QUIT THE CHURCH. PUT WOMEN’S RIGHTS OVER BISHOPS’ WRONGS
FFRF debuts ‘Quit the Church’ billboard in St. Louis
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has placed a bold 14×48-foot billboard in patriotic colors at I-70 and North Broadway in St. Louis, Mo., aimed at Roman Catholics, which urges them to “Put women’s rights over Bishops’ wrongs” and “Quit the Church.” Nearly 300,000 people will drive by the board every week during its four-week run. (See map below.)
FFRF is a Madison, Wis.-based state/church watchdog with 18,500 nonreligious members nationwide, including about 250 in Missouri. FFRF chose St. Louis for its “tell truth to power” message, because the Diocese of St. Louis is one of many suing the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services over its contraceptive mandate. The mandate, to take effect in August, will ensure American women workers have uniform prescription contraceptive benefits.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis and Catholic Charities of St. Louis are two of more than 40 Roman Catholic institutions around the country which have filed suit against HHS.
Churches and denominations such as the Archdiocese, are explicitly excluded from being part of the mandate. What has attracted the bishops’ ire is Obama’s compromise, in which workers at religious-affiliated or quasi-religious hospitals and schools, such as the Catholic Charities of St. Louis, will have contraceptive benefits provided by private insurance companies. Catholic hospitals and Catholic Charities receive vast infusions of public money, and employ many nonCatholics.
“Most Americans are not Catholic, yet the Catholic Church wants our civil laws to bend to the will of one church,” noted FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
“The Catholic Church is free to preach its irrational doctrine that contraception is a ‘sin’ to its own membership—the vast majority of whom disregard that teaching and use contraception. But we have separation between religion and government in our secular country. A church has no right to demand that our government enforce its dogma by denying basic health care benefits to women,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
FFRF said the Catholic Church has launched a “political inquisition” in the form of a multimillion dollar campaign leading up to July 4 to pressure President Obama and Congress to rescind the mandate. It has introduced a bill into Congress which would permit any employer who claims a religious objection to deny health care benefits to employees.
“The Church says that its religious ‘liberty’ is being harmed, when in fact it is the church which seeks to deny rights to workers,” Barker added. “We don’t think most Catholics, especially the 98% of Catholic women who use contraceptives at some point in their lives, support the bishops’ war against contraception. It’s time for them to stop supporting an institution which oppresses.”
[June 19, 2012]