(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)
An atheist activist group is fighting the Catholic Church's "war against contraception" by stepping up its campaign that suggests believers should end their faithfulness to their religion.
The Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation plans to run a full-page ad in The New York Times that states, "It's Time to Quit the Catholic Church." FFRF is conducting a fundraiser to pay for the $52,000 ad and has collected $45,000 so far, according to a chart on the group's website.
The FFRF campaign began last month in light of opposition from the Catholic Church to the Obama administration's decision that seeks to guarantee employees of church and ministry-affiliated institutions reproductive health coverage, including contraception, abortifacients and sterilization.
"Dear 'Liberal' Catholic," an open letter written by the group's co-president, Annie Laurie Gaylor, begins. "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?"
Gaylor called the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops' opposition to mandatory free contraception to employees of religious organizations a "ruthless campaign endangering the right to contraception."
"If you're part of the Catholic Church, you're part of the problem," she continued. "Why are you propping up the pillars of a tyrannical and autocratic, woman-hating, sex-perverting, antediluvian Old Boys Club? Why are you aiding and abetting a church that has repeatedly and publicly announced a crusade to ban contraception, abortion and sterilization, and to deny the right of all women everywhere, Catholic or not, to decide whether and when to become mothers? When it comes to reproductive freedom, the Roman Catholic Church is Public Enemy Number One."
Last Thursday, the Senate rejected by a 51-48 vote a bill that would have permitted religious employers to refuse to cover medical services that violated their moral and religious convictions.
A Catholic political action group is targeting the 13 Democratic senators who supported the contraception mandate and is making plans to defeat those who are up for reelection in November.
"Faithful Catholics should take the opportunity to thank those Senators supporting our religious liberties," said Matt Smith, president of the Catholic Advocate, a group that encourages Catholics to be active in the political process. "It is our duty as laity to hold those who did not support our values accountable and vote our conscience when the time comes."
Evangelical columnist Chuck Colson recently argued that the way the issue of free contraception through health care has played out among its supporters is deceitful and "downright shameful."
"They say this is all about protecting women's access to contraception. This is, folks, the biggest red herring I've seen in politics. It's garbage, and they know it," Colson said. "Shame on them. Nobody is saying they shouldn't have access to contraceptives. Any woman can go to virtually any drug store and purchase them. Even drugs that induce abortion. As I told you last week, these things are even available in vending machines now!"
The scathing letter against Catholics by Gaylor included a paragraph that reads: "You're better than your church. So why? Why continue to attend Mass? Tithe? Why dutifully sacrifice to send your children to parochial schools so they can be brainwashed into the next generation of myrmidons (and, potentially, become the next Church victims)?"
Gaylor continued, "It is disgraceful that U.S. health care reform is being held hostage to the Catholic Church's bizarre opposition to medically prescribed contraception. No politician should jeopardize electability for failure to genuflect before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops."
However, Colson wrote that the national debate is not really about contraception.
"Folks, women's access to contraception is not the issue here. They have it. In spades. What's really going on is that the Obama Administration wants women to have access to FREE contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. It's an ideological imperative for them. And such niceties as the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom just don't matter in comparison," Colson stated.
"Make no mistake: What we are witnessing is indeed the leading edge of tyranny," Colson concluded.