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Advocates Protest Threat to Religious Freedom

Schwenksville woman part of group protesting outside Corpus Christi Church, Wednesday, against the proposed contraception mandate

The right to free exercise of religion is stated there in black and brown in the U.S. Constitution.

But American Christians nationwide are using the freedom of assembly and petition to get the word out against an HHS mandate under the Affordable Care Act.

One such assembly against what is believed to be an attack on religious freedom occurs every Wednesday on the grounds of in Upper Gwynedd along Sumneytown Pike.

That is where Carolyn Stenger, of Schwenksville, and three other peers were protesting Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m. They will return there every Wednesday, same time, and on Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m.

"We are outside to evangelize and protect religious freedom," said Stenger, who said Corpus Christi Church Monsignor Thomas Flanagan gave permission to protest on church grounds. "HHS is an unjust law. If it goes through, it will force Catholic schools, charities and hospitals to close down."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enacted a rule in January 2012 requiring employers to provide access to health insurance that covers most forms of birth control, including abortion.

The mandate exempts churches, but applies to religious employers.

"Our freedom is at stake," said Stenger. "People think we have a year to comply - we don't. There are 14 lawsuits against the mandate. That's why June is crucial: If it is not overturned, the mandate will start this August."

On Feb. 10, President Obama announced an “accommodation” for religious employers: Birth control would not have to be covered, and insurance companies would provide free birth control and morning after pills.

"They are forcing us to pay for insurances against our rights," Stenger said. "They are forcing us to pay for birth control and abortion drugs. We will not abide by that."

Stenger said a lot of drivers and passengers were looking at the protest and that's usually accompanied by a lot of yelling. Stenger said a former State Representative candidate told her he would spread the word.

"Once this goes," said Joanne O'Donnell, of Collegeville, "they will start to chip away at the Constitution, one piece at a time."

Barbara Koch, of Lansdale, said the government is attempting to tell American Christians what they must do.

"We are not telling people they can't get abortions, that's their choice," she said. "People need to stand up now for this. It is the beginning of the loss of our rights."

A rally will hit Independence Hall in Philadelphia on June 8 from noon to 1 p.m. You can expect Stenger and her peers to be there.

"We are trying to get a lot of churches involved in this," Stenger said. "Atheists have even come to the rallies."

Rosemary Doyle, of Towamencin, said thousands of men and women have died for these rights.

"This is not America," Doyle said.

pruckels June 01, 2012 at 08:23 PM
"We are outside to evangelize and protect religious freedom," In other words, they're there to cram their opinion down everyone else's throat. "If it goes through, it will force Catholic schools, charities and hospitals to close down." Nice play on the drama card. In reality, they will comply, and conduct their business as usual. After all, 98% of Catholic women polled either do or have used contraception for family planning purposes (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/feb/06/cecilia-munoz/white-house-official-says-98-catholic-women-have-u/) It's pretty sad when even women are duped into being footsoldiers for the religious right's war on women.
Ash725 June 01, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Um, I don't want my tax money to pay for a lot of things that the US government does, such as unjust and unwarranted wars. Where do I go to protest that? W's ranch perhaps?
drX June 01, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Actually, I think women have the right to free speech as much as any other American does pruckels.
Sugaree June 01, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Bravo pruckels! These morons have been brainwashed into believing that this is a 'religious freedom' issue. Umm, if they looked beyond this simplistic view of a not so simple employment law issue, they might realize it has more to do with complying with Title VII concerning employment discrimination. But hey, if they want to stand outside on a chuch lawn holding signs that aren't relevant, by all means do so. It's their time. And, while they're at it, if they're so opposed to birth control - don't use it.
Sugaree June 02, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Oh, and since the church is involving itself in political issues, you know; that pesky separation of church and state thingy; maybe they should lose their tax-exempt status.
Rita Smith, M.E.V. June 02, 2012 at 02:21 PM
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania states on Article 1 Section 3 the following: Religious Freedom - All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences; no man can of right be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship or to maintain any ministry against his consent; no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship. All throughout the country there are protests of the Pill Kills and the theme for this year is "The Pill Kills Women and Babies" check it out on www.thepillkills.org. There will be a protest at Collegeville's Planned Parenthood today Sat. June 2nd from Noon to 2:00pm. Also, I would suggest to read Humane Vitae, means "Of Human Life". It is an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI and it was issued on July 25, 1968 and of the challenge it presents to the world.
marie June 07, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Women deserve to know the truth about the pill.

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