Publish date: Monday, August 13, 2012
Promote education, action in support of First Amendment
The U.S. bishops launched a text messaging campaign to provide a new way for people to join the national campaign for religious freedom.
Catholics and supporters of religious freedom from all other faiths around the nation now can send the text message “Freedom” to 377377 to join the movement. Texters can then receive information regularly on how to help protect religious freedom worldwide.For more information click here and for Spanish please click here.
Diocese of Dallas Files Federal Lawsuit
(Dallas) On May 21, 2012, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas made a stand for religious liberty by filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Dallas, challenging a regulation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that violates the religious freedoms of faith-based entities in the United States. The federal regulation requires some religious organizations to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate insurance coverage for services that violate the religious beliefs of the Catholic Church and the diocese. Besides the Diocese of Dallas, 42 Catholic entities in eleven other federal jurisdictions around the country, including the Diocese of Fort Worth, simultaneously filed similar federal lawsuits.
The HHS mandate does offer some exemptions but uses very narrow criteria in determining which entities qualify as religious organizations requiring that they must primarily provide services to persons who share their religious tenets. Catholic schools, hospitals and organizations that offer assistance to the poor currently provide services regardless of a person’s religious beliefs or affiliation. Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, leader of the 1.2 million Catholics in the Diocese of Dallas, expressed grave concern about the government intrusion. “We used to only ask, ‘Are you hungry. Are you in need?’ With this mandate, we will now have to ask, ‘Are you Catholic?’ The burden that would be put back on the government would be great should Catholic assistance be forced to disappear. It is alarming to think of the thousands, in our area alone, who would not receive assistance if this mandate stands.”
The lawsuit filed by the diocese argues that establishing these criteria violates the constitutional right of religion to exercise freely without government intrusion and also that the government should not decide how a religious organization is defined.
Mary Edlund, Chancellor for the Diocese of Dallas, adds; “We are confident that the courts will view such an intrusion as a serious violation of the Church’s constitutional right to formulate its teachings and operate according to those teachings.”
The implications of the mandate in its existing form are far reaching. In order to meet the government's criteria, religious organizations would be forced to re-configure. Catholic entities would be forced to hire only Catholics and offer services primarily to Catholics. According to Bishop Farrell, “It is our great hope that the President and his administration will broaden the definition so that all components of the Church can utilize the exemption to the mandate and continue to serve communities throughout this great country.”
Para español presione aquí.