemetery to meet your needs. Did you know... Cemetery vaults are required, but they don't have to break the bank, buy directly from the cemetery and see how Holy Cross prices can help you and your family save money. Pre-planning your cemetery needs can be easy and reduce your overall funeral expenses, lowering the financial burden on you and your family. 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