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Hundreds rally for religious freedom

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By Ben Hanlon

On March 23, hundreds gathered for the “Stand Up For Religious Freedom” rally at the Pete Domenici Federal Courthouse Plaza in Albuquerque for an hour of speeches and songs.
This was just one of the rallies scheduled on this day in 143 cities across the nation, including Alaska and Hawaii.
The rallies were held to protest the Federal Government Department of Health and Human Services health care mandate.
The mandate requires all employers to provide in their employee health care plans, some products and services, which are contradictory to the religious and moral beliefs and practices of that employer.
Opponents of the mandate claim this requirement is an attack on religious freedom and on the right of an individual to act according to his conscience.
The rally began at noon as those gathered sang “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”
The crowd of between 200-300 consisted of families, groups of college students and teenagers and people of all ages.
Approximately 30 Los Alamos residents attended the event.
The guest speakers included Michele Beglau, nurse and regional coordinator of SilentNoMore; Fr. Stephen Imbarrato, president of Project Defending Life; Richard Cheney, president of Voices for Family Values; Dr. Harold Beeson, chief of Labs NASA; and Pastor Chris Donnelly, Traditional Values Action Committee, N.M.
Each speaker emphasized that the mandate violates the constitutional rights of every American to practice their religion freely, without mandates or restrictions imposed by the government.
The rally closed with all gathered singing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
A total of 54,000 Americans turned out for the “Stand Up For Religious Freedom” rallies held at federal courthouse buildings across the country.
The peaceful gatherings included people of all ages from Catholic, Protestant and Jewish faiths. At the New York City rally, a letter was read from the Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which opposes the mandate.
Dolan, stated the reason for the rallies saying, “It’s about ... the right of every person of faith to be free from being forced to do something that violates their conscience.”
The rallies were scheduled on the two-year anniversary of the health care bill being signed into law and on the Friday before the United States Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the law.