WOODSTOCK – In front of a crowd braving a sharp October wind, Rick Nevsimal verbalized what became a theme of Saturday’s rally against the Health and Human Services mandate.
“If the Health and Human Services mandate isn’t canceled, each of us will be forced to choose between God and country,” said Nevsimal, an organizer of the event.
The third in a series of Stand Up For Religious Freedom rallies on the lawn of the courthouse produced a similar sentiment from many of its attendees and three speakers. The rallies happened at various locations across the country as part of a call to action by the Coalition to Stop the HHS mandate.
The mandate, passed as part of the Affordable Care Act, requires that private companies offer all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraception at no charge under their health insurance plans.
Exemptions to the plan typically don’t extend to religious high schools, hospitals or business owners.
Speakers at the Woodstock rally said penalties associated with not providing the required contraception would drive Catholic business owners under, but he maintained those owners would not conform to the mandate.
“Calling ourselves Catholic, we could not pay for abortions and other procedures that are explicitly evil,” said Monsignor James McLoughlin of Huntley, a retired Catholic priest.
McLoughlin urged the crowd to be vocal in opposition to the mandate and other laws that threaten religious freedom and the First Amendment.
He said afterward that the group would be satisfied if exemptions were extended to all employers whose beliefs are violated by the mandate.
Steve and Margaret Kramer of Lake in the Hills said they attended the rally to defend what they believe is part of a growing attack on their religious freedom.
“We will not and we cannot uphold this unjust mandate,” Margaret Kramer said. “We’re 100 percent patriotic, we support the office of the presidency, and we will obey laws. But when we’re choosing between God’s law and man’s law, we’ll choose God’s law.”
The rally, which lasted a little more than an hour, drew 160 people. Nevsimal said he was discouraged by those numbers after the last rally June 8, which brought about 550 people to the courthouse.
“We made a huge effort to reach out. I personally invited 50 churches,” he said. “I think the issue has just completely died off with the public.”