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'Stand Up for Religious Freedom' rallies held nationwide against birth control mandate

'Stand Up for Religious Freedom' rallies held nationwide against birth control mandate

Rally for Religious FreedomIn more than 120 cities nationwide, activists held "Stand Up for Religious Freedom" rallies yesterday to protest the Obama administration's mandate that requires nearly all employers to provide insurance coverage that includes free birth control for workers.

The Associated Press visited a rally held in Philadelphia and interviewed the religious protesters and the counter-protesters (see video embedded below).

John O'Brien, a Catholic, told the AP that "If we have not the guarantee of the First Amendment, the right to practice our religion, we can be denied every other right that's available."  Peggy Riley added, "Well, I am a Catholic and they're telling us we have no right to practice our religion freely.  I don't want that or any other of our Constitutional rights taken away.  If it starts with religious freedom, it can spread to other freedoms."

counter protest to religious freedom rallyFather Paul Schenck of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament told reporters that his right to freely practice religion comes from God, not the government.  Referring to the Constitutional right to religious freedom, he said, "We cannot give one inch, one centimeter or millimeter of that free exercise clause.  We have to defend and protect the rights of citizens to religious liberty and freedom of conscience."

The Philadelphia rally had counter-protesters.  Caryn Hunt, former president of Philadelphia NOW, did not understand the religious freedom protests.  "I just don't exactly understand why anyone would think that an employer or an insurer's conscience should substitute for their own medical decisions," she said.  "This is definitely a women's rights issue.  This is a women's issue disguised as a religious issue."


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About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • James Flynn

    After watching the PBS American Experience documentary on the Amish I am now wondering why court cases like The Yoder decision (Wisconsin v. Yoder) do not apply to the Roman Catholic Church concerning the HHS Mandate requiring Church institutions to provide services that violate it's First Amendment Right !

    • Tria MacLeod

      Not all beliefs rise to the demands of the religious clause of the First Amendment. There needs to be evidence of true and objective religious practices, instead of an individual making his or her standards on such matters.  – Wisconsin v Yoder
      I don't think many modern religions meet this standard.  The Amish live a completely different life due to their cultural and religious beliefs; no electricity, no modern technology, manner of dress, life-long commitment to non-changing rules dictated by their holy book.  

      Modern Christians don't even come close to this level, not to mention many people (and religious leaders) within a single denomination cannot come to a meeting of the minds on what is the correct way of doing this or the proper meaning of this verse.   

      Not to mention this isn't just limited to people within their own denominations. Catholic Hospitals employ many people who are not Catholic.  So what right do they have to dictate to a Jew/Hindi/Muslim/Humanist what their beliefs should be? And where does it end?   Will your employment now depend on you switching religions? 

      It just amazes me that you never hear any brujaja over men's health.  Viagra – wink, wink.  PSA to check for cancer, not a problem. Digital exam of  Prostate -now, now, be a big boy it will be over in a minute.   Polycystic Ovarian Disease….how DARE you take birth control, you harlot.  Never mind the woman is 40+ years old and this prevents her from having to be rushed to the hospital several times a year while losing blood and writhing in pain.  We apparently have to protect the non-existent children that someone insists are being killed by BCP. A someone who apparently has no idea HOW birth control pills actually work.

  • Tria MacLeod

    Why are they saying they are being prevented from practicing their religion?  Unless your religion revolves around denying others the ability to make their own decisions, or denying them the ability to be treated for diseases (yes, BCP are used for MANY other things, like polycystic disease, menorrhagia, regulation of cycles, many hormonal abnormalities)  Or you religion revolves around squishing other people under your thumb, in no way is your ability to practice your religion being denied. 

    If your religion is against birth control (not addressed in the bible) then don't use it.  That doesn't mean no one else is allowed to use it, just because you don't like it.   If your religion is against abortion (also, not mentioned in the bible, the only place a willful termination of pregnancy is mentioned is regarding the fee to be paid to the woman's husband if the child has quickened)  then don't have an abortion.   NO ONE is lining people (oddly enough, all these issues revolve around women, hmmm) and forcing them to consume BCP or force them to have abortions.   

    You not getting your way is not impinging on your religious rights.  In fact YOU are the one trying to impinge on the rights of others.

    • Deborah_B

      "Unless your religion revolves around denying others the ability to make
      their own decisions, or denying them the ability to be treated for
      diseases …"

      That's pretty much the crux of their argument, if you really think about it, but they will never admit that.  The honest answer is the religion does revolve around denying others' decision-making abilities/rights and controlling people, regardless of whether they subscribe to the religion. 

      And you're right about the Viagra and other issues in a previous comment — It's only about women.  Scientologists could be complaining about coverage for mental health care; Christian Scientists could be fighting about health care generally, but we don't see a lot of that.  It's purely over women's reproductive health choices.

    • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

       The catapult into the government is a last ditch effort of the religious to control people, esp women, religiously.  All Xian sects are loosing numbers and they don't like it because that means people are not obeying their authority.  If they can gain control through the gov. they've won and can impose, even force religion on others through laws, such as abortion, contraception (or rather denial of it), etc. It would put us right back to at least the Reformation, where Rome ended up controlling only parts of Europe and the Church had control of England depending on whether the King or Queen was Church of England or Catholic or whatever.  If the Religious Reich gains control of our government, starting with women's issues, we may see a battle for control between the various sects eventually.  That's only one possible example of what might be happening.

      As for contraception, according to the Religious Reich, not just the Catholic Church itself, it is addressed in the Bile:  "Be fruitful and multiply", "women are to bare children through pain and suffering", etc etc etc.  They use such verses to support their position, believing it to be the "literal word of God", when it is actually the word of man.  They try to define abortion as murder by trying to call it a person.  *rolling eyes*

      However, you are right.  If a person doesn't agree with it, then they should not use contraception or have an abortion, but they should not deny others their right to choose for themselves.

  • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

    IF Obama persecutes the Church, I say good, but it is more likely a persecution complex.  The Catholic Church wants to control everyone, esp women, and is claiming "Free Exercise of Religion".  Personally I don't think Obama should give an inch on the matter of contraception, esp since it is only an attempt to control women through the use of religion- in this case Rome.  However, what the Religious Reich, collectively, does not realize, is that by supporting Rome on this, is that they are going right back to their roots and may find they are fighting against Rome again.

    On the other hand, Rome is apparently weak, as are the rest of the groups within the Religious Reich.  If they weren't weak, then they would not be strong arming their way through our government, in a last ditch effort to control people nor would they be supporting each other if they were not weak, but just because they are weak currently, does not mean we should let our guard down.  If we let our guard down, they will control our government and have won, gaining renewed strength and dominance over the people.  If that happens we'll have another problem- Battle of the Xian sects for power, corrupt power at its finest, for sure.  It could make Watergate or Clinton's affair look like nothing.

    • joe paterno

      Obama is not persecuting anything.  The rally above came off like a giant Santorum rally, nothing more.

      • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

         I didn't say Obama was, I said "IF he is", but then said it is more likely a persecution complex [on the part of the Religious Reich].

        • joe paterno

          Mriana, my comment wasn't directed at you.  I know you don't think that.  I meant that the people at the rally clearly feel persecuted.   (Note first photo).  

  • AlexPrior

    Can you forgive a disturbing story about Prof Gary Gutting of
    Notre Dame and the Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic society dedicated to: "assisting and supporting education that is faithful to the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church; producing and disseminating research and publications on developments and best practices in Catholic higher education; advising students, alumni, trustees, campus officials, faculty and others engaged in renewing and strengthening the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities and Church-affiliated ministries at non-Catholic colleges and universities; and studying and promoting the work of our patron, John Henry Cardinal Newman, especially as it relates to Catholic higher education and the unity of faith and reason. 

    Prof Gutting bravely questioned the basis of authority of the bishops in an
    article in the New York Times
    (http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/birth-control-and-the-challenge-to-divine-authority/).

    On the same search, I also found this vituperative thread against
    him on the Cardinal Newman Society blog
    (http://blog.cardinalnewmansociety.org/2012/03/12/notre-dame-prof-the-immorality-of-birth-control-is-no-longer-a-teaching-of-the-catholic-church/#comment-9694).

    Being an historian by original training, I knew of Newman's "Letter
    to the Duke of Norfolk", in which Newman takes the same line as Prof
    Gutting on the authority of bishops (and indeed the Pope) being
    limited by the conscience of the individual Catholic.  He's precise
    on what a conscience is, but essentially in agreement with Guttings
    argument.  So, wanting to bring some balance, spelling, grammar and
    at least a little intellectual rigor to the thread, I posted the
    comment below.  It is still awaiting approval, while the subsequent
    posts continue to rail and defame Gutting.

    Clearly, this is a strange and novel case of a society dedicated to
    "studying and promoting the work of our patron, John Henry Cardinal
    Newman, especially as it relates to Catholic higher education and
    the unity of faith and reason" finding it necessary to censor its
    own exemplar.

    Original Comment

    Posted March 20, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink | Reply

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Thomas @51 "The bishops’ are teachers of Truth, and in this they are
    protected from error. It is Truth and Reason is the Body of Logos’
    scepter."

    Can I refer all of the people in this discussion to Cardinal
    Newman’s excellent Letter to the Duke of Norfolk, and particularly
    his section on Conscience
    http://www.newmanreader.org/works/anglicans/volume2/gladstone/section5.html?
    Although the whole letter is well worth the read. He is very careful
    to define conscience as that which comes from the study of the word
    of God, rather than from human whim.

    You will find, much to your dismay I suspect, that the Cardinal
    agrees with Professor Gutting on the role of the Catholic conscience
    and Church authority. “I shall drink to the Pope if you
    please–still, to conscience first and to the Pope afterwards”.

    I didn't include it in the post, but Newman's preamble is strongly
    against Catholics using intemperate language: "Catholics may in good
    measure thank themselves, and no one else, for having alienated from
    them so religious a mind [Gladstone]. There are those among us, as
    it must be confessed, who for years past have conducted themselves
    as if no responsibility attached to wild words and overbearing
    deeds; who have stated truths in the most paradoxical form, and
    stretched principles till they were close upon snapping; and who at
    length, having done their best to set the house on fire, leave to
    others the task of putting out the flame."

    • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

       The problem is, the Bile and religion are human creations, not a deities.  He's still outsourcing what is part of the human condition on a deity that only exists in his mind and other humans.

    • Sheldon

      "He is very careful to define conscience as that which comes from the study of the word of God, rather than from human whim."

      That's it in a nutshell right there. My conscience, as defined by a man, is nothing more than whimsical. All my thought, my emotions, who and what I am, must come from a religion I don't believe in… from study of a book  I find distasteful. Upon studying that book and it's religion which I deny, I will find in myself, the things of good conscience that were placed in me by god, even though I believe no such thing.

      I get it… if I can't be convinced that morals can only come from god then perhaps, I can be convinced that my conscience does, which of course will lead my "teacher" right back to the question of religious morality, at which point, I will be much more pliable. 

      Perhaps, in studying the word of god, I might be convinced by this…

      Numbers 31:13-18
      KJV
      "And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp; and Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle; and Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the Council of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now, therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him; but all the women-children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

      Now there's a hell of a moral lesson. Get pissed off when someone disrespects your religion and go on a murder-rape spree.

      • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

         What the article said is insulting isn't it?  Like I said, the person who wrote that article is outsourcing a human condition to justify their position.  One's own conscious comes from them, not something external.  Where the religious get this crap, I don't know, but it's probably a means to justify what they say and do- "it's not my fault, it came from my conscious, which is from God", which we know is BS.

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