[Here’s a note that can introduce this well. A friend wrote to me: “I’ve seen that and it’s not even worth validating it by giving it attention. It’s just ridiculous.”
I said: You’re right, but I think people should know just what kind of organization this is since it is right here. They do all kinds of litigation to push the envelope on excluding religion from the public sphere. They’re a “First Amendment group” but they are really opposed to the First Amendment free exercise of religion. That is why the attack on the Catholic Church specifically in regards to the Church asking for our First Amendment rights not to provide contraception, contrary to our religion.]
At the beginning of March, the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation placed an over-the-top vicious anti-Catholic screed as an ad in the New York Times. FFRF’s headquarters “Freethought Hall” is right across East Washington Avenue from the former site of St Raphael’s Cathedral, (or its school building, more directly). A sample:
Dear “liberal” Catholic: It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church. It’s your moment of truth. Will it be reproductive freedom or back to the Dark Ages? Do you choose women and their rights, or bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on, anyway?
It’s time to make known your dissent from the Catholic Church, in light of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ruthless campaign endangering the right to contraception. [this is a lie, the bishops have not challenged the right in civil law to contraception that was established by a Supreme Court case “Griswold v. Connecticuit” in 1965, but have defended the First Amendment religious freedom rights of those who don’t want to be obliged to provide it to others. FFRF actually styles themselves a First Amendment group, by the way, only maniacally set on excluding any hint of religion from the public square as if a paper cut-out shaped like a Hanukkah menorah in a kindergarten classroom meant the government was imposing an official religion. They are like a sad cult whose purity code makes them abhor any glimpse of or contact with religion. They appear to have contempt toward religious people’s right to free exercise of their religion. The First Amendment, to remind you, reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”] If you’re part of the Catholic Church, you’re part of the problem. [The Catholic Church is “the universal sacrament of salvation” (Lumen Gentium)]
Why are you propping up the pillars of a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, [As a practicing Catholic woman, I find this actually especially ludicrous] sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club?
We have a more welcoming home to offer — free of incense-fogged ritual, [LOL!] unhampered by what freethinker Bertrand Russell called “ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men,” free of blind obedience to an illusory religious authority. Join those of us who put humanity above dogma.
As a member of the “flock” of an avowedly antidemocratic club, isn’t it time you voted with your feet? Please, exit “en Mass.” [Since I also get a vote with my feet, I am headed to daily Mass, where I will pray for unbelievers, that God may enlighten them with the gift of faith. Please won’t you also pray in sincerity of heart for their true good. If you really want to see the whole FFRF ad, click here ]
Although Catholicism was apparently considered fair game, the NYT rejected a similar ad submitted the following week by an anti-Muslim group, “It’s Time to Quit Islam“, citing concerns that members of that religion may react violently.
Today I was sorry to read that the Washington Post, “at a time when readership and subscriptions to the print editions of newspapers are at an all-time low,” published FFRF’s same vile ad on Wednesday. Some Catholics responded rightly by cancelling their subscription.
Others, like liberal/dissenting Catholic E.J. Dionne in his Sunday WaPo column, reacted differently. Dionne says that he refuses to leave the Catholic Church, citing that he likes liberal nuns–though he apparently has nothing but criticism for bishops. While making no objection to his employer running the ad, and actively undermining and reenforcing division in the Church through his words, he touts himself as a defender thereof. Perhaps because of his article supporting contraception coverage as “a good thing”, but opposing churches themselves having to be subject to the HHS mandate and praising Obama for exempting them, however not seeing any need for any other conscience protection?! The danger is that such a person may remain “indeed in the bosom of the Church, but ‘in body’, not ‘in heart’.” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, cited in CCC 837)
After the first ad ran in the New York Times, and I saw the “Time to Quit Islam” ad, I wrote a letter, walked a couple of blocks to FFRF’s Freethought Hall, praying on the way, knocked on the front door (which was locked) and handed it pleasantly to a lady there, who looked at the name on the envelope, smiled and thanked me. Here’s what I wrote:
Dear Annie Laurie Gaylor and the Freedom From Religion Foundation,
I am a 33 year old Catholic woman here in Madison, once a “liberal and nominal Catholic” seriously ignorant of my Faith and its great beauty; now, I have no greater treasure than fidelity to the love of Jesus and to His Catholic Church. I saw that you ran an ad against my Faith in the New York Times. I have kept you in my prayers, as Jesus teaches me to do.
I saw today that the New York Times has rejected a similar ad attacking another religion, with the explanation that adherents of that religion may do violence in retaliation. Since I live in the neighborhood, I thought I should share this with you. I found it a sobering reminder that all religions are not equally true and good.
Christianity makes a challenging call to self giving love, to radical mercy; we really can’t live up to this call by our own purely human means, but with the help of God’s grace and mercy, we can. Catholic teaching shows the way to put this into practice, caritas in veritate. One of the most compelling and ironically counter-cultural things about Catholic morality, is that it is based so much on reason, and a profound belief in each person’s capacity for virtue and for charity (the flipside of the truth that we are capable of serious evil). We believe in a dignity of woman and of man, that the culture seems oblivious to or bound on trashing.
Freedom is a gift of God with a purpose, that our love for Him and for our neighbor may be real. I want to be truly free to live out Catholic teaching in full, to bind myself to it, to Christ. It is like family love; it is family love. I’m your neighbor, FFRF, and I don’t want any members of my family to “quit” but to know and love Jesus and the Catholic Church better.
Please, if you love Jesus and His Catholic Church, stand up for religious freedom. Do not be lukewarm. All too close to home, there are people who would be happy to do what they can to take it away from us.