On Friday a group of Minnesota Atheists gathered at the Federal Courthouse to counter-protest the ineptly named Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally. Don’t let the name fool you; it’s run by pro-life groups who want get the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) repealed. Simple as that. No fancy wording needed. They’re calling it the “Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally”, but what they should really call it is the “We Demand That You Let Us Impose Our Religious Views on You” Rally.
Here’s part of why the MN Atheists were there. From our meetup.com announcement for the event:
This rally is to support the First Amendment and the restrictions placed on our government from using religious dogma as a basis for any U.S. law, including religious exemptions to the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
The First Amendment is currently under attack by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and other conservative religious groups that are seeking to redefine the concept of religious liberty to guarantee them religious privilege and freedom from accountability.
Religious freedom does not include the right to interfere with the rights of others. Religious institutions have the right to participate in our society on the same basis as all other institutions. They do not have the right to dictate the rules in which they get to participate.
To reinterpret the First Amendment to grant privileges and exemptions to large religious institutions would mean the depriving of the exercise of personal religious conscience by individuals who do not share the religious dogmas of those institutions but who nonetheless are employed by or use the services provided by those institutions.
I was able to chat about the event with Chris Pederson via Facebook today. She gave me permission to use some of her photos here on the blog.
Chris said that most protesters were wearing buttons for the MN Catholic anti-gay marriage group and that they were also using the opportunity to passing out stickers in support of the voter ID laws.
She reported that the mood was very confrontational and that her interactions – mostly with men – were hostile. One older woman tried to rip Chris’s sign out of her hand as she tried to join the MN Atheists group. There was a lot of talk about sex being sinful and a moral issue. To this Chris said “What an awful way to think about your body and sex.”
I wasn’t able to be at the counter-protest. Thank you to everyone who was able to be there.