Springfield – As part of Religious Freedom Week (June 22-30), the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois is hosting Denise Burke, senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, to discuss the issue of religious freedom, current attacks on this fundamental right, how people can fight back, and victories in the courts.

The public is welcome to attend the “Religious Freedom Celebration, Protecting our Right of Conscious” dinner and talk Saturday, June 29, which takes place at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield starting at 5:15 p.m. Dinner is provided at no cost, and no RSVP is needed.

“One of the most vital freedoms Americans have inherited is the freedom to live according to their faith and consciences, free from government coercion,” Burke said. “Unfortunately, so many of Alliance Defending Freedom’s clients - health care providers, cake artists, and college students - have faced discrimination, lawsuits, and even the loss of their jobs because of their desire and commitment to live according to their faith and consciences. We must all do our part to promote freedom of conscience - through laws, litigation, and especially in the hearts and minds of everyone who will listen.”

“There is growing fear in Illinois that some lawmakers will force through an agenda that attacks people of faith,” said Steven Roach, Director of Catholic Charities for the diocese. “We already saw this last spring, when House Bill 2495 and Senate Bill 1942 were filed. Those bills in their original form attacked conscience rights through repealing the Abortion Refusal Act, which allows medical professionals and hospitals to decline performing abortions due to moral and/or religious beliefs.

During Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration, he cut off funding for adoption and foster care services provided by Catholic Charities because we wouldn’t violate our sincerely held religious belief in the definition of traditional marriage. We had been providing adoption services without incident for decades. We must stay vigilant and proactive, doing everything we can to protect our right of conscious.”

On the national level, questions amounting to religious tests for potential judges have come up. For example, during a U.S. Senate confirmation hearing, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Amy Coney Barrett, a Catholic, was told by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein that, “The dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern.” More recently, some nominees have been asked about their membership to the Knights of Columbus.

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