WASHINGTON – On Religious Freedom Day, when the Constitutional protection of conscience and the freedom to exercise one’s religious faith is celebrated nationwide, the Administration announced measures that would strengthen the protection of religious liberty for individuals and for faith-based organizations. Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, chairman of the USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J., of Oakland, CA, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education, have issued the following joint statement:
“We wish to express our gratitude for these steps to ensure that the Constitutional right of individual students and teachers to pray voluntarily in public schools is protected. This fundamental right ensures that persons may freely worship without sacrificing full participation in schools and in society.
“We are also heartened by the Administration’s action to ensure federal agencies are fully compliant with the Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer. That decision properly concluded that it is unconstitutional for government to exclude faith-based organizations from public benefits simply because of their religious status. Today’s action and the Court decision it echoes both honor the American tradition of embracing the contributions of faith-based organizations and enrich the work of social justice by harnessing the efforts of these vital institutions of civil society. Lastly, we are grateful for the proposal to lift certain regulatory burdens from faith-based organizations. This will help ensure a level playing field for religious and secular social service providers.”
Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Religious Freedom Day