Religious freedom at home and abroad an election-year issue for many
Published: September 26, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Over the past several months, the U.S. Catholic bishops and other religious leaders have urged Americans to defend religious liberty in the United States in the face of what they see as threats to that freedom. And the issue continues to gain momentum as the November election draws near. It has been at the forefront for the Catholic bishops since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in January that it would require most religious employers to provide free contraceptive coverage against their moral objections. The bishops have repeatedly described the mandate, which violates church teaching, as a restriction on religious liberty. Theologians and Catholic leaders discussed the issue of religious freedom at recent seminars at The Catholic University of America and Georgetown University in Washington and a forum at St. John's University in New York. At both of the national political conventions this summer, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, mentioned religious liberty in his closing prayers. At the close of the Republican National Convention Aug. 30 in Tampa, Fla., he gave thanks for the "singular gift of liberty" and prayed for a renewed "respect for religious freedom" and a "new sense of responsibility for freedom's cause." During a closing benediction Sept. 6 at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., the cardinal prayed that God would "renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our founding."
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