Citizens fill Federal Plaza for religious freedom rally

By Catholic New World and Catholic News Service
Sunday, April 8, 2012

Citizens fill Federal Plaza for religious freedom rally

Natalie Schurolak from St. Peter Parish in Volo, Ill., and Therese Seybert from St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago pray during the rally at Federal Plaza on March 23. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
A group from St. John Cantius Parish brought balloons strung together to form a rosary. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Participants nearly fill Federal Plaza. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)

On March 23, people of faith and concerned citizens filled Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago to near capacity to participate in the “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rally held at noontime.

The rally was one of 143 nationwide organized by the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, based in Michigan. About 55,000 people participated all together, Catholic News Service reported.

People gathered in front of U.S. courthouses, state capitols and historic sites to support religious freedom and protest a federal mandate that violates freedom by requiring most religious employers to provide no-cost contraceptive coverage even if it is contrary to their beliefs.

In Chicago, Catholics, Protestants and Jews took to the stage amid rain showers to call for a reversal of the HHS mandate, which forces employers, including religious ones, to provide coverage of contraception/sterilization in their health plans.

Christiana Yep attended the rally with her husband, Thomas, and their two children.

The Old St. Patrick’s parishioner is a Canadian citizen and said her family in Canada is “shocked” that Americans have accepted an action like the mandate.

“My family is surprised this is happening and nobody is mobilizing, It’s a country that is supposed to be for freedom,” Yep said.

A group of around 100 people from St. John Cantius Parish, 825 N. Carpenter St., walked more than two miles from the church to Federal Plaza in the rain while singing songs and chanting. Many of the group wore yellow T-shirts with the word “life” in black letters printed on them. They also carried yellow balloons strung together in the shape of a large rosary that floated up several stories. The balloons also bore the word “life” in black letters.

Kathleen Dietz, from Holy Cross Parish in Batavia, walked with the group and brought along her five children.

“I think it is ridiculous that the government thinks they could put their nose in our business,” she said of the mandate. Dietz works as a nurse and said that requiring contraception coverage is “not healthcare.”

“It’s anti-healthcare because it is killing the unborn,” she said.

All U.S. citizens should be concerned when the government starts taking rights away, she said.

“I’m doing this for my kids because I want my kids to grow up in a country that is free,” she said.