CHICAGO (CBS) — Opponents of the Obama administration’s birth control coverage mandate rallied in the Loop Friday afternoon as part of protests across the country.

About 300 people, according to police estimates, stood in rainy Federal Plaza carrying signs that read “Stand up for Religious Freedom” and yellow balloons adorned with the word LIFE.

Mary FioRito, with the Chicago Archdiocese, says that for decades religious schools and charitable organizations have existed without being forced to cover contraception.

Other speakers at the hour-long rally included U.S. Reps. Joe Walsh and Dan Lipinski.

Democrat Lipinski dismissed the administration’s exception to the rule, saying not even Jesus would qualify.

Republican Walsh fired up the crowd, saying the government cannot tell him to defy his conscience.

Initially, protest leaders had a hard time being heard because their speakers weren’t working.

Organizers blamed the officials in the nearby Kluczynski Federal Building for shutting off their power, which was eventually turned on.

Carrie Shannon drove almost two hours from McHenry Township to protest against the mandate, which she equates with an attack on faith.

The Stand up for Religious Freedom Rallies — organizers say they took place in 100 cities — come on the second anniversary of the passage of President Obama’s healthcare reform plan.