Sunday, June 24, 2012

Freedom From Religion Campaign Aimed at Oppressing Catholics

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 don't see anyone being forced by our government to march into a Catholic Church each Sunday for Mass, and I don't see the Bishops rounding up people in the streets and forcing the sacraments on them.  

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.


  1. Hi I'm Jennifer and I found you through the Facebook group and I'm now a new follower. This post is so heartfelt and true. It's so sad. Thank you for taking the time to write about it. May God bless you.

  2. Great points, really well-written. I am not even Catholic but I could not agree more. Sweeney needs to stop attacking Catholics. Catholics are not "imposing" "dogma" of any kind by taking this stance. You framed it 100% accurately. Great job!

  3. My understanding is that Catholic institutions would not pay for contraceptive coverage; health insurance companies would.

  4. Pathway- Many Catholic institutions self insure. Many of the insurers that others use are also Catholic, and thus wouldn't be able to morally offer that sort of coverage. And on just a logical level, do you really believe that the insurance companies would offer additional coverage and not pass the cost on to the companies they are covering? More than that, why on earth should the insurance companies have to provide coverage for something for free? It's unconstitutional, and it's mind boggling. Contraception coverage is not a human right. It's not a necessity. It's not even close.

    And it's ridiculous for the government to demand anyone pay for it. Especially when it's cheap and widely available (and even free in many cases. I worked at PP for a semester. We handed that stuff out for free every single day. And many of the people we gave it to were not poor).

    Should the government also demand breweries and tobacco companies hand out their good for free because some people think they "need" it, although those are recreational products? And then we can pay double, first for the pills themselves and then for the damage people do to their health (again, birth control pills are classified by the world health organization as a class 1 carcinogen) by taking them?

  5. I heard an excellent analogy a little while back, that struck a chord with me.

    The government insisting that a church or religious institution provide coverage of contraception when it goes against that institution's core beliefs is akin to the government insisting that an Orthodox Jewish grocer sell pork products. Even if very few of his customers believed that eating pork was wrong, it would still be a terrible violation of religious freedom and conscience to force him to do so. If folks want bacon, they can darn well buy it themselves elsewhere.



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