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Rick PlastererJune 13, 2012
The June 8 rally was spurred by concerns about the recent HHS contraceptive/abortifacient mandate and a broader concern about encroachments upon religious liberty.
“We will not comply,” and “we will resist” were among the slogans chanted by a crowd of almost 1,000 persons at the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally in the Senate Park north of Constitution Avenue in a three hour rally on Friday, June 8. More a dozen speakers gave defiant speeches appealing to the principles of the American founding and citing connections between the loss of religious freedom and the loss of freedom generally, especially in modern totalitarian states.
Former ambassador Alan Keyes gave the most extensive and final, speech in the park. He claimed that those who claim the fight against the HHS mandate, requiring religious organizations to carry insurance covering contraceptives and abortion inducing drugs, is a war against women are really the ones who instituted the war. Quoting Jefferson, he said that “justice is the end of civil society.” This most basic purpose (justice) is the true basis of rights, which are not merely synonymous with freedom (individuals doing what they want). Eliminating concepts of right and wrong from the public square thus eliminate true rights, and lays the groundwork for tyranny. Far from limiting or reducing rights, moral authority is necessary for them. “Destroy authority, and you have no rights at all” Keyes said. There was agreement on the source of our rights from the American founding, specifically, that men are endowed with rights by God. While some of these rights are enumerated in the Constitution, they ultimately derive not from the Constitution but from God. This, Keyes said, answers the secularist charge that religious freedom is impractical, involving a chaos of religious freedom claims from religious groups who wish to do as they please apart from the law. Because rights are given by God, they are objective, and serve as the basis of both law and freedom, not privilege.
In looking to the future, Keyes said that “we are a people slow to rise, because we love the things of peace,” but the Administration “began this war, but the Lord our God will finish it … We will not surrender – standing as a mighty people for the greater glory of God.”
Many earlier speakers anticipated Keyes claim that the religion must be allowed to flourish in freedom if freedom generally is to survive. One speaker from an East European family observed that Obama is trying to bring down the church not with torches, as the communists did, but with a pen (the law), while another claimed that Obama holds essentially a European socialist philosophy at variance with that of the founding fathers. Yet another noted that the founders called religious freedom the “first freedom,” and that rights coming from God and not the state are key to resisting totalitarianism. Echoing Ronald Reagan to Mikhail Gorbachev, he said “Mr. President, tear down your mandate.” Former Vietnam POW Guy Gruders noted that like the communist international, in which all religion and morality must be eliminated for the sake of a completely new world order, so the Obama Administration seeks to shun aside the founders’ vision of limited, constitutional government in favor of one in which the government seeks to control “thoughts and minds,” with attacks on religious liberty in favor of a monolithic world order not fundamentally different from that envisioned by Lenin or Stalin. State Delegate Bob Marshall of Virginia, who wrote a state law separating Virginia from the new health care law, also said America’s elites have rejected the founder’s vision of limited government, and are attacking the last area free from state control, liberty of conscience. In connection with this, he noted that Archbishop Timothy Broglio was threatened with sedition charges for a sermon he preached against abortion, a crime carrying a capital penalty.
Other speakers focused on a somewhat more political side of the conflict. Congresswoman Michelle Bachman said that three years to the day after his inaugural, Barack Obama had showed his “true colors.” Like several other speakers, she said that the opposition to the HHS mandate is not a “war against women,” but is about religious liberty. David B. Wright of 40 Days for Life said that the HHS mandate had united Catholics as never before, and had brought Catholics into alliance with Evangelicals, religious Jews, and other objecting religious believers as never before. Reverend Johnnie Hunter of North Carolina said many blacks in his state are waking up to the true nature of the Obama program, which he called “spiritual wickedness in high places,” and were critical in the recent victory of social conservatives in the North Carolina marriage referendum.“Even if it means going to jail” the attack on religious freedom must be resisted, he said.
After speeches in the Senate Park, the gathered crowd said the Lord’s Prayer and proceeded with signs to the Supreme Court building, where the Supreme Court will shortly rule on the health care reform law which is the basis for the HHS contraception and abortifacient mandate. There, after hearing several more speeches, those attending said a rosary, and were dismissed.
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