SUPREME KNIGHT Anderson notes in the introduction of his recent book, These Liberties We Hold Sacred, that Father Michael McGivney was addressing certain questions when he founded the Knights of Columbus — Can a person be a good Catholic and a good citizen? And, if so, what does that look like?
“For nearly a century and a half,” Anderson writes, “the Knights of Columbus has answered the first question affirmatively, and the second question by example.”
In fact, the supreme knight has observed, a good Catholic makes a better citizen. In his 2013 annual report, for instance, he said, “Living [our] principles in civil society today is also a high expression of patriotism. It is among the best things we can do as citizens to contribute to the common good.”
This understanding of civic responsibility has informed the Order’s engagement in public life, especially as it has continued the Knights’ long history of defending religious liberty.
In June 2004, for example, the Knights successfully defended a legal challenge to the phrase “under God” in the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance — a phrase the Knights had championed half a century earlier. Subsequent court decisions in 2009 and 2010 again upheld constitutionality of the phrase.
“The words ‘under God’ do not somehow turn it into a prayer,” Supreme Knight Anderson said. “They simply reaffirm the truth spoken in the Declaration of Independence, that we ‘are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.’ These rights are not the government’s to give or take away.”
When conscience rights were threatened in 2011 by the contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act, the Knights of Columbus lent its support to the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty — chaired by Supreme Chaplain Lori, then bishop of Bridgeport — as well as the bishops’ “Fortnight for Freedom” prayer initiative.
The Order also supported the legal challenge to the mandate mounted by the Little Sisters of the Poor, later honoring the Little Sisters with the Gaudium et Spes Award in 2016.
In response to growing political rancor and societal division, in 2012 Supreme Knight Anderson announced “Civility in America,” a national nonpartisan campaign calling on all people of good will to engage in more civil discourse. He has likewise urged all Knights to participate in Novenas for National Unity; has written about the principled, nonviolent example of Martin Luther King Jr.; and has promoted Christian charity as a source of civic unity.
“We must lead by the example of the good that we do,” Anderson declared in his 2013 annual report. “And we must not be silent in speaking up for our rights."
Logos & Emblems
Fraternal Leader Advisory
Knights in Action
Share your Knights in Action News
Please contact the
Knights of Columbus News Bureau