.- The U.S. bishops have launched a nationwide prayer campaign to defend religious liberty against recent threats such as the federal contraception mandate.
The campaign centers around a newly-released âPrayer for Religious Liberty,â which asks God to grant âa clear and united voiceâ to all who gather to defend rights of conscience âin this decisive hour in the history of our nation.â
At a Washington, D.C. administrative committee meeting on March 13-14, leaders of the U.S. bishops' conference called for the campaign in response to imminent threats to religious liberty, including the Obama administration's controversial contraception mandate.
Bishops from every diocese in the country have spoken out against the mandate â announced by the Department of Health and Human Services on Jan. 20 â which will require employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and early abortion drugs, even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
In a March 14 statement assessing the threat to religious freedom posed by the mandate, the bishops urged all people of faith to engage in âprayer and penanceâ for the protection of conscience rights in America.
âPrayer is the ultimate source of our strength,â the bishops said, observing that âwithout God, we can do nothing; but with God, all things are possible.â
The bishopsâ conference website offers campaign resources including suggested prayers of the faithful for religious liberty and more information on the mandate.
It also offers a bulletin insert with instructions on how to contact members of Congress and ask them to support legislation to protect religious freedom and conscience rights under the health care law.
The new âPrayer for Religious Libertyâ can be downloaded in both Spanish and English on the website, and prayer cards featuring Mary Immaculate and Our Lady of Guadalupe can be ordered in bulk.
The prayer acknowledges that manâs âright to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happinessâ comes from the âprovident handâ of God the Creator.
It recognizes both âthe right and the dutyâ to worship God by living out oneâs faith âin the midst of the world.â
âWe ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty,â says the prayer, which requests âstrength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened.â
It also asks for âcourage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.â
The prayer asks God for help to overcome trials and dangers that so that future generations may continue to experience the greatness of America as âone nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.â