Religious liberty has been a tenet of our faith since the first days of the Church. The earliest disciples often suffered for their faith. The threat to life and liberty was a real part of the Christian experience.
Millennia have passed, but threats remain. Recognizing this, the Second Vatican Council promulgated Dignitatis Humanae, the Declaration on Religious Liberty. In it, the Council stated that religious liberty is a God-given right and part of our human dignity. We must be free to serve God as He calls us.
Faith in God and acceptance of others’ religious beliefs are dropping, and this, among other problems, has challenged our liberties. Since 2020, the US has suffered over 100 acts of vandalism, arson, and theft at churches. In a few of the worst cases, madmen have murdered and terrorized worshippers in the pews.
So, what can we do about it? First, pray. Pray for grace to live your faith. Pray that leaders protect our right to worship. Pray for our enemies. And pray for the martyrs who suffer today in the name of Jesus.
Next, reflect. As we celebrate our nation’s independence, think about what the freedom to worship means to you. How has God blessed you with this freedom? What would it mean if someone told you that you could no longer follow God according to your conscience?
And act! Exercise your rights and go to Mass. Share what religious liberty means to you. Serve our community and support others who do. And contact your elected officials and ask them to protect our right to religious freedom. To learn more, visit www.usccb.org/committees/religious-liberty.