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Conservative group rallies for religion

Last modified: 10/21/2012 12:00:00 AM
Cornerstone Action brought its conservative platform to the State House lawn yesterday, assembling a cast of characters that included political leaders, business leaders, students, professors and a baseball player who helped the Red Sox win the pennant 45 years ago.

In a scathing attack that said religion - and more specifically Christianity - was an institution weakened by a secular administration in Washington, Cornerstone Director Shannon McGinley laid the foundation for House Speaker Bill O'Brien, former Sox third baseman Rico Petrocelli and others.

McGinley, beginning the noontime program just 17 days before the general election, presented the rally's central theme:

"This administration has launched an-all out war on religious freedom and the dignity of women in America through a new health and human services mandate," McGinley said, "that forces all employers to provide . . . contraceptives, surgical sterilizations and abortion drugs through their insurance plans.

"That means private hospitals, schools and other charitable organizations will be forced to pay for these procedures against their deeply held religious beliefs."

The event included Bible verses, snippets from the Declaration of Independence and statements about the founding fathers' views on the importance of God and religion as they relate to the Constitution.

The event comes 7½ months after the New Hampshire House of Representatives endorsed an exemption for employers who expressed objections, based on their religion, to health insurance coverage of women's contraception.

The Senate later voted to study the bill.

O'Brien took the microphone first, railing against President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal during the Depression and how FDR's policies laid the groundwork for government intervention today.

"It amounted to a government takeover of social responsibility," O'Brien said. "We don't need more handouts from government, and we don't need government leaders attacking religion for cheap political gains."

O'Brien also had criticism for the current president: "We know the harm he will cause as he attacks religious freedom," O'Brien said, "for with religion comes an understanding that there is a greater truth that transcends the moment. The truth that goes beyond the lifeless goals of pleasure and materialism that we see as the hallmark of nonbelievers."

Alan Goedecke of Bedford, whose family's painting and decorating business began in 1923, also weighed in, saying, "The truth about Obamacare is slowly being uncovered. Was there ever a piece of legislation so secretly presented and the vote so forced? . . . We've been lied to from the start."

Goedecke, like others who spoke yesterday, expanded his disapproval of today's political climate to other social matters, including gay marriage, which has been legal in New Hampshire for nearly three years.

He cited a professor in Maryland who lost her job after signing a petition to include the Defense of Marriage Act - a federal law passed 16 years ago that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman - on the ballot.

"Where is our freedom when we even speak against something we don't agree on?" Goedecke said. "We face the loss of our job? We face reprisals from the gay community? We didn't have all these problems until the gay community got so vocal."

Sports fans were excited to hear from Petrocelli, a Nashua resident and businessman who played in the World Series with Boston in 1967 and '75 and slugged 40 homers in '69.

Petrocelli, looking solid, with a full head of silver hair at age 69, had harsh words for President Obama, saying, "Aren't you tired of hearing the lies? I have to keep my wife in the other room because if she hears the president speaking, she goes nuts. So do I.

"To me this is spiritual warfare . . . I think he's trying to destroy the Catholic church."

The crowd loved it, cheering throughout the rally and holding signs that read, "Bad laws are the worst kind of tyranny."

Sylvia Smith, a freelance writer, drove from Littleton to see the show.

"Our laws come from a higher power," Smith said. "Not from some idiot in Washington."

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or rduckler@cmonitor.com.)


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