On Friday, March 23, Rocklanders took part in the Manhattan “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” Rally, which was one of 140 such demonstrations held in major cities across the nation. The group traveled by bus to the Federal Hall National Monument on Wall Street to protest the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate that would force religious charities and individual employers to purchase insurance coverage for abortion-causing drugs, birth control, and sterilization.
Under the Obama administration’s mandate, people who opposed such “services” on the basis of their religious beliefs — for example, religious orders and laity that operate the many hospitals, schools, and social services of the Catholic Church — would nevertheless be required to provide them and so be forced to violate their consciences.
The rallies were organized to protest this assault on religious freedom.
The day began for many of the Rockland group with mass, which was celebrated by Msgr. Edward Weber, Vicar of Rockland, at St. Francis Church in West Nyack.
Before boarding the bus outside the church, rally signs were distributed by Richard Bruno, who organized the trip.
Also on board was Rev. Fredy Patino from St. Peter’s Church in Haverstraw, who offered the opening prayer as the trip got under way. The group prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary and joined in singing hymns during the ride to Wall Street.
The passengers disembarked behind Trinity Church and walked the short distance to Federal Hall, the rally site, which is where George Washington was inaugurated. There they joined the 500+ others who assembled on the steps of the building and the adjoining plaza.
Among the speakers were Chris Slattery, the New York rally’s main organizer and president of Expectant Mother Care, and Chris Bell of Good Counsel Homes. Bell emphasized that the fines that might be imposed for refusing to comply with the mandate could result in the closing of the Good Counsel maternity homes, such as the one in Spring Valley.
This unprecedented intrusion of the government into how we practice our faith has further implications for all of us. If the government can demand that citizens jettison their convictions to comply with its vision of what “good” for us — watch out for what may come next.
The National Right to Life Committee stands with people of faith protecting religious liberty — with good reason!
Photos by John Ferrao