On June 8, 1789, James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights in the first Congress of the United States. This year, 223 years later, Americans concerned about current attacks on the religious freedom protected in that Bill of Rights, are meeting on June 8 in 134 U.S. cities, seeking to protect this freedom.

They seek to build on the momentum from rallies held earlier this year on March 23. For information about these rallies and their locations visit StandUpForReligiousFreedom.com. The first rallies were peaceful, family-friendly, non-partisan, ecumenical events. Their Guidelines and Protocols can be found on the website.

Included on their website is an excerpt from an article by Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, explaining why current actions by the federal government are such a threat to our religious freedom. Professor Glendon writes:

The main goal of the mandate is not, as HHS claimed, to protect women’s health. It is rather a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, forcing them to facilitate and fund services that violate their beliefs, within their own institutions.

The media have implied all along that the dispute is mainly of concern to a Catholic minority with peculiar views about human sexuality. But religious leaders of all faiths have been quick to see that what is involved is a flagrant violation of religious freedom. That’s why former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared, “We’re all Catholics now.”

More is at stake here than the mission of all churches, including the Catholic Church, to provide social services like health care and education to everyone regardless of creed, and to do so without compromising their beliefs. At the deepest level, we are witnessing an attack on the institutions of civil society that are essential to limited government and are important buffers between the citizen and the all-powerful state.

If religious providers of education, health care and social services are closed down or forced to become tools of administration policy, the government consolidates a monopoly over those essential services.

Professor Glendon’s piece can be read in its entirety here.

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