Oklahoma City. A rally was held at the COX Convention Center last Saturday afternoon. This was not a rally for any political candidate, though politicians were present. It was not an invitation to any church, though pastors, bishops, and religious groups were represented. This rally was one for a concept, a principle. The right of the people to freely practice their religion.
I made it to the event about 30 minutes late due to some unexpected automobile trouble. Pastors and politicians gave speeches. They represented, as did the audience, a variety of religious faiths all coming together, not to worship, but to stand for their right to continue to practice their different religions according to their own conscience. The audience consisted of men, women, and children of various faiths.
The main issue driving this rally was HHS Mandate, a mandate within the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, which requires insurance companies to include coverage of contraceptive services. This would not necessarily be a problem in itself, but it happens that the Catholic church has openly opposed this mandate on the grounds that it violates their religious beliefs.
Here are some samples of the speakers at this event.
Dr. James “JT” Taylor, Pastor of University Christian Church in Norman, OK, brought up the reason “why we are here” – the national healthcare plan requires Catholic institutions to provide health insurance that would cover contraceptive services. Archbishop Paul Coakley has said, “We cannot, we will not comply with this unjust law.” He then went on to say that fault can be found in churches, which have become “apathetic, and influenced by worldliness.” The question was then asked, “How does God punish a nation?” George Mason was quoted, “As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, providence punishes national sins by national calamities.” Dr. JT used king Ahab and Jezebel in the Bible as an example of this. In conclusion, he said our problem “is not with Washington DC, it is right here, in this room, with the people of God. God says His people must humble themselves and pray. We can put the right people in office, but if there’s no repentance we are in trouble.”
One speaker, making reference to the speedy organization of the rally, jokingly said, “This is the first time in 2000 years that the Catholics have done something at the drop of a hat.”
After a few speeches, there was an intermission, during which time I was able to briefly interview Congressman James Lankford (R, OK). There are some in Congress who wish to keep parts of the law we now know as Obamacare, so I asked him about his stance on this issue. He told me that he would like to repeal the entire law, and then start over with reforms. Lankford said that the whole system (Obamacare) is pieced together in such a way that different parts depend upon each other, and they cannot be separated in some cases.
When he gave his speech later, Lankford described a painting hung at the national Capitol (since 1843) in which an artist was asked to depict the beginning of America. The painting is a group of individuals on a ship leaving Europe for America, gathered around a copy of scriptures and praying.
The Oklahoma Congressman had two questions for the audience. The first was, “Is there a threat to religious liberty going on in our day?” to which the audience answered, “Yes.” The second was what to do about it. He gave an example of a Missouri school that released its minister. The government stepped in and told them to reinstate him, but the school told the government it could not tell them who their minister would be. He then explained that the apostle Paul, as a religious person, addressed a secular government, and it is right for Christians to do this. Lankford concluded by telling the audience, “If your hope is in Washington, your hope is in the wrong place.” He has stated this to pastors on numerous occasions.
More Speeches and Presentations
Other speakers included Oklahoma State Representative Rebecca Hamilton, who pointed out that the HHS mandate is not a law. It was not passed by Congress or any legislative body elected by the people. The mandate is an agency rule, written by a privately appointed committee who are not answerable to the people. Hamilton said that the worst part about the mandate is not necessarily what it does, but what it will do in the future. It sets a precedent for the government to be able to force people and religious groups to violate their own principles.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed suit on behalf of the State of Oklahoma against the Affordable Care Act, and he was the next speaker. He recounted many details from his trip to Washington, D. C. to represent the prosecution in the Supreme Court case against the act. Pruitt recounted some details from the case noting that this case will mark history, as did the 1968 Miranda decision.
Michael Scaperlanda, professor at the University of Oklahoma, explained that this is not a “left” versus “right” issue. For example, the Catholic church in Arizona filed suit against the State of Arizona because its controversial immigration law could potentially fine churches if they baptize an illegal immigrant. It could also fine doctors simply for treating them.
The Issue at Hand
This issue reaches far beyond partisan politics. It pierces to the soul of liberty and the concept of the United States. More than half of the States have filed or passed non-binding resolutions emphasizing the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which basically states that powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution belong either to the States, or to the people. If we do not stand up and prevent the federal government from unjustly ruling in one area of our life, what will stop them from ruling all areas? Our government was formed definitively to prevent such a government from going too far. Checks and balances prevent any one branch from exercising excessive authority, but only the people can prevent the system as a whole from taking over. It was the right of the people to alter or abolish their British government in 1776, and it is the duty of the free people today to continue to fight for our liberties.SHARE