Thousands flock to Kansas religious freedom rally
Religious Freedom Rally. Credit: Anita McSorley, The Leaven.
Religious Freedom Rally. Credit: Anita McSorley, The Leaven.
By Kevin J. Jones
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Several thousand people rallied outside the Kansas Statehouse on June 29, where Catholic bishops, Gov. Sam Brownback and others addressed threats to religious freedom posed by the federal contraception mandate.

Michael Schuttloffel, Executive Director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, estimated that 4,000 people gathered in the sweltering heat for the Topeka event.

“We hope that our rally, in concert with all the other rallies and events across the country, sends a message loud and clear to the president and to the administration and to all of our policymakers at the federal level that we’re taking this extremely seriously,” Shuttloffel told CNA July 2.

“This is just the beginning of this issue, not the end of it,” he continued. “We are not going to comply with this policy.”

Rose Hammes, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, said that having thousands of people turn out on “such a hot day” shows that the issue is really of concern to Catholics in the state.

“If things don’t change in the political realm, it will happen again,” she said.

The June 29 rally was part of the Fortnight for Freedom campaign organized by Catholic bishops in response to the Department of Health and Human Services mandate. A federal rule announced Jan. 20 now requires most employers, including many Catholic institutions, to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacient drugs.

The religious freedom exemptions are narrow and the details of a proposed accommodation from the Obama administration are not yet clear. Catholic charities, health systems and colleges and universities are unsure whether they can fulfill the mandate in good conscience.

Over 40 Catholic institutions, including the University of Notre Dame and the Archdioceses of New York, St. Louis and Washington, D.C., have filed suit against the mandate.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City said the controversy raises questions about the direction of the United States as a country.

“Where are you going America?” the archbishop asked. “Where are you going America, when our own federal government attempts to limit severely religious freedom, the first constitutional right in our nation’s Bill of Rights?”

He said that the administration’s religious exemption is so narrow that Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity would not qualify.

“The reality is that we are gathered here today to just maintain the status quo, not to advance any agenda, the archbishop continued. “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.”

He warned that if the mandate stands it will provide a precedent to coerce other Americans to “violate their deeply held moral convictions on any other matter.”

Archbishop Naumann promised that Catholics and others will pray, advocate and vote and will never give up their religious liberty.

Gov. Brownback told the crowd that the federal government “cannot be allowed to break religious Americans to the saddle of a federal mandate.” He contended that the Obama administration’s policies “mandate a disregard for conscience and require the faithfully religious to violate their beliefs.”

Other speakers included U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Dr. Timothy Boyd of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists.

Cathy Ruse, Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at the Family Research Council, was the rally’s keynote speaker.

Schuttloffel said Ruse was “very direct” in criticizing those mandate supporters who claim opposition is part of a “war on women.”

He said Ruse described this as “entirely an election year contrivance.”

“There are a lot of Catholic women who oppose the mandate and resent the fact that they’re really just being used as pawns in  a political game.”

While Schuttloffel said the rally was a “tremendous success,” he also voiced frustration at “the unwillingness or inability of the media to cover this subject properly, or to cover it at all.”

“This really is about religious freedom, it’s not about contraception,” he said.

Tags: Contraception mandate, Fortnight for Freedom

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 29, 2015

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 4:1-20


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 4:1-20