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    IN DEFENSE OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

    WHEREAS, the Second Vatican Council declared in Dignitatis humanae that the right to religious freedom is based upon the inherent dignity of the human person, which requires that all people are to be free from coercion in matters of belief and conscience, and that no one should be forced to act in a manner contrary to his or her own beliefs or conscience; and

    WHEREAS, the right to religious freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other documents recognizing religious freedom; and

    WHEREAS, religious freedom is not a benefit that a government confers out of a sense of mere tolerance, which can be removed, but rather it is an inalienable right, rooted in the transcendent dignity of every human being; and

    WHEREAS, Pope Francis has called religious freedom “a fundamental right of man,” that is “not simply freedom of thought or private worship” but “the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly”; and

    WHEREAS, since its founding, the Knights of Columbus has worked to defend religious freedom for all people and has done so out of a commitment to our faith and our unshakeable belief that religious freedom is a basic human right; and

    WHEREAS, the Order’s work on behalf of religious freedom included efforts in the U.S. Supreme Court case Pierce v. Society of Sisters, which affirmed the right of children to a Catholic education in opposition to the efforts of the Ku Klux Klan; and

    WHEREAS, our work for religious freedom also included protesting the persecution of Catholics in Mexico in the 1920s; efforts to combat the anti-religious worldview of Communism; and the inclusion of the phrase “under God” in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance to distinguish the United States from anti-religious governments; and

    WHEREAS, Pope Francis has urged the Knights of Columbus to draw the attention of Catholic Americans “to contribute to the reasoned defense” of religious freedom and reminded us that “to the extent that this right is menaced … there is a need for a mobilization of consciences on the part of all those citizens who, regardless of party or creed, are concerned for the overall welfare of society.”

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that as citizens and as Knights of Columbus, we will remain steadfast in our support for the free exercise of religion as it is enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other documents recognizing religious freedom; and

    FURTHER RESOLVED, that we stand firm in our conviction that the full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to “freedom of worship,” as some have claimed, but must include full “freedom of religion,” which necessarily encompasses the public dimension of religion, the freedom from persecution or discrimination on the basis of conscience and belief, and the fact that believers are called to play an active role in building the social order; and

    FURTHER RESOLVED, that we call on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to maintain robust religious and moral exemptions as part of its contraceptive mandate; and

    FURTHER RESOLVED, that we support the passage of the Conscience Protection Act, which would codify in law that no person can be forced to participate in an abortion against his or her will; and

    FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge all government officials, in all of the countries where we are active, to enact legislation that will protect the right of religious institutions and individuals to be free from government coercion; and

    FURTHER RESOLVED, that we will always speak out against any effort to impose religious tests on candidates or nominees for government positions; and

    FURTHER RESOLVED, that we will remain steadfast in our opposition to future governmental actions or policies that force institutions and individuals to violate their deeply held religious beliefs.

    Resolutions

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