CROWN POINT | The Rev. Christopher Gillespie told a crowd gathered outside the Old Lake County Courthouse on the square Saturday that the founders of his Lutheran church left Germany many years ago because of government intrusion.
He and local leaders from a few other Christian denominations said they fear the same thing is now happening in this country.
"We must be free to put our faith into action in the public square," he said.
Members of the Catholic Knights of Columbus group stood above the crowd on the courthouse steps wearing capes, hats and swords, while a band periodically performed music.
The various Catholic and Protestant leaders repeatedly spoke out against gay marriage and abortion as well as a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requirement that all employers — except houses of worship — must include in their health care plans free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs.
Ron Johnson Jr., the senior pastor at Living Stones Church in Crown Point, elicited cries of "tyranny" from the crowd as he spoke of the historical significance of government forcing Christians to act against their beliefs.
He was met with a roar of approval as he quoted founding father Patrick Henry's famous "Give me Liberty, or give me Death" speech.
"This means our faith in Christ does not need to be left at home," Johnson said.
The Rev. Sammie Maletta, of St. John the Evangelist Parish in St. John, said the Declaration of Independence makes it clear the rights were granted by the "creator" and can only be taken away by God.
"We are Christians," he said.
Maletta said he and the other church leaders were not telling anyone for whom to vote in the Nov. 6 election but encouraged the crowd to make sure their vote reflects their Christian faith.
A voter guide was handed out in the crowd that was created by Advance America, which calls itself the state's largest pro-family and pro-tax reform organization.