Catholic Sentinel photo by Gerry Lewin
Joseph Carter stands near the front of the religious freedom rally in Salem Oct. 20.
|Rally-goers have umbrellas out for the day, which included sun and rain.|
Ed LangloisSALEM — Oregon has drifted perilously from its moral and religious heritage, a group of several hundred heard Oct. 20 on the steps of the state Capitol.
Of the Catholic Sentinel
The Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally in Salem came as part of a national movement sparked by a federal mandate requiring employers to provide free contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs to employees.
Jason Schmidt, a Knight of Columbus who helped organize the rally, called on individuals to take charge of building a just society so federal and state agencies can shrink and fade.
"We need people to support people in need so the government doesn't come down to be the rescuer," said Schmidt, who became Catholic in 2009 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Aloha. "And when the government gets involved in something, you know that they need to have something in it for them. And usually that means taking our freedoms away."
Schmidt, saying that many Oregonians are in "dire need," called on listeners to "rely on brother-to-brother and sister-to-sister."
Churches are exempted from the new Health and Human Services requirements, but religious organizations like hospitals and colleges would be forced to allow the insurer-paid programs to proceed. The mandate constitutes a violation of free religious practice, say opponents, including the U.S. conference of Catholic Bishops.
The rally, which included sun breaks, included mention of many causes, like cutting taxes, opposing gay marriage and offering birth control at public schools.
"I don't think there's so much a war on religion as a war on morality," said radio talk show host Jim Greenfield. "But we know that it doesn't set men free to destroy our moral codes."
Moving away from time-tested values, said Greenfield, ushers in "an age of suffering, darkness and gnashing of teeth."