STEUBENVILLE - A Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally is planned for 5:30 p.m. Saturday in the First Westminster Presbyterian Church on North Fourth Street.
"The 90-minute rally will focus on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate trying to force religious institutions to offer birth control and abortion as part of their insurance programs," said organizer Tom Venditti.
"We are urging everyone to attend the 4 p.m. Mass at St. Peter Catholic Church. We will then gather in the church parking lot to organize a parade from St. Peter Church to the parking lot area shared by the First Westminster Presbyterian Church and the AIM Women's Center where the rally will take place," Venditti said.
He said he anticipates 200 to 300 people will march and attend the rally.
"We have a number of Franciscan University of Steubenville students planning on attending the rally to show their opposition to the HHS health care mandate. And the event is being sponsored by the St. John Neumann Council Number 11828 Knights of Columbus at St. Peter Church," continued Venditti.
"The 11-minute walk to the rally site will be a time to reflect and show support to exercise faithful citizenship as Christians and to consider the approach of each presidential candidate with respect to the teachings of Jesus, mindful of the priority and weight of these teachings compared to a political opinion," noted Venditti.
"The liberty for all Americans begins with the right to life and religious freedom. With the election fast approaching, it is time for each of us to do our part to ensure that religious freedom does not become a part of America's past," said Venditti.
"This is an ecumenical event and we invite everyone in the community to join us at the rally. It is a chance to join the rallies in 130 cities nationwide Saturday," added Venditti.
"Planning this event has been an eye opener for me. There is a lot of fear on both sides of the issue. But it shouldn't be that way. This is all about religious freedom. This area is so charged with passion for religious freedom," stated Venditti.
He said the speakers at the rally include Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci; Marshall Myers, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus Council 11828; Stephen Sammut, an assistant professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville; Charles Menk of the Knights of Columbus; Gary Hallberg, pastor of Word of Life Fellowship Assembly of God; Amy Young, a senior at Franciscan University; and Michael Hernon, vice president of Advancement at Franciscan University will serve as the keynote speaker.
"Music will be provided by Jean Schalk and the Hawrot Music Ministry.
"The rally is open to the public, and please feel welcome to bring a chair or blanket," said Venditti.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)