Supreme Knight of Knights of Columbus Addresses Prayer Breakfast

Notes Grave Threats to Religious Liberty

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WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 19, 2012 ( Carl Anderson, supreme knight and chief executive officer of the Knight of Columbus, was the guest speaker at today’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, held in Washington D.C.

“I venture to say that, never in the lifetime of anyone present here, has the religious liberty of the American people been as threatened as it is today,” said Anderson at the start of his address.

“We must remind our fellow Americans, and especially those who exercise power, that religious liberty—the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment—has been essential to the founding, development, and improvement of the American Republic,” he declared.

Anderson quoted President Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech, in which he stated that the rights for which our forebears fought, were based on “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.”

He went on to speak about Martin Luther King, who drew inspiration from the Catholic natural law tradition and Saint Thomas Aquinas. In spite of the frequent religious references to God in King’s speeches Anderson commented that if you visit the new memorial to him on the national mall and read the 14 quotations inscribed there, there is not a single reference to God.

“Imagine how those in authority must have searched to come up with 14 quotes of Dr. King without one mention of the Almighty,” said Anderson. “There is no more shocking symbol of the ongoing campaign to drive religion out of our public life.”

Anderson also commented on Alexander Solzhenitsyn in reference to the manipulation of history carried out in Soviet Russia. “How would Solzhenitsyn have viewed the controversy surrounding the King Memorial?,” he asked.

“Would he have seen it as preserving the spiritual unity of America or as one more symptom of a trend to separate Americans from their religious heritage?”


Today, Anderson said, “we find a new hostility to the role of religious institutions in American life at a time when government is expanding its reach in extraordinary ways.”

Referring to the ongoing dispute about the administration rules on contraception coverage, he strongly criticized the Obama administration for interfering with internal Church matters.

“A government willing to affect the faith and mission of the church is a government willing to change the identity of the church,” Anderson said.

“We value religious liberty because of the good which religion brings into the life of the individual believer and into the life of our nation,” Anderson continued.

Nevertheless, “We live in a time when, from the standpoint of religious liberty, it seems that there are more doors closing, than doors that are opening.”

It is a time for choosing, he concluded, “choosing whether as Catholics we will stand together to keep open the doors of religious liberty.”

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