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Supreme Court of the United States

Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rallies

October 17, 2017

There are rare moments in life when a cause ignites souls in a deeply and viscerally understood truth. These are moments of mental and moral clarity; moments when we see great opportunity or approaching calamity.  They come at times when conscience will not allow us to be silent, and we determine to face whatever consequences attend our choices, because such moments demand action and not mere reflection.

They are times when a man like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King sat in a Birmingham jail and penned his explanation for violating “unjust laws” that violated the “moral law, or the law of God.” Or times such as when Dietrich Bonheoffer drew a metaphorical line in the sand – a line that cost him his life – because the moral law compelled him to deny Nazi dogma.

And now we see the budding of another such moment - a time of moral clarity that compels action. It is a spontaneous response to a government policy of outright contempt for religious freedom and freedom of conscience, which comes to us in the form of an administration mandate. The mandate from the White House orders all employers (except – so far – for a narrow church exemption) to provide (and pay for) abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives. This mandate includes religious organizations – even those directly set up to promote pro-life causes. In other words, employees have the right to these “services” and employers with religious objections must directly subsidize them. The recent backpedaling from the White House is wholly unpersuasive. For example, shell-game type tactics announcing that insurers can be made to provide the services “free” are ludicrous. As everyone knows, calculations for insurance premiums are based on an insurer’s actual costs; add the services and every insured ends up paying for them.

That’s why there will be rallies in over one hundred cities this Friday, March 23rd, all organized on the theme: Stand Up for Religious Freedom. Speakers at each rally will be pledging to resist and, if necessary, disobey this unjust government mandate. This government bullying and trampling on religious freedom and conscience should make us all shudder. More importantly, it should make us stand together in resistance, regardless of our feelings on the subjects behind the mandate.

Don’t miss the key point behind all this outrage. It is not whether abortifacients, sterilization procedures, or contraception violate our personal beliefs. Rather, it is whether the administration can compel people with religious views to pay for these services or for their employees. As best-selling author Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church noted: “I’m not a Catholic, but I stand in 100 percent solidarity with my brothers and sisters to practice their belief against government pressure. I’d go to jail rather than cave into a government mandate that violates what God commands us to do…”

Cynical political calculations on issues like how many “religious” persons use contraception totally miss the mark. For an administration that often blurs religious concerns and political expediency there may be genuine bewilderment over the extent of the reaction. But only a contemptuous understanding of people who “…cling to their guns or religion…” could miss the significance of the mandate for people of faith. The White House would do well to observe and learn from the coming rallies. A movement, once ignited, spreads more quickly and intensely than political calculations foresee.

Here is a listing of the rally sites.

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