Many religious leaders agreed this week to challenge anti-life measures imposed on them through government action. This includes recognition of same-sex marriage, requirements that pharmacists dispense abortifacients against their consciences, and, of course, abortion. Various religious faiths and various organizations were represented by the signatories of the Manhattan Declaration.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:

Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. “He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters.”

¶1782

The power of the State to control the consciences of citizens is a frightening prospect, but states are attempting to do this very thing under the guise of “human rights.” The claim against the State is that such requirements violate the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

This issue could indeed be the subject of a full-length article or book (in fact, it has been). But as the debates rage on, it is important for those of us who will face these challenges to form our consciences well, in the shadow of the Cross, and with an open and honest heart. Only through a properly formed conscience are we able to take full responsibility for our actions and to challenge contradictory state action. Let us remain steadfast in prayer and allow the Spirit to guide us into all truth (John 16:13) in order to combat the culture around us.

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