TRENTON For 400 Catholics and other Christians who rallied in front of the Statehouse Friday, President Obama’s proposed regulations on insurance covering contraception are nothing short of an attack on religious freedom.
Hence more than a dozen speakers urged the crowd to contact their elected representatives and otherwise remain active to prevent government control from further eroding of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
“Americans of all shapes and sizes, and genders, support religious freedom and believe it is a basic human right that has been violated by (Obama’s) mandate,” said Marie Tasy, executive director of New Jersey Right to Life.
“We vow to work to rescind this attack on our rights, our beliefs, our conscience,” Tasy added as the crowd cheered.
Organizers said the rally was one of 140 being held nationwide, two years since Obama had signed the health insurance reform into law, an initiative which many protestors said they were opposed to as well.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to also take up the case against Obama’ landmark healthcare law.
Religious leaders became incensed last year when the U.S. Health and Human Services department issued guidelines that required insurance plans to cover birth control as preventive services, without an exemption for some employers with religious affiliations.
After Catholic bishops continued to complain about the mandate, Obama announced a compromise, that if a religious-affiliated employer objected to providing contraceptive coverage, the insurance company would pay the tab.
But protestors said yesterday that the compromise is only a thin covering for Obama to move ahead with his plan, and they feared more government intrusion to come.
“We not only want to worship in our own denomination and tradition, but to stand in the public square and, for us as Christians, to be Christ, to speak the truth in love,” Damon Owens told the crowd. Owens, of Little Egg Harbor, is the executive director of the Catholic-aligned Theology of Body Institute in Philadelphia.
“Will we be put in a box and told to ‘worship there?’ As we know, ‘worship there’ will only be for the time being, because soon enough, they will come there,” Owens added. “But that’s not why we object. We object because the very expression of our faith is in the public square…. A just government respects that.”
The Reverend Joseph Murphy, a Catholic priest who resides in Manchester and Milford, held a papal flag at the rally and said in an interview he is disappointed in Obama.
“I voted for Obama four years ago, and I’m totally disillusioned by what he has and has not done,” Murphy said. “He is overstepping his bounds.”
Joseph D’Angiliollo, 77, of South Brunswick, said he had come to the rally to serve his country again. “In 1954, I joined the Marine Corp to defend freedom, now I’m back to defend freedom again,” D’Angiliollo, a Catholic, said in an interview.
Brother Adee Zanone, 38 of the Sanctuary of Mary in Branchville, said he believed Obama’s decision was part of a campaign of incremental political acts to attack Christianity.
“The momentum is away from the rights that our founding fathers gave us, that God gave us,” Zanone said.