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"Freedom is not only a gift, but a summons to personal responsibility…it is a challenge held out to each generation, and it must be constantly won over for the cause of good."
– Pope Benedict XVI, 2008 Pastoral Visit to the United States
"Whether people are serving the poor elderly, like the Little Sisters
of the Poor, or running a family business, like the Greens, the
government should recognize that human dignity by allowing people to
live out their faith absent a very strong reason...The
Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) guarantees this protection. Thank God
- Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville, KY, USCCB President
On Monday, June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in favor of Hobby Lobby and its owners, upholding the rights of Americans to live out their faith in daily life, through the closely held businesses they run. The court based its decision on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which Congress passed in 1993 with nearly unanimous bipartisan support and which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
The USCCB welcomes the Supreme Court's decision to recognize that Americans can continue to follow their faith when they run a family business. Justice has indeed prevailed, with the Court respecting the rights of the Green and Hahn families to continue to abide by their faith in how they seek their livelihood, without facing devastating fines.
Importantly, the Supreme Court upheld the Religious Freedom Restoration Act: RFRA serves the common good in countless ways by maximizing religious diversity and the flourishing of civil society. In the words of USCCB President Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, there is a "vital layer of voluntary associations between individual and government, which provide for so many of our needs, and so enrich our lives." Thus, RFRA's legal protections allow many faith-based community organizations to provide critical services to the most vulnerable members of society.
Looking ahead, we must redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom. First, we ask for continued protection of RFRA and other civil laws that protect religious freedom. We also ask for continued prayers for the protection of religious liberty. The Supreme Court has not yet ruled on whether the so-called "accommodation" violates RFRA when applied to charities, hospitals, schools, or other religious non-profit entities, many of which have challenged the accommodation as a burden on their religious exercise.
Undeniably, it is an incredible blessing and privilege to have numerous ministries of service to the poor and the hungry, the sick and the dying, and we continue to hope that these great ministries of service, like the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others, will prevail in their cases as well.
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