Today, thousands of Americans gathered peacefully at over 140 capitols, government buildings and historical sites across the United States to protest the government’s latest attempt to trample on religious freedom. The Stand up for Religious Freedom rallies seen around the nation today gave individuals in these communities the opportunity to express their opposition to the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate – which is a coercive undermining of religious liberty.

In Washington, D.C., hundreds gathered in front of the Department of Health & Human Services, where the offensive rule originated.

A line up of conservative speakers denounced the mandate’s offensively narrow religious exemption and dismissive view of the role faith plays in religious organizations’ service of the most vulnerable members of their communities.

As it stands, the mandate’s exemption effectively only protects formal houses of worship – leaving religious employers like hospitals, schools, and social service organizations in the cold. Additionally, secular employers and individuals who hold objections to abortion or contraception have no recourse from the mandate’s coercive trampling on their religious freedom.

The Obamacare mandate leaves only two options for these individuals: force them to violate their beliefs by complying with the mandate or avoid the mandate’s conflict of conscience and possibly face steep fines.

Star Parker, president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and speaker at today’s event in DC, explained the untenable choice the mandate forces non-exempt religious employers to make: “Bow your knee, pay a fine, or close your business.”

Many speakers asked: if the government is allowed to trample on religious liberty today, what other assaults on constitutional liberties could rules like the coercive anti-conscience mandate bring tomorrow? Today’s rallies served as a message to President Obama and HHS: we want our religious liberty back.

The rallies were supported by a coalition of dozens of organizations, including the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Alliance Defense Fund, both of which are leading litigation on behalf of religious employers who will be forced to violate their beliefs under the anti-conscience mandate.