On the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare, parishioners at in New Lenox have organized a demonstration in support of religious freedom.
The campaign was initiated in part because of the recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The specific point of contention within the bill pertains to a requirement that all employer health plans provide free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of any moral or religious objections.
The event is scheduled from 2 p.m. 4 p.m. Sunday, July 1, at the intersection of Route 30 and Cedar Road in New Lenox.
The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote on June 28 issued a decision to uphold as a tax the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires individuals to purchase a health plan—the oft referred to as "individual mandate."
Stirred by a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' declaration issued on May 30, calling for a "Fortnight for Freedom to Defend Religious Liberty," many Catholic parishioners have decided to take action to demonstrate support for the USCCB.
From a local perspective, which was discussed at a June 21 meeting at St. Jude, this public display of prayer is meant to attract attention to the church's "defense of religious liberty."
Particularly the protestors hope to draw attention to their moral objection to a governmental mandate that flies in the face of the church's vow to respect life. The demonstrators welcome supporters from all churches.
The planned demonstration coincides with the USCCB campaign designated by an ad hoc committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops for teaching and witness in support of religious freedom. It called for 14 days of prayer that began June 21 and ends on July 4.
St. Jude Fr. Don Lewandowski said the Supreme Court decision has serious implications per the operation of Catholic hospitals and other institutions, including Catholic universities and charity organizations.
Having previously presented the matter to the St. Jude congregation, a number of parishioners and parish organizations have banned together to bring about awareness of the issue and its perceived threat to religious freedom.
Karla Ohner, of New Lenox, called for a more high profile awareness campaign and sought authorization for the planned demonstration on Sunday. She viewed the protest as a way to alert the public about the "violation of (the church's) conscience clause, a First Amendment right."
Lewandowski said that to him, the Fortnight was a request from the bishops to "pray for our country" that it doesn't lose religious freedom.
"What Karla is doing is protesting and drumming up support for our position," he said. "I think it's courageous of her. I can support that. It's a non-violent way to raise awareness."
According to a statement by Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, on the web site for the Diocese of Joliet, "the purpose of this effort is to issue a call to defend religious liberty."
Thomas Garlitz, director of the newly created Office for Human Dignity for the Diocese of Joliet, said he is prepared to work with legislators and officials to craft a plan that is more favorable to the moral foundation of the Catholic Church.
"We're hoping that either through dialogue or legal action that a compromise will be found that enables Catholics to continue to practice their faith and for all Americans to enjoy access to health care," Garlitz said.
According to a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the group doesn't seek to repeal Obamacare in its entirety. Instead, the Bishops will urge Congress to pass legislation to "fix those flaws" previously mentioned.
Read More: (on Orland Park Patch)
Want to know more? Visit The Affordable Care Act website.