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Posted on Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 10:36 a.m.

Christians expected to rally for religious freedom in Ann Arbor today

By Ryan J. Stanton

Thousands of Christians are expected to gather on the University of Michigan Diag at noon today for the second Stand Up For Religious Freedom rally in Ann Arbor.

The first one, part of a national movement back in March, drew a large crowd in front of the federal building in Ann Arbor to protest the Obama administration's contraception mandate.

Today's protest on the Diag will coincide with rallies in at least 164 other U.S. cities, including at least 13 in Michigan.


A protestor holds up a sign indicating that he obeys God, not U.S. President Barack Obama, at a rally in Ann Arbor back in March.

Ryan J. Stanton |

In anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, faith-based groups are demanding that all of the nation's health care laws respect religious freedom. They're calling the Obama administration's requirement that most health care plans include birth control an unprecedented assault on religious freedom.

They argue the mandate forces even religious institutions such as Roman Catholic hospitals and universities to offer contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health insurance plans, contrary to their religious beliefs.

Expected to speak at Ann Arbor's rally are Al Kresta and Nick Thomm of WDEO radio in Ann Arbor Township, Pastor Mike Frison of Knox Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, Pastor Levon Yuille of Ypsilanti Bible Church, Sarah Burdick of Servants of God's Love, Brian Rooney of the Michigan Department of Human Services, Rob Muise of the American Freedom Law Center in Ann Arbor, and others.

Organizers were planning to hold a pre-rally mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church near State and Kingsley streets before marching to the Diag, led by members of the Knights of Columbus Color Corps in full dress regalia and carrying an American flag.

The Ann Arbor rally's organizers circulated the text of a "Prayer for Reversal of the HHS Mandate," stating they oppose "whatever destroys life or distorts the meaning of human sexuality" and that they "refuse to cooperate in what is evil."

"At this moment, therefore, when our government has decided to force us to cooperate in evil, we pray for the grace to be faithful to You and to oppose the unjust laws and mandates that have been imposed upon us and our institutions," the prayer states.

"We pray for the complete reversal of all policies that permit the destruction of life or coerce the cooperation of Your people in practices that are wrong."

The Michigan Catholic Conference filed a lawsuit along with Franciscan University in Ohio last month against federal agencies over the contraception mandate. That coincided with 11 other similar lawsuits filed across the United States.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

--stating they oppose "whatever destroys life or distorts the meaning of human sexuality" and that they "refuse to cooperate in what is evil." What the heck is this supposed to mean? Particularly, the "distorts the meaning of human sexuality'. Is that to say as component of their religious freedom rally they will be imposing their meaning(s) on any who disagree? I don't see anyone telling them to DO anything other than provide the option. They have the choice not to use contraception, but they don't have the option of keeping it from those who do wish to use contraception. And this is evil how?

Michigan Man

Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

Lots of hate speech today on directed toward our fine Christian family, friends and neighbors in Ann Arbor. Not sure why the readers are so pissed off today? Come on down to the rally and check out how cool Christians can be. Feel free to bring your Holy Bible with you - Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

How cool is it to impose your beliefs on other people or inhibit their ability to treat their bodies they way they wish?


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

If you don't obey god and his teachings, your imposing on our freedom...makes a whole lot of sense.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

And WDEO radio isn't located in Ypsilanti. Doesn't have a FACT checker for goodness sakes?

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

Alan, you're right. The station moved from Ypsilanti to Ann Arbor Township. The story has been corrected to reflect that.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

I support these people fighting for religious freedom from an oppressive government. Percisely why my Scots-Irish ancestors fled their homeland, leaving behind land ownership, businesses, possessions and family.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

I think freedom from religion (specifically religious groups trying to impose their beliefs on athiests, agnostics, and religious people who practice different religions) is much more important than religious freedom.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.

I agree with Forever27: freedom OF and freedom FROM go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

Little do they know that the things they think are "attacking their freedoms" is really what is keeping them safe.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

If you want to obey God, then you need to go to Heaven. While here on earth, you need to obey the law of the land.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

but in America one still has the right to protest laws.


Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

I hope all Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Coptic Church and Atheists show up to rally with the Christians.