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Anti-Obama Prayer Rally Friday

The prayer rally, from noon - 3 p.m., is part of the Stand Up for Religious Freedom coalition. It is a protest of a Health and Human Services mandate regarding birth control coverage.

The national political controversy over whether contraceptive coverage should be an insurance mandate is now a hot debate locally, with a high-profile prayer rally planned Friday in St. Petersburg. 

From noon - 3 p.m., the prayer rally will be staged at 4th Street North and 22nd Avenue North. In addition, the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg wrote a protest letter in February to voice oppotion to the mandate.

The organized opposition, largely by religious groups, is to President Barack Obama's Health and Human Services Affordable Care Act. The act requires insurers to cover birth control for women, a mandate sparking partisan debate.

The most visible opposition locally will be Friday's prayer rally along 4th Street North, a busy commercial highway in St. Petersburg.

According to a news release, several St Petersburg residents are joining this effort, in alliance with participants from 100 other cities for the March 23 Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally.

"This prayer and witness rally is intended to peacefully alert the public to the strange manipulations of the HHS mandate," said Michael Brennan of the Coalition in Defense of Church Teaching. "We hope and have asked non Catholics to join us in scripture reading.  

"We intend to draw attention to the injustice of the federal government’s trivializing the conscience of American citizens as we emphasize the national opposition to the HHS Mandate—a ruling that is shocking to millions of Americans.  

"Never before have American Catholic Bishops been intimidated to put their (approval) on acts they have been consecrated by God to disapprove," Brennan added. "In this episode we have witnessed the tactics of Eastern Europe under communism. This sort of government intrusion must be stopped.” 

The nationwide Stand Up for Religious Freedom coalition calls upon all Americans to oppose the mandate for the following reasons:

"We protest the federal government's definition of what constitutes a religious institution and the mission of religious institutions through the narrowly constructed “exemption” to the HHS Mandate. Not only is this definition false, but the federal government has no authority to make it.

We protest that religious institutions (even under Obama’s so-called “accommodation”) are still forced to facilitate contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs through insurance companies that are mandated to provide them.

We protest the Mandate for forcing all businesses -- not just religious institutions -- to provide coverage of contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates the employer’s own moral position on these matters."

The national pushback against the mandate is countered by an equally strong argument for insurance companies to cover birth control. 

In a statement released on March 16, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards issued a statement:

"As women’s health opponents continue their unprecedented assault on access to basic health care, today, the Obama administration reaffirmed its commitment women’s health.  

"... the Obama administration is fulfilling its promise that women will have access to birth control coverage, with no costly co-pays and no additional hurdles, no matter where they work.

"For many women, especially college students, birth control is not only a health care issue, it is a financial issue. Covering birth control with no co-pays means college students will not have to choose between paying for tuition and books, or paying for basic health care like birth control."

On March 20, Richards said the fight against contraceptives being covered by health insurance companies is a war on women. 

“Unfortunately, anti-women’s health politicians want to take away these health care benefits, and repeal ACA.  If they had their way, more women would be uninsured, medical discrimination against women would be legal again, and women would once again be forced to pay more for health care and get less for their money than men."

Locally, the issue has also caused quite a stir.

On Feb. 4, Bishop Robert Lynch of the Diocese St. Petersburg wrote a letter voicing his and the church's displeasure with Catholic institutions providing contraceptive services.

"This is indeed the worst assault on religious freedom by the Federal government in a long time," Lynch wrote. "Those of you who have known and watched me over the 16 years it has been my privilege to be your bishop know that I have until now refrained from engaging in political discourse. But this is now a moral issue and the timing by the President leaves me no option but to inform you of what is happening, which I believe to be an assault on the sacred."

, who runs saintpetersblog.com, wrote that type of politicking within the Catholic Church makes him want to leave the church. 

"When I leave the Catholic Church, and increasingly I believe that departure is imminent, it will be because of the actions of church leaders like Robert Lynch, head of the Diocese of St. Petersburg," wrote Schorsch in . 

"I wonder why I am hearing so much from my Church now when I heard so little from it during the child-abuse scandals that rocked so many Catholics' faith?," Schorsch continued. "With the Church's house still in disorder because of that scandal, I must also wonder why Bishop Lynch is wading so deep into public affairs."

Robert S March 23, 2012 at 11:00 AM
FaithVA. You are right-on with your posts. Your eloquence, intelligence and composure in so masterfully stifling the rudest of the Foxnews mimicking attack puppets posting here, and challenging their blithering ludicrous propagandist contentions with factual knowledge, wisdom and credible references is admirable and a tactically beautiful thing to witness. Beth Warren will be in need of a running mate in 2016. You've got my vote.
Dewey Henize March 23, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Let's see - all these posts about "Separation of Church and State" seem to be a bit myopic. The church is running a business, surely something that is "State". If you want to play in the business world, be a business. If you want to be a church, you have every right to require your people to follow your tenets. But the two aren't the same.
Dewey Henize March 23, 2012 at 11:13 AM
Thank you for the coherent, reasoned post.
Dewey Henize March 23, 2012 at 11:22 AM
Anonymous, I don't think there is any factual basis for your apologetic post. The Catholic Church used official Church infrastructure to protect and hide pedophiles in their midst. The documents proving that have been made public. Bishops who were directly involved were moved back to the Vatican to protect them from legal prosecution You have similar proof of others, for goodness sake make it available. Vague references don't prove diddly. We'll wait..
Phillip March 23, 2012 at 01:14 PM
How come this is about women? Why didn't Obama add that condoms should be included for both Men & Women? But then again... Planned Parenthood gives away FREE condoms to either sex just for the asking. Why does the govt have to get involved?
crowvet March 23, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Jack you are so right. It is government break down of the constitution. All these bleeding hearts crying about their right of choice because it is theit body and want others to pay for their independence is sicking. Like one lady says I paid for my birh control while the other said I wasn't able to pay so I want all of you to pay for me to have sexual relations. Give me, Give me. Give me. Use a condom. Or keep your legs closed.
Ola Abal March 23, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I whole heartedly agree. Ola Abal
Ola Abal March 23, 2012 at 03:24 PM
congratulations! Great comment! Ola Abal (gender: male)
Ola Abal March 23, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Poor Richie! Will you be happier with am extremely rich white guy (and certified lyer) in the White House? Ola Abal
Ola Abal March 23, 2012 at 03:35 PM
This sounds like Ku Klux Klan! Ola Abal
Ola Abal March 23, 2012 at 03:38 PM
The Ku Klux Klan again? Ola Abal
Ola Abal March 23, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I didnÄt know that the New Nazi Party is still alive! Ola Abal
FaithVA March 23, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Max, Max, Max - do you know what the word "volunteer" means? On the official web page of the ARDC, it says clearly "voluntarily retired". Also, you posted that Michelle Obama's name doesn't even appear in their records - yes it does! Perhaps you were misspelling her name when you were typing? But, there you go again - yelling, and obviously overwhelmed by life. Have you tried high blood pressure pills? This level of emotional abandonment you are going through is not good for your health. Remember Andrew Breitbart? He was screaming and ranting and yelling just before he died. Obviously he was having some problems and should have practiced a little yoga to settle down. There you go - your local YMCA and other activity centers have yoga classes regularly! Free advice to you.
Jerry Person March 23, 2012 at 05:52 PM
God squirms everytime a republican claims religion. If they believed is a God they never act as they do. would God umplug grandma as they want to push again. what sick puupys.
FaithVA March 23, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Thank you for the kind words, Robert S. Love Beth Warren! Am a little too old to get into political troubled waters any more - couldn't take the truly disturbed things that people say! Go Beth! Go President Obama! Go Democrats! 2012 - the year of the Women!
Staci March 23, 2012 at 06:20 PM
If religious organizations want to start dictating federal laws then they need to give up their tax-exempt status. I bet we would see them change their tune on trying to "govern" women's healthcare issues
Shearl Ray March 23, 2012 at 06:51 PM
and yet they have had birth control on their insurance policies for years without being so upset... and most Eupoean countries have it and no one from the Church is marching n the streets?????------seems more like a case of the Church invading politics than politicians invading the Church-- pimping out the Church for political advantage ?????
Staci March 23, 2012 at 07:12 PM
If religious organizations want to have a say in federal laws then they need to give up their tax-exempt status. It's a pretty sure bet they would not be so concerned with women's healthcare issues if that were the case.
Staci March 23, 2012 at 07:14 PM
It's a pretty sure bet that if religious organizations have to give up their tax-exempt status in order to legislate federal policy they would not be so "concerned" over women's healthcare issues.
Robert S March 23, 2012 at 11:26 PM
No, what sparked the rally is a completely distorted and false image of our President and his policies purported by a corporate fascist regime through their purchased puppets Foxnews and conservative media. It is so sad to those of us who found it natural and just a normal process to fact check and research the propaganda presented by the likes of Rupert Murdock, Rush and the Kochs, that so many otherwise good honest hard working Americans fell victim to and believed without scrutiny. It's been shown through studies that people will readily choose to believe inaccurate or intentionally manipulated information if it suits their predisposed ideology and beliefs. Our only hope of preserving our cherished freedom and democracy is that those who don't let bigotry and hatred dictate their politics and choices prevail...
MAXIMADECIMA March 24, 2012 at 12:46 AM
FAITH VA - SORRY DEARIE ONCE AGAIN YOU DID NOT DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Michelle O was investigated by the ARDC for one reason only - they investigate and de bar lawyers who are sleezy and doing illegal activities like Michelle (sasquash ) Obama was doing. She attempted DAMAGE CONTROL ... she raced to voluntarily inactivate her law license because the hammer was gonna drop on her fat head . She wanted the record to say that she volunteered to inactivate her license but the sheer fact that she was INACTIVATED BY COURT ORDER FAITH GOT THAT BY COURT ORDER . TRY reading a bit before embarassing yourself by the way since I am a woman I would not be joining the YMCA that is for men perhaps you yourself would like it there however since you seem to have too many male hormones raging in your system Im sure you will fit in perfectly aand have a bigger mustach than any of the guys there!! Have a nice day DEAR!
MAXIMADECIMA March 24, 2012 at 12:48 AM
hey jerry - WTF are you ranting abuot ?/ you sound like faith Va that idiot obamaGoon
Staci March 24, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Sfinn....in looking over these comments I find yours very interesting in your response to Susan. You have made a lot of assumptions about this person yet she has given you very little...if any....information about herself. Just wondering how you arrived at your conclusions. I also can't help but notice that some of your comments are...shall we say...not in keeping with Christian morals. Another words....hateful. I wonder if Jesus would approve of this type of rhetoric? I'm also wondering how you came to the conclusion that "other people" want YOU to pay for their lifestyle choices. That sounds like Rush Limbaugh logic.
MAXIMADECIMA March 24, 2012 at 12:50 AM
By the way Breitbart was murdered by one of Obamas Czars or comrads or whatever the leftist gestapo call their murderous minions now days .
Robert S March 24, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Oh my God! How did you figure us out?!!! Be afraid; be very afraid!!! Lock your doors, pull the shades and turn out the lights!!! Huddle in your closet and close the door!!! Don't forget to pull the plug on your internet connection!!! You just lay low and don't make a peep!!! ... ... ... ... ... There, is she gone? Ahhhh, that's better.
Susan B. Anthony March 24, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Sorry Jack, this isn't a reply to you ~ this is a reply to my new BBF, Sfinn,,, Ms. Sfinn ~ your arrogance, ignorance, lack of humility and lack of grace and wisdom can be understandable under the circumstances. However, for someone on a comment section to post the comments about me [when we haven't even met nor have I given you any information about myself] is appalling. My suggestion for volunteering was not about your litany of 'do good acts', such as using your $$$ to buy gift cards for the less fortunate or driving senior citizens to their doctor appointments, or dropping off food at the homless center for teenagers ~ I had more in mind of you actually volunteering your TIME a few hours a week w/perhaps "Planned Parenthood" to understand who goes there and how they function before you 'bad mouth' this organization, OR maybe working w/abused women and children, OR homeless children...this doesn't require an easy charity gift of $$$ but it does help one grow and understand footsteps others take in this journey of life.... And darlin', there are hundred of people who have been on their own at a young age and have worked full time and finished their college degrees. Gosh, some have even had to raise three children alone due to a WAR; and gosh some have been diagnosed w/cancer and lost all insurance, and gosh some have helped their children go to college ~ YOU see my dear, I am not young nor have I lacked living life.I taught in a Catholic inner city school.
Kathleen McGee March 24, 2012 at 11:50 PM
So you think this isn't about contraception. You're right, it's not. What it is about is allowing the Catholic Church to take away the right to all their employees to make their own decisions concerning their religious rights and health care decisions. So you think we need to protect the tissue paper religious rights of the Catholic bishops. Aren't they the same guys who are protecting all the priests and bishops who have been raping our young boys for so many years? Are we to view them as the authority we need to listen to make moral decisions? Anyone who thinks they have the moral rights to tell anyone in this country how to live is as immoral as they are. If churches cannot abide by the same laws in this country as other social service organizations, they need to get out of the business. They do not need protected. We need protection from them and anyone who stands with them. It is a moral issue - a moral issue that every family in this country needs to stand up against. It's every family's right to make their own religious and health care decision - not you, not the priest, not the bishops. We live in a democracy; we do not live in a theocracy.
v thompson March 25, 2012 at 02:03 AM
You could look at it that the Government is taking care of it's citizens. Where as the Church just wants to control them. You could also look at it that if the Church doesn't want to do this, they can get out of the insurance business. No one is being asked to violate their morals,if you think this is wrong, don't use the benefit. Maybe it's time for the church to move away from its archaic ideas and move into this century,like most of it's members have. It would be a lot easier to lead if they weren't so far behind. I am Catholic by the way.
John Walters March 25, 2012 at 03:14 AM
But the Government should not pay for your condoms, or Viagra.
Michael F Brennan April 14, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Much of the inane rhetoric here reveals a fundamental flaw in our culture. We, as a nation, have lost our grasp of the first freedom, religious liberty. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the FREE exercise thereof;..." That means no government sponsored belief system nor government interference in a religion's beliefs. Essentially this issue is about the meaning of the 1st Amendment as our nation has practiced it since its governance by the Constitution. Faith based charities and schools claim 1st Amendment rights. In addition the conscience of an employer must be respected. These are sacred covenants we hold as Americans. Unfortunately we are being reduced into squabbling about $9. a month contraceptive pills. However the HHS Mandate addresses sterilization, abortifacients and contraception, which are anathema to Catholic Church magisterium teaching. The Bishops cannot walk away. Michael F Brennan St Petersburg, Florida Michael F Brennan St Petersburg Florida

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