Religious freedom: It’s not just Pakistan and China


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ABSTRACTGEORGE WEIGEL: Religious freedom: It's not just Pakistan and China Archdiocese of Denver Search HOME NEWS DENVER CATHOLIC REGISTER EL PUEBLO CATOLICO PARISHES OFFICES CATHOLIC SCHOOLS BISHOP CONLEY QUICK LINKS >>> About the Archdiocese Becoming Catholic Pastoral Handbook Cardinal Stafford Library Calendar Donations Web Archive Contact Us MENU BY TOPICS MENU GEORGE WEIGEL Cemeteries & Mortuaries Child & Youth Protection Education/Classes Hispanics (En Español) Evangelization/RCIA Liturgy & Spirituality Marriage & Family Life Other Catholic Organizations Seminaries & Clergy Social Teaching Vocations Youth, Young Adults & Campus Ministry Archive 2012 Archive 2011 Archive 2010 Archive 2009 Archive 2008 Archive 2007 Archive 2006 Archive 2005 Archive 2004 Archive 2003 GEORGE WEIGEL COLUMN George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. His column, "The Catholic Difference," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register , official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver.  Click here to read his biography .   Subscribe Today! For only $20 per column ($10 if online only), you, too, can publish George Weigel’s weekly column in your newspaper, bulletin or journal. For more information, contact Tracy Murphy, Associate Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Denver, at tracy.murphy@archden.org . Religious freedom: It’s not just Pakistan and China March 14, 2012 - Thirty-some years ago, I spent a fair amount of time on religious freedom issues: which meant, in those simpler days, trying to pry Lithuanian priests and nuns out of Perm Camp 36 and other gulag islands. Had you told me in 1982 that one of my “clients,” the Jesuit Sigitas Tamkevicius, would be archbishop of Kaunas in a free Lithuania in 2012, I would have thought you a bit optimistic. If you had also told me, back then, that there would eventually be serious religious freedom problems in the United States, I would have thought you a bit mad. But you would have been right on both counts. To be sure, Americans of conviction and conscience are not under the same threats that made a martyr of Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistan a year ago. American believers in biblical religion and its moral teachings do not face the relentless pressure visited upon Chinese Christians who refuse to concede that the Church is a subdivision of the state. But religious freedom is, nonetheless, under assault in these United States. The assault is both cultural and legal. It is shameful that the present administration underwrites the former while being a major actor in the latter. I try to unravel some of the cultural aspects of the problem—the attempt to erect an empty “shrine” at the heart of western democracy—in the spring 2012 issue of National Affairs, in an article whose title is taken from the Book of Daniel: “The Handwriting on the Wall.” (The article is available online, after March 21, at www.nationalaffairs.com .) As for the administration’s legal assault on religious freedom, consider the following: 1) The recent HHS mandate—which requires that all employers (including religious institutions with moral objections and private-sector employers with religiously-informed moral objections) facilitate the provision of contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacient drugs like Plan B and Ella to their employees&.......