Many pundits predicted cries over religious liberty would grow softer over time and become a non-issue by the time Americans cast their ballots in the presidential election this November. They were wrong. The HHS birth control mandate simply turned up the heat on an American crucible that was already boiling.
And it's not just Christians who are concerned. In recent weeks we've seen Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Muslims and peoples of other faiths join together to discuss their concerns and talk about ways to take action at the state and federal levels.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been relentless in the fight. They've called for a "Fortnight for Religous Freedom." Fourteen days of prayer, study and public action. It began June 21st and culminates on July 4th, Independence Day.
Catholic grassroots organization Catholic Advocate is answering the call in a high tech way with a "Virtual Vigil for Religious Liberty." The group is encouraging concerned people of faith to log in to this website and take part in a virtual vigil. Users can even pick their own avatar.
Watch for religious liberty to be a major topic in the presidential debates and in state legislatures across the country in the coming year.
Beltway Buzz would like to share this prayer for religious liberty that's posted on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
O God our Creator,
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit, you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world, bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel to every corner of society.
We ask you to bless us in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty. Give us the strength of mind and heart to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened; give us courage in making our voices heard on behalf of the rights of your Church and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.
Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father, a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters gathered in your Church in this decisive hour in the history of our nation, so that, with every trial withstood and every danger overcome- for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and all who come after us- this great land will always be "one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
We ask this through Christ our Lord.