Bishop's July 4 call: God grants freedom, not government


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ABSTRACTBishop's July 4 call: God grants freedom, not government Home News Travel Money Sports Life Tech Weather Faith and Reason: A conversation about religion, spirituality and ethics Home Archives Related topics Forum About Islam's view on dying, death and Mubarak's coma Bishop's July 4 call: God grants freedom, not government Comments By Cathy Lynn Grossman , USA TODAY Updated Independence Day abounds in political patriotic displays. But today Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput brought theological fireworks in a bell-ringing homily on the Affordable Care Act as an ememy of freedom under God. For two weeks now, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has pounded the drums for religious freedom from every available platform. The trigger: The ACA's requirement for employers to provide free contraception insurance coverage, coverage bishops say will force the faithful to violate church doctrine on abortion. The U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops launched a national push to assert that government (i.e. the Obama administration) should not decide who is religious enough to be exempt from government mandates . They called the campaign a Fortnight For Freedom , with special Masses and rallies in most of the nation's 195 dioceses. Started on the feast day of martyrs who died for defying their king on religious principles, the Fortnight concluded today with Chaput's a call to spiritual arms. Chaput came south from his cradle-of-liberty city to give the homily at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., to a crowd of more than 4,500, overflowing the 3,500-seat church. His core message was that people don't belong to their government, they belong to God, and only when they live by God's plan are they truly free. Hence they are obligated, like the martyrs of the Church, to defy government acts that the Church calls unGodly. Some highlights: Obviously we're in the world. That means we have obligations of charity and justice to the people with whom we share it. Patriotism is a virtue. Love of country is an honorable thing. ... But God made us for more than the world... Because just as the coin (in a passage from Matthew) bears the stamp of Caesar's image, we bear the stamp of God's image in baptism. We belong to God, and only to God. ...Real freedom isn't something Caesar (government) can give or take away. He can interfere with it; but when he does, he steals from his own legitimacy. ...The purpose of religious liberty is to create the context for true freedom. Religious liberty is a foundational right. It's necessary for a good society. But it can never be sufficient for human happiness. It's not an end in itself. In the end, we defend religious liberty in order to live the deeper freedom that is discipleship in Jesus Christ. What the fight comes down to, says Chaput, is a battle for the soul and for ... ... the sacredness of life and the dignity of the human person -- in other words, for the truth of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God. Now that the Fortnight has wrapped up, it appears early reviews were mixed. National Public Radio focused on the Catholic bishops' shift to the right , one that NPR religion reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty sets up as potentially hopeless. David Gibson, author of books on the American Cathlic laity and an analyst for Religion News Service, described the two week campaign as ...an effort to kind of rally the troops to recreate this unified Catholic community that's really disappe.......