WASHINGTON - Roman Catholics rallied for religious freedom in Washington Sunday. About 2,000 attended a "Celebration of Freedom" rally, standing against government violations of their religious rights.
The rally was held at George Washington University as part of a two-week focus on religious liberty called "Fortnight for Freedom."
U.S. Catholic bishops have launched the protest to oppose the Obama administration's requirement that employers provide health insurance that includes birth control, even if it violates their religious beliefs.
The pope's ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano, led prayer Sunday asking God to "guard our religious freedom so we may continue to live out our faith." He said Pope Benedict fully supports the Fortnight for Freedom, which continues through the Fourth of July.
Despite the upcoming elections, Catholics at Sunday's event were urged to put aside politics for a prayerful and patriotic celebration of their God-given rights.
A Catholic spokeswoman said the mandate violates the rights of religious charities and private businesses who believe birth control and sterilizations are immoral.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Americans should be able to live out their faith without government interference.
"We had better stand with our Catholic friends because if they get away with doing it to them, we're next," he warned.