Benedictine College Swells Ranks of Topeka Freedom Rally

  • Monday, July 02, 2012

The temperature was in the hundreds, but the crowd was in the thousands at the Rally for Religious Freedom in the state Capitol building in Topeka, Kan., June 30. Buses and cars caravanned from Atchison, Kan., bringing about 100 ralliers from the Benedictine College community.


Kansas bishops called for the rally, including Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Benedictine College graduate Dodge City Bishop John Brungardt, class of 1980. Archbishop Naumann wore a Benedictine College hat to the rally and said, "My other hat is a miter."


“We are proud to be part of the success of this great event,” said Stephen D. Minnis. “There are more people here from Benedictine College than from most cities in Kansas. Our message to the bishops: We are behind you 100%.”


Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas remarked that the religious liberty rally was “the largest we have seen” at the capitol building. He called the HHS Mandate, which requires that Catholic organizations pay for contraceptive and abortion-causing drugs “an affront to people of faith.”


“Freedom is a gift from God, not a privilege a government is entitled to take away,” Brownback said. “This unconscionable mandate must not be allowed to stand.”


Archbishop Joseph Naumann fired up the crowd in between patriotic songs and prayers with a call to action.


"We will never never never give up our religious liberty or our freedom of conscience,” he said.


The rally was part of the U.S. bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom, two weeks of prayer and action for religious freedom in the United States. Benedictine College, the Archdiocese and the entire Catholic community across the country have been very concerned about mandates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Obama Administration. 


The college has been active in the effort to respect freedom of religion in health care for nearly a year.


Last fall, Benedictine College’s three principal officers — the president, dean and chief financial officer — all registered formal protests in Washington before the new regulation took its final shape.


President Minnis was a signatory on the U.S. bishop’ full-page ads at Christmas that tried to head off the mandate.


On May 30, the Alliance Defense Fund filed a formal comment with the HHS on behalf of 18 Catholic colleges, including Benedictine College.  The comment urges the Obama Administration to respect religious freedom and to rescind their direct violation of religious liberty.


Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.