For the fourth year, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is engaging in Fortnight for Freedom, and encouraging faithful Catholics to do the same. Fortnight for Freedom is a religious liberty campaign, coming out of the HHS contraception mandate requiring employers to provide all FDA approved forms of contraception, including abortifacients, to their employees. This year's theme is "Freedom to Bear Witness."
While the entire country may not share the same exact sentiments as the bishops do when it comes to abortion and contraception, it is hardly shocking that the bishops would exercise their faith in a consistent and public way. To one group, however, that means the bishops are engaging in discrimination.
Catholics for Choice, as the group's name suggests, supports abortion. The group take their disagreement with the Church one step further though with a front-page ad on June 22 for the Washington Post Express. The image greeting commuters is a jolly fat bishop, appearing in Uncle Sam style, saying "We Want YOU To Help Us Discriminate."
The ad also involves a list of what Catholics for Choice finds to be discriminatory moves from the Church. Large all capital letters then read "THIS IS ABOUT YOU." Smaller lettering reads "WE ALL NEED TO STAND AGAINST THE USE OF OUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS TO FUND DISCRIMINATION." The last time I checked, it's Planned Parenthood that gets around oh, half a billion taxpayer dollars a year. The group performs the most abortions in the nation, which is arguably the worst form of discrimination of all, killing the most innocent, vulnerable and defenseless among us.
Under "What Can You Do," the group calls on people to join them who, with original emphasis, support "REAL religious liberty," suggesting that that's something the bishops themselves don't do.
Except the bishops aren't discriminating. They are asking to be able to live according to their faith. And, simply because one does not agree with the tenant of one part of his or her own faith, or the faith of another, does not mean we need to accuse someone of discrimination. It's befuddling and naïve to think that by acting in accordance with Catholic teaching, regardless as to how popular it may be, that the bishops are discriminating. If the bishops are discriminating by living out and representing the faith, then it must be the Catholic Church as a whole which is discriminatory. So why do Catholics for Choice wish to still call themselves Catholic then?
Catholics for Choice does not merely publish such an ad though. Jon O'Brien, the group's president, also wrote an op-ed for The Baltimore Sun, along with Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Without knowing the authors, one might think that the piece was written by militant atheists.
O'Brien also wrote a piece for Crux, a Catholic website. His first few paragraphs are just fine, but then he says that "the bishops will launch a campaign under the guise of religious freedom, which means they want the ability to discriminate… against you." Sorry, Jon O'Brien, I'm not buying it. There is no guise, this really is religious freedom. And my bishops are not discriminating against me.
Also worth mentioning is that while this year's Fortnight for Freedom will conclude on July 4, the bishops always have and always will stand up for ideas such as religious freedom, for the right to life, and for traditional marriage.
It's one thing to be at odds with clear teachings from the Church. I'm sure that plenty of Catholics who support abortion still consider themselves to be in good standing. And it is on bishops to lovingly but firmly remind people of where the Church stands. But to publicly ridicule the hierarchy of one's own church, and to create scandal and controversy is another story.
I'm not here to speak for the USCCB. I may be passionately pro-life, which is encouraged by my faith, but I am pro-life because of science and reason. I have my own personal sins which I struggle with, and I can't say for certain if I agree with the Catholic Church 100 percent of the time on every issue. But it is unfair to accuse the Catholic bishops, or any such well-intentioned religious group, of discrimination. If anything, it seems it as if Catholics for Choice is the one discriminating with such an attack on the bishops.