Archbishop Kurtz’s Statement on House Bill 279
I am very pleased that Kentucky legislators passed House Bill 279 into law last evening. The right to practice our faith is one of our most basic human and civil rights. Obviously religious freedom, like free speech and other basic rights, has limits, but our common understanding in this country is that government must seek the least restrictive means to limit these basic rights and only when clearly seeking the common good.
Freedom of speech has been robustly preserved, but during the last 20 years, religious freedom has been eroding into only a private right to worship. This trend is dangerous, because the term freedom of worship tends to restrict one’s freedom to what is done an hour a week in a place of worship. Freedom of religion, however, deals with how our worship of God overflows in grace into every corner of our lives.
The exercise of religious freedom must be done with civility and respect, but people of faith have a right and responsibility to bring their religious values to their public and civic lives. Otherwise, the content of the common good will be stripped of the values that flow from religious conviction and will represent only secular values that at times are devoid of solid moral content. Our freedom will only be ensured when we as citizens responsibly exercise our religious freedom well.
Most Reverend Joseph E. Kurtz, D.D.
Archbishop of Louisville