Occupy Someplace or Other? Definitely not.
Boycott Apple, Disney, Whole Foods, or the target of the day? Please.
Nope. I attended, and indeed dragged my children to our local Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally last Friday. Maybe you heard of it. After all, over 140 cities across the country held one. Hopefully, the rally near you drew a bigger crowd than the 150 or so people who appeared with me. (A note to the rally organizers: Lots of passionate supporters cannot leave work to attend a rally during business hours–even if it occurs during “lunchtime.”) The small group did merit an itty bitty mention in the local newspaper. The article referred to those of us in attendance as “activists” and “protesters.” Really?! We First Amendment lovers are lumped into the same category with anarchist G7 protesters and the 99% grunge crowd?
So, there were rousing speeches, clever signs, some song and some prayer. We even got the protection of a couple of city police officers on Segways. The crowd was made up of young, old, and folks in between. A Google search about the rallies produces articles from plenty of major news outlets: a surprise considering how the media largely ignores the annual March for Life, which draws hundreds of thousands each year.
In spite of the attention and the positive experience of gathering with like-minded people over a fundamental cause, I feel less energized and less optimistic than ever that this issue will be resolved justly. With “American Idol” and March Madness on their minds, most Americans just can’t be bothered to consider whether their Constitutional freedoms are being stolen. But along with that laziness and indifference, there is a strong current of Catholic hatred that makes any real discussion about the issue of religious freedom essentially impossible. Just feast your eyes on some of these comments attached to the report of my local rally:
What they want is 2 billion Catholics in the world. More Catholics means more money and power for the church. To have a major religious organization with over a billion adherents worldwide eschew birth control is a travesty. What do they want, 1 person per square yard? Will that make the Pope and his Cardinals happy? OK, now lets house and feed that population. Luckily, most Catholics ignore the church’s stand on birth control. But what kind of religion is that? Give me a Unitarian anytime.
Since the Catholic Church in particular has failed to keep its female members from using hormonal contraceptives, church leaders are now pressuring government institutions to keep birth control pills as inaccessible as possible. That is exactly a violation of the separation of church and state, and anyone who values liberty should be outraged.
Things get really ugly when you look at the comments on the rally coverage for the Washington Post.
Before you Catholics think you can dictate the laws of the land, there is that little matter of harboring pervert child molesting priests. Turn them all over for civil prosecution and you might have some credibility instead of being above the law.
Extreme Catholics need to grow up and realize that we are living in the real world, not a theoretical hair splitting world. This is an instance in which Jesus would have said “render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s” rather than raise a stink to get exactly what he wanted. The Church and the members should be out “loving thye neighbor” instead of indulging in self-pity.
This article is full of lies. The Roman Catholic Church and other religious organizations that seek to deny women control of their bodies are doing everything they can to deny women their legal and moral right to determine when and if they want to be a parent. Because they know that direct attacks have been largely unsuccessful, they are trying to control women by making it impossible for them to find providers of reproductive health services.
At best, it seems that the dumb masses of America think this is all about sex and birth control. At worst, the haters can use this very public stand by the Catholic Church against the Obama administration’s policy as a chance to rehash every evil ever perpetrated by a Catholic.
There is a lot of work to be done. One of the most important tasks may be convincing whoever turns out to be the GOP nominee in the presidential election that it can’t just be about the economy, that there are cherished liberties at stake.