UP Catholic 12 23 2016 E Edition Page 4

4 December 23, 2016 THE U.P. CATHOLIC COMMENTARY www.upcatholic.org O n Jan. 20, much of the coun- try will be watching as the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court swears in a new president. Mr. Trump and his cabinet will then have the opportunity to work with Con- gress on a number of issues facing the na- tion. One issue that can and should be pursued early in the new administration is protecting the first amendment right to religious liberty and the freedom for reli- gious organizations to serve others. Across the country, people of varying religious beliefs contribute positively to society. Likewise, organizations of every type, including those that are faith-based, have identified and served the many needs of vulnerable and destitute persons. The Catholic Church has long been an integral part of the country and states response to pressing societal needs. She has an extensive and renowned history of educating children; feeding the home- less; caring for the sick, elderly, and terminally ill; and welcoming refugees and immigrants to their new homes. These services are at the heart of the Churchs mission to treat every person as Christ would treat them. Many have been helped by the Churchs compas- sionwhether at the local Catholic Charities agency, the Catholic hospice program, or their Catholic parishs clothing or food drive. In recent years, however, secular advocacy groups and even some gov- ernment entities have fought harder to push, even litigate faith-based organizations out of the public square. The pressure is unfortunate, because for hundreds of years people of faith have made significant contributions to American history and have done so in a manner that is motivated by their religious beliefs, not in spite of them. During his 2015 visit to the United States, Pope Francis pointed to four such individualsAbraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Mertonand the contri- butions each made to building and strengthening society. One of the popes passages bears repeating: It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Instead of sending the message that faith-based organizations are unwel- come in the public square or that they must abandon their faith in order to continue serving others, the incoming administration should uphold its cam- paign promises to protect religious liberty. This is achievable by: Rescinding the HHS mandate that requires faith-based agencies to pay for and provide services that are in- consistent with their religious beliefs; Revoking the mandate that restricts faith-based organizations with feder- al government contracts from hiring people who agree with the mission of the organization; Overturning the mandates that require doctors and hospitals to per- form gender reassignment surgeries; to require homeless shelters to divide accommodations based on gender identity, rather than biological gender; and to force schools to treat students according to their gender identity, without regard for parental involve- ment and the case-by-case judgement; and Encouraging the approval of broad- er conscience protections that protect the freedom to serve. As 2017 draws closer, the Catholic Church will continue her efforts to support the freedom to serve others, to protect religious liberty, and to pro- mote a vibrant and diverse civil soci- ety where people can truly encounter one another and engage in respectful dialogue (USCCB Religious Liberty Report, Nov. 14, 2016). In the mean- time, all people of goodwill can draw on their own faith to serve those in need, recognizing the inherent dignity each person deserves. For the nation to succeed, and to maintain its tradi- tion of being a welcoming nation, the religious liberty rights of all persons should be upheld and respected. The Word from Lansing is a regu- lar column for Catholic news outlets and is written by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) President and CEO Paul A. Long. Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state. Protecting the freedom to serve should be a priority in 2017 THE WORD FROM LANSING Paul A. Long IN THE MEANTIME, ALL PEOPLE OF GOODWILL CAN DRAW ON THEIR OWN FAITH TO SERVE THOSE IN NEED, RECOGNIZING THE INHERENT DIGNITY EACH PERSON DESERVES. I m driving my car. The setting sun is radiating on the back of my neck. Big cars, small cars, big trucks and small trucks whiz by. I'm ambivalent. My fingers method- ically dance from one radio button to another, wishing, willing to find a rest- ing spot, a peaceful place where I can absorb sports but silence the hate. Its everywhere. I turn on ESPN Radio and there is hate. I flip to Mad Dog Sports radio and there is more hate. I pull over to a road- side resting spot and punch in an app for a Green Bay Packers radio station. As I creep back into traffic, there is more. There is hate. It wasnt long ago when I could turn on the radio or television and be amused, entertained and informed. Today, I find myself increasingly annoyed, baffled, and yes, heartbro- ken by the tremendous amount of resentment and hate permeating our society. And, Im only talking about sports, where the behaviors of many are a by-product of a much larger division and hatred in this country. When I was young, my late mother used to tell me all the time, Jim, if youve got nothing good to say, say nothing at all. And, she would always add: We do not hate. Some people or things we may not like as much as others, but we do not hate. Wise words, ones Ive taken to heart. Its absolutely astounding the amount of hatred in the sporting world, a world that always bred com- petition and fear, but passed for the most part - on hate. Today, many use the word hate to describe their differences with anoth- er, and its so casually spoken that it mysteriously flies under our radar. Social media like Twitter and Face- book are breeding grounds for hat- ers. Sadly, it seems a good number of people seem to enjoy inflicting hate on others. Increasingly, its a poison I can do without. In the beginning, it was somewhat harmless. Then, the foul mouths and hate began spewing out of collec- tive mouths more and more. Now, much like the chiding back-and-forth political sniping that galvanized this country for months on end, hate has become acceptable in the sports culture. What is clearly evident, as I listen to the nature of this unfold, is the angriness. It has become a common place to throw stones and shoot darts at someone rather than lift him or her up. Compassion has gone out the window. Respect is dying. Think about it. How many times have you heard that Lions fans are supposed to hate Packer fans? That the Wolverines must hate the Buckeyes. And, for whatever foolish reasons, society seems to hate any referee who makes a call that doesnt go his/her way. Personally, being a die-hard Dol- phins fan, I dont particularly like the New England Patriots winning division crowns year after year. But do I hate them? Cmon? How that word has become part of Americas vocabulary is perplexing and disturbing. Id like to see our sports world go an entire week without using the word hate. Id like to see us relearn the value of love and respect while wiping that word off the chalkboard. We should fear our opponent and want to defeat them. But hate? Leaders need to emerge and seek change by disavowing the word hate. Its a good place to start. Until then, Im retreating to the woods with my yellow lab next to me. Thats about as far from hate as I can go. (Editors note: LaJoie is a mem- ber of St. Pauls Catholic Church in Negaunee. He welcomes reactions to his column at jlajoie@charter.net). Hate has sadly become an acceptable word in sports FROM THE SIDELINES Jim LaJoie I'D LIKE TO SEE US RELEARN THE VALUE OF LOVE AND RESPECT WHILE WIPING THAT WORD OFF THE CHALKBOARD. WE SHOULD FEAR OUR OPPONENT AND WANT TO DEFEAT THEM. BUT HATE?

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