Iowa Catholics who are concerned about the federal government challenging their religious freedoms are planning a two-week-long prayer effort that begins this Friday. Ann Marie Cox, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Des Moines, says they’ll be concentrating on issues like life and marriage.

“Fortnight for Freedom is an opportunity that the U.S. bishops have created for folks to really focus on prayer and action regarding threats to religious liberty in our country,” Cox says. “They’ve planned a two-week period for this prayer in action. It begins on June 21st and runs through July 4th.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s expected June ruling on marriage could have “grave implications for religious freedom,” she says. The decision is expected during the Fortnight event. Through prayer, study and peaceful public action, Cox says they hope to remind themselves and others about the importance of preserving the constitutional, fundamental right of religious freedom.

“We’re concerned about a number of threats to religious liberty,” Cox says. “We want to raise awareness, have people learn about it and talk to their legislators about what could be done about some of this. A primary concern is the upcoming August 1st deadline for the HHS mandate.”

She says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is demanding religious organizations comply with the federal health care law.

Cox says, “They’re mandating that Catholic organizations like hospitals, Catholic charities, outreach services, be required to provide health care that we believe is morally wrong, like birth control, sterilization, things like that.”

The Diocese of Des Moines includes 81 parishes in 23 counties in central and southwest Iowa. The two weeks of events will be capped by what’s being called the “Independence Celebration: Pray for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty” on Sunday, July 7th, at St. Ambrose Cathedral in Des Moines.

Learn more at: