Rally Videos and Transcripts

Below are videos of the Religious Freedom Rally held in Little Rock on Friday, June 8, 2012.

Below is a video and transcript of Jerry Cox’s comments from the rally.

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” On March 4, 1789, those words became the supreme law of this land and the world was changed forever—for the better. For the first time in history a nation recognized, in the strongest way possible, the God-given right to freedom of religion. Almost over night, the United States of America became that shining city on hill—a place where oppressed people from all over the world came for refuge. It would be safe to say that without freedom of religion, there would be no United Sates of America. As Americans we enjoy a number of God-given rights, but without the first amendment freedom to choose to follow or not follow God as we see fit—without that freedom—none of our other rights matter very much.

Reach into your pocket and pull out a coin. Read the words, “In God We Trust,” and realize that no other nation on earth has those words as its official national motto.

There is a reason that tyrants, dictators, and those who want to oppress free people always go after freedom of religion first. They know that faith in God sets men free. It’s as old as the passage in the Bible that says “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and don’t to be subject to the yoke of slavery.” That freedom wasn’t free then and it is not free today. When we get up on Sunday morning and decide to attend or not attend church services, most of us forget about those who died in battle to make that simple freedom of choice possible.

Every generation has to stand up for its freedom and that’s why we’re here today. It seems that someone always wants to silence the voices of faith. Children in America should never be told that it is illegal for them to pray over their lunch at school, but it happens. A worker should never be told that he or she can’t bring a Bible into their workplace, but it happens. People of faith should not be excluded from using public buildings, meeting in public places or organizing clubs, but it happens. Not long ago, a judge in Maumelle was forced to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom wall. Not many years ago, our state’s beautiful nativity display sat on this very spot every Christmas, but not any more.

There is a war on religious freedom. It is an assault on people of faith. As people who cherish freedom for all people of all faiths, we can run from the fight or we can run to the fight. One way or the other, this generation will decide if religious freedom is something we continue to practice or something we just remember fondly.

Below is a video and transcript of Pastor Mark Evans’ comments from the rally

Well we’re here today because we have a problem. You know the current assault on religious liberty is a threat not just to faith but to freedom, once the government decides what a church can do or say there are no more freedoms. The first amendment, like all in the Bill of Rights, puts very strict restrictions on Congress. It of course does not put restrictions on the church or the citizens and proposals that are now before us to dictate what a church has to do is a direct threat to the constitution and our fundamental liberties. So, what do we do? It’s a time that we unite, not fight. See this issue is not about being a Democrat or a Republican, a liberal or a conservative, this is an issue about being an American. It’s an issue that should concern all of us, because it really could affect any of us. Our religion is not the issue, our right is the issue. Any assault on religious liberty is wrong, but for all of you here today our silence toward the wrong is the greater wrong. And so that is what we must remember we’ve got to unite, we’ve got to work together, we’ve got to quit focusing on how our beliefs are different but focus on the freedom that we have because all of us would think it would be great if everyone believed the same way, but let’s face it, it’s not how you cross the “t” and dot the “i” it’s about the freedom and us protecting the freedom. I understand things a lot better when I tell a story to help illustrate it. There’s this Peanuts cartoon and in this Peanuts cartoon, Lucy demands that Linus change TV channels and she’s threatening him with her fist if he didn’t. Well Linus finally decides it’s time for me to stand up to this, so Linus says, “What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over.” Lucy says, “These five fingers,” she says “individually they’re nothing she said but when you curl ‘em together like this into a single unit this is a weapon that’s something terrible to behold.” Linus drops his head, says, “Ok, what channel do you want?” Turning away he looks at his fingers and says, “Why can’t you guys get together like that?” That’s what we are. We need to get organized like that to stand together, because although our beliefs may be different we all need the freedom that has always been ours as an American. So, what do we do? We’ve got to organize with purpose, to stand up for each other’s freedom. Let our voice be heard, don’t let today be just an annual event. But let our voice be heard, do more. We’ve got to organize with passion and be willing to continue to stand to make our vote count, and that means vote every time there is an election and to have victory on this issue we’ve got to organize with pride, a pride in America where it’s ok to have different faiths, but we all share the same freedoms. And if we remember that to organize with purpose, with passion, with pride then as we stand together we will see victory on this issue and faith wins, freedom wins, we all win. Thank you very much.

Below s a video and transcript of Bishop Anthony Taylor’s comments from the rally.

Freedom of religion is far more than merely freedom of worship. Religious liberty is the freedom to live according to the dictates of our conscience every hour of every day, and not just one hour on Sunday. The Catholic Church teaches that religious liberty is a basic human right and so civil law must never “require what conscience forbids or forbid what conscience requires.” This freedom to follow the dictates of our conscience is presently under attack by federal, state and city governments. Let me give you briefly 4 current examples.

1. The Contraceptive Mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services obligates almost all institutions nationwide to include artificial contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs in our health insurance plans, in violation of our beliefs. These “preventive services” are readily available already and not covering them would not deny access to them to anyone. The issue is whether the government should force us to pay for these immoral practices and thereby make us participants in actions that violate our religious beliefs. Plus this mandate accords no respect whatsoever to the consciences of Catholic employers in non-religious enterprises who cannot in good conscience pay for–and provide–these ” services” for their employees. Worse, though the mandate provides a narrow exception for certain religious institutions, is not willing to make any exception whatsoever for religious individuals–as if you could have a religion without also having believers! Moreover, our government has even taken upon itself the prerogative of deciding whether Catholic hospitals and schools are religious enough to merit protection of their religious liberty–which is a God given right, unalienable and intrinsic to the human person…and thus not within the competence of any human government to deny! This cannot stand! This mandate seeks to require what conscience forbids!

2. Immigration: Religious liberty is under attack from the right as well as from the left. For instance, several states have passed laws making it a felony of “harboring” and “aiding and abetting” to offer assistance to undocumented immigrants–including Oklahoma prior to my coming to Arkansas as bishop. A felony for offering charity, even though unauthorized entry is only a misdemeanor and unauthorized presence only a civil infraction! The new Alabama law goes even further, making it illegal for priests to offer sacraments to undocumented immigrants, invite them to Mass, offer them counseling or take them to the hospital. Such laws forbid us to do what conscience requires!

3. Foster Care and Adoption Services: Religious liberty is under attack not only on the federal and state level, but also by city governments. For instance Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, as well as the state of Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities out of providing adoption and foster care services–by revoking their licenses or ending their government contracts–because they were unwilling to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried cohabitating couples. This too cannot stand! They seek to require us to do what conscience forbids!

4. Humanitarian Services: Despite years of excellent performance administering contracts for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its specifications to require the USCCB Migration and Refugee services to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching. We should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief. This too cannot stand!

Freedom of religion is more than merely freedom of worship. It is the freedom to live according to the dictates of our conscience every hour of every day, and not just one hour on Sunday. Civil law must never “require what conscience forbids or forbid what conscience requires.”

Below is a video and transcript of Beth Anne Rankin’s comments from the rally.

Thank you very much. It is a tremendous honor to look around and see so many Arkansans gathered here together as people are doing all across this incredible country today. I believe in over 100 cities, I think, from coast to coast. The message today is we are not alone and that is a message we are sending to the federal government as well. We are here, we will speak, and we will stand. We are not alone. We are being joined by people all across this incredible country that have decided that we are no longer comfortable with silence, we are no longer comfortable with the direction that this administration and the federal government is moving and we will push back. One of the biggest messages that I know you’ve heard from all of the wonderful speakers today, that I am so honored to be included among them, is the fact that the church is not trying to force anything on the government or on people but we are saying that people of faith we are giving a loud message to the government, that the government cannot force the church or the people of faith to act against their core principles of beliefs and the tenants of their faith, we will not do it. The history of this great land as you travel across the country and you visit the historical monuments and you travel to this beautiful nation’s capital in Washington DC and you go and visit the monuments that are erected there you would literally have to take an instrument and carve the words “In God we Trust” out of the marble that was etched there and it was etched there by a generation of the faithful who knew how important it was for the people of the United States of America to be free and we are free today and that includes the freedom of religion. We are reminded of the United States Constitution that did not set boundaries on the people, it set boundaries on the government and we will help remind you of that. As Cardinal Timothy Dollan said and he said very proudly and we will join and echo this chorus today, “we did not ask for this fight but we will not run from it and we are ready.” What we have to do this day, this hour, this moment, is we have to stand up, we have to unite, we have to come together and we have to speak out. We are no longer a free nation if we just step to the sidelines and we get mauled over by a federal government that is cramming things down our throat we don’t support, we don’t believe in and we don’t adhere to. We have got to speak out, we’ve got to be the difference makers in this generation of America today. And that includes all of us of all ages we must speak out, we must stand up, we must join the effort that is going on across this country from coast to coast and I know that today we are joined by hundreds of people today out here on this Capitol lawn that are saying, “I will speak out, I will stand up and I will do it until we have won this debate.” We are reminded as we have been said so many times throughout the past couple of decades that a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government is a government big enough to take everything you have and today they are trying to take our religious freedom. They can’t have it. Today in my hometown they are laying to rest a prisoner of war and when I think of Colonel Jim Hughes and the amazing honor, a true American hero who suffered for over 6 years in a war camp. When I think of the sacrifice he made as they lay him to rest today, I ask myself, “Am I doing enough? Am I living a life worthy of that level of sacrifice that when the federal government tries to strip us of the freedoms that he bled for, that he fought for and that he ultimately has laid down his life for. Am I doing enough, are we doing enough.” Remember that silence is agreement and we must speak out now and today and remove all doubt that when it comes to the federal government trying to strip us of our religious liberty or any freedom we will push back and we will do it just like we are doing today and we will continue taking that on for days to come. I want to conclude by saying that we have a message for the government, especially the current federal government and the administration. We need to be of one voice when we continue to speak out for our freedoms and it needs to be a simple message and it can simply be this, “Bounce back bureaucrat. You cannot take from me that which you did not grant. My freedom came from God the creator, not from government the manmade and you need to get that straight.” As we conclude today please take a look at your program, there is a long list of things you can do we’re all united in this effort, many of you may be asking “but what can I do?” There is a beautiful list of things that something on this page will fit your personality and the talents that God has given you to be a difference maker in 21st century America and we need you, we need your voice and if you would at this time please join me in a moment of silent prayer and reflection as we think on all the things that have been said today and what we can do from this moment forward.

Comments are closed.