By Dick Lyles
Happy Independence Day! Isn’t it remarkable to think that our Declaration of Independence was ratified 236 years ago today? It was an occasion worthy of great fanfare for centuries to come, John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail:
“It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
I doubt Adams envisioned a hotdog-easting contest, but his hopes for the day were largely fulfilled. Personally, I love to attend Mass on the 4th of July, my own solemn act of devotion to God Almighty. Bowing at the altar, I have so much to give thanks for.
This 4th of July feels different, though, as I consider Thomas Jefferson’s famous assertion “that all men are created equal, that that are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
I’m still reeling from the Health and Human Services mandate, which so flagrantly trampled on our conscience.
It’s not a matter of contraception but of conscience. The Constitution of the United States affords freedom of religion – not just the watered-down concept of “freedom of worship,” as re-framed by proponents of the mandate. We have a sacred American right not just to pray, but to practice our faith, whatever it may be. This mandate is no different than if the president were to require all Jewish and Muslim business owners to serve pork as an option in their cafeteria every day simply because some of their workers occasionally like to eat pork. Imagine the outcry from PETA if President Obama were to require companies to pay for hunting licenses for employees who want to go deer hunting during their paid corporate vacations.
I hope you’ll stand with me and defend our religious liberty today. I’m proud to be a Catholic American.