Yesterday, while sitting on the ground pinning snoods during nap time and watching a news channel, I caught one of the worst commercials of all time. Last week I remember seeing comments asking questions like: "What exactly does 'cultural Catholic' mean?" but in the rush of finishing up Sadie's birthday presents, I didn't take the time to figure out what everyone was talking about.
Then I heard these words and for the first five seconds I thought it was a joke, because the entire statements was just so ludicrous. Then I realized that the speaker was serious:
"Hi, I’m Julia Sweeney, and I’m a cultural Catholic. I am no longer a believer and I even wrote a play about it called “Letting Go of God.” But I wanted to let you know that right now Catholic Bishops are framing their opposition to contraceptive coverage as a religious freedom issue. But the real threat to freedom is the Bishops, who want to be free to force their dogma on people who don’t want it. Please join the Freedom From Religion Foundation and help keep church and state separate..."Let me begin by saying that, at the start of that commercial, I had no idea who Julia Sweeney was. I did a little googling and read for a few minutes on her Wikipedia page and found that she actually identifies herself these days as an atheist, not a Catholic. By identifying herself as a brave "cultural Catholic" (who just doesn't happen to believe), she's bucking the system, which must just sound so much better to those folks over at the Freedom from Religion Foundation, perhaps because it sounds like more of the Nancy Pelosi-esque "no-one-but-a-bunch-of-old-men-believe-this-anyway-and-we-don't-have-to-respect-their-freedom" propaganda that's been going around lately.
Of course, not a lot of actual thought is put into the questions that should be raised whenever nonsense like this is spoken out loud or typed out on a screen and shared with the public.
So I'm sure we won't get to hear Sweeney's responses to questions like: How does my refusing to subsidize your sex life, and the sex lives of other women across the nation, infringe on their freedom of religion? When did contraception become an enshrined right? You realize that no one is saying that you can't poison your body with your carcinogen of choice, right? I just don't want to have to pay for it (and yes with 100% of our income plus some going to one of those private Catholic institutions that would be forced to purchase this coverage, our family most definitely would be subsidizing this evil).
Nor will I get to hear a response if I point out that forcing Catholics to pay for something that they find evil infringes on our freedom of religion.
Some would say it's not an infringement on our freedom to exercise our consciences because we could just quit offering these surfaces. We could close down our schools and hospitals, or we could stop offering health care coverage altogether, seriously harming the employees at these institutions and harming the institutions ability to operate and provide services (which are often services that help the poorest of the poor).
After all, the government isn't yet pointing a gun at our heads and saying: "Fork over the money for the pills or I'll pull the trigger." But our freedom to exercise our beliefs isn't only infringed upon with the threat of actual violence or imprisonment. It's trampled upon when the government puts up laws and regulations that tell Catholics that they can pay for this, or be harmed by the consequences (and not offering their employees coverage would be seriously harmed).
You see the government has absolutely no constitution right to regulate our involvement in this, and force us to participate in this grave evil, while at the same time we are constitutionally protected by the first amendment and the men who penned the Bill of Rights, firmly believing that people shouldn't be compelled to violate their consciences.
I do see the government forcing their own brand of morality upon Catholics across this great nation. And that's why the Fortnight for Religious Freedom is a far more appropriate cause to support in these troubling times.
Even if you aren't Catholic you might want to pause and offer up a prayer... because the infringement on our freedoms always begins with one group... but it never ends with that group... The government will continue this overreach of power unless we make our voices heard, both in prayer and in the public arena.