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Rights vs Privileges

It is good news that within 24 hours of filing a law suit against the federal government for prohibiting Catholic practices including Mass, baptisms, religious education and counseling during the government shut down, the administration reversed course and notified the Thomas More Law Center that their clients would once again be free to practice Catholicism at the Kings Bay Naval facility.

It would have been instructive, however, to hear government lawyers argue their case. Only Catholics were barred from all activities--even lay run activities such as religious education. Other denominations were allowed to function unimpeded. Exactly how were they going to justify their judgment that Catholic religious practices were not essential and did not contribute to the morale and welfare of military personnel and their families?

Before we break out the champagne to celebrate this legal victory, it is time to take a sober look at the implications of this case. The fact that the freedom to exercise our religion was ever called in to question speaks volumes about the tenuous position of our religious liberty within the United States and within the military in particular. This freedom that is a right guaranteed by our Constitution is being reduced to a privilege that is subject to the whims of those with power. We must not be content that everything turned out ok in the end. We owe the current administration no gratitude for their concessions. We need to make clear to all elected officials of both parties that we will not stand for this type of infringement upon our religious liberty in the future.




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