Catholics protest health care provision at National Shrine
Thousands of people used their Fourth of July holiday to send a message. At the National Shrine, thousands of Roman Catholics protested a federal mandate in the health care reform act.
Calling out for "religious freedom," 5,500 Roman Catholic protesters flooded the National Shrine on the Fourth of July, protesting a federal mandate in the health care reform act.
"Well, there's really no better way to celebrate independence than to pray for independence," Doniel Beatty of Vienna, Va. says.
This year, the national holiday has a non-secular significance.
"It's not against the president, it's against the HHS mandate that we, as Catholics, think oversteps our religious liberty," says Teresa Meli of D.C.
The protesters say it's the last day of Fortnight of Freedom - two weeks dedicated to protesting through prayer a key health care reform mandate that would push medium-size and large businesses to pay for health care services contrary to the organization's religious beliefs.
"We're here to support the church against what's going on in the world," says Teresa McKenna of Queens, NY.
During the service, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, said, "In our struggle for liberty, the Declaration of Independence, our own Revolutionary War, we've all recognized the importance of religious faith."
But supporters say it's not about faith, but about fairness. Jacqueline Patz, who lives in Manhattan and went to Notre Dame, says she supports the health care provisions.
"Those that need that sort of health care, or choose to use that sort of health care, should be able to get it at that free or lowered rate that they'd be able to get it at at another university," Patz says.
In addition to two weeks of prayers and services, church leaders nationwide have sent an open letter urging the Obama administration and Congress to respect religious freedoms.