Introducing ‘Religious Freedom Matters’ — a Podcast That Defends Your Practice of Faith

Our message is clear: religious freedom will survive only if we know how to defend it.

Pope Francis speaks at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Sept. 26, 2015, in Philadelphia.
Pope Francis speaks at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Sept. 26, 2015, in Philadelphia. (photo: Jim Bourg/Pool / Getty Images)

Religious freedom is under attack everywhere — from Pakistan to Philadelphia, from college campuses to communist China. Every day we hear about infringements on the right to practice faith. Every day we read about groups and even government leaders trying to minimize the role of religious organizations and people of faith in our public square. And every day we feel more upset and concerned about it. What should we do? Where are we going as a nation? Who is fighting for religious freedom?

The Conscience Project and the National Catholic Register have teamed up to bring you Religious Freedom Matters, a new series of podcasts that will discuss these questions with the urgency they deserve, drawing on a formidable range of experts in this field. In this inaugural six-part series, I’ll be joined by Joan Desmond, National Catholic Register senior editor, who has covered issues related to religious freedom from the unjust demands of the Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate to the outright persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Africa, as well as Matthew Bunson, EWTN News’ executive editor and D.C. bureau chief, who is constantly articulating through his work the Church’s teaching on the role of conscience and the universal right to religious freedom.

Together we’ll shed light on the growing instances where religious believers are marginalized from the extremes such as the resurgent fundamentalism that produced such terrible scenes at Kabul airport, to the more subtle and much closer to home problem of militant secularism, which attempts to silence Christian students on campus and tries to force faithful Catholics in medical professions to participate in the provision of abortion. 

In each episode, by anchoring our discussion in Catholic teaching, we address what the mainstream media repeatedly misses and gets wrong about the new wave of affronts to religious liberty.

Our message is clear: religious freedom will survive only if we know how to defend it. That means knowing the legal arguments, knowing the facts that the persecutors and their allies are desperate to keep out of the news, and knowing what the Church teaches about the free practice of our faith.

A key question is addressed in our inaugural episode: Does universal religious freedom advance the common good? Does it diminish Catholics’ belief in the teachings of the Church?

Professor Joseph Capizzi, director of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America, joins Matthew Bunson and me to provide a vision of human flourishing that is energizing a generation of young Catholics passionately committed to religious freedom. It’s an intensely thought-provoking discussion. Episodes to follow address conscience rights in healthcare, what faith-based nonprofits need to do to protect themselves now, victories in our courts of law and need to advance religious freedom across the globe. Please stay tuned to Religious Freedom Matters. I welcome your feedback and topic suggestions in the comments below or at [email protected] (subject: Religious Freedom Matters).

U.S. Supreme Court Building

Supreme Court Favors Religious Freedom with Lori Windham (Episode 2)

Did you know that over the past 15 years, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of religious freedom 81% of the time? When people of faith bring cases to the court, religious liberty tends to win. Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, discusses recent wins in the Supreme Court and what challenges are likely to continue to be presented to our nation’s highest court. Join her conversation with the Conscience Project’s Andrea Picciotti-Bayer and the Register’s senior editor, Joan Desmond on this Religious Freedom Matters.

The U.S. flag and the flag of Vatican City fly outside Nationals Park before Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Washington, DC, April 15, 2008.

Religious Freedom and the Common Good with Joe Capizzi (Episode 1)

Religious freedom will only survive if we know how to defend it. That means knowing the arguments, knowing history, and most importantly, knowing what the Church teaches about the free practice of our faith. Does religious freedom advance the common good? Does it diminish Catholics’ belief in the truth taught by the Church? Professor Joseph Capizzi, director of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America, joins Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, director of the Conscience Project, and Matthew Bunson, EWTN News’ executive editor, to discuss these issues and more!

The schismatic decision of the Poor Clares "seems absolutely wrong to me" but we must see "if it is possible to heal it, cure it, reverse it," said Spanish Archbishop Mario Iceta.

Spain Archbishop on Schismatic Nuns: ‘I Don’t Know if they Realize the Profound Consequences’

On May 13, when they announced their departure from the Catholic Church, the Poor Clares of Belorado indicated in a letter and a declaration that they recognize “H.H. Pius XII as the last valid Supreme Pontiff,” a decision that was explained through an attached 70-page text titled “Catholic Manifesto” claiming that “the see of St. Peter is vacant and usurped.”