By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
10/16/2012 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
This weekend, thousands of faithful will gather across the nation to protest what is widely believed to be an unconstitutional mandate issued by the Health and Human Services Department. This mandate requires that all Catholic and other religious institutions must pay for anti-life services that violate the freedom of religion and conscience of the faithful.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - To share the details of this weekend's rallies, Catholic Online sat down to talk to Eric Scheidler of the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Coalition.
COL: Hello Eric. What's happening this weekend?
SCHEIDLER: On Saturday, October 20, tens out thousands of faithful Americans will gather in 140 cities and town across the United States to protest the Obama administration's HHS Mandate, and raise the crucial issue of religious freedom before the public in advance of Election Day.
COL: Why is this important? / Why should people care about this?
SCHEIDLER: The HHS Mandate is one of the most outrageous attacks on religious freedom in American history. Religious employers are being forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives through their health plans, regardless of any ethical or moral objections.
The narrow "religious exemption" provided under the HHS Mandate excludes such institutions as the University of Notre Dame, Catholic Charities, and Tyndale House, a bible publisher. None of these organizations is deemed religious enough to qualify for the so-called religious exemption.
The HHS Mandate unravels decades of bipartisan consensus on protecting freedom of conscience.
COL: Are you trying to send a message before the election?
SCHEIDLER: Yes, we are trying to send a message before Election Day: vote with your values. If freedom or religion matters to you -- if you don't want to see employers forced to violate their consciences or be driven out of the public square -- then vote for candidates who are promising to fight against the HHS Mandate.
COL: Will you continue these rallies after November even if Romney wins and pledges a repeal?
SCHEIDLER: Mitt Romney has pledged to rescind the HHS Mandate. If he prevails on Election Day, we will certainly call upon him to follow through with that promise, with every expectation that he will do so without delay upon taking office.
If President Obama wins reelection, the grassroots fight against the HHS Mandate will continue, and will likely include more public protests like this Saturday's Stand Up Rally.
But no matter which way the November election goes, the urgent need to protect religious liberty from government encroachment will remain. Whether that will involve rallies or other activities will depend on the particular issues that arise in the next administration.
COL: What kind of numbers do you have on your campaign? (Participants, any facts and figures that would be of interest that you wish to share.)
SCHEIDLER: We have 140 cities on the map for this fall's Stand Up Rally (the vast majority are being held October 20, with a handful on other dates.
Rallies held in March and June each drew over 60,000 people. So far, over 300 rallies against the HHS Mandate have been held by the Stand Up for Religious Freedom Coalition.
The coalition comprises 109 pro-life, pro-family, religious freedom and legal organizations.
COL: How rapidly is the movement growing?
SCHEIDLER: The religious freedom movement is growing like wild fire. Not only have tens of thousands of people come out for various religious freedom rallies, prayer vigils and protests, but numerous local, regional and national groups have emerged over the past 10 months to fight against the HHS Mandate and other attacks on the proper role of religious faith in the public square.
This is sure to be an important movement in years to come. People are waking up to the attempt by secular humanists to drive religious faith out of public life and "contain" it within the four walls of church during weekly worship service.
COL: How can people get involved?
SCHEIDLER: The best way to get involved in this fight is to attend the nearest Stand Up Rally in your area on Saturday, October 20. A complete list of Rally sites is available at http://StandUpRally.com/locations.
The Rally website also lists specific actions you can take, like passing out the HHS Mandate Fact Sheet to your friends and neighbors, calling your Congressman and Senator, and getting active on this issue during the final weeks of the electoral campaign.
COL: What else would you like people to know?
SCHEIDLER: The HHS Mandate is being challenged in court with dozens of different lawsuits. Many legal scholars believe these lawsuits will ultimately prevail, causing the HHS Mandate to be overturned. But they also acknowledge that a victory in court will take years to accomplish.
That's why it's so important that we fight the HHS Mandate at the grassroots level. We can't wait years for a resolution, watching as Catholic hospitals, Protestant colleges and private businesses run by faithful Americans are driven out of business by fines and penalties. The next Congress and presidential administration must act to rescind the HHS Mandate without delay.
Thank you Eric, and we wish you the best of luck in your efforts to defend the freedoms of every American, and most importantly, the unborn people of this country.
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