Crowds rally for religious freedom in Sulphur

Crowds gather for religious freedom rally in Sulphur

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - Rain couldn't hold off the flags being drawn or the patriotic gear worn as hundreds gathered in heritage square in Sulphur on Saturday for a rally for religious freedom.  The rally featured key speeches from area priests, judges, council men and city officials.

The message conveyed was simple:

"The government was set up on the forms of religion in our society and they're taking those rights away daily" said Sulphur Mayor, Chris Duncan.

While the rally wasn't a direct response to this week's Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, many, including Republican Congressman Jeff Landry, used the individual healthcare mandate as the prime example of being stripped of religious liberty.

"The mandate specifically is violating that" said Landry.  "It's asking Catholics to pay for and provide services that are opposite of what their beliefs are.  It strikes at the very foundation of their beliefs" he said.

While that was a common belief at the rally, not everyone agreed that the mandate is symbolic of a loss of religious freedom.

"I stand in unity with all these people here for religious freedom but I do have to take my leave from them at that point" said Sulphur resident, Jake LeBrun.  "I don't think the individual mandate obstructs anyone's religious freedom whatsoever" said LeBrun.

For people like LeBrun, the mandate is law... ruled on by the supreme court and needs to be upheld.

"You don't get a pass at obeying the law because your religion says you don't like that law" said LeBrun.  His response to what they should do; "They do get their say and they do have their freedom... but to couch the mandate as an infringement of their freedom is disingenuous and inaccurate" LeBrun said.

For others at the rally, the issue wasn't directly with religion or the mandate.

"I feel like the main places in government, the places that rule everything, I feel like a lot of those places are being jeopardized" said Westlake resident, Patsy Robbins.  "Maybe the wrong people are in places that can control the religious freedom" Robbins said.

"Congress needs to wake up and listen to the citizens of the communities" said Mayor Duncan.

Waking up Congress is exactly what Congressman Landry plans to do.  He told 7News that he's leading an Amicus Brief that will include Bishops' suits as they go through the court system to show that the mandate is a direct violation of what it means to be religiously free in America.

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