Washington D.C., Sep 30, 2011 / 16:30 pm America/Denver (CNA).
Emerging threats to religious freedom have inspired the U.S. bishops to establish a new committee for its protection. Its chairman sees government taking God's place as the source of the “first freedom.”
Bridgeport Bishop William E. Lori told CNA on Sept. 30 that a “principal and overarching error,” connecting several different threats to the free exercise of faith, is “the view that it is the state that grants religious liberty, and not God.”
Bishop Lori was announced as chairman of the new committee in a Sept. 29 letter from U.S. bishops' conference president Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.
“Even though religious liberty is enshrined at the head of the Bill of Rights, in the First Amendment, there is an increasing tendency to make it a lesser right – and to make it quite relative to other, 'newly-discovered' rights in our law and in our culture,” said the Connecticut bishop, whose 2010 pastoral letter “Let Freedom Ring” addressed the subject of state intrusion against believers.
The chair of the new Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty said respect for “religion as a merely private affair” remains largely intact.