Tag Archives: politics

The Fortnight for Freedom: Young People, Too:

The United States bishops have called us all to “A Fortnight for Freedom”:  Two weeks of prayer, education, and action for the cause of religious freedom in our country (June 21st to July 4th).  They are calling upon “all the energies the Catholic community can muster.”

In other words: This is a big deal, people.  The bishops are the successors to the Apostles… That means when our bishop speaks, we listen up.  When all of the bishops of our country speak in unison, I repeat: it’s a big deal.  So how are we, as young people, called to participate in this Fortnight for Freedom?

What can you do?

1. Pray

This is the most important thing you can do.  In fact, if you do everything else on this list, but you leave out prayer, your efforts will have been wasted.  Apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

Practically speaking: you can pray the prayer for religious freedom, which I’ll paste at the end of this post.  The Bishops have also provided a Litany for Liberty, which can be said individually or in a group (so do it before you and your friends head out the movies on Friday night).  St. Thomas Moore is the patron Saint of Religious Freedom, and there’s a whole list of martyrs who remained faithful in the face of political persecution that you can ask for prayers from as well.

2. Fast

Refuse yourself that last bite of food at dinner every day during the Fortnight and offer up your desire to God for the sake of Religious Freedom in our Country.  Pull a lent and give up chocolate for two weeks for religious freedom.  Abstain from meat for the whole two weeks.  Your sacrifice will not go unnoticed.  (But refer back to number 1: Fasting without prayer is not only more difficult; it’s pointless.  Fasting ought to be an act of prayer).

3. Write to Congress to Tell Them You Oppose the HHS Mandate

*This one you have to do before June 21st since the period for public comment ends June 19th.  Hurry!*

4. Educate Yourself

Know what you’re fighting for and what is at stake with the current mandate.  Know that it’s not about access to contraception nor is it about limiting anyone else’s freedom.  It’s about the right for religious organizations and institutions to be able to exist as such without being forced by the government to violate basic tenets of their faith.

For a clear and concise explanation of how the HHS Mandate violates your right to religious liberty, click here.

5. Attend and/or Speak At Events like Tomorrow’s Rally for Religious Freedom

Across the country (160 cities in 49 states) at noon tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of Americans will gather together to Rally for Religious Freedom.  Check the link to find the rally nearest you and, if possible, go.

6. Organize Your Own Event

If you belong to a Catholic Young Adult Group, this needs to be discussed.  Propose a night focused on education about religious freedom and the HHS mandate, pray and discuss.  And eat.  Food is always good. (unless, of course, you’re fasting :) ).

7. Speak Up

Speaking at a rally or in another public forum is great, but what will ultimately be the greatest witness will be on a person-to-person level.  Unfortunately, it also threatens to be exceedingly more terrifying.  But we cannot stand idly by as our rights are being trampled upon.  You don’t have to go yell from the street corners, but if you happen to hear someone saying something that is simply not true about what is going on, politely correct them.  Even if your argument doesn’t convince the person in that meeting, at least they will know that theirs is not the only side to the story.

 

Please share, spread the word, and start thinking and praying about how you are called to participate in the Fortnight for Freedom.  One thing is certain: you are called to participate.  Pass this along especially to any other young Catholics you know.  As young and faithful Catholics, we can’t let our bishops’ call be ignored.


To be Catholic and American should mean not having to choose one over the other. Our allegiances are distinct, but they need not be contradictory, and should instead be complementary. That is the teaching of our Catholic faith, which obliges us to work together with fellow citizens for the common good of all who live in this land. That is the vision of our founding and our Constitution, which guarantees citizens of all religious faiths the right to contribute to our common life together.

-The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Prayer for Religious Freedom (print it out and carry it in your pocket):

O God Our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received
our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people and given us
the right and the duty to worship you, the only true God,
and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen

 

 

Do Boycotts Work?

Most of us know this story.  Back in January, Starbucks issued a statement that said that a core part of their identity as a corporation is to support the redefinition of marriage into one that would include same-sex unions. In more recent news, tens of thousands of people have voiced their decision to “dump Starbucks” as a result, expressing their disapproval of Starbucks’ most recent business decision.  Unfortunately, if this were a numbers game, those tens of thousands of people didn’t quite make the same point that the hundreds of thousands of people did when they thanked Starbucks for taking this stance as a company.

Ok then.  This post isn’t about why I disagree with what Starbucks is doing…mostly because I think that, despite how we may have each reacted to the news, we probably all agree to disagree with Starbucks for choosing to state that the redefinition of marriage is core to who they are as a company (since this is a blog for young Catholics, who are presumably at least trying to live in accordance with the faith).  This post is rather about what the faithful Catholic is called to do in situations like this, as well as what we should try to avoid doing…

“Boycotts Don’t Work”

I know.  If we boycotted every company or organization that had any sort of questionable tie, then we would probably have to grow our own food, make our own clothes, and stop paying taxes.  I know that we can’t control where every dime of money we spend goes (after all, who is to say that the drive-thru cashier, whose paycheck we help supply by being a customer, is not going to use his or her money to do something terrible?).  And no, I do not perform a thorough background check of every single company I ever happen to give money to in order to make sure they won’t misuse my money.  Apparently from this follows that it would be hypocritical of me to ever intentionally decide to withhold money from a corporation over a moral issue.

Still, while it unfortunately may not be practically possible to boycott every company or organization that contradicts our faith, I personally feel that when a company goes so far as to make a public announcement stating that it is core to who they are to advance the goal of something so contradictory to our faith, we don’t have a choice but to respond—and that going on as if nothing happened is in itself a response.  Going on as if nothing happened says that this specific part of our faith—of the truth that ought to transform every part of our being so profoundly that we cannot help but share it— this part of it just isn’t something worth making a fuss about over.

Ok, so we have to respond in some way.  The question is, “how?”  I want to be clear here: Boycotts can be an effective way to get a message across to a company or organization (Need I remind you of Susan G Komen for the Cure who, merely days after cutting funds to Planned Parenthood, crumbled to the masses that boycotted, and tragically reversed their decision?).  HOWEVER, I think that in the excitement and righteous anger that occurs during these boycotts, we as Christians often have this terrible tendency to forget a crucial part of the story: the ending (you know…what we celebrated two days ago and are still celebrating today?).

Spoiler Alert: Jesus wins.  No matter what the petition counts or the voting booths tell us, Jesus wins in the end.  I say this because as terrible as it is to not say anything when your favorite coffee shop decries your faith, it’s almost just as bad when we work ourselves into a frenzy and allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking that such an act is a legitimate threat to our Church or to God Himself.  Jesus has triumphed over death.  I think He can take this one, too.  So, boycott all you wish and encourage others to do the same, but never make the mistake of thinking the battle is anyone’s but the Lord’s (and remember that He already won).  We’re not fighting with other people to win an argument.  We’re allowing Christ to transform lives to win souls.

Now, that doesn’t excuse us from standing up and being heard.  We have a responsibility as Catholics to profess our faith.  That includes professing our faith when it is unpopular and in the face of opposition.  Personally, I chose to respond to Starbucks’ announcement by making the decision to #dumpstarbucks.  I shared a link on my Twitter account inviting others to do the same, and I am writing this post now.  I’m ok with people thinking I’m silly for doing so.  I realize that Starbucks as a company will probably continue to do just fine, and I’m not condemning those I see on the street with Starbucks cups to Hell.  But I know that my response was heard; and I am proud to stand up for Christ and His Church.

Of course, as with anything in my life, it is a work in progress.  What are your thoughts?

Rally for Religious Freedom

Have you heard about the rally for religious freedom happening across the country tomorrow, March 23rd, at noon?  Over 100 cities are participating.

Check out this website to find the rally nearest you.  Come out and support religious freedom for all Americans.

“We wish to clarify what this debate is—and is not—about.  This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive, even when it is not provided by the Church’s hand and with the Church’s funds.  This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block.  This is not about the Bishops’ somehow ‘banning contraception,’ when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago.  Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church—consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions—to act against Church teachings.  This is not a matter of opposition to universal healthcare, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding.  This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by governments on its own timing.  Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.”

-A Statement of the Administrative Committee of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops; March 14, 2012

For more information on the rally, click here.  Please continue to keep this issue in your prayers.

Because Religious Freedom Is Cool

There are 195 bishops in the United States.  At the time of writing this, 101 of them have spoken out against the new HHS mandate, which requires that sterilization and contraception, including controversial abortifacients, be among the “preventive services” coverage in almost every healthcare plan available to Americans, including health plans offered by religious organizations.

In short: this requires Catholic organizations to violate basic tenets of their faith or shut down.

Rather than writing a post about this, I thought I’d link to one that sums it up quite nicely.  Please—Catholic or not— spread the word and sign the petition.

This injustice is not something that need solely concern the Catholic Church — if the federal government can force Catholics to act against their consciences, they can force anyone to act against their conscience, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Atheist, and by the same pitiful reasoning.

When Taking A Stand Isn’t Easy

Raise your hand if you saw or re-posted the link to Google’s “End Piracy, Not Liberty” landing page (or something of the like) yesterday.

*raises hand*

yay!  Isn’t taking a stand for something you believe in fun??  As young people, we seem to have this natural itch to be involved in some sort of activism.  We do crazy things like participate in protests, participate in awareness campaigns, or join the Peace Corps.   And, usually (though definitely not always), doing such things amounts to a good and productive use of our time.

But let’s get real for a second.

To be clear: I’m glad so many people are against SOPA—it’s a scary bit of legislation.  I’m even glad so many people took a stand against it and (hopefully) called their congressman/congresswoman to make sure SOPA/PIPA don’t get passed (because if all you did was post the link, you missed the entire point of the exercise).  …And if there were no one at all re-posting the links, awareness wouldn’t have gotten around.  I get it.  Re-posting is good.

Is it bad, then, that I’m a little annoyed with the tendency to pat ourselves on the back for “taking a stand” when it seems to amount to nothing more than following the crowd?  If you stand up in a football stadium when your team scores a touchdown, are you really “taking a stand,” or are you just caught up in the moment with everyone else?  …Who doesn’t like a touchdown?  Especially when the other team winning means you essentially lose your right to free speech?

My point?  Good job for taking a stand against SOPA/PIPA.  It was the right thing to do.  But there’s more good to be done.  You just may not get as many “likes” on Facebook for standing up for it.

Example:

39 years ago this weekend, it became legal for a woman to take the life of the baby developing inside of her.  And around the country this weekend, hundreds of thousands of people will participate in peaceful protests against that law—mourning the loss of over 50 million lives taken since 1973.

You probably won’t hear much about these protests in the news.  Unfortunately, standing up for life hasn’t proven quite as popular as standing up for free speech has these past couple of days.  But if you re-posted the anti-SOPA/PIPA links yesterday, why not re-post this?