More than 100 people gathered Friday on the south steps of the Indiana Statehouse to protest an Obama administration move they say crosses the line between government and religion.
The Stand Up for Religious Freedom protest was one of 164 rallies that took place Friday across the country. In Indianapolis, the event was organized by Indianapolis Right to LifeThe protesters oppose a mandate issued earlier this year by the federal Health and Human Services Administration. The rule requires nearly all employers, including religiously-based hospitals, universities and other institutions, to provide health insurance that offers free birth control. The move outraged religious groups and conservatives.
"I think religious freedom is essential," said Irene Thrasher, 65 from Huntington, who was among those in the crowd. "It's what is unique about America."
Protesters in Indianapolis carried signs, including one that read, "Obama: Waging war on women of faith and girls in the womb." Sen. Scott Schneider, a pro-life Republican in the Indiana Senate, was among those who spoke to the crowd.
Schneider told the crowd that precisely 223 years ago, James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights to Congress. He said that made June 8 the appropriate day to be fighting for the religious rights guaranteed by those amendments.
Attendees also passed around and signed petitions calling on President Barack Obama to reverse the federal health insurance mandate.
In March,Obama announced what he called an "accommodation" for religiously-affiliated organizations. He said those groups could hire third party insurers or administrators to provide the birth control, rather than offering it directly.
The change has not generally appeased opponents.
Kendra Rhonemus is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.
[News] Social Justice, Current Events