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Group protests federal health care law at Porter County Courthouse

People bow their heads as Rev. Theodore Mens (not visible) leads prayer during StUp for Religious Freedom Rally outside Porter

People bow their heads as Rev. Theodore Mens (not visible) leads in prayer during a Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally outside the Porter County Courthouse in downtown Valparaiso, Ind. home Friday June 8, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 10, 2012 6:06AM



VALPARAISO — Hundreds of people rallied Friday at the Porter County Courthouse to continue protesting the federal health care law that they claim erodes religious freedom.

Several local pastors spoke at the event and called for people of all religions to stand together against a push to force employers to provide birth control to employees without a co-pay. Catholics organizations have claimed they should not have to because it violates their religious beliefs.

“This is not a Catholic issue,” the Rev. Sammie Maletta, pastor at St. John the Evangelist in St. John, told the crowd. “It is a religious liberty issue.”

Maletta called for all religions to unite against the issue, saying that if the federal government can overstep religious freedom now, it could do so again in the future. He also warned that smaller religions wouldn’t stand a chance if a large one like U.S. Catholics can have their religious freedoms taken away.

“No one else is safe,” he said.

Other religious leaders also came out in support, including Griffith Church of God Pastor Steve Sluder, who said religious groups need to stand united.

“If this battle is lost, who can say what the next battle will entail?” Sluder said.

Richard Stiff, a law professor at Valparaiso University, said the mandate lacks a conscience clause, which the federal government has used before not to infringe on people’s religious liberties. He noted that former President Bill Clinton included one in his own legislation in the 1990s.

“This push against conscience is a grave, political mistake,” he said.

The rally was one of more than 150 across the country on Friday.



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