Religious freedom rally targets health care overhaul

  • Follow Your Faith

 Hundreds of people assembled on the steps of the Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity on Wednesday night for a Rally for Religious Freedom.

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Nineteen-year-old Rebekah Kent (left) sings with 18-year-old Emily Dresser during Wednesday's Fortnight for Freedom rally.   SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Nineteen-year-old Rebekah Kent (left) sings with 18-year-old Emily Dresser during Wednesday's Fortnight for Freedom rally.

Dozens carried American flags. Even more carried crosses.

“Increasingly, there are more and more voices that want to silence the voices of faith,” said the Rev. Jerry Ragan, of St. Mary of the Hill Catholic Church, at the beginning of the hourlong prayer service and rally, held by the Catholic Deanery of Augusta and inspired by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom campaign.

The campaign is a nationwide time of prayer, fasting and public demonstrations in opposition to what U.S. bishops call attacks on religious liberty. They include aspects of President Obama’s health care overhaul and state immigration laws that prohibit the harboring of undocumented immigrants.

Though the rally was held in view of the city’s Federal Justice Center, it began hours earlier and miles away, outside St. Mary on the Hill.

The youth group from St. Mary marched 6- and 8-foot-tall crosses from their church in the Hill area of Augusta into downtown.

“The youths walked 41/2 miles carrying crosses because this is an issue they care about,” said Becky Wisner, a member of St. Mary on the Hill Catholic Church.

She made signs for the rally earlier in the day that read, “Stop HHS Mandate,” which was shorthand for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring most employers to provide health insurance that includes birth control and abortion-inducing drugs.

“The mandate is telling us to go against our faith and provide things we don’t agree with,” Wisner said. “This is not just a Catholic thing. This is a religious freedom issue for everybody.”

Kimberlee Wood, also of St. Mary, said: “People are standing up and saying we’ve got to pray. We’ve got to do something.”

The Fortnight for Freedom ends July 4, on Independence Day. It began June 21 on the eve of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, two Catholic saints martyred for their beliefs. Members of every Catholic church in the area were present Wednesday night, but a handful of non-Catholics also attended.

“We believe it is important not only to be able to worship God in there,” Ragan said, pointing to the church behind him, “but also, to be able to speak our faith here in the public square.

“I ask you, are you ready to stand up for your faith?” he shouted to the crowd. “Are you ready to profess your faith in Jesus Christ? Are you ready to live Gospel values in your everyday life?”

To each, the crowd replied with, “Yes!” “Praise Jesus,” and “God Bless America.”

Comments (6) Add comment
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specsta 06/28/12 - 02:56 am
Wrong Focus

I wish some religious folks would march and protest against homelessness, hunger, and inequalities in our justice system. I don't recall Jesus being too worried about immigration issues or birth control.

InChristLove 06/28/12 - 06:17 am
No need to march or protest

No need to march or protest specsta. People of faith are feeding the hungry and providing shelter for the homeless every day. Jesus might not be too worried about immigration but He speaks plenty on how we are to treat strangers and about hospitality. He doesn't use the words birth control but He definitely speaks about sanctity of life.

lovingthesouth72 06/28/12 - 07:49 am
What rock have you been

What rock have you been hiding under specsta? Across history and around the world, the Catholic Church is the organization that provides the most care to the homeless, the sick, and the needy (hospitals, orphanages, schools and universities, pregnancy care centers, the list goes on ....) The firs commandment is Love God: we do this by following his commandments (which includes "Do not kill", hence covers the abortion issue since abortion is the murder of an innocent life) and living the life of faith he called us to -which at times will require standing up against unjust laws -. The second greatest commandment is Love your Neighbor: care for those around you - ex: immigrants, homeless, widows, orphans. So, as much as I have to dissagree with you specsta, yes, Jesus Christ, and God the Father do care about immigration and abortion.

howcanweknow 06/28/12 - 08:06 am
For some folks, Christianity

For some folks, Christianity is nothing but a means to treat social issues. They don't understand that the purpose of Christianity is to get right with God first. Once this happens social ills can be ministered to. LTS72 has is right. Spectsa still doesn't quite get it.

howcanweknow 06/28/12 - 08:07 am


DMPerryJr 06/28/12 - 02:13 pm
I Wish

non religious, hard core, pro abortion lefties who describe innocent unborn children as "seahorses" and "sesame seeds" would stand for something besides debauchery, the "rights" of killers and the butchering of babies.

TheBigBonk 06/29/12 - 09:53 pm
Catholic church


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