By Jerry A. Coyne | 9 March 2012
Way to go, Freedom from Religion Foundation! Their co-presidents, Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, have put a full-page ad in today’s New York Times calling for Catholics to do a mass egress (cutely, “exit en mass”) because of the Church’s odious position on reproductive rights. The ad is below (click to enlarge), and you can see the FFRF’s press release here.
Predictably, there’s a response from the Catholic League’s creepy Bill Donohue, which includes this:
The pretext of the ad is the Catholic Church’s opposition to the Health and Human Services mandate forcing Catholic non-profits to include abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization in its insurance plans. Its real agenda is to smear Catholicism. Here is how the ad begins: “It’s time to quit the Roman Catholic Church. Will it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages?”
The ad blames the Catholic Church for promoting “acute misery, poverty, needless suffering, unwanted pregnancies, overpopulation, social evils and deaths.” It says the bishops are “launching a ruthless political Inquisition” against women. It talks about “preying priests” and corruption “going all the way to the top.” In an appeal to Catholic women, it opines, “Apparently, you’re like the battered woman who, after being beaten down every Sunday, feels she has no place else to go.”
Yep, Donohue sums up the case pretty well. He continues:
Not a single Catholic who reads this ad will be impelled to leave the Church. That is not the issue (Catholicism, unlike many other religions, is actually growing in the U.S., and worldwide). The issue is the increase in hate speech directed at Catholics.
I’m not sure about Donohue’s numbers here; other data I’ve seen have shown a drastic worldwide decline in Catholicism, although the loss in America may be somewhat offset by Hispanic immigants, and I think the Church may be growing in South America (readers can weigh in). In general, I think we all know that Catholicism is in trouble because it’s simply out of step with the times.
Nothing will stop Catholics from demanding that the Obama administration respect their First Amendment rights, this vile assault by FFRF notwithstanding. Why the Times allowed this ad is another issue altogether.
It’s not hate speech directed against Catholics (Donohue always plays the persecution card); it’s hate speech directed against the odious and repressive policies of the Catholic Church. And rightly so—next to Islam, it’s the most oppressive and woman-hating of all major faiths. Kudos to Dan and Annie Laurie, and a thanks to the donors who had to pony up for what was a very expensive ad.
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