- The Washington Times - Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy 4th of July weekend! Thank God for the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States.

1| Russia’s Proposed Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church | ChristianityToday

Christians in Russia won’t be allowed to email their friends an invitation to church or to evangelize in their own homes if Russia’s newest set of surveillance and anti-terrorism laws are enacted.

The proposed laws, considered the country’s most restrictive measures in post-Soviet history, place broad limitations on missionary work, including preaching, teaching, and engaging in any activity designed to recruit people into a religious group.

To share their faith, citizens must secure a government permit through a registered religious organization, and they cannot evangelize anywhere besides churches and other religious sites. The restrictions even apply to activity in private residences and online.

2| Heroes of Religious Liberty | Long Island Catholic

…We Little Sisters were shocked to find ourselves on a list of freedom fighters. I began to realize the significance of this when I read a reflection on the Fortnight by Archbishop William E. Lori, chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty. “Reflecting on the lives of these great men and women can show us how we might serve as witnesses to freedom today,” he wrote. “They love their country, yet this love does not surpass their love for and devotion to Christ and his Church … By pondering the lives of these exemplary Christian witnesses, we can learn much of what it means to follow Jesus Christ in today’s challenging world. We pray that over these two weeks, the grace of God will help us to grow in wisdom, courage, and love, that we too might be faithful witnesses to freedom.”

We realize that in light of our Supreme Court case we Little Sisters of the Poor have become a symbol of courage to many people. As the bishops’ list of witnesses for freedom demonstrates, countless Christians down through the centuries, and in our own time, have shed their blood and given their lives for the faith.

I am both humbled and embarrassed to find us listed in their company, because I truly believe that our courage is quite relative. Our suffering is of the type that Pope Francis recently called “polite persecution.” After all, we Little Sisters have not been imprisoned or had to resist to the point of shedding blood! 

3| Mary Eberstadt: Regular Christians Are No Longer Welcome in American Culture | TIME

Yes, the 4th of July is the day of the year for lowering partisan flags and raising the red, white and blue one that unites us all. But for many American Christians who lean in toward traditionalism, these are anxious times.

Traditional American Christians have long been on the losing end of culture-war contests—on school prayer, same-sex marriage and other issues. But recent events, including the Supreme Court decision overruling Texas’ restrictions on abortion clinics and the mandate that employers provide access to contraception, have added to the sense that religious expression is under attack.

…What’s a tolerant American to do? First we must understand that red-hot rhetoric about a “war” on Christianity is misbegotten: there is zero equivalence between the horrors of ISIS-led genocide against Christians in the Middle East and what Pope Francis calls the “polite persecution” of believers in the West. (According to Pew, 77% of Americans described themselves as religiously affiliated in 2014, down from 83% in 2007.)

Yet we must also acknowledge that when some Americans citizens are fearful of expressing their religious views, something new has snaked its way into the village square: an insidious intolerance for religion that has no place in a country founded on religious freedom.

Let’s hope that efforts by the U.S. bishops and others to shine light on this unwanted prejudice and send it scurrying back to its hole. After that, Jews and Buddhists, Muslims and atheists, Protestants and Catholics, wiccans and agnostics alike can celebrate American freedom in peace.

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