The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared a Fortnight for Freedom, beginning today (June 21, 2012) and concluding on July 4, Independence Day. A fortnight is a fancy or old-fashioned way of saying two weeks, and during this two weeks, people who believe in religious freedom are called to pray, fast, learn, and take action to protect this most fundamental right.
Fortnight is a word that would have been very familiar to our Founding Fathers, although we don’t often use it today. Back in the 1770’s, it would have been a common word, one heard daily by the men who wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. They believed in a Creator, and they believed we should have the right to practice our religion without interference from the government.
From the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Also, the First Amendment to the Constitution says this:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
(all emphases are mine)
So, the Founding Fathers asserted that we are endowed with rights by our Creator, not our government, and that the government must not prohibit us from the free exercise of our religion. But today, our rights may be in danger. If we love God and our country, we must stand up for our rights.