lunes, 29 de junio de 2015

The lay faithful at Catholics for Freedom of Religion are a growing force in raising awareness about religious freedom and rights in the public square

Catholic Group’s Star Rises Defending Religious Freedom


“It’s so important to have the laity involved in efforts for religious freedom,” said Hillary Byrnes, assistant general counsel for the USCCB. “We’re the ones who are in workplaces and have the ability to reach out to them and talk about religious freedom.”

Byrnes said that while the involvement of bishops and priests was important to teach on the subject, it was up to laity, such as those involved with CFFR, to engage society with that message.

As the battle for protecting religious liberty in the U.S. advances in the wake of Friday’s Supreme Court decision redefining marriage, a Catholic grassroots organization dedicated to promoting and defending religious liberty in the United States has expanded its reach and drawn the attention of the U.S. bishops.

With three years under its belt, the nonpartisan Catholics for Freedom of Religion has grown from its first chapters on Long Island to spread to Texas and South Carolina.

“Lay Catholics, and Americans of other faiths, don’t realize that they have a role they must play in religious freedom,” said Barbara Samuells, CFFR’s president and co-founder. “They don’t realize that, but they know things aren’t quite right, and our cultural is moving in directions they don’t quite like, and is becoming inimical to open religious expression.”

CFFR wants to change the conversation on religious liberty, and is educating Catholics — and even non-Catholics — about their rights to express their religion in the public square.

The organization has been working closely with the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., in promoting awareness of religious liberty. Samuells said the Diocese of Rockville Centre and CFFR partnered in planning the June 25 Fortnight for Freedom Rally for Religious Freedom, where they invited professor Robert George, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, to deliver the keynote address.

George told the Register that religious freedom must be “defended today with renewed vigor,” and needed lay Catholics to take the initiative.

“It is critically important that America’s Catholics heed our bishops’ call for activism in defense of religious liberty,” George said. “Although little noticed to the general public, there has over the past several years been a significant erosion of people’s freedom to act on their religiously inspired moral convictions in various domains.”

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