By Earl Glynn | Kansas Watchdog
TOPEKA — As part of a national Fortnight for Freedom Kansas Catholic bishops organized a Rally for Religious Freedom to protest the loss of religious freedom caused by recent actions of the federal government.
Several thousand attended the event on Friday in triple-digit heat on the south steps of the Kansas capitol.
Religious liberty and freedom issues concerning Catholics at the rally included:
- the federal health care mandate that Catholic institutions be forced to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs,
- the lack of federal recognition of personal religious beliefs and conscience rights of employers,
- new definitions of “church” by the federal government that promote “freedom to worship” but not “freedom of religion,” which may have dire long-term consequences to church hospitals, schools and charities,
- forced closure of adoption agencies and foster care facilities in several stated supported by Catholic Charities because of the Church’s stand on placement of children with unmarried or same-sex couples, and
- withholding of federal contracts to Catholic social agencies helping victims of sex trafficking because these agencies refuse to provide contraceptives and make abortion referrals.
Before the event Salina Bishop Edward Weisenburger gave this reason for the rally:
“Freedom to worship in church is not the same as freedom to practice our faith in daily life. Accepting the Gospel of Jesus affects our public lives in profound ways. A Gospel conversion of life can’t be restricted to church property. It means relating to our neighbors with exceptional charity and extraordinary forgiveness, engaging in business with true honesty and integrity, valuing human life from conception until natural death, and a willingness to sacrifice for the poor. When we limit our ethics, our values and our goals to what happens only inside the four walls of our churches, then we have lost the very foundation of our faith.“
“We reject the Health and Human Services federal mandate to force us to pay for sterilizations, contraceptives or drugs that provide abortions for the employees of Catholic institutions. This ruling forces us to compromise our deeply cherished religious value of human life.”
“We likewise reject state immigration laws that sometimes label our charity for the poor as ‘harboring’ illegal aliens.”
“We reject revoking the licenses of Catholic Charities or terminating their funding in some states because of our refusal to place children with unmarried or same-sex couples”
Speakers at the event explained why they felt religious freedom was being lost in America.
“One decision in Washington, DC brought us all together here today. Earlier this year, unfortunately, the Obama Administration mandated that people of faith would have to violate their beliefs in order to fulfill a government objective.”
“That is wrong.”
“That violates our rights under the Bill of Rights and must not be allowed to happen. This decision by the Obama Administration caused outrage among people of faith all across America and around the world who look to the United States to stand up for religious freedom.”
“We are here today because we believe the federal government cannot be allowed to break religious Americans to the saddle of a federal mandate.”
“Religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans. Our country was built on the values of freedom: first and foremost is that we have the right to determine what we do with our own Soul.”
“The freedom of religion, the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, grants Americans the right to practice their religion and live according to their personal convictions without undue interference by the government.”
“America has long been a safe haven for those of differing beliefs. Our founders recognized the importance of religious freedom and enshrined this right in the First Amendment. Despite this, the Administration has forged ahead with health care policies that mandate a disregard for conscience and require the faithfully religious to violate their beliefs.”
“I say again: this cannot be allowed to stand!”
“This attack on religious freedom, our First Amendment rights, transcends the usual back and forth between political parties and interest groups.”
“It is, rather, an attack upon the Constitution. It is an attack upon our history and who we are as a people. People did not cross the raging Atlantic in wooden ships powered powered by the wind, they did not die in the mud on countless battlefields near and far, to make America a place where people weren’t free.”
“Freedom is a gift from God, not a privilege a government is entitled to take away.”
“Our forefathers and foremothers came here, and we have symbols of that here on this lawn. … “
“Our forefathers and foremothers came here, worked hard to tame the prairie and made sacrifices, so we could be free to pursue happiness, to provide for our families, and to worship God.”
“Our forefathers came to Kansas to end slavery and pursue freedom for all Americans.”
“This mandate against our freedom is not just a religious issue. This is the first line of the First Amendment. If they can take that away, what is safe?”
“The hospitals, schools and charities that do such tremendous work may be forced by the federal government to shut down if they refuse to violate their consciences.”
“President Obama’s mandate is an affront to people of faith whose first generation arrived here in search of religious freedom.”
“This unconscionable mandate must not be allowed to stand and by your prayers and works it will not be allowed to stand.”
“Keep fighting for as long as it takes.”
“God bless you all and God bless this great land.”
MP3 of Ms. Ruse’s speech (19:45)
Excerpts from speech:
- “You are braving triple-digit heat to take a stand and I know that you’re willing to make greater sacrifices yet for your first freedom.”
- “Today I stand before you as a conscientious objector.”
- “I refuse to play the victim in a phony ‘war on women’ and I refuse to let the federal government crush my religion.”
- “The United States’ Bishops have decided that [the Affordable Health Care Act] is not good or just, in part because it allows federal tax dollars to pay for the killing of children in elective abortions in the name of healthcare, but also because it doesn’t protect the conscience rights of employers.”
- “Without conscience protection Catholic institutions are defenseless against regulations like the HHS mandate which forces every Catholic employer in America to help their employees violate God’s law as the Church sees it.”
- “It didn’t have to be this way. There’s no good reason for the HHS mandate.”
- “We are awash in contraceptives. So how can anyone say that there’s a contraception ‘crises’, a crisis so great that it calls out for federal intervention? Intervention that must require forcing Catholics to give up our religion? “
- “This is not a victim issue. It’s not a women’s issue. It’s a freedom issue.”
- “Anyone in America that want’s contraception can get it. But forcing religious employers to provide it against their will is nothing but a diminshment of freedom.”
- “In one of the largest legal actions to defend religious liberty in U.S. history, 43 Catholic organizations file a dozen lawsuits simultaneously … three week ago against the mandate.”
- “Why pick a fight with the Catholic Church over something that is so demonstrably not a problem in America — access to contraception? Perhaps the real issue is abortion. … Perhaps the hidden issue behind the mandate is abortion.”
- “What the abortion lobby couldn’t accomplish through the legislature or the courts, it now has accomplished in part through this [HHS] mandate: free abortion drugs for all women in America courtesy of the federal government paid for by your Catholic employer.”
- “The mandate must be overturned because of the way in which it redefines what it means to be religious. … A definition so narrow that no Catholic hospital, school, or charity in America could ever qualify.”
- “Even before the mandate, there was a shift. Members of the Obama administration have begun to use the phrase ‘freedom of worship’ to replace ‘freedom of religion.’ Very different.”
- “Cardinal George of Chicago has written about this ominous shift: Mere freedom of worship was something even Soviet Russia guaranteed. You could go to church if you could find one, he writes, but the church could do nothing except conduct religious rights in places of worship … no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, no works of mercy that flow from a living faith. All of these were co-opted by the government … now with the mandate … the state is making itself into a church.”
- “If you push the church behind closed doors, you diminish its influence.”
Excerpts from speech:
- “We gather here today to express to our leaders a desire that we see a change in our current health care laws that we believe impedes our ability to carry out our religious beliefs.”
- “The Catholic Conference and the Catholic Bishops of Kansas have always held the desire that a comprehensive health care system be developed that especially addresses the health care needs for the poor.”
- “During this past legislative session … a bill was introduced named the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. The Act established that a government shall not burden a person’s right to freely exercise an individual’s religious belief. This Act did pass the Kansas House of Representatives but is temporarily stalled in the Kansas Senate.”
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Kansas City, Kansas:
Excerpts from speech:
- “‘Where are you going?’ America, when our federal government attempts to limit severely religious freedom?”
- “‘Quo vadis?‘ America, when the current administration wants to narrow religious liberty to include only the freedom to worship?
- “‘Where are you going?’ America, when our government considers women’s fertility as a disease to be suppressed, and pregnancy as a disease to be prevented?
- “‘Quo vadis?’ America, when this administration defines a religious entity so narrowly that Mother Teresa and her missionaries of charity would not qualify?”
- “Religious liberty for Americans always included not only the right to worship but also the right to live according to our conscience.”
- “The arbitrary mandates promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Reform Act are perhaps the most egregious threat to religious liberty in our nation’s history.”
- “The President’s so-called ‘accommodations’ have changed and corrected nothing.”
- “This Administration has deceptively attempted to portray the HHS mandates as an essential measure in the provision of health care for women feigning the existence of a crisis regarding the availability of contraception and abortion inducing drugs. They have attempted to demonize anyone who objects to this encroachment on religious liberty and conscience rights as waging a war against women.”
- “It is the Administration who has chosen to pick this fight, at this particular time. It is they who are waging a war against women and men of faith.”
- “Regardless of one’s personal belief about contraception as a life style choice, every American should be outraged at this assault on religious freedom.”
- “The HHS mandates are by no means the only threat to religious liberty in our nation …”
- “We must not fail at this moment to exercise our citizenship and make certain that our voice is heard.”
- “Let the cry go forth from Topeka, Kansas to the President, to the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to the Congress, to the Supreme Court: We will not accept, we will not acquiesce, we will not tolerate our liberties to be diminished or robbed from us.”
- “We will pray. We will advocate. We will vote. And we will never, never, never give up our religious liberty and our conscience rights.”
Bishop Michael Jackels, Wichita:
Excerpts from speech:
- “We are here today to rally for our right to religious freedom.”
- “We know that there is something that is mightier than the sword, the pen. We will, we can take up the pen to advocate with our elected representatives — even pester them. And to take up that pen to make an informed vote this November. If you’re not going to be with us, we’re not going to be with you.”
Other Catholic bishops from Kansas attending the event included Bishop John Brungardt, Dodge City, and Bishop Edward Weisenburger, Salina.
A student from Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic School in Topeka read the preamble to the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Other speakers at the event included:
- Dr. Timothy Boyd, Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists
- Mercedes Helms, Pastoral Minister, Great Bend
- Michael Schuttloffel, Director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, Topeka
- Karen Splichal, President of Council of Catholic Women, Salina
U.S. Senator Jerry Moran was scheduled to speak but was delayed because the Senate was in session.
Angela Huelksamp, wife of U.S. Congressman Tim Huelskamp, spoke briefly on his behalf since he was also in Washington.
Credits: Pictures/audio are Copyright EWTN. Used with permission.
- Group of Kansas Catholics Rally Against Health Care Act Provision, Fox4 KC, June 29, 2012.
- Kansas bishops hold Statehouse rally against birth control coverage mandate, Wichita Eagle, June 29, 2012.
- Large crowd gathers at Statehouse rally for religious freedom, Lawrence Journal World, June 29, 2012.
- Religious Freedom Rally Draws Thousands to State Capital, WIBW, June 29, 2012.
- Catholics rally against birth control mandate in Topeka, KWCH, June 29, 2012.
- Brownback addresses Catholic rally at Statehouse, KHI News, June 29, 2012.
- Brownback says federal government cannot be allowed to break religious Americans, Wyandotte Daily News, June 29, 2012.
- Thousands Gather In Topeka For Religious Freedom, KAKE, June 29, 2012.
- Catholic Conference plans rally for religious freedom in Topeka on Friday, Wichita Eagle, June 27, 2012.
- Chicago’s Archbishop: Obama Will ‘Steal’ Or Close Down All Catholic Hospitals Within Two Years, Business Insider, Feb. 29, 2012.
Contact: Earl F Glynn, firstname.lastname@example.org, KansasWatchdog.org
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