Fortnight For Freedom Day Seven: The Freemen Have Assented


Beginning for two weeks, up to Independence Day, the Bishops are having a Fortnight For Freedom:

On April 12, the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a document, “Our First,  Most Cherished Liberty,” outlining the bishops’ concerns over threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad. The bishops called for a “Fortnight for Freedom,” a 14-day period of prayer, education and action in support of religious freedom, from June 21-July 4.


Bishops in their own dioceses are encouraged to arrange special events to  highlight the importance of defending religious freedom. Catholic  institutions are encouraged to do the same, especially in cooperation  with other Christians, Jews, people of other faiths and all who wish to  defend our most cherished freedom.


The fourteen days from June  21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to  July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for  freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face  of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More,  St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the  Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action would emphasize both our  Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that  would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for  religious liberty.


We here at The American Catholic are participating in the Fortnight For Freedom with special blog posts on each day.  This is the seventh of these blog posts.

Maryland, the Catholic colony, played an important role in early American colonial history.  Although Catholics in Maryland would eventually be stripped of many of their civil rights in Maryland by a Protestant majority until the time of the Revolution, while they were a political force they helped lay the foundations for a new nation.  One of the most remarkable documents produced during the time that Catholics ruled Maryland is The Toleration Act of 1649, one of the first legislative acts in the American colonies to establish toleration for all Christian faiths.  This was a compromise document between the Catholics and Protestants of Maryland and its text is as follows:


“Forasmuch as in a well governed and Christian Common Weath matters concerning Religion and the honor of God ought in the first place to bee taken, into serious consideracion and endeavoured to bee settled, Be it therefore ordered and enacted by the Right Honourable Cecilius Lord Baron of Baltemore absolute Lord and Proprietary of this Province with the advise and consent of this Generall Assembly:

That whatsoever person or persons within this Province and the Islands thereunto helonging shall from henceforth blaspheme God, that is Curse him, or deny our Saviour Jesus Christ to bee the sonne of God, or shall deny the holy Trinity the father sonne and holy Ghost, or the Godhead of any of the said Three persons of the Trinity or the Unity of the Godhead, or shall use or utter any reproachfull Speeches, words or language concerning the said Holy Trinity, or any of the said three persons thereof, shalbe punished with death and confiscation or forfeiture of all his or her lands and goods to the Lord Proprietary and his heires.

And bee it also Enacted by the Authority and with the advise and assent aforesaid, That whatsoever person or persons shall from henceforth use or utter any reproachfull words or Speeches concerning the blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of our Saviour or the holy Apostles or Evangelists or any of them shall in such case for the first offence forfeit to the said Lord Proprietary and his heirs Lords and Proprietaries of this Province the summe of five pound Sterling or the value thereof to be Levyed on the goods and chattells of every such person soe offending, but in case such Offender or Offenders, shall not then have goods and chattells sufficient for the satisfyeing of such forfeiture, or that the same bee not otherwise speedily satisfyed that then such Offender or Offenders shalbe publiquely whipt and bee imprisoned during the pleasure of the Lord Proprietary or the Lieutenant or cheife Governor of this Province for the time being. And that every such Offender or Offenders for every second offence shall forfeit tenne pound sterling or the value thereof to bee levyed as aforesaid, or in case such offender or Offenders shall not then have goods and chattells within this Province sufficient for that purpose then to bee publiquely and severely whipt and imprisoned as before is expressed. And that every person or persons before mentioned offending herein the third time, shall for such third Offence forfeit all his lands and Goods and bee for ever banished and expelled out of this Province.

And be it also further Enacted by the same authority advise and assent that whatsoever person or persons shall from henceforth uppon any occasion of Offence or otherwise in a reproachful manner or Way declare call or denominate any person or persons whatsoever inhabiting, residing, traffiqueing, trading or comerceing within this Province or within any the Ports, Harbors, Creeks or Havens to the same belonging an heritick, Scismatick, Idolator, puritan, Independant, Prespiterian popish prest, Jesuite, Jesuited papist, Lutheran, Calvenist, Anabaptist, Brownist, Antinomian, Barrowist, Roundhead, Separatist, or any other name or terme in a reproachfull manner relating to matter of Religion shall for every such Offence forfeit and loose the somme of tenne shillings sterling or the value thereof to bee levyed on the goods and chattells of every such Offender and Offenders, the one half thereof to be forfeited and paid unto the person and persons of whom such reproachfull words are or shalbe spoken or uttered, and the other half thereof to the Lord Proprietary and his heires Lords and Proprietaries of this Province. But if such person or persons who shall at any time utter or speake any such reproachfull words or Language shall not have Goods or Chattells sufficient and overt within this Province to bee taken to satisfie the penalty aforesaid or that the same bee not otherwise speedily satisfyed, that then the person or persons soe offending shalbe publickly whipt, and shall suffer imprisonment without baile or maineprise [bail] untill hee, shee or they respectively shall satisfy the party soe offended or greived by such reproachfull Language by asking him or her respectively forgivenes publiquely for such his Offence before the Magistrate of cheife Officer or Officers of the Towne or place where such Offence shalbe given.

And be it further likewise Enacted by the Authority and consent aforesaid That every person and persons within this Province that shall at any time hereafter prophane the Sabbath or Lords day called Sunday by frequent swearing, drunkennes or by any uncivill or disorderly recreacion, or by working on that day when absolute necessity doth not require it shall for every such first offence forfeit 2s 6d sterling or the value thereof, and for the second offence 5s sterling or the value thereof, and for the third offence and soe for every time he shall offend in like manner afterwards 10s sterling or the value thereof. And in case such offender and offenders shall not have sufficient goods or chattells within this Province to satisfy any of the said Penalties respectively hereby imposed for prophaning the Sabbath or Lords day called Sunday as aforesaid, That in Every such case the partie soe offending shall for the first and second offence in that kinde be imprisoned till hee or shee shall publickly in open Court before the cheife Commander Judge or Magistrate, of that County Towne or precinct where such offence shalbe committed acknowledg the Scandall and offence he hath in that respect given against God and the good and civill Governement of this Province, And for the third offence and for every time after shall also bee publickly whipt.

And whereas the inforceing of the conscience in matters of Religion hath frequently fallen out to be of dangerous Consequence in those commonwealthes where it hath been practised, And for the more quiett and peaceable governement of this Province, and the better to preserve mutuall Love and amity amongst the Inhabitants thereof, Be it Therefore also by the Lord Proprietary with the advise and consent of this Assembly Ordeyned and enacted (except as in this present Act is before Declared and sett forth) that noe person or persons whatsoever within this Province, or the Islands, Ports, Harbors, Creekes, or havens thereunto belonging professing to beleive in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth bee any waies troubled, Molested or discountenanced for or in respect of his or her religion nor in the free exercise thereof within this Province or the Islands thereunto belonging nor any way compelled to the beleife or exercise of any other Religion against his or her consent, soe as they be not unfaithfull to the Lord Proprietary, or molest or conspire against the civill Governement established or to bee established in this Province under him or his heires. And that all and every person and persons that shall presume Contrary to this Act and the true intent and meaning thereof directly or indirectly either in person or estate willfully to wrong disturbe trouble or molest any person whatsoever within this Province professing to beleive in Jesus Christ for or in respect of his or her religion or the free exercise thereof within this Province other than is provided for in this Act that such person or persons soe offending, shalbe compelled to pay trebble damages to the party soe wronged or molested, and for every such offence shall also forfeit 20s sterling in money or the value thereof, half thereof for the use of the Lord Proprietary, and his heires Lords and Proprietaries of this Province, and the other half for the use of the party soe wronged or molested as aforesaid, Or if the partie soe offending as aforesaid shall refuse or bee unable to recompense the party soe wronged, or to satisfy such fyne or forfeiture, then such Offender shalbe severely punished by publick whipping and imprisonment during the pleasure of the Lord Proprietary, or his Lieutenant or cheife Governor of this Province for the tyme being without baile or maineprise.

And bee it further alsoe Enacted by the authority and consent aforesaid That the Sheriff or other Officer or Officers from time to time to bee appointed and authorized for that purpose, of the County Towne or precinct where every particular offence in this present Act conteyned shall happen at any time to bee committed and whereupon there is hereby a forfeiture fyne or penalty imposed shall from time to time distraine and seise the goods and estate of every such person soe offending as aforesaid against this present Act or any part thereof, and sell the same or any part thereof for the full satisfaccion of such forfeiture, fine, or penalty as aforesaid, Restoring unto the partie soe offending the Remainder or overplus of the said goods or estate after such satisfaccion soe made as aforesaid.

The freemen have assented. “

More to explorer


  1. “Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to principles. Intolerance applies only to principles, but never to persons.” Bishop Fulton Sheen.

    HOW COULD ANY MAN DENY TO ANOTHER MAN PRESENCE IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE? Isn’t the public square the possession of each and every PERSON in joint and common tenancy and each and every PERSON, the child of “their Creator”? It appears that some men can impose their form of hatred upon other men using the very FREEDOM endowed by “their Creator”, the Father of Jesus Christ and our Father, WHO is in heaven. The PERSON of Jesus Christ cannot be disenfranchised of His rights endowed by “their Creator” to all men without proof of evildoing, in this case treason, incurring the necessity for removal of scandal and impending harm. Let the punishment fit the crime. Let the evildoer be hung upon his own gibbet (petard).

  2. “Toleration, or, to be more exact, religious liberty, is in every one’s mouth, and the constant theme of declamation with all who would depreciate their ancestors, glorify themselves, or win the applause of the multitude ; but, unless we are greatly deceived, it is a theme on which there is much loose writing, and still more loose speaking and thinking. ”
    this is a quote from “Civil and Religious Toleration” in Orestes Brownson’s Quarterly Review, July, 1849.
    Brownson is too little read I think..
    If you are interested:

  3. I’m concerned that the Catholic Bishops unfairly pound the drum of religious freedom to infringe on the rights of Catholics and non-Catholics in a manner which is inconsistent with our Constitutional liberties. Recently we have heard sermons about how the government is interfering with these liberties, without making reference to exactly how this is being done, but anyone who has been paying attention is aware this has all to do with women’s reproductive rights (e.g., birth control) which the Bishops are going to mat against Pres. Obama. Since reproductive medical care is a legal right, it is the Bishops who foist their ill-conceived notion of public morality down the throats of the US public.

  4. Sheerest rubbish. No one is stopping women from buying contraceptives. For the cheapest political advantage Obama decided to run roughshod over religious liberty by mandating that employers provide insurance coverage which covers contraceptives. You couldn’t be more twisted in your perception of what this fight is about.

  5. Ridiculous lies: How the left cheats in the war of ideas. E.G., Jim Hall.

    It’s not an “ill-conceived notion.” The bishops are promulgating 2,000 years consistent Church teaching against abortion and artificial contraception.

    You have the right to commit these mortal sins. Obama and you do not have the right to require the Church pay for sins against life, morals and the Holy Spirit.

  6. You both have the right to your opinions, but neither of you, or the Church, have any right to make your religious views the law of the land. The complaint is that government interferes with religion, but it’s the other way around. Also, such intolerance is driving many Catholics out of the Church.

  7. Once again total rubbish. The Church is not attempting to impose a ban on contraceptives on the nation. The Obama regime is attempting to impose on the nation that employers have to provide insurance to their employees that covers contraceptives, no matter their religious scruples. As for Catholics leaving the Church over the Bishops standing up for religious freedom, frankly such Catholics left the Church de facto long ago.

  8. You both have the right to your opinions, but neither of you, or the Church, have any right to make your religious views the law of the land.

    It must feel wonderful to knock such a powerful strawman argument down, but sadly (for you) the Church is not trying to make its religious views the law of the land. It is simply fighting efforts by the government to impose its morality upon the Church by forcing it to pay for practices it deems to be immoral. Remember that first amendment thing you leftists pretend to hold so sacrosanct? Yeah, that’s what is at stake. (Cue leftist protesting that he is not a leftist.)

    . The complaint is that government interferes with religion, but it’s the other way around.

    Not that you haven’t done a masterful job of proving your argument, but we’re going to need a little bit more than “nuh uh, you’re the intolerant one” to convince us of the veracity of this claim.

    Also, such intolerance is driving many Catholics out of the Church.

    Really? The Churches I’ve been to look to be as full as ever. You don’t think this might a bit of wish fulfillment on your part?

  9. @7:59:
    “You both have the right to your opinions, but neither of you, or the Church, have any right to make your religious views the law of the land. The complaint is that government interferes with religion, but it’s the other way around. ”

    Not the other way around, the mandate was made on 1/20/2012 which interfered with religious beliefs. See the below three points.

    “June 27, 2012
    The HHS Mandate: A Question of Religious Freedom or the Life Issues?

    by Peter J. Colosi

    Editor’s note: This is the first of a three part article that will discuss the current approach of the US Bishops in order to thank them and praise their efforts, while at the same time pointing out a certain oversight in their approach. Following parts will look at the reasons not often mentioned for which the Administration is enacting the HHS Mandate as well as ideas on how most wisely to approach the question of contraception in the midst of the fight for religious freedom.

    The Approach of the Bishops: Praise and A Question

    Stating What the Fight Is and Is Not About

    It is wonderful to see the unity, work and leadership of the Bishops in the fight for Religious freedom. We should both thank God for and join with them in their focused attention on the wrongheaded general principles they list as built into the Mandate: (1) an unwarranted government definition of religion; (2) a mandate to act against our teachings; and (3) a violation of personal civil rights. Regardless of the specific content of this mandate (contraception), these wrongheaded general principles violate the nature of freedom and conscience, and they violate the laws and customs of the United States of America. This would also be true if the government had begun its attack on religious freedom by forcing the Amish to subsidize car sales on their property. …”

  10. Jim Hall “reproductive medical care is a legal right” ??
    I am not a lawyer but I am asking- exactly how many rights have we enumerated?
    If it is a right, who supplies it?

    Your comment makes me think you just don’t understand the issues.. and the lack of knowledge must certainly be willful at this point. Anyone can plainly see the church is not trying to impose morality, but defending it’s own right to it’s own morals.

  11. Mr. Hall, no one is making any serious attempt to make Catholic views on contraception the law of the land. There’s a whole lot of daylight between outlawing something and not providing a subsidy for it. (Ask anybody who likes their Jack Daniels.)

    And where are these Americans who are so priced out of the market for artificial contraception that they can’t afford condoms? Granted, I expect there are plenty of Americans, from Sandra Flew on down, who don’t *want* to use condoms. But there are plenty of Americans who want better housing than Section 8 affords, too, and I don’t hear anyone trumpeting *their* (much more defensible) right to good housing.

    You appear to be frightened of shadows.

    What *is* happening–and what can be verified simply by reference to public texts published by the U.S. Government–is that this Administration (apparently with your approval) is trying to force Catholics (and others) to pay for acts we consider intrinsically evil. Put more baldly, in order to solve a non-problem, you consider the consciences of millions of Americans expendable. (Just counting the observant Catholics, you still get millions, and I’m not even counting in the Mormons or the Orthodox or other folks who object to artificial contraception on conscience.)

    Who are you to tell us that our consciences don’t count?

  12. The one comment, from Mr. Brown, which invites reply: “What *is* happening. . . . that this Administration (apparently with your approval) is trying to force Catholics (and others) to pay for acts we consider intrinsically evil.” Please, check your facts. After the Catholic Bishops raised a stink, the Obama Admin reached an accord to the effect that religious organizations may opt out of the requirement to include birth control coverage in their employee insurance plans, and upon doing so the insurers themselves will offer contraception coverage to enrollees directly, at no additional cost.

    Please note the manifest ironies, that even wholly “Catholic” hospitals and charities are staffed primarily by non-Catholics and largely provide services to people of other faiths or of none, paid for with tax dollars. Regardless, by now objecting to its employees election to secure such services–even when the Church is not ‘forced’ to paraticipate in the alleged evil–it is very clear that the Church is interfering with freedom here.

    The Church’s effort to cry foul over these matters is shameful. I’m not sure if you bunch are being run by Fox News, or if this is a “Saturday Night Live” moment which the Bishops hope to secure public ridicule. In either event, its position on these issues would be comical if not so pernicious and the outcome so damaging.

  13. Jim Hall, It is the mission of the Catholic Church to save souls, that rational, immortal part of the human being . The spiritual works of mercy are inscribed in the bible. It is the duty of the church to resist anything that might endanger man’s soul. God cares for us as a mother cares for her infant. If an immortal soul goes to hell man is made more poor by its loss. Mankind was made for God and heaven. Without God and heaven, life becomes meaningless, and you can go to hell, unless you will to go to heaven. Now, Obamacare denies that you can will to go to heaven by denying man’s conscience and free will, which you call freedom from the state, but the true freedom, the truth from God is necessary to find heaven.

  14. JIm Hall again with the willful misunderstanding.
    The Catholic organization pays the insurance provider for what the insurance provider provides. The Catholic then is still cooperating in paying for something he don’t believe in.
    Insurance companies should get to decide what kind of coverage they want to offer too.
    The government (Medicaid) provides the patient with the ability to pay for services provided, that does not give the government the right to require the service provider to provide something they don’t believe in. That’s like saying “I’ve got money so you have to sell me something, even if that something is not in your inventory.” Glad you’ve got money, but I don’t have to sell you what I don’t want to sell.
    People have the choice to go to Catholic organizations for service or for employment– the organization describes the job requirements and benefits, while also choosing to provide a service and what to include in that service… and who to hire.

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