Find out more about the Fortnight for Freedom 2013
- New! Diocesan Fortnight for Freedom Events
- What is Fortnight for Freedom?
- Why a second Fortnight for Freedom?
- What can I do to support the protection of religious liberty?
- What can my parish do to participate in the Fortnight for Freedom?
- Frequently Asked Questions - Religious Liberty FAQs
Also see: Fortnight for Freedom Resources, courtesy of USCCB
- Join the USCCB Facebook event
- Check out our fact sheets on threats to religious liberty
- View our educational resources for FAQs on religious liberty
- Take Action! Text the word FREEDOM (or LIBERTAD) to 377377 for updates
- Pray for religious liberty at home and abroad!
Saturday, June 29, 2013
St. Patrick Catholic Church
9643 Ferndale Rd, Dallas, TX 75238 (Map)
- 5:00 p.m. Mass with special "Fortnight Homily"
- Dinner program following in Auditorium with Presentation on Religious Liberty featuring Tom Brandt of the St. Thomas More Society, Catholic Lawyers' Guild of the Diocese of Dallas
- Presentation is free; dinner donation is $3/person
- Event will close with "Litany for Liberty"
For more information and a listing of parish events, go to: www.dallascatholicadvocacy.org
The U.S. bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom, a two-week period of prayer and action, to address many current challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, Supreme Court rulings that could attempt to redefine marriage in June, and religious liberty concerns in areas such as immigration and humanitarian services.
This year, the Fortnight for Freedom has great importance due to the following:
- First, the Supreme Court’s rulings on same‐sex “marriage,” which could have grave implications for religious freedom, will almost certainly issue right around the Fortnight.
- Second, by the time of the Fortnight, the effective date of the HHS mandate—August 1, 2013—will be scarcely a month away, and the Administration’s decision on the shape of a final rule will likely be imminent. And unfortunately, as we now know after extensive study and analysis of the latest proposal, we are still far from receiving the relief we need through the regulatory process.
- Third, the success of a second Fortnight is essential to perpetuating a new movement for religious freedom, highlighting the full range of ongoing religious freedom issues, here and abroad, and in so many other areas of law, such as immigration, adoption, and disaster relief.
We encourage prayer in solidarity with the bishops' call to penance and prayer to restore religious freedom & conscience protections.
Please note: No special permissions are required to use these prayers, so long as no modification is made and proper attribution is given as noted on the resources.
Reflections for the Fortnight for Freedom
Daily reflections with readings and questions that can be used for group discussion or personal reflection.
Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty
KINH CẦU CHO TỰ DO TÔN GIÁO (Vietnamese)
Celebrate a memorial Mass for Ss. Thomas More and John Fisher on June 21 (vigil) or June 22 (their feast day) to open the Fortnight for Freedom.
Present a Catholic movie night for members of your parish, such as A Man for All Seasons about the martyrdom of St. Thomas More, or For Greater Glory about the struggle for religious freedom in Texas
Invite a local or national figure to speak to your parish about religious liberty. Alternatively, encourage parishioners to read Our First, Most Cherished Liberty, a document of the Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
Host a concert with religious music and/or performing artists.
Plan a "Pancakes for Patriotism" or "Fish Fry for Freedom" event to raise awareness about the Fortnight and featuring information about the plans within the parish and diocese for the Fortnight.
Organize day-long (or multi-day) Eucharistic Adoration.
Sponsor a presentation on the history of Catholicism in the United States.
Lead a Eucharistic Procession through your community on a path that passes important government or civic buildings.
Host a panel discussion on important public policy issues to individuals of faith.
Sponsor a day of service within the community, perhaps at a town or civic park, to help clean up trash or conduct routine maintenance.
Pray a daily rosary in your parish for the cause of religious liberty each day of the Fortnight.
Host a patriotic sing-a-long for the children of the parish and community.
Organize an Independence Day family picnic with a special Mass to close the Fortnight for Freedom.
What do we mean by religious liberty?
Religious liberty is the first liberty granted to us by God and protected in the First Amendment to our Constitution. It includes more than our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It also encompasses our ability to contribute freely to the common good of all Americans.
What is the First Amendment?
The First Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights states the following: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
What does "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" mean?
This phrase, known as the "Establishment Clause," started out as a prohibition on Congress' either establishing a national religion or interfering with the established religions of the states. It has since been interpreted to forbid state establishments of religion, to forbid governmental preference (at any level) of one religion over another, and to forbid direct government funding of religion.
What does "prohibiting the free exercise thereof" mean?
This phrase, known as the "Free Exercise Clause," generally protects citizens and institutions from government interference with the exercise of their religious beliefs. It sometimes mandates the accommodation of religious practices when such practices conflict with federal, state, or local laws.
What did our early American leaders say about religious freedom?
- George Washington: "If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed in the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it; and if I could now conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution." (Letter to the United Baptist Churches in Virginia, 1789.)
- George Washington: "[T]he conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness; and it is my wish and desire, that the laws may always be  extensively accommodated to them…" (Letter to the Annual Meeting of Quakers, 1789.)
- Thomas Jefferson: "No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority." (Letter to New London Methodist, 1809.)
- James Madison: "[T]he equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his Religion according to the dictates of conscience is held by the same tenure with all our other rights. If we recur to its origin, it is equally the gift of nature; if we weigh its importance, it cannot be less dear to us; if we consult the Declaration of Rights which pertain to the good people of Virginia, as the basis and foundation of Government, it is enumerated with equal solemnity, or rather studied emphasis." (Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessment, 1785.) (Internal quotation marks omitted.)
- James Madison: "[W]e hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth that religion, or the duty which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate." (Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessment, 1785.) (Internal citation and quotations omitted.)
Who have been heroes of religious liberty in the church?
- Saint Thomas More: Thomas More was an English Catholic lawyer who served as Lord Chancellor and a close advisor to King Henry VIII. More opposed the king's separation from the Catholic Church and his naming himself as Supreme Head of the Church of England. More was imprisoned for his refusal to take the oath required by a law that disparaged papal power and required acknowledging the children of Henry and Anne Boleyn (the king's second wife after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon) as legitimate heirs to the throne. In 1535, More was tried for treason, convicted on perjured testimony, and beheaded. He is the patron saint of religious freedom.
- Saint John Fisher: John Fisher was an English Catholic cardinal, academic, and martyr. Fisher was executed by order of King Henry VIII during the English Reformation for refusing to accept the king as Supreme Head of the Church of England and for upholding the Catholic Church's doctrine of papal primacy.
- Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton: Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native-born U.S. citizen to be canonized by the Catholic Church. In 1809, Seton founded the first American congregation of Religious Sisters, the Sisters of Charity. She also established the first parochial school for girls in the U.S. in Emmitsburg, Maryland in 1810. Seton's efforts initiated the parochial school system in America and opened the first free Catholic schools for the poor.
- Saint Katharine Drexel: Katharine Drexel was a religious sister, heiress, philanthropist, and educator. She dedicated herself and her inheritance to the needs of oppressed Native Americans and African-Americans in the western and southwestern United States. She was a vocal advocate of racial tolerance and established a religious congregation, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, whose mission was to teach African-Americans and later American Indians. She also financed more than sixty missions and schools around the United States, in addition to founding Xavier University of Louisiana—the only historically African-American Catholic university in the United States to date.
- John Courtney Murray, SJ: Father Murray was an American Jesuit priest and theologian, who was known for his efforts to reconcile Catholicism and religious pluralism, particularly focusing on the relationship between religious freedom and the institutions of a democratically structured modern state. During the Second Vatican Council, he played a key role in the Council's ground-breaking Declaration on Religious Liberty, Dignitatis Humanae.