Festival For Freedom

First Amendment: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Welcome to Festival For Freedom

Religous freedom “Festival for Freedom” originally was a 14-day gathering in June / July 2012 to focus on our First Amendment rights being violated by the Federal HHS mandate’s forcing insurance coverage for contraception, abortifacients and sterilization. That “Fortnight” was called by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to oppose these intrinsic evils attacking both conscience and religious freedom. Our successful FESTIVAL FOR FREEDOM, attended by over 500 people, heard many nationwide expert speakers teaching on American and Religious principles. We have continued to meet, track news and encourage each other in ongoing vigilance to protect our God-given rights, and the country’s moral fiber. We have added advocacy to our charter: “Protect the unborn, Defend marriage and Safeguard religious liberty.” We will continue to speak and work against intrinsic evils in our country’s laws. We thank those who regularly visit this website and support our goals.

Festival Speaker Prof. Hitchcock is Author of New Book


Dr. James Hitchcock, Professor at St. Louis University, was a key speaker during the 2012 Festival for Freedom, and the video of his talk, entitled “The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life,” can be found in a MEDIA section of this website.  Ironically, he was speaking as the Supreme Court rendered its decision on the HHS mandate, and was interrupted for that announcement.

In December 2012 his book, entitled  “History of the Catholic Church:  From the Apostolic Age to the Third Millennium,” was published, and it is meeting with such interest that some booksellers are already temporarily out of stock.  It is being hailed as authentic, readable and even — YES — enjoyable!  One can’t say that about every history book!

Here’s an excerpt regarding the Missionary challenge that was faced by the Church  in Japan:














Essay Contest Winners Announced

Festival for Freedom announces Essay Contest Winners

Festival for Freedom has announced the winners of $1600 in prizes in its first essay contest.  The contest was open to high school seniors in Western New York’s area codes 716 and 585, plus selected other counties.  The subject, about which entrants submitted a 700-1000 word essay, was:

“Freedom of Conscience is Essential to all Freedoms, Especially the Freedom of Religion” 

The contest was announced on this website www.FestivalforFreedom.com and a mailing announcing the contest and its entry rules was sent to 261 High School principals in Western New York.  All known public and private schools were contacted, and the information also made available to home schools where they could be identified.  Announcements were sent to more than 40 newspapers and radio stations, including The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio, which provided frequent spot announcements for several weeks leading up to the closing date of the contest.  Students of any faith, or of no faith, were welcome to participate.  In some cases, individual entries were received; and in some cases multiple entries were received from a class in which students were encouraged by their teachers to enter.

Awards:  A committee of four judges read the essays and chose the following four winners, and two runners up for honorable mention:

GOLD:  First Prize $1000 to Emily Sullivan of Cleveland Hills High School in Cheektowaga, who wrote:  “The freedom of conscience is the right to follow and to hold true to one’s own beliefs and morals.”

SILVER (TIE):  Second Prize of $500 to be split between Morgan Seeley of Bradford Central School in Bradford, who wrote:  “To reach an opinion, one thinks with one’s mind.  To reach a conclusion of conscience, one thinks with one’s soul,” and Bethany Lynn Steele of Frewsburg High School in Frewsburg, who wrote:  While government protects the right for an individual to practice his or her faith, they should, also, not force them to promote programs they don’t believe in.”

BRONZE:  Third Prize $100 to Nellie Owens of Cato-Meridian High School in Cato, who wrote:  “Without the ability to do what someone believes is the right thing, the individual, in truth, does not have the freedom to answer to their conscience and therefore is deprived from being able to practice their religion.”

Receiving Honorable Mention were: 

Ben Drexler of Aquinas Institute in Rochester, who wrote:  “Freedom of Conscience allows citizens of the United States to work towards the common good of the people….”

Joseph Saltarelli of Cardinal O’Hara High School in Tonowanda, who wrote:  “If choices are what make us, then conscience is the self-learned governance of those choices….  Conscience is … the workable substance of our character.”

Judges’ Review

The judges commented on the diligence with which many entrants researched the subject, and the unique views by which they expressed themselves.  Many of the entrants demonstrated a keen understanding of the difference between conscience and opinion.

The judges expressed their delight that so many of the entrants understood that Freedom of Conscience, which underpins and is essential to the Freedom of Religion, is a freedom which comes from God, and not from government.  But, accordingly, the students also expressed the understanding that it is the responsibility of government, enshrined in the Bill of Rights, to protect those God-given freedoms. 

The judges were also impressed at the wide ranging ability of the students to quote from Madison to Mahatma Gandhi, from Pinocchio to Popes, from Lincoln to Locke, as well as references to The Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, the UN’s Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Star Spangled Banner.  Their examples were as wide ranging as Lord Baltimore’s Toleration Act, the Five Pillars of Islam, Nordquist’s Safir-Whorf Hypothesis, the impact of conscientious objection, the Holocaust, and the abortion-subsidizing Obamacare, with its HHS Mandate.

There were only two areas where the judges noted their desire to see more clarity in some of the submissions.  One was around the issue of toleration and the obligation to be tolerant and respectful of people, but not to compromise one’s own conscience by tolerance of doctrines, beliefs or opinions which violate that individual’s own conscience.  The other area which the judges felt needs a deeper understanding is when the exercise of individual conscience requires civil disobedience, the revolutionary basis upon which the United States was founded.  Perhaps that subject might even become the opportunity for a future essay contest, the judges speculated.

The Festival for Freedom notes with appreciation the efforts of all entrants, and the support of their teachers, principals and families in generating submissions for this contest, which illustrates the encouraging result that an understanding of conscience is alive and well among the young adults on the brink of voting.                                                                      

It’s All About Conscience Seminar: Oct. 25, 2012

MPN Coverage of the Conscience Seminar Event can be found at



Our secular world has found it very difficult to understand and articulate what conscience is, and how it differs from opinion.  Isn’t this at the root of why so many well-meaning people can’t tell right from wrong?  Wouldn’t it be a service to others, or at least fulfill one’s own conscience’s urging, to sponsor a session to clarify what conscience means and what is our obligation to follow its directive?  So, imagine such a conference with a key note speaker of the stature of Dan Kane, a Director of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights at the European University of Rome and the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.  Some parishioners at St. Patrick’s in Victor imagined just such a program, and believe that the message of conscience formation should be heard.  They are holding a free seminar on Thursday, October 25th, to address Conscience Formation.  Please forward this invitation to anyone who may have interest.  It is likely to be the last opportunity before the election to have such meaningful dialogue!

Third Stand-Up for Freedom Event: Oct. 20, 2012 Canandaigua

Once again, for the third time, there was a march against the HHS mandate and the threat against our religious freedom.  Prior StandUp events were held on March 23 and June 8.   Once again, the event was in Canandaigua.  More information on the national event is available on the www.StandupforReligiousFreedom.com website. 

We apparently were a bit too late to register as an official Stand Up site, since they didn’t answer our email,  but we did the same kind of silent procession activities as previously, PLUS prayer before and a soup/bread/DVDs gathering afterward.   There were about 50 attendees. 

First we sang patriotic hymns, heard the meditation by Abp. Oscar Romero, heard Cardinal Dolan’s benediction to the Democratic National Convention, prayed and received a blessing from Fr. Peter Nkansah.

Lining up behind banner for march to Courthouse

 Then we proceeded out of the Church to Main Street, where we took up the banner and marched to the Ontario County Courthouse, and sang God Bless America.  Upon our return there was hot soup and bread, coffee and desserts awaiting the marchers.

Fellowship after the March



Contact Us

Festival For Freedom.
PO Box 196
Canandaigua, NY, 14424



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