Demonstrators gathered in Valparaiso, on Capitol Hill and more than 100
locations Friday to protest the Obama administration’s policy to require
private health insurance plans to cover contraception as a violation of
The issue has united multiple faiths, with evangelical, Orthodox Jewish,
Roman Catholic and Mormon leaders recently forming networks in every state
dedicated to promoting religious liberty, starting with their opposition to
Last year, an advisory panel from the Institute of Medicine, which advises
the federal government, recommended including birth control on the list of
covered services for women. But many faith and political leaders argued that
the mandate’s exception for religious groups was too narrow.
In response, Obama offered to soften the rule so that insurers would pay for
birth control instead of religious groups. Roman Catholic bishops and others
have said that the accommodation, which is still under discussion, doesn’t
go far enough to protect religious freedom. Lawsuits have been filed in at
least eight states.
In Washington, former GOP presidential hopeful and U.S. Rep. Michele
Bachmann of Minnesota said the heart of the issue was the protection of
Five hundred gathered at the Northwest Indiana Stand Up For Religious
Freedom Rally at the Porter County Courthouse, organizers Alex and Paulette
Rodriguez of Chesterton said in a press release today.
Rally speaker Steve Sluder, Pastor of the Church of God in Griffith said “We
strongly oppose any attempt by the federal government to limit, restrict or
impede us in our efforts to fulfill the call to ministry, and practice of
Valparaiso University Law Professor Richard Stith stated “Precisely because
our nation is ever more polarized, we need conscience protection more than
ever. The only way we will be able to endure our ever deeper disagreements
is for the government to cease to require participation in acts that violate
the consciences of those who disagree with it.”
Pastor Rick Jones of Pines Bible Church in Michigan City emphasized it
should not be up to the government to define “what it means to exercise our
Father Mens, Pastor of St. Mary Catholic Parish in Griffith read a statement
provided by Gary Diocese Bishop Dale Melczek in which the Bishop said “We
ask nothing more than that our God-given right to religious liberty be
respected and nothing less than that the Constitution and laws of the United
States, which recognize that right, be respected.”
Assoc. Pastor Voegtlin of Fairhaven Baptist in Chesterton also provided a
statement to be read.
In Indianapolis, about 300 activists gathered on the south lawn of the
Statehouse carrying signs reading “Stop Obama’s HHS Mandate!” and “Stand up
for Religious Freedom!” and cheered speakers from groups including Indiana
Right to Life, Americans for Prosperity and the Catholic Church.
Monsignor Joe Schaedel, pastor at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in
Indianapolis, told the crowd that talk of exemptions from the administration
“Jesus Christ and his 12 apostles couldn’t get an exemption,” Schaedel said.
“Make no mistake: Religious freedom is the issue!”
But Jennifer Miller, a vice president at Planned Parenthood in Trenton, said
the rallies were being held by extremist groups that have a long history of
attacking women’s health.
“Simply put, anti-women’s health groups want to take a huge step backward
for women’s health,” Miller wrote in an email. “If they had their way, more
women would be uninsured, medical discrimination against women would be
legal again, and women would once again be forced to pay more for health
care and get less for their health care dollars than men.”