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Religious Americans’ Lives Possibly at Risk in 2024, New Report by U.S. Bishops Says…

The bishops said that “were this threat limited to a continuation of the property crimes that have been perpetrated on Catholic churches over recent years, perhaps it would not be the committee’s chief concern. However, boiling tensions over the Israel-Hamas conflict have elevated the chances of a terrorist attack on a synagogue or mosque.”

Meanwhile, they said, the “highly charged atmosphere around the 2024 election might lead far-left extremists to escalate the severity of attacks on Catholic churches, and far-right extremists may view Catholic churches and Catholic Charities facilities as targets for anti-immigrant sentiment or, worse, violent action.”

In response, the bishops urged the faithful to “do our part to foster a society free of hatred” by speaking up for the inherent equal dignity of all people, bearing public witness to Christ’s call to care and compassion for the vulnerable, and praying for peace.

The bishops also told the faithful to be conscious of threats while at houses of worship and to encourage their pastors to use the “Protecting Houses of Worship” resources made available by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

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What threats did religious Americans face in 2023? 

The bishops’ report tracked many concerning trends affecting people of faith in both the political, legislative, and legal spheres as well as the cultural sphere.

On the cultural end, the report said there was a rise in antisemitic and anti-Muslim sentiment as well as continued acts of vandalism and intimidation toward Catholics and other Christians.

The bishops mentioned the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team’s decision to publicly honor an openly anti-Catholic hate group called the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” during last year’s “Pride Month” game in June.

Combining the political and legal with the cultural, the bishops noted the growing controversy in schools surrounding gender identity, a debate they said “has manifested more intensely in schools than in any other [area].”

“The controversies over public schools’ embrace of gender ideology,” the bishops said, “has lent momentum to the push for school choice, as religious parents look for school environments that are compatible with their beliefs.”

This, however, has resulted in more legal battles as some states such as Colorado and groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and others have acted to keep religious schools from receiving any public funding because they say the schools discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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Additionally, “at least three states — Washington, Vermont, and Delaware — have introduced bills to eliminate the clergy-penitent privilege,” potentially forcing priests to break the seal of confession or face legal consequences, the report said.

Religious liberty and the federal government

The partisan division in both houses of Congress kept it from taking much action, either positive or negative, regarding religious liberty.

Several bills considered by Congress, however, do pose significant threats to religious rights should they ever be passed into law. The bishops said that the Equality Act, considered by Congress in 2023, “raises the greatest threat to religious freedom currently before Congress.”

According to the report, the Equality Act is a sweeping bill that would likely require taxpayer funding for abortion, force religious doctors and hospitals to perform abortions, require employers to cover abortion in their insurance plans, mandate doctors to suggest children receive transgender surgeries, force doctors to perform such surgeries, threaten parents’ custody of their children if they object to transgender services, and much more. 

Mark Houck talks to reporters outside the U.S. District courthouse in Philadelphia with his lawyers, Peter Breen (left), Brian McMonagle (right), and Andrew Bath (background) following his acquittal on two charges of violating the FACE Act, Jan. 30, 2023. Credit: Joe Bukuras/CNA
Mark Houck talks to reporters outside the U.S. District courthouse in Philadelphia with his lawyers, Peter Breen (left), Brian McMonagle (right), and Andrew Bath (background) following his acquittal on two charges of violating the FACE Act, Jan. 30, 2023. Credit: Joe Bukuras/CNA

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Peace : a lesson from greek mythology.