Yesterday there was a peaceful rally of 110 citizens concerned about preserving religious freedom. The rally was held in Jackson Park in the City of Charlottesville. Nearly 50,000 people from many faiths joined together in 160+ cities across America to unite in protesting the HHS Mandate in the Obama healthcare plan. Many people are concerned that the federal government is mandating funding of drugs and procedures that go against the beliefs of faith organizations and thus violates the first amendment to freedom of religion.
Fr. Joseph Scordo from St. Thomas Aquinas parish spoke very eloquently about how this not just an issue for Catholics, but an issue for all Americans. The issue of religious liberty is the foundation of all the other rights and liberties. Father Scordo recounted that he has said many funerals at Monticello, and he thought that President Jefferson would be rolling in his grave if he knew the threats to religious liberty happening in America.
Rob Bell is a state delegate who came to speak and support the efforts of the rally to preserve religious freedom. Mr. Bell read the first amendment to the crowd to remind them of the important protections it affords of freedom speech, religion, press, and right to assemble peacefully. A representative from congressman Robert Hurt also read a letter in support of the rally and its principles.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (1st Amendment to the US Constitution, Bill of Rights-1791)
Marta Brannon was the Rally Captain for the event and gave a great speech for women’s support of religious freedom and emphasizing that this is not about restricting contraception, but about religious freedom and the HHS Mandate does not follow the 1st Amendment protection. There were a few women who came with signs, and the organizers and crowd acknowledged their right to protest peacefully.
I am amazed that this rally is taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson & James Madison introduced the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1786), that allowed Catholics and other faiths their religious freedom.
George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) that formed the basis of the US Bill of Rights . It is interesting to compare Article 16 to the Bill of Rights 1st Amendment:
Section 16. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity toward each other.
On the day of the rally, The Rutherford Institute, issued a letter to the Mayor of Charlottesville alleging discriminatory practices for fees in parks for free speech events. The organizers of this event had to register and pay a fee to have the event at Jackson Park with the City of Charlottesville. Both local TV stations had reporters at the rally, and they both reported different stories, with CBS covering the free speech issue of the Rutherford Institute letter, and NBC covering the issue of religious freedom and the rally. I hope this blog gives a more balanced report of the rally showing all sides of the issues.
Please help support and pray for the Fortnight of Freedom coming up June 21st. There are details and links to more information below:
The Charters of Freedom (The Declaration, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights)