Religious Freedom Rally

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Hundreds of people were in downtown Scranton Friday to protest a national health care mandate that has caused controversy for weeks.

The rally in our area was just part of a larger movement going on all across the country.

A few hundred people were at Scranton's Courthouse Square to represent the movement called the "Rally for Religious Freedom." The people who protested oppose a national mandate for insurance companies requiring them to provide coverage for contraceptives.

Pastor Allen Mickle traveled from Tunkhannock to downtown Scranton to participate in his first political rally.

The rally took over Courthouse Square Friday afternoon, as hundreds of thousands of others were protesting around the country.

"I think my role is to simply encourage people to see that this is more of a bigger issue than maybe the press and even many Christians or other religious people are saying it is," said Pastor Mickle of Tunkhannock Baptist Church.

Religion was a major motivator for many of the people rallying since the protests center around a health care mandate that requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for contraceptives, something certain churches oppose.

One hundred forty rallies in all were held across the country. Organizers picked March 23, he second anniversary of the so-called "Obamacare" bill.

"I don't know how many pages were in the bill at that time, and we couldn't get any answers. Now were getting the answers, and the answers are unacceptable," said Georgia Maas of Pleasant Mount.

The hundreds of people attending the rally found out about the national movement through television, religious publications, or word of mouth.

Not everyone there had the same viewpoint.

A much smaller gathering took place farther down the square. Supporters of the health care mandate handed out information to passersby.

"I think they're definitely misinformed about this mandate that they're protesting or whatever it is that they're doing. We have some information on that, too. That's why were here," said Matthew Hubble of Scranton.

The health and human services mandate first started creating controversy a few weeks ago. That came to a head Friday at rallies across the country. Ralliers in Scranton estimate that there were about 500 people at Friday's rally.