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Catholics organize ecumenical religious freedom rally in Oklahoma City

St. Peter's Fellowship, in conjunction with Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, has organized a rally for religious freedom set for June 23 in downtown Oklahoma City.
by Carla Hinton Modified: June 8, 2012 at 12:09 am •  Published: June 9, 2012
/articleid/3682337/1/pictures/1741223">Photo - Archbishop Paul S. Coakley <strong>JIM BECKEL - THE OKLAHOMAN</strong>
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley JIM BECKEL - THE OKLAHOMAN

Coakley said there is a sense of urgency to the initiative and the related rallies due to the compliance deadline for the mandate.

“We want people to be praying and studying on these issues,” he said. “The rally is for motivation and inspiration.”

Nash said Pope Benedict XVI wrote several letters even before the mandate was made, urging priests to inform and engage laity to take the lead in the battle for religious freedom.

“They were announcing that we are entering into a time of persecution,” he said.

Nash said about 20 Catholics from five parishes in the archdiocese came together several weeks ago to form St. Peter's Fellowship. He said the group took the papal and bishops' requests seriously, and the upcoming rally is a result.

Coming together

Nash said rally speakers include clergy leaders, scholars, politicians and others, including Coakley; state Attorney General Scott Pruitt; state Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City; Bill Federer, author and TV news commentator; the Rev. Frank Cargill, superintendent of the Oklahoma District Council of Assemblies of God; and Michael Scaperlanda, University of Oklahoma professor.

Nash said he is pleased that the rally also has drawn interest from non-Catholics.

“What we're experiencing as a result of this mandate is unity among the body of Christ. There has been a lot of animosity between Catholics and Protestants historically, but we're going to set aside our differences and come together in this spiritual moment,” Nash said.

“It's a holy moment.”

Meanwhile, Coakley said a Mass for the Fortnight for Freedom will be held June 22, the night before the rally, at Our Lady's Cathedral, 3214 N Lake Ave.

Nash said rally attendees are encouraged to make a donation for admission to the event. He said he and other organizers have no idea how many people will show up for the rally, but they hope to draw about 15,000 or more.

“With the Thunder (Oklahoma City's NBA team), we know we can fill a sports arena. Now the question is: Can we fill the Cox Convention Center with believers who recognize the threat and stand in defense of religious liberty?” Nash said.

“We're looking to see how many people will be convicted by the Holy Spirit and come and stand together.”

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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Religious Freedom Rally

When: 1 to 4 p.m. June 23.

Where: Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens.

Cost: Donations are encouraged.



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