U.S. Bishops Stress Importance of Religious Freedom Day

Church Service David GoldmanAP
David Goldman/AP

The chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty praised America’s rich tradition of religious freedom while calling for further strides.

“The establishment of a culture of religious freedom is always an ongoing task,” said Youngstown Bishop George V. Murry on the occasion of the January 16 celebration of Religious Freedom Day. “A culture of religious freedom consists of respect for the dignity of others as they seek to live in accordance with the truth about God. All people can thrive in such a culture.”

In his statement underscoring “the nation’s long‑standing commitment to freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one’s own faith,” Bishop Murry expressed gratitude for concrete actions taken by the Trump administration in this regard, “such as recent steps to protect faith-based social service providers.”

In his own official proclamation of Religious Freedom Day 2020, President Trump reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to protecting religious liberty, insisting he would not tolerate “the violation of any American’s ability to worship freely and openly and to live as his or her faith commands.”

“Our Founders entrusted the American people with a responsibility to protect religious liberty so that our Nation may stand as a bright beacon for the rest of the world,” the president said. “Today, we remain committed to that sacred endeavor and strive to support those around the world who still struggle under oppressive regimes that impose restrictions on freedom of religion.”

In his statement, Bishop Murry noted that religious freedom requires further protection.

“While the free exercise of religion has long been enshrined in our country’s laws, religious minorities have often experienced encroachments on their ability to practice their faith freely,” he noted. “Even today, many Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and other communities, all in different ways, face challenges to their religious freedom.”

“A culture of freedom means that all people of faith and all religious groups are able to freely worship and participate in the life of our society, without fear of intimidation or coercion,” Murry said.

The bishop ended his statement by expressing gratitude for the way religious liberty “is cherished in this country,” while calling on his brother Catholics to “resolve to build on our inheritance for the good of all.”

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