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May 28, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 15

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THE CATHOLIC  DIOCESE OF  RICHMOND

– Necrology

COMMENTARY

Stand up for religious freedom

In testimony before the House Education and Workforce Committee, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that she did not know if religious freedom is being violated by the new HHS mandate that requires employers to provide free surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans, regardless of their religious or moral convictions.

She also admitted she was unfamiliar with key Supreme Court religious freedom cases.

But Secretary Sebelius will get a lesson on the U.S. Constitution on June 8. On that day, tens of thousands of Americans in over 100 cities coast to coast will take to the streets in public protest against the HHS Mandate during the second nationwide Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally.

The Stand Up Rally will be held at federal buildings, Congressional offices and historic sites in such cities as Chicago, New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.

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 ruling on Obamacare from the U. S. Supreme Court, expected at the end of June.

“If Obamacare is ruled unconstitutional, we must ensure that religious freedom will be protected in subsequent health care legislation” explained Stand Up Rally national co-director Monica Miller. “But if Obamacare is not struck down, we’ll be sending the federal authorities a clear message that the faith-based institutions and private businesses affected by the HHS Mandate simply will not comply with it.”

“The federal government has no business defining the scope of religious ministry,” Ms. Miller said, referring to a “religious exemption” in the HHS Mandate.

The June 8 Rally will take place on the 223rd anniversary of the day James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights to the 1st Congress, including what would become the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment’s historic safeguard of our most basic freedoms is now under attack by the Obama administration’s HHS Mandate,” said Stand Up Rally national co-director Eric Scheidler.

Scheidler and Miller have built a coalition of 65 religious and civil rights organizations — including the Alliance Defense Fund, Association of Mature American Citizens, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Freedom for Americans, the National Black Pro-Life Coalition and the Thomas More Society — devoted to overturning the HHS Mandate.

The Stand Up for Religious Freedom Coalition first rally was held March 23, with over 63,000 citizens at local rallies in 145 cities. Participants included 28 Catholic bishops, along with scores of Protestant and Jewish religious leaders.

The June 8 Stand Up Rally is expected to draw even larger crowds.

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