About 150 people, carrying signs and banners touting religious freedom, gathered Saturday for a rally in downtown Kansas City, Kan.
Speaker after speaker — 13 in all — railed against federal mandates that will require birth control to be covered in health insurance plans.
The rally, one of several held around the country by a national group called Stand Up For Religious Freedom, urged those attending to vote against President Barack Obama, who championed health care reform.
The law makes no exception for Catholic institutions that say coverage of contraception for employees goes against their beliefs.
Supporters of health care reform say birth control is part of comprehensive care for women.
In response to the criticism, the Obama administration offered a compromise in which insurers, not religious groups, would pay for employees’ birth control. Many church groups were not mollified, however.
The health care law has “created a moral dilemma for many Catholic employers and insurers,” said Ron Kelsey, an abortion opposition consultant for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
Reading a statement from Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Kelsey said employers and insurers will “either violate their conscience by providing, under the guise of preventive health care, what our Catholic faith holds to be intrinsically evil practices or jeopardize the provision of quality health care for their employees.”
Susan James of Olathe, who attended the rally, said: “I’m frustrated and I have a strong need to stand up. I’m seeing a really big change in the way that our government looks at our religious freedom.”
Francis Slobodnik, district manager for the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property and the local organizer of Saturday’s rally, said it was the largest of three so far in Kansas City, Kan.
“This is not a partisan thing at all,” he said. “It’s about being forced to provide things even if they go against our traditional religious beliefs.”