On April 12, the nearly 200 members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released an urgent summons to all Americans in defense of religious freedom. The bishops proposed that the two weeks between June 22 through the 4th of July become a Fortnight for Freedom, with all men and women of good will participating in teaching, learning, praying, and action in defense of "our first, most cherished liberty."
The bishops listed the following threats to our First Amendment rights:
- The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that forces all employers, including religious organizations, to provide and pay for coverage of employees’ contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs even when they have moral objections to them.
- Another concern is HHS’s defining which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.
- Driving Catholic foster care and adoption services out of business. Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia and Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities adoption or foster care services out of business by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts, or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.
- Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. Despite years of excellent performance by the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require USCCB to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching. Religious institutions should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief, and they do not lose their religious identity or liberty upon entering such contracts.
- Other examples listed in the document include laws punishing charity to undocumented immigrants; a proposal to restructure Catholic parish corporations to limit the bishop’s role; and a state university’s excluding a religious student group because it limits leadership positions to those who share the group’s religion.