US Bishops Warn Of Threats That Target Religious Freedom

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released its annual report on Tuesday outlining the five threats to religious freedom in 2024, mostly in part to the Biden administration.

The 48-page report, which was published on Religious Freedom Day, lists the five issues the committee saw as threats to religious institutions around the country.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, the chair of the USCCBs Committee for Religious Liberty, stated that the report was created to “motivate people to get involved in promoting and protecting religious liberty.”

According to the report, there were five threats to religious liberty in 2024. The first one centered around attacks on houses of worship due to the Israel-Hamas conflict. Vandalism of churches has also increased since the Supreme Court overturned Woe v. Wade in 2022.

The committee’s second biggest threat addressed the Section 1557 regulation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Doctors in Catholic hospitals could be forced to perform gender reassignment surgeries and abortions.

The third threat outlined dealt with the way religious charities serve newcomers, which is expected to increase due to the influx of illegal immigrants entering the country.

“It seems that the role that religious charities play in the immigration system as service providers — helping immigrants get a place to sleep, get a meal, understand their legal obligations, the role that religious charities play in that regard — has been essentially scapegoated,” said Dan Balserak, the USCCB’s religious liberty director and assistant general counsel.

Suppression of religious speech on marriage and sexual differences was listed as the fourth threat the Church faces this year.

The Equality Act, which protects the rights of the LGBT community, could interfere with religious educational institutions due to demands such as transgender students using the bathroom they identify with instead of their biological orientation.

“There are few freedoms more basic, or more inherent to the American political and social order, than the right to say what is true and not to be compelled to profess what is false,” the report states. “People of faith must guard against erosion of this right.”
Lastly, the committee believes that the EEOC’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act regulations caused a threat because it would allow employees to get paid leave to get an abortion.

The bishop also warned churches against affiliating with any political party.

“To make a convincing case for religious freedom in the court of public opinion, the Church cannot function as a mere political advocacy group or a proxy for one party or another,” the report said. “The Church cannot offer an effective witness to religious liberty if we are beholden more to a political party than to God and the teaching of the Church, and if our beliefs are more political than religious.”

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