Tens of thousands of Americans rallied today in more than 160 cities against the Obama HHS mandate that requires religious groups to pay for birth control and abortion -causing drugs for their employees. In the nation’s capital, they demanded that the Obama administration roll back the controversial mandate.
The rallies are intended to send a message to the federal administration that the mandate is over-reaching, is an attack on the First Amendment rights of American religious institutions and significantly damaging to religious freedom and rights of conscience. Citizens across the country, national and regional rally organizers are concerned about closure of services to the poor, the sick, the elderly, the most vulnerable in society, because the Mandate would distinctly violate religious charitable institutions’ belief systems.
Rally organizers explain: “The rally is intended as a clear message to the federal government, that it has no business defining the scope of religious ministry and that faith based institutions and even private businesses affected by the mandate will simply not comply with the government’s unjust intrusion into the affairs of religion and freedom of conscience.”
“The government has taken unprecedented steps in curtailing our most basic freedoms by instituting an unconstitutional mandate that tells us our beliefs and our conscience no longer matter,” said Kristan Hawkins, the head of Students for Life of America, who rallied in Washington. “The government is forcing its own people to pay for drugs and procedures against their beliefs. It forces employers like myself, of faith and conscience, to pay 100% of the cost for our employees to take abortion inducing drugs. It forces universities and colleges to fund the cost of these drugs and procedures at 100% for any other student who wishes to use them.”
“The HHS Mandate, which Secretary Sebelius, with President Obama’s blessing, affects every single American, regardless of their religion or view on abortion inducing drugs. For if the government can force Americans choose between violating their consciousness or paying steep penalties, what religious or ideological demographic will they target next?” Hawkins asked.
Pro-life advocates also rallied in some of the most liberal cities in America — Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Jenifer Bowen, Executive Director of Iowa Right to Life, rallied in Des Moines, Iowa, another liberal government city.
“If Obamacare is ruled unconstitutional, we must ensure that religious freedom will be protected in subsequent health care legislation,” she told LifeNews. “If Obamacare is not struck down, we will be sending the federal government a clear message that the faith-based institutions and private businesses affected by the HHS Mandate here in Des Moines will not violate their consciences by complying with it.”
Bowen emphasized that the Stand Up Rally has nothing to do with access to contraception.
“There is no ‘war on contraception’ in our country. Contraception is already widely, cheaply available. What is really under attack today is religious freedom.”
The June 8 Rally coincides with the 223rd anniversary of the day James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights to the 1st Congress, including what would become the First Amendment.
“We’re standing up for the First Amendment and demanding that all our health care laws respect religious freedom,” Bowen affirmed.
The Virginia Beach Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally has been organized by Nelson Velez, who said the date for the Stand Up Rally was chosen to highlight the HHS Mandate’s unconstitutional infringement of religious freedom, coming just weeks before the highly anticipated Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, expected at the end of June.
“This is an assault on the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech granted to all Americans by the First Amendment,” said Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. The Staten Island-based ministry is organizing the New York City event.
“The Administration is offering some groups a year to ‘adapt’ to the rule. But you don’t ‘adapt’ to injustice. You oppose it. We are opposing it in the courts, because Priests for Life launched the fourth lawsuit against this mandate back in February,” Father Pavone said. “We will oppose it also in the streets, as we help to organize and promote these rallies nationwide.”
Over 63,000 citizens, from all walks of faith, attended the first Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally on March 23rd in 142 cities nationwide.