WHEELING - Ohio Valley residents turned out Friday to rally for constitutional rights on the steps of West Virginia Independence Hall.
We The People - Ohio Valley joined other groups across America Friday in national efforts to bring attention to a recent federal mandate many believe infringes upon religious freedoms. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in January called for employers affiliated with religious groups to offer health care insurance plans to workers that cover birth control and related procedures free of charge. The directive is especially opposed by the Catholic church.
"If government is allowed to enforce this, freedom of religion is gone," said Bob Connors of St. Clairsville, spokesman for We The People - Ohio Valley. "And once you lose your liberty, you can't get it back.
Photo by Joselyn King
Members of We The People — Ohio Valley hold a rally in defense of 1st Amendment and religious freedom rights Friday outside West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling.
"This is so frightening to so many people," he added. "They don't think it is real, but it is."
About 40 people from communities throughout the Ohio Valley turned out for the rally. Others driving past the event along Market Street honked their car horns in support.
Those attending said they value their constitutional rights and, by coming to the rally, they were exercising their collective voices.
"I like the idea that I can do this if I choose to - and I'm hoping someday my granddaughter can," said Dee Landers of St. Clairsville. "This is a freedom we have, and we have to stand up for it. In the past, people stood up and fell down for this."
Bob Williams came to the event from his home in New Cumberland.
"I feel that all our freedoms are in danger under this administration," he said. "I don't know if government isn't aware of what's in the Constitution, or if they just don't care."
Linda Fogle of Cadiz is concerned about Americans' knowledge of their individual rights under the federal Constitution.
"I believe we are losing our liberties rapidly," she said. "If we don't know what those liberties are, they (the government) can take away our religious liberties."