The Chicago Declaration on Religious Freedom

On Sunday afternoon (October 14, 2012), Chicago area business and cultural leaders met in Lake Forest, Illinois to discuss a strategy, and make a statement in favor of Religious Freedom and support of the First Amendment. This is the statement that came out of the event.


At a time where Religious Freedom and the very heart of our mation is under attack, we stand together to both affirm our support and belief in our United States Constitution. We also agree to take action to inform and educate those around us that the rights of all, especially those rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, must be preserved.

We declare with our Founding Fathers and generations of Americans, that we are a free people and that this freedom is a gift from God, creator of human nature, and this freedom is also an inherent right in our nature.

We declare that the first of these Freedoms, Freedom of Religion, liberates us from restraint in seeking truth, following conscience and expressing belief in all manner of personal and private life, individually, communally and nationally.

We declare that the Religious Freedom established in our nation is for all people, all religions and all faiths. This openness to all is rooted in the Judeo-Christian foundations of the United States Constitution. To steward the nation and future generations into a tomorrow of stable and sustained human flourishing, we must honor this heritage personally and publicly.

We declare that Freedom of Religion is the indispensable means of ensuring the hopeful vitality of our people and Constitutional Republic, and to lose it is to lose the heart of the nation and the Republic itself.

We declare that, regrettably, over the course of the 20th Century our nation’s exceptional heritage has been progressively obscured, distorted and undermined, so that today it is largely absent in the national culture. Our Religious Freedom is under attack and grave consequences of its increasing diminishment are already evident.

We declare our opposition to these movements and ideologies that have attacked our freedoms. Most specifically we declare our opposition to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate and its directives that attack the very core of our First Amendment Rights. We seek the repeal of this mandate.

Therefore we call for all people to take strategic actions to reclaim our destiny as a nation to be a shining example of Religious Freedom. In recognizing the unique and indispensable role of religion in our society and in the development of people, we affirm the positive good that religion plays in resisting vice and degradation, and in building virtue and a more noble humanity. In this way, we will be fulfilling our duty to God and thus respecting all those whom He has created. In God we trust.

From Reclaiming Religious Liberty

image shield of St. Thomas More



27 thoughts on “The Chicago Declaration on Religious Freedom

  1. Katherine says:

    Chicago area business and cultural leaders make this statement. So input by bosses but not workers. The Blunt Amendment on the HHS mandate gives every boss the right to exclude contraception from employee health plans but exclude any provision to give workers the right not to have their health care premiums go to contraception. Even on these issues that so animate conservatives, workers are treated as unworthy of consideration. This is the great failing of the conservativism.

    1. John Powers says:

      Utter nonsense. Workers can do whatever legal thing they want with their own money. It is not a conservative or liberal issue. It is a defense of the fundamental right of Religious people to be Religious.

      1. Katherine says:

        If I am an employee and my boss only offers health insurance that includes contraception and abortion, then my premiums go to pay for contraception and abortion. The Blunt Amendment gives the boss the right to include or exclude contraception and abortion, but gives no rights to workers employed by a pro-abortion boss. Thier option is to suffer the same problem that has been raised for bosses under the HHS mandate, or go without needed health insurance as well as give up a significant part of their compensation. What amazes me from the Catholic conservatives is not even a response of “well, this is complicated” but a flippant disregard for working stiffs with the same moral concerns that conservatives have been so concerned when it comes to bosses.

  2. It would be good if the names of the companies/groups was included in this article. Otherwise, it reads as hearsay.

  3. Rich says:

    Just think what would happen if we used the power of religion to end poverty and war. Do you think we could get people to come together to declare that people of faith deand that the hungry be fed and the homeless have a place to lay their heads. How about a declaration that no money from the faithful be used to kill a person. If not in war than at least in the prisons within our boundaries. Maybe we can proclaim that those who we have referred to as “illegals” could be able to work openly in our communities and that we might actually follow the biblical tenet to welcome the stranger.
    Oh that we truly longed for Justice. That we really wanted to work to build the kingdom of God.
    Do you think I can tell the Government not to tax me because it violates my conscience to pay for bombs that plow up afghani children or drugs to inject into prisoners to kill them in the name of the state?

    1. Karen says:

      Many religious and non- religious people/groups work tirelessly to help feed the poor and house the homeless. We do what we can, we pray to ask God for help, we vote so that our voice might be heard. No one is perfect, no one person can do it all. Just do what you can. Smile, be patient, be humble, be thankful. Look at everyone with respect.

      1. John Powers says:

        Rich, your point is moot. It is pretty much the same people who worked on this declaration who are constantly working to feed the poor, house the homeless etc. This is directed at a government attack on Religion, which directly threatens our ability to feed the poor etc.

        1. Rich says:

          Funny, but I have not seen the Church in America hold nationwide rallies to end the war, abolish the death penalty or end poverty. When was this Fortnight? And why are people still dying and hungry? What is it about about a woman getting her birth control pills paid for by an insurance company that gets people riled up that feeding the poor and giving medical care to Children does not? Why, even some Bishops support the Ryan Budget which is all but guaranteed to have many babies hungry next in the coming years. Where ar all the irritated consciences for these issues? Where is the Bishops poitics about the intrinsic evil of poverty and injustice and war? Does it take SEX to even get Catholics aroused?
          Of course, you must be thinking things are OK as long as the Churches can continue to get tax money to do this fine work as a government contracted service. But Ryan is cutting this money and people are not upset, only if they are “forced” to place a child into a same gender home with two loving parents, even when the traditionally married folks are not coming out to assume those tasks.
          Yes, Justice is moot.And Chritianity is moot. I am not convinced it is thegovernment that is doing the attacking.

          1. Becky says:

            Uh, you don’t go to a Catholic Chuch because you are not Catholic! I have attended many Catholic Churches and know that they do many, many things to help the homeless, hungry, unwed mothers, children in need of medical care, elderly in need of a ride to the store or doctor’s office. There are fundraisers to raise cash for medical treatment, volunteers go to countries to offer free medical care, etc..

          2. Rich says:

            Maybe if you calmed yourself down, you could read what is written instead of playing your little game of through needless hissy fits and writing hateful comments. Take a Breath Girlfriend.

          3. John Powers says:

            I know plenty of Catholics who work tirelessly to serve the poor and the sick. I even make an occasional effort, though I am sure I could do more.

            The reason that this declaration comes about is because the Government is making unprecedented violation of the First Amendment.

          4. Rich says:

            It is still a debatable point as to whether there is a violation of the First Amendment. The Accusations are yet to be proven in court, which is the venue for this allegation, not the pulpit. Were it to be found a violation, there is still the need to remain proportional. Nothing is ever the All or Nothing game this seems to promote. Still, there are other matters of public policy that insult the Catholic Tradition and were many Catholics feel they are funding intrinsically evil actions such as War and Capital Punishment, to which the Bishops have never mounted the same degree of concern, indignation, or energy. These issues involve a lot more people and much more public money which comes from many individual tax payers. Why is there such limited selectivity on the issues that come to the forefront. US Bombing campaigns that have left many innocent babies and families dead in pieces across this earth have never merited the concern of the Bishops to this degree. In many states publically funded Capital Punishment violates the Consciences of those who pay taxes for death along with the schools, roads and hospitals. Yet employers who are not even paying for Contraception Services are exalted as Social Justice heroes because they oppose something that they are able to challenge in a court of Law. It is ridiculous to call this an affront on Religious Liberty and make it more important that real assaults on the lives of innocents and even the guilty. Yet this is not even my main point. All I ask is that the money spent on the campaigns to convince the reluctant Catholics that this is real issue, the rallies and posters and staff hired everywhere, that if money and time and energy were spent, not at helping at the soup kitchens doing coat drives, but if that same quasi-political organizational structure were utilized to confront in a large scale operations the issues of Poverty or Child Hunger or even STDs spreading in teens in many neighborhoods, that structure could bring LARGE SCALE results. Yes we have many good and faithful people everywhere doing GREAT work meeting the needs, but the opportunity to end the need for many….how wonderful that would be. Maybe being known by these fruits would gain back for the Church, the moral authority that has been lost, in part (and only in part) by the child sexual abuse crisis. Any “win” on the Contraception vs. Religious Liberty front will be so much more symbolic that anything real. It will change very little in our social structure, but may open up a Pandora’s box of Unintended Consequences that the Prelates many not have bargained for. But a nationwide grassroots action through the Church to impact change on Poverty or Hunger would be transforming to the point that many could look to the US or to the Church or two them both as partners and say, “I see God’s Hand here. I know God’s love through these. In God, all things are possible.” Unless we dream it, we will not even consider doing it.

  4. Randall says:

    I support the right of gay and lesbian Americans the freedom to marry the person that they love. I do not have a right to impose my religious beliefs on them by depriving them the right to marry a person of the same sex. I will vote that way in November, to uphold the ideals of freedom of religion that this nation was founded on.

    1. Karen says:

      The purpose of marriage goes beyond “love”. The purpose is unitive and procreative. The purpose of marriage is to propagate and stabilize society. Marriage has a real function towards the well being of our society. Two people of the same sex can not create life, therefore marriage is a moot point.

      1. Rich says:

        Same gender marriage is not moot and the civil purpose of marriage has nothing to do with the sacramental qualities of Marriage. Blocking the civil recognition of same gender marriage does nothing to lift up the sacrament, and only allows the years of prejudice to continue unchallenged. Your comments are very heterosexist because you have not faced your own biases and prejudices.
        Do you really have any civil reason why a same gender couple cannot receive any and all civil benefits that opposite gender couple are allowed. Keep in mind that these benefits are give to Kim Kardashian in whatever marriage she is on as well as your Great Aunt Grace and Uncle Herbert. Kim is not marrying for procreation or is there a true and lasting unitve component to her marriage. Yes the Church makes no objection to her marriage. Why do you think that is? St Thomas makes no distinction for the lack of Catholic-ness in Kim’s wedding or the gay couple down the street. But they choose to divert millions of charitable dollars from Knights of Columbus money away from feeding the poor and clothing the naked in order to make sure that no gay couple can visit a dying spouse in the hospital as next of kin. Something about this does not feel Kosher. In fact something stinks to high Heaven and back. Could it be that our Bishops who can barely find worth for Women in the Church have not come to terms with their own homophobia. (Or the Supreme Knight who was in the Reagan Administration and prior an Aide for the flaming liberal Jesse Helms and received $1.1 million in compensation in 2009)
        Yes we can see how the well being of the society is at risk.

        1. Julie T. says:

          Rich, you dear Troll, who also uses the name Greg (and no doubt others), SERIOUSLY need to get a life. You won’t turn anyone to Satan’s point of view here, so go find another hobby, preferably one that doesn’t include walking in darkness and calling it “light.”

          1. Greg SMITH says:

            Julie T. I hope you don’t mean me!!! – Greg (Smith)

          2. Julie T. says:

            No, Greg Smith…I don’t mean you. What gives “Rich” away is his more than occasional use of “Pax” and “Pax Bonum,” which he also uses when he posts his heretical and anti-Catholic drivel as “Greg”.

          3. Rich says:

            Wow – you are indeed an angry bird. Maybe you should find a better hobby, or perhaps open your bible a bit more. You do realize you can get it online.

      2. I Smell Hypocricy says:

        Marriage between an infertile male and and infertile female can not create life either. I guess that you are saying that their marriage is moot as well.

        1. Randall says:

          Guess what?! Marriages outside of the Catholic Church are moot as well, because they were not performed within the one true faith and therefore do not have God’s blessing. Childless Catholic couples are largely that way by choice and are therefore irrelevant to the “marriage” discussion as well. God said to be fruitful and multiply, not to hold hands and cut the cake.

        2. Karen says:

          But an infertile male/ infertile female marriage can lead to mother/father parentage through adoption. Children deserve both a mother and a father.

    2. Alex Martin says:

      I’m still trying to find where my right to marry as a heterosexual is written. Could you please help me with that?

      1. I Smell Hypocricy says:

        In the constitution, along with the rights of gays and lesbians to have the same right to marry the person that they love. Check out the 14th Amendment.

        1. Robert says:

          Gays and lesbians have the EXACT same marriage rights that everyone has. You just want SPECIAL rights.

        2. Alex Martin says:

          There is equal protection of the law. There is alsp no abridgment of the law. Everyone is free to marry the opposite sex. What we are not free to do is marry multiple people, our children, brothers and sisters, or the same sex. There is no state interest in promoting behaviors which would and have been proven to harm our children.

    3. Randall says:

      You evil, evil person. I did NOT write this and I’m sure anyone who posts here knows that my views are the exact opposite of this impostor. People who attempt to “marry” a member of the same sex should be banished from society as the deviants they are. And Catholic (And other Christian) religions should be free to enforce this action, anything else is a violation of our first amendment rights.

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