by Ellie Melero
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — One of the founding principles of the United States is that people have a right to practice their religion. But around the country, people feel they are losing that right. In Kansas, people are doing something about it.
On June 30, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is sponsoring the Religious Freedom Rally at Church of the Ascension in Overland Park.
The rally, which is hosted in collaboration with Faithful Citizens and FIAT, is meant to bring awareness to issues of religious liberty across the country and around the world. It is a pre-Fourth of July and end of Religious Freedom Week celebration.
Faithful Citizens and FIAT are local organizations dedicated to educating people about religious liberty issues.
Rosemary Maher, a member of Faithful Citizens and one of the organizers of the event, wants the rally to open people’s eyes to how they are slowly losing their religious freedoms and motivate people to take action.
“Our Religious Freedom Rally is to celebrate our First Amendment right to freely practice our religion without government interference,” said Maher.
The rally will be held after an 11:45 a.m. Mass with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann. There will be tacos, hot dogs, ice cream, snow cones, a photo booth and carnival games, as well as three guest speakers.
The guest speakers include: Elizabeth Kirk, a writer and national speaker on matters in the law pertaining to the family; Eddie Greim, the president of the local Federalist Society and secretary of the Kansas City Catholic Lawyers Guild; and Chuck Weber, the director of Kansas Catholic Conference and a former Kansas state legislator.
The event is free and family-friendly and open to non-Catholics as well.
Bill Scholl from the archdiocesan office of social justice said the goal of the rally is to raise awareness and encourage people to speak up for their rights.
“We want people to learn more about our religious freedom, what that means and how it includes conscience rights,” Scholl said. “We want people to understand how we’re at risk of losing that freedom and equip them to advocate for protecting our First Amendment [rights].
“We’re calling upon Catholics to be vigilant about this crucial issue.”
Maher wants to motivate people to contact their representatives about religious liberty because that is one of the easiest ways to speak up. She hopes to have computers set up at the rally so people can email their senators and representatives while there.
“You can change things if you challenge things,” said Maher. “If you just let it go, a precedent is established, and they just continue to discriminate against people of religion.”
Fellow member of Faithful Citizens Linda Meiers agreed.
“It’s not wrong for Catholics to speak up and disagree with things that are affecting our faith,” said Meiers. “We just can’t sit back and be like lobsters in a pot until it’s too late. We should be aware, and we should use our voice because we as Catholics have a large base if we work together.”
“We want to celebrate religious freedom and we want to take steps . . . to make people aware of what we’ve got and how it could be gone if we don’t protect it,” Scholl said.
For more information about the rally, go to the website at: www. archkck.org/religiousfreedom.
What to know
What: Religious Freedom Rally
Date: June 30
Time: After 11:45 a.m. Mass
Where: Church of the Ascension, 9510 W. 127th, Overland Park