A great day for people of faith

Yesterday, May 4, President Trump signed his executive order on religious liberty. Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued a response to President Donald J. Trump’s executive order signed on Thursday, May 4, 2017: “Today’s Executive Order begins the process of alleviating the serious burden of the HHS mandate. We will engage with the Administration to ensure that adequate relief is provided to those with deeply held religious beliefs about some of the drugs, devices, and surgical procedures that HHS has sought to require people of faith to facilitate over the last several years. We welcome a decision to provide a broad religious exemption to the HHS mandate, but will have to review the details of any regulatory proposals. In recent years, people of faith have experienced pressing restrictions on religious freedom from both the federal government and state governments that receive federal funding. For example, in areas as diverse as adoption, education, healthcare, and other social services, widely held moral and religious beliefs, especially regarding the protection of human life as well as preserving marriage and family, have been maligned in recent years as bigotry or hostility — and penalized accordingly. But disagreement on moral and religious issues is not discrimination; instead, it is the inevitable and desirable fruit of a free, civil society marked by genuine religious diversity. We will continue to advocate for permanent relief from Congress on issues of critical importance to people of faith. Religious freedom is a fundamental right that should be upheld by all branches of government and not subject to political whims. As president of the Bishops’ Conference, I had the opportunity to meet with President Trump this morning in the Oval Office to address these and other topics.”

For far too long, people of many faiths, and particularly Christians, have been under attack by our society and by our government. Laws were passed to force Christians to do things in violation of their beliefs and conscience with severe penalties attached to those who would not comply. Our long held belief is this country of separation of Church and state was a principle enshrined by our founding fathers to protect American citizens in the free exercise of their religious beliefs in this country without governmental interference; it was never intended to stamp out faith or religious beliefs in our nation. We are a country founded on Judeo-Christian principles and values which remain at the core of our identity as a nation. Those beliefs welcome and invite people of all faiths to be part of our society, but not in a way that they can then demand that Judeo-Christian beliefs be eliminated because they may offend someone. It is a glorious day to see once again the President of the United States asserting the right and freedom of peoples of all faiths to practice what they believe without fear or discrimination. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced again and we will never stand for religious discrimination,” Trump said before signing the order, which states it is now administration policy is “to protect and vigorously promote religious liberty.” This is big news indeed and an encouraging development for all of us who belief in God and strive to live out the values and ideals of our deeply held religious beliefs” which do indeed bring a richness and blessing to this great country of ours. We can say once again with pride and without fear: “In God we trust,” “one nations under God, with liberty and justice for all.”