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“This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits. The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.” – Second Vatican Council, Declaration on Religious Liberty (“Dignitatis humanae”), December 1965
The Catholic Church teaches that religious freedom (or religious liberty) is a fundamental human right rooted in the inherent dignity of the human person. Fundamental rights are inherent and unalienable. They are not granted by the government, nor can a government ever take them away. The right to religious liberty is so fundamental that it is expressly recognized and protected under both the state and federal constitutions.
Religious Freedom Week
During the period from June 22 to June 29, beginning with the Feast of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops celebrates Religious Freedom Week. Get ideas on how to observe Religious Freedom Week in your parish or community.
Vatican II, Declaration on Religious Freedom or Dignitatis humanae (December 7, 1965) | En español
Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2104-2109 | En español
Chapter VI ("The Resurrection and Caesar") from the Diocese of Manchester's eBook The Resurrection and the Church's Mission in the Public Square
More from the USCCB on Religious Liberty
First Amendment, United States Constitution
Article 5, New Hampshire State Constitution
CACR 7 - Repealing the New Hampshire Blaine Amendment - February 24, 2023
HB 451 - State Board of Education Prohibition on Discrimination - February 24, 2023