Religious Freedom: Lost Priority in America

From Catholic News Agency, Archbishop Chaput criticizes American inaction on religious freedom issues:

Washington D.C., Mar 1, 2011 / 01:31 pm CNA/EWTN News – American inaction and complacency towards promoting religious freedom keeps the United States from exporting one of its “greatest qualities” and hinders an “honest discussion” on the relationship between Islam and democratic assumptions, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said March 1.

We need to insist that religious freedom – a person’s right to freely worship, preach, teach and practice what he or she believes, including the right to freely change or end one’s religious beliefs under the protection of the law – is a foundation stone of human dignity,” he commented. “No one, whether acting in the name of God or in the name of some political agenda or ideology, has the authority to interfere with that basic human right” . . .

“The United States has a history as a place of refuge for victims of religious persecution, the archbishop noted.  At the same time, “(r)ight now in America, we’re not acting like we revere that legacy, or want to share it, or even really understand it.  And I think we may awake one day to see that as a tragedy for ourselves, and too many others to count” . . .

“The archbishop suggested that many leaders in government, media, academia and business no longer seem to regard religious faith as “a healthy or a positive social factor.” He criticized the Obama administration’s “ambivalence” toward “the widespread violations of religious liberty across the globe,” and also the inadequacy or lack of interest in the news media in reporting on these issues.

“He said that the American model of religion in society can and should be adapted by other countries, because it touches upon universal desires for freedom and human dignity. “They’re inherent to all of us,” he added, noting “the democracy movements now sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.”

“However, Archbishop Chaput underscored that American values themselves cannot be understood without acknowledging that they grow out of “a predominantly Christian worldview.”

Dropping this model on non-Christian cultures – as our country learned from bitter experience in Iraq – becomes a very dangerous exercise,” he warned. “One of the gravest mistakes of American policy in Iraq was to overestimate the appeal of Washington-style secularity, and to underestimate the power of religious faith in shaping culture and politics.”

“The Denver archbishop said that at the heart of the American model of public life is “a Christian vision of man, government and God.” He clarified that he was not saying that America is a “Christian nation,” or that the Protestant heritage is uniformly good.  However, the American model has provided a “free, open and non-sectarian society” precisely because of its moral assumptions.

This well spoken, caring and pastoral archbishop lead our diocese, for which we pray for him often and thank God for his excellent leadership.  He is a truly wonderful man.  He speaks truth to our religion condition here in secular America.  He is to be heeded.

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2 Responses to Religious Freedom: Lost Priority in America

  1. Jamie Holts says:

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