July 3, 2015

Despite Supreme Court ruling, religious freedom rally participants implored to stand strong in their faith

Frank Oliver, left, and Jim West carry a Fortnight for Freedom banner during a June 27 rosary procession from St. John the Evangelist Church to the grounds of the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. The procession kicked off a rally for religious freedom attended by people from across the state. Oliver is a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis. West is a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Frank Oliver, left, and Jim West carry a Fortnight for Freedom banner during a June 27 rosary procession from St. John the Evangelist Church to the grounds of the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis. The procession kicked off a rally for religious freedom attended by people from across the state. Oliver is a member of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis. West is a member of Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

A day after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws and constitutional amendments that defined marriage exclusively as between one man and one woman in a ruling fraught with possible implications for religious freedom, Catholics and other Christians from around the state gathered on the grounds of the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis for a rally in support of that liberty.

(Related story: Despite ruling, Church’s marriage teaching unchanged)

The June 27 rally was held in conjunction with the U.S. bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom, and was sponsored by the Pro-Life and Faithful Citizens ministries of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis.

The Fortnight for Freedom, which is in its fourth year and ends on July 4, is a two-week period of prayer, education and advocacy focused on religious liberty.

The rally began with a rosary procession that started in front of St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis, and ended at the south steps of the Statehouse.

Father Rick Nagel, St. John’s pastor, was the first rally speaker.

“We hear the thought that, ‘Love wins,’ ” said Father Nagel in reference to a motto of supporters of the redefinition of marriage. “That’s exactly right. Love—God—does win. So today, we call upon that God who loves us and keeps us in the palm of his hand.”

In prayer, Father Nagel asked God to help the faithful “to defend the dignity of all human life, to defend the dignity of marriage, to defend the dignity of the land with which you have blessed us, to defend the dignity of the poor and those who go without the basic necessities of life, and to defend the dignity of religious freedom.”

Father Bryan Eyman, pastor of St. Athanasius the Great Byzantine Catholic Parish in Indianapolis, delivered the keynote speech.

Father Eyman noted that governments at various levels for many years have sought “to keep our faith inside the four walls of our churches.”

“This is what is happening now,” he said. “I can only imagine what will happen after yesterday’s tragic Supreme Court ruling.”

Referring to the Statehouse behind him in which state legislators, executive and judicial leaders meet, Father Eyman exhorted his listeners to “to pray for all of the people who work in this building, and all of the people who work in our other government offices, that they will have the strength to stand up and say, ‘No. I will not cooperate. I will not just go along.’ ”

Finally, Father Eyman also invited rally attendees to “pray that each and every one of us here is able to have the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to stand up for religious freedom, and to boldly and publicly live our faith, regardless of what the Supreme Court, the president, Congress or any level of government tells us.”

Eric Slaughter, a member of Holy Rosary Parish involved in its Faithful Citizens ministry, spoke later, noting that the Supreme Court in 1973 through legalizing abortion “said they didn’t know when life began.”

“Now they don’t know what marriage is,” Slaughter said. “But whatever they decided doesn’t change what marriage is. So, we pray for life, faith, family and holy matrimony.”

At the end of the rally, Slaughter and fellow Holy Rosary parishioner and Faithful Citizens leader Jerry Mattingly led the approximately 100 rally attendees in joyfully shouting, “We are Catholic! We are Americans! We are faithful citizens! Viva Cristo Rey! [“Long live Christ the King!”]”

Trina Trusty, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, attended the rally and said doing so was significant in light of the previous day’s Supreme Court ruling.

“I thought it was important to stand up for our right to practice our religion today,” Trusty said. “I know that I’m not alone in how I feel about my religious freedom.”

Holy Rosary parishioner Mary Kathleen Jacobs agreed.

“It’s important to not only hear the Gospel in church, but to live the Gospel in our homes, at the grocery store and in our jobs,” Jacobs said. “I think a lot of people are very shy about saying that they love Christ and live the Gospel message. And that’s important, especially [in light of] … the new way our country looks at marriage.”
 

(For more information about the Fortnight for Freedom, log on to www.archindy.org/religiousfreedom.)

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!