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Devra Torres

Freedom of Religion vs. Freedom of Worship: More than Semantics

Jan. 10, 2013, at 1:16am

Now that various courts are beginning to weigh in on the HHS Mandate, it’s worth re-examining what the commotion is all about.  Over at Bad Catholic, one article lays out convincingly why religious liberty is worth making a fuss over. 

Here's another aspect: the reductionism of abandoning constitutional terminology and quietly replacing “freedom of religion” with “freedom of worship” as Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, and some others have been doing for years now.

Maybe they thought no one would notice.  Maybe they believed the core of a Catholic’s faith is a fondness for quaint liturgical customs and a sentimental sense of belonging. 

Still, in his community-organizer days,and throughout

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Devra Torres

Hopeless But Not Serious: Standing up to evil without losing your peace

Jun. 20, 2012, at 2:29pm

Dr. Josef Seifert (himself an Austrian) once told us this joke:

In the heat of battle, an Austrian and a German are reporting back to their respective generals.

“Sir,” the German says, “The situation is serious, but not hopeless.”

“Sir,” the Austrian says, “The situation is hopeless, but not serious.”

I thought of that at Planned Parenthood the other day, where (being something of a second-rate prayer warrior, just subbing for a friend) I found myself without a single sign to wave or leaflet to hand out. 

Well, no problem: the idea was to be a prayerful presence, not a one-woman demonstration.  But during my weekly Forty Days for Life Hour, I’d been kept supplied, and kept company, by more

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Josef Seifert

Does Freedom of Conscience not Matter if Obama pays? - AND Socrates’ Advice to Cardinal Dolan

Mar. 11, 2012, at 10:40pm

Socrates’ Advice to Cardinal Dolan: it is better for man to suffer injustice than to commit it.

Many concerned citizens, Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, Jews, Muslims, and even some atheists, have voiced their deep concern over the attack on the freedom of conscience and religion that we now suffer in the USA. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, in his impressive letter of March 2, 2012, expressed his deep concern and shock, alluding even to the hard times which may expect the Catholic Church in view of the unbending and frontal attack on religious freedom by the Obama government. Also Pope Benedict has shown signs of deep alarm, saying to some US bishops during their ad limina

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Josef Seifert

What is “Totalitarian” and Totalitarianism? Is the USA really moving to become a totalitarian state?

Mar. 4, 2012, at 9:39pm

The comments and questions posed on my post on the danger of the USA moving to become a totalitarian state have prompted me to ask the underlying question what a “totalitarian state” is.

By this term we can of course refer to kinds of states and regimes which are very different from the USA. Let us briefly survey the characteristics through which totalitarian states or regimes can be characterized and then ask which of these are present and which are absent in the USA:

  1. A total state control of public and private life that eliminates as far as possible opposition, other parties, private education, Church schools (up to persecuting critics and, if we speak of an atheist totalitarian state,
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Katie van Schaijik

Christians in public

Mar. 11, 2010, at 11:51am

A friend pointed me to this recent address by Denver Archbishop Chaput on religion and public life. He approaches the subject by way of a thoughtful critique of a landmark speech by presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to a group of Protestant ministers fifty years ago—a speech designed to allay fears about Kennedy’s Catholicism influencing his politics.

To his credit, Kennedy said that if his duties as President should “ever require me to violate my conscience or violate the national interest, I would resign the office.” He also warned that he would not “disavow my views or my church in order to win this election.” But in its effect, the Houston speech did exactly that.

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Katie van Schaijik

Grounds for a burqa ban

Jun. 25, 2009, at 10:34am

Before gracefully bowing out of the discussion, Professor Seifert made a point about burqa banning that deserves a separate post:

[M}any of those who want to force Moslem women to take off their veils do so out of an idolization of Western pseudo-civilization and forget the horrors of our own libertarian and degenerate society. Compared with the acts of “legalized” crime and oppression (that alone the abortions here and the increasing threat to the freedom of conscience constitute), I find wearing burqas (even if I wish women replace them by other decent robes) not only completely harmless but in no way intrinsically wrong, and certainly nothing that our states should hypocritically

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Katie van Schaijik

Another burqa photo

Jun. 23, 2009, at 8:24pm

It didn’t seem quite right to add this to Josef Seifert’s post defending the “freedom” (I can’t help adding the scare quotes) to wear the burqa, but I post it for the sake of making clear the sort of thing I have in mind. No conciliating baby blue this time.

I’ve also just come across an article in today’s Daily Mail [a UK paper] on the subject: a British Muslim woman making the case for banning the burqa in public. I won’t link it directly (because of the racy gossip also featured), but here’s a key passage:

Many of my adult British Muslim friends cover their heads with a headscarf - and I have no problem with that.

The burkha is an entirely different matter. It is an imported Saudi

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Josef Seifert

Defending the Freedom of wearing Veils and Burqas

Jun. 23, 2009, at 12:54am

I think that not even the most literal interpretation of the Koran’s dressing codes for women, wearing burqas, ought to be outlawed in the West, let alone Muslim women covering of heads by normal veils (which are equally outlawed in many Western countries). It seems to me that any observance of a religious tradition that is not in any way in itself evil, or criminal, or offensive, ought to be permitted by the law and never be banished or outlawed, which does not exclude to persecute domestic crimes even if justified in the shariah.
Not only is there a sacred right to the freedom of religion and to the freedom of conscience to obey one’s positive religious mandates as long as they do not

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Katie van Schaijik

Should burquas be banned?

Jun. 22, 2009, at 2:23pm

Sarkozy says that burqas are not welcome in France.

I would like to know what personalist philosophers say to this. We favor the free expression of religion, while we oppose the oppression of women in Islam embodied in the burqa. What’s a pluralistic society to do?

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