A week ago today, pro-life activists were arrested for protesting in a restricted space in front of the White House. Their protests were inspired by the Health and Human Services mandate that requires faith-based organizations to cover both birth control and abortion-inducing drugs in the health care packages they offer employees. Part of Obama’s healthcare law that began to take effect in August, this specific mandate has sparked immense controversy and protest on the part of religious communities across the country, particularly Catholic organizations.
These arrests are a part of a greater act of modern civil disobedience planned by ActsFive29, a religiously-centered political project. A non-denominational group of like-minded Christian leaders, they operate under the principle from which they get their name: Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”
The arrests on Monday were part of a four-day protest from Saturday to Tuesday. Most of the arrests occurred on Sunday afternoon, after a rally that included speakers from Live Action, Priests for Life, and the American Family Association. After the rally, 32 people were arrested for protesting in restricted areas, most of which were kneeling peacefully in prayer. Altogether, 66 people were arrested throughout the course of the protest for refusing to “obey lawful commands.” Two of the activists remain in jail, refusing the pay the $100 fine to be released.
Patrick Mahoney, a leader of the group, said this protest was only the beginning. “We’re not an event,” he said, “we’re a movement.” Kristina Garza, a participant in the protest and director of Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, said the central issue is the fact that the HHS act is forcing Christians, “to pay for things that violate our religious convictions. We believe that is absolutely wrong.”
This protest represents a modern example of American civil disobedience. It represents a defense of our First Amendment Rights and the power that peaceful protest still retains in garnering public awareness. Equally important, it demonstrates that the American people aren’t willing to complacently accept mandates that they believe infringe upon their constitutional rights. Civil disobedience still works today as a peaceful and just political tool.
For more information on the ActsFive29 protest: