FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, June 13, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Less than two months away from when the HHS mandate will go into effect, Protestant and Catholic leaders are teaming up to increase pressure against the Obama administration: recently, nearly 150 Christian leaders have demanded a broader religious exemption, while an international Catholic pro-life leader rolled out a campaign for one million rosaries against the new insurance rule.
A June 11 letter by the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance called on HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to broaden the narrow religious exemption in the mandate, which will require virtually all organizations to cover employees’ birth control, including abortifacient drugs, beginning August 1 of this year.
The signatories emphasized that, although they have differing opinions on the moral legitimacy of contraception, the Christian churches were united against a mandate that cut off religious groups from the exemption if such groups employed or ministered to people of different faiths.
“[W]e are united in opposition to the creation in federal law of two classes of religious organizations: churches—considered sufficiently focused inwardly to merit an exemption and thus full protection from the mandate; and faith-based service organizations—outwardly oriented and given a lesser degree of protection.”
The letter stated that such a scheme “[burdens] those whose faith leads them to service in our common life,” and would send society down a dangerous path by squeezing faith out of the public realm. “Among its many troublesome aspects, the scheme moves us further toward an unconstitutional, unhistorical, and unhealthy naked public square,” it said.
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Among the signers of the letter were several heads of Christian colleges, as well as Leith Anderson, head of the National Association of Evangelicals, Rocky Rocholl, president of the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches, Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and several Christian pastors.
Meanwhile, Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, invited Catholics this week to pledge to pray the rosary daily during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom, June 21 – July 4.
“The battle lines are drawn, and the arguments are familiar to us now,” said Fr. Boquet in a statement Tuesday. “Although the Catholic Church was intentionally selected as the enemy in a false ‘war on women,’ all faithful Christians now recognize that the threat is really not only against Catholics, but against all people of faith, and our most fundamental freedoms.
“Of course, we will join in rallies, we will raise our voices and we will make sure that everyone knows the importance of their vote in November. But we also have a power that goes beyond these worldly obligations—the power of prayer.”
Boquet is calling for participants to pray one rosary each day during the Fortnight, and to share the pledge with friends.
Last week, tens of thousands of protesters joined 164 rallies across America to protest the mandate, the second such effort this year. The event was ignored by mainstream media.