Religious leaders are organizing a public rally to protest the U.S. Health and Human Services requirement that insurance companies cover certain reproductive health procedures. The so-called HHS mandate, part of the Affordable Care Act, has angered administrators of religious schools and hospitals, as well as some pastors, who argue it infringes on their religious freedom.

The Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally, one of many planned around the country, starts at noon on Saturday at the U.S. Custom House, 200 East Bay St. Public speakers include Without Walls Ministry’s Gordon Cashwell; Legacy Church’s Kevin Baird; Fr. Jeffrey Kirby, vocations director for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston; and Peter Bleyer, a physician and president of the S.C. chapter of the Catholic Medical Association.

“Jobs, the economy and foreign policy are all important issues, but something far more important is at stake in this election,” said local spokeswoman Cheryle Freiberger in a statement. “If the federal government can force employers to choose between violating their deeply held religious and moral convictions or going out of business, then the founding American principle of religious freedom has been forfeited.”

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