On Tuesday, thousands of people of faith joined together to protest the HHS mandate that forces employers to pay for coverage for contraceptives, abortion drugs and sterilization procedures.
Attendees wore red to show their support for conscience rights legislation currently pending in the Missouri General Assembly. Although the event was on the first floor, an estimated 2,000 participants from around the state filled three floors of the Capitol.
In his address to the crowd, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson denounced the mandate and the so-called compromise that followed.
“Mr. Obama, your compromise changed absolutely nothing!” he said. “This is about religious liberty, and we will never give up this freedom!”
In decrying the so-called compromise, which changed the mandate to force insurance companies to provide the services, Archbishop Carlson said, “Mr. President, there is no free lunch!”
He noted that if the insurance company has to provide the services, someone has to pay for them and that cost will be passed to the consumer.
Archbishop Carlson specifically called out President Obama a few times, and he noted that the president is essentially telling people through the mandate that they can worship and have faith, but not exercise their faith.
“The federal government, which was formed to be of the people, by the people and for the people, has decided to tell some of those people that we are free to hold our faith but we will be required to deny its practice, and I say NEVER!” Archbishop Carlson said.
He reiterated that Christians are called to serve everyone, just as Jesus Christ did.
Maggie Karner, director of Life and Health Ministries for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, reminded the crowd that the mandate is not about women’s issues at all, but about the constitutional rights of all citizens.
She also echoed Archbishop Carlson’s point that an integral part of the Christian faith is service, and that service shouldn’t be restricted to inside the walls of a church.
“Mercy is not what we do, it’s who we are,” Karner said. “This debate is not about contraception … We cannot be expected to check our faith at the door.”
Other speakers included Dr. John L. Yeats of the Missouri Baptist Convention and Darrin Rodgers, who read a letter from Dr. George O. Wood of the Assemblies of God, USA.
Before and after the rally, participants filled out cards showing their support for conscience rights legislation, including SB 749, sponsored by State Sen. John Lamping and HB 1730, sponsored by State Rep. Stanley Cox, and then gave the cards to their state legislators and Gov. Nixon.
The event was co-sponsored by several groups including: the Missouri Catholic Conference, Missouri Right to Life, Concerned Women for America, the Missouri Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Assemblies of God USA.
To download the speeches, click the links below.
Archbishop Robert Carlson’s speech
Maggie Karner’s speech
Dr. John L. Yeats’ speech
Letter from Dr. George O. Wood of the Assemblies of God, USA
Bishop Gaydos’ Prayer