Fasters include, left to right: Jeremy Berfanger, Katarina Hemstad, Meghan Mueller, Anne Crouch, Lauren Bickford, Dain Finney, Peter Murphy and Andrew Nistler.
With Election Day nearing, many Catholics are still mulling over a host of issues as they prepare to vote Nov. 6. To help them get ready, a college junior from Coon Rapids is working with a group of fellow students to promote prayer and fasting as a way to unify Catholics and so that voters and leaders may receive the grace to make morally sound decisions.
“Our country’s morality no longer is based on objective right or wrong, but a sliding scale of how good something feels for the most people,” said Meghan Mueller, a nursing major at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., who previously attended St. Paul in Ham Lake. “In many cases, it seems as if truth has been completely taken out of the picture. From this stems many of the major issues our country is facing: the sanctity of life, the sacredness of marriage, and the right to religious freedom.”
The Fast for Freedom initiative — which asks people to abstain from meat or something else as an alternative until Election Day — began earlier this month among a few friends and others on campus. Since then, the effort has “spread like wildfire,” mostly by word of mouth, and includes students from St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul as well as family and friends in the Twin Cities area, Mueller said.
“As of now, we have it documented that about 800 people are partaking in the Fast for Freedom with us,” she said Oct. 26. “From recent reports, however, we have heard that many classrooms, schools and families have joined as well, so we project that participation is higher than we thought.”
In addition to fasting, participants are encouraged to pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 p.m. on Fridays for the elections and the future of the country.
One election issue of particular concern to Mueller, a nursing major, is religious liberty, especially in light of the federal Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate.
The mandate requires all employers, including most Catholic and other religious employers, to provide coverage in their health care plans for contraceptives — including some that can cause abortions — and sterilizations despite moral objections they might have.
If the mandate remains in place, “we will be forced to go against our conscience and provide ‘services’ . . . that we believe are intrinsically evil and have been scientifically proven as harmful,” Mueller said.
“This issue most definitely affects my life in a very real way,” she said. “If our religious freedom is taken away, working as a Catholic nurse will be like walking through a health care minefield.”
Anyone who wants to let the students know they are joining the fast, or who has questions, can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.