Catholics must take action to protect religious liberty, speakers urge
Published: September 21, 2012
JAMAICA, N.Y. (CNS) -- Religious liberty is facing such grave threats in the United States that Catholics must take immediate and courageous action to defend fundamental values both in the public forum and in the privacy of the voting booth, according to speakers at a Sept 20 forum. More than 400 people assembled at St. John's University heard impassioned calls to educate themselves about the erosion of long-guaranteed rights, form their consciences to reflect basic moral issues and agitate with compassion and civility to protect religious freedom. "Our religious liberty is under assault like never before in America, in ways that are chilling, that are alien and unimagined on these shores," said Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defending Freedom in Scottsdale, Ariz. "If we fail to stand, if we fail to fight, if we fail to refuse to comply, our God-given liberty ... will be but a distant memory." The forum was based on the Manhattan Declaration, a 4,700-word joint statement signed in November 2009 by more than 140 Christian leaders, many evangelical and Catholic, pledging renewed zeal in defending the unborn, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and protecting religious freedom. To date, more than 530,000 people have signed the declaration, including 52 Catholic cardinals and bishops. Eric Teetsel, executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, said religious freedom was enshrined in the foundational documents of the country and guaranteed by leaders until recently. In urging listeners to sign the Manhattan Declaration he said, "We will render to Caesar what is Caesar's, but we will not render to Caesar what is God's."
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