'Stand Up For Religion Freedom' Hits Roanoke - WSET.com - ABC13

'Stand Up For Religion Freedom' Hits Roanoke

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Reporter:  David Tate

Roanoke, VA - For the second time this year, thousands took part in rallies across the country dubbed "Stand Up For Religious Freedom," which included four rallies in Virginia.

In Roanoke, nearly 200 people showed up calling for an end to government interference in religion. Many say it has been eroding for years highlighted by the current fight between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration over health care and contraceptives.

On this day 223 years ago, James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights, the one at the very top is the right these folks are most worried about. It's an irony that did not escape the day.

"They're here to come out and express the importance, to them, to practice their faith a lot of unwarranted government interference," said Phil Servadea, who helped organize the Roanoke rally.

"Whether that has to do with providing adoption services or health services. Whatever it is it's more restraints that are causing churches difficulties," said Servadea.

Pastor Barney Arthur agrees. He says for years the government has been on the attack, so he spent most of the ceremony praying for guidance.

"It's an ongoing battle because, the simple thing about it, once we give up our freedoms; once we allow the government to take freedoms away that the founding fathers gave to us. Once it's gone, it's gone," said Arthur.

In all, nationwide, 164 rallies hit the streets to sound the alarm. Pushed to protest after Catholic groups cried foul over federal birth control mandates.

Many believing, as Arthur does that if it's the Catholics today, it could be your religion tomorrow.

"Who's next? Are they going to come into a Baptist church to attack what they believe in? Or will they go into a Methodist, Presbyterian, Jewish synagogue? We as citizens have to come together and take a stand and say, 'enough is enough,'" said Arthur.

Last month, 43 Catholic organizations filed a dozen federal lawsuits against the Health and Human Services mandate that requires insurance providers to offer free contraceptives and other controversial birth control measures.

It's all part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, which is under review by the Supreme Court.  A decision on the Act's constitutionality is expected by the end of the month.

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