Having Faith Should Not Be Held Against Us
By Bishop David J. Malloy
We live in a time in which it is no secret that faith is being challenged by the ideology of secularism. 
Public, especially governmental, support for religion and faith has diminished. In fact, a case can be made that there is even opposition to faith that is growing in circles of our government and our public discourse.
This anti-religious sentiment presents a particular and, in some ways, purifying challenge to every believer. In the past, the practice of religion was taken for granted; it was even fashionable. Everyone did it. 
There was a common recognition that even if there were creedal and religious differences, the practice of religion makes us better, as a nation and as individuals.
Now, however, because of the growing social hostility, the practice of faith is more than ever a conscious choice on the part of the believer. To live out faith in Christ and in the Church becomes a purer act of witness in the face of pressure and disapproval.
It, of course, has not always been this way. The founders of our country not only established the freedom of religion in the First Amendment to the Constitution, but they also recognized the positive good that flows from a collective practice of religion.
George Washington, in his famous farewell discourse at the end of his presidency stated, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. ... let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. ... reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
People of faith have long found that one good way to live out beliefs is to gather together for prayer and for service. Organizations such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society or the National Council of Catholic Women come to mind. Participants in those groups not only support each other with prayer, their social outreach fulfills the mission that Jesus has entrusted to His followers.
I raise this issue because of recent attacks on the faith of members of the Knights of Columbus, another Catholic institution of mutual support and service. As part of his confirmation process Brian Buescher, a nominee to become a U.S. District judge, was queried by some senators about his membership in the Knights.
He was asked, for example by Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, “You reported that you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus since 1993. The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions. ... If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”
Senator Kamala Harris of California asked, “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?” 
The questions amount to a not too subtle litmus test for Catholics. It is public pressure not to live or to witness to convictions of reason combined with faith. 
But it is precisely that religious contribution to our national dialogue and our national soul that George Washington and other founders praised.
The Knights of Columbus attract members because they serve those in need. Information from the Knights of Columbus states that the Knights of Columbus have entered into charitable partnerships with Special Olympics, the Global Wheelchair Mission and Habitat for Humanity as well as their own Food for Families and Coats for Kids projects and other local charities. 
Their charitable donations amounted to $185,652,989 in 2017. In that same year they volunteered more than 75 million hours of charitable service.
I serve as the Illinois State Chaplain to the Knights of Columbus. Their combination of faith and service should make all of us proud. 
It should be deeply worrisome to us as Catholics that public figures would hold exactly these values against a citizen as a member of such an organization as he or she seeks a position of service to our country.