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Churches set to rally for religious freedom at Arch of Friendship

Jennifer Sprouse • Jun 15, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Local churches in the area have decided to rally for a cause that is near and dear to their beliefs –– religious freedom.

Many religious institutions and organizations within the Tri-Cities feel as though the HSS mandate set forth under the current ObamaCare law, requiring that employers, including faith-based institutions, fund and provide for certain medical procedures would violate their religious and ethical beliefs.

“They ruled recently that all insurance, no matter what the individual holder wants, must carry birth control and abortion-causing drugs as a priority,” said Julianne Wiley, one of the organizers of the event and representative of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. “Naturally, the churches where this is against their religion said ‘You can’t do this. You cannot force a religious institution to violate its own moral law within its own institution.’ ”

Wiley said this was the foundation for the churches in the area to pull together and to rally Thursday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Arch of Friendship in Metro-Kiwanis Park, located at the intersection of Knob Creek Road and Guaranda Drive.

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe is scheduled to address the rally, as well as state Reps. Dale Ford and Matthew Hill. Alliance Defense Fund attorney Rebecca Ketchie, Peggy English and Lisa Morris of “Silent No More,” a support group for women who have suffered from abortion, will also be guest speakers at the event.

Music will be provided by Lightnin’ Charlie and T.R. and Carla Dunn.

Voter-registration packets will also be available at the event for those who are not registered for the upcoming election.

“We’re going to appeal to people to sponsor voter registration within their own parish or religious congregation,” Wiley said. “In other words, we hope to get a lot of new religious voters registered between now and November.”

Wiley said she and the other organizers, including Tracy Teal of the Holston Baptist Association, hope for a good crowd at the rally, as well as a continuing fellowship among churches in the area.

“We also hope to build an ongoing coalition with Catholic, Baptist and evangelical churches and believers who will share information and make strategy to defend religious liberty,” she said. “We really have the beginning of true interfaith sharing of information and sharing of strategy of how to deal with this crisis.”

Co-sponsors of the event include Heritage Baptist Church, Hosanna Fellowship Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Antioch Baptist Church, Greater Kingsport Pro-Life volunteers and 40 Days for Life, as well as the Holston Baptist Association.

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