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Lila Rose addresses rally in Washington, D.C. (WND photo)

WASHINGTON – Tens of thousands of Americans stormed as many as 164 U.S. cities in nationwide rallies against Obamacare and its contraception mandate today.

The “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” protests come as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make its decision this month on the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act.

As many church leaders and outspoken critics have warned, Obamacare mandates that all institutions – including religious schools and hospitals – offer employees and students with health care that offers contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.

The “Stand Up For Religious Freedom” rallies are a project of the Pro-Life Action League, united with 70 other organizations. The groups are demanding President Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius withdraw mandates requiring nearly all private health insurance plans to cover the prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, such as Plan B.

WND attended the rally in Washington, D.C., where several members of Congress, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, R.-Minn., spoke in addition to former ambassador Alan Keyes and pro-life and religious leaders. The Washington rally was organized by Jack Ames of Defend Life.

Rep. Bachmann was cheered by the crowd as she greeted them, saying, “It’s a beautiful day for lovers of life.”

“[I]t was three years to the day after Barack Obama’s inauguration – three years to the day – that we saw Barack Obama’s true colors when it came to religious liberty,” she told the crowd. “And we saw that as he signed the health-care mandate for Obamacare.

“[T]his president, on that day of his inauguration, lifted up his right hand and he swore before all of America to that he would uphold and defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. But he had had no problem telling the religious organizations and religious oriented people of this nation that they must be forced to violate their religious beliefs under his health-care mandate. Never before, in the history of the United States of America, has this government required an employer to provide health insurance that would include taxpayer-subsidized abortion; that would mandate the provision of contraception; that would mandate sterilization; and abortion-causing pills. We know this wrong.”

Bachmann declared that the fight against Obama’s dictates are a “heart and soul” fight for religious liberty. (Her entire speech can be seen at the end of this article.)

Her colleagues from the U.S. House, Andy Harris, M.D., R-Md., Trent Franks, R-Ariz., and Steve King, R-Iowa, addressed the crowd as well.

Franks said religious liberty is the first freedom and we if we lose that, “it’s all gone. Everything that we love is all gone.”

Pro-life leaders Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America and David Bereit of 40 Days for Life urged the crowd to resist the unlawful mandates.

Protesters at Detroit rally (Stand Up For Religious Freedom photo)

Several Catholic priests pleaded with everyone to fight for religious liberty. They were Father Jose Hoyos, director of Oficina del Apostolado Hispano of Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Va., Father Jerry Pokorsky, pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Church in Annandale, Va., and Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International.

Delegate Bob Marshall of Virginia, a candidate for the U.S. Senate who introduced Virginia’s law against the mandate of purchasing any product whatsoever, said Obama isn’t satisfied with turning America into a “police surveillance state.”

“It isn’t enough that Obama can arrest you on a charge of terrorism,” Marshall said. “He now wants to invade the last citadel you have, the last right of liberty: your conscience. That is not acceptable in a free country where we are free citizens.

“Mr. President, you want us to participate in the intentional destruction of human lives created immediately by the greater action of God. We will not comply.”

Lila Rose of Live Action, producers of many video exposés on the abortion chain Planned Parenthood, disputed “war on women” propaganda used by abortionists and the Obama re-election campaign.

“We’re all here because we love our country, right?” she began. “And we love our faith and we love our freedom. And we believe – we know our country was founded on the right to life, liberty and the pursuit to happiness.

“And so we’ll do whatever we can in our power and the power of God, Who’s all-powerful – through prayer – to take back the freedoms that belong to us and to complete the fight [for] the right to life of every human being. We will not comply – we cannot comply with the unjust mandate coming from Kathleen Sebelius and coming from the president of the United States.”

Rose spoke for those who believe in “true” health care, especially the Catholic Church. She said Planned Parenthood’s endorsement of Obama is “very telling” because it’s the “biggest abortion chain in the country” and it would gain business as a result of his mandates. Given the violence and trauma of abortion, Rose insisted that’s “the real war on women.”

Pastor Johnny Hunter of LEARN opened his presentation by singing “Awesome God.” Then Hunter said, “And I got news for the current occupant of the White House: You ain’t Him.”

The preacher explained that people are waking up across the nation. He said in addition to Obama’s health-care violations, his endorsement of same-sex “marriage” isn’t going over well.

“You got black and white folks on the same page. We’re on the same page with this [mandate] right here. We’re on the same page of the Bible,” Hunter exclaimed.  “And I know y’all heard the president on marriage and all, but the truth of it is you’re dealing with somebody who’s tryin’ to be God. He is trying to tell the Catholic Church that they’ve got to do abortions. No way!”

Capt. Guy Gruters, an Air Force officer who served in the Vietnam War and survived torture as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, offered his view of Obama’s mandates.

“We went to war to fight communism – of living a world that has the gall to make the world one,” he said. “They called it the one-world order. Or the New World Order. But they used to call it the International Brotherhood of Man or the Communists International. To establish a one-world order, all we need to do is right and wrong must be eliminated.

“Look at it from their standpoint. They have to get rid of religion. That’s why they always crush it everywhere they take power. Atheism must be the only religion permitted.”

However, he argued that there’s no chance for a one-world government if morality and religion are allowed.

“Many of our politicians desire something that is not what the American people will to have,” Gruters explained. “Our government thinks it is better to be part of a one-world government than to maintain our independence. This is what they’re working toward is every sneaky and underhanded way that they possibly can. This is why they must crush religious freedom in this country.

Gruters said the whole “approach to totalitarian rule is to have everyone be subservient to the government.” He urged everyone to realize that “what we are [now] fighting in the United States is the exact same enemy I was fighting in Vietnam.”

Meanwhile, protesters flocked to rallies in as many as 163 other cities across the U.S. The following are just some of the many news reports after the event:

  • The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported, “Hundreds of South Floridians braved heat and afternoon downpours Friday to attend ‘Stand Up for Religious Freedom’ rallies … Gathering in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Miami, the ralliers heard priests, pastors, a rabbi and an archbishop denounce the Health and Human Services mandate. … Several speakers took a bullhorn to say the health care mandate oversteps God-given rights, even linking it with topics like trade law, the First Amendment and same-sex marriage. … In West Palm Beach, 250 to 300 attended a similar rally, coming from 25 parishes from Boca Raton to Tequesta.”
  • Catholic Online’s Deacon Keith Fournier, who attended a rally in Virginia Beach, Va., reported, “I stood alongside of other Catholics, evangelical protestants, tea party activists, and many other people of faith and good will. We stood arm in arm to defend religious liberty and thus to defend the common good.”
  • The New Haven Register in Connecticut reported, “About 200 protesters gathered on the Green Friday, holding signs scrawled with ‘President Obama is no friend of the Catholics,’ ‘Stand for religious freedom’ and ‘vote pro-life first’ to show their opposition to a Health and Human Services mandate. … A handful of politicians attended the rally Friday, including Republican candidates for U.S. Congress Daria Novak, Mark Greenberg and Wayne Winsley.”
  • The Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky reported that hundreds of people gathered in Lexington, Louisville and Owensboro to “protest President Barack Obama’s health care policies.”
  • Virginia’s WSET-TV reported nearly 200 people showed up in Roanoke to call for an end to government interference in religion.
  • Oklahoma’s News On 6 reported that dozens of people protested against the mandate in downtown Tulsa.
  • The Christian Post reported that hundreds gathered in New York City’s Financial District. Guest speakers at the NYC rally at New York City’s Federal Hall National Memorial included many well-known leaders in the pro-life movement.
  • Arkansas News reported several hundred people gathered in front of the state Capitol to rally in support of religious freedom.
  • In Des Moines, Iowa, a Catholic priest was the keynote speaker at the noon rally.
  • The Detroit Free Press reported that 13 cities in Michigan protested what they say is a growing encroachment on religious freedom.
  • In Santa Ana, Calif., at least 500 people turned out, according to police estimates.

At the time of this report, the “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” website had tallied 76 cities and nearly 39,000 protesters.

The June 8 protest builds on momentum created by the first “Stand Up For Religious Freedom” rallies that took place March 23. On that day, more than 63,000 Americans protested in 145 cities against the mandate.

The Pro-Life Action League offers several ways Americans can help stop the HHS mandate: 1) Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask congressmen and senators to support legislation overturning the mandate, 2) vote for candidates who respect freedom of religion and freedom of conscience in the primary and general elections this year and 3) pray.

Former Congressman Bob Dornan, R-Calif., also spoke at the Washington rally. See organizer Jack Ames and the entire lineup in these videos:

Hour 1:

Hour 2:

 

 

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