.- A secularist group's New York Times ad that urges Catholics to leave the Church over its' resistance to the contraception mandate is being called âhate speechâ by critics.
âNot a single Catholic who reads this ad will be impelled to leave the Church. That is not the issue,â said Catholic League president Bill Donohue. âThe issue is the increase in hate speech directed at Catholics.â
The Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation ad âItâs Time to Quit the Catholic Churchâ ran on March 9 and billed itself as an âopen letter to 'liberal' and 'nominal' Catholics.â
âWill it be reproductive freedom, or back to the Dark Ages?â it asks. âDo you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? Whose side are you on?â
The ad claims that the church is âan avowedly antidemocratic Old Boys clubâ and derides Catholic teaching that contraception use is sinful. It also blames the Church for causing misery, poverty, unwanted pregnancies and deaths and attacks Catholic teaching on the ordination of women, parochial schools, and the Churchâs response to sex abuse.
The ad, which includes an unflattering political cartoon of a Catholic bishop, claims that the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference has made a âdeclaration of war against women's right to contraception.â
U.S. Catholics are presently in a battle with the Obama administration over new federal mandates requiring employers, including religious employers, to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.
The secularist groupâs ad claimed that these Catholic efforts are an attempt âto use the force of secular law to deny birth control to non-Catholicsâ and claimed that the Churchâs effort to defend non-mandatory coverage is a âruthless political inquisition.â
The foundationâs website says it raised $52,000 to place the ad on page 10 of the Timesâ front section.
Donohue harshly criticized the newspaper ad, saying it engages in a âpalpableâ demonization of the Catholic Church and uses the HHS mandate as a âpretextâ to attack the Church.
âNothing will stop Catholics from demanding that the Obama administration respect their First Amendment rights, this vile assault by (the foundation) notwithstanding,â he said. âWhy the Times allowed this ad is another issue altogether.â