Fortnight for Freedom begins today; Who's paying the freight?

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on Catholics throughout the country to observe a "Fortnight for Freedom," beginning today and running through July 4, to protest the Obama administration's health care policies.

They contend this is not political. Some Catholics in the pews disagree: According to an NPR report by Barbara Bradley Hagerty:

Marion McCartney, who attends the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C., opposes the bishops' campaign. She's part of a group, Blessed Sacrament Families United in Faith and Action, that wrote a letter to its pastor, saying the partisan nature of the campaign is "a step too far."

"Nobody's religious freedom is at stake. That's just ridiculous!" McCartney says. Is "[Health and Human Services Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius going to come and close all the church doors? I mean, it's just foolishness."

Another member of that group is Jim Zogby, who has worked on human-rights issues overseas. He says the U.S. bishops were spoiling for a fight over social issues with the Obama administration.

"They declared war on the administration, and we the faithful are paying the price for it," Zogby says. "Our religious freedom, our ability to simply go to church, worship, feel a community, feel safe in that community" has been compromised.

"We're now being put in the middle of a partisan fight, and that's wrong."

His wife, Eileen, says Blessed Sacrament, with its mix of liberals and conservatives, has always put politics aside. Not now. At a recent parish meeting about religious freedom, people began attacking President Obama, she says, getting more and more heated.

"Until finally one person leaned forward and he said, 'Well, I have seen cars in our parking lot with Obama stickers on them, and they are complicit in all of this.' And I thought, 'Well I guess I'm not welcome here, because I have an Obama sticker on my car.' "

Tim Townsend of the St. Louis Post Dispatch examines who's paying for the rallies, publications and other campaign expenses associated with this effort:

... while Catholic leaders frame the events as a fight for religious liberty, critics see signs of political partisanship and electioneering.

And questions over the financing of the bishops' campaign have caused those suspicions to multiply.

"The activities around the Fortnight for Freedom cost money," said Steve Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington. "What groups are paying for this, and what's the accountability for that money?"

Read the entire story here.

Comments (5)

"Until finally one person leaned forward and he said, 'Well, I have seen cars in our parking lot with Obama stickers on them, and they are complicit in all of this.' And I thought, 'Well I guess I'm not welcome here, because I have an Obama sticker on my car.' "

The financial cost is easily calculated and surely there is reasonable and worthy debate to be had regarding this campaign. However, the larger cost that is often only measured anecdotally is the deeper and more painful cost that both angers and saddens me.

Bishop Jenky of Peoria is a good example of the quality of this campaign. He violated Godwin’s Law at the outset, citing Obama and Hitler within the same context. (see NPR link)

Godwin’s Law states that, if a debate goes on long enough, someone will compare their opponent to Hitler or a Nazi. This usually happens when the tone of the conversation deteriorates past the point of salvage, and the person who mentions Hitler/Nazism has lost the debate.

Kevin McGrane

Marion McCartney, who attends the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, D.C., opposes the bishops' campaign.

But if her *money* also "attends", she's not opposing the bishops and their oppressive paranoia, she's enabling.

The time has come, faithful RCs: *actual* religious freedom, or the Vatican's hivemind for all? Choose one.

JC Fisher

Some may ponder over why so many RC’s continue to stay. It has much to do with being part of the tribe.

No insult is intended here; I consider it an accurate description. The RCC’s hierarchy has promoted the bunker mentality that dominates their church. For a layperson, to leave the RCC or change denominations is to betray the tribe, and they walk away from family, friends, their very identity. That is tough to do.

Even further, many/most of them are unaware of how pervasive this tribalism is: those who scream the loudest about the hypocrisy of the RCC still think things like “Anglicanism was created because Henry VIII wanted a divorce” – the RC dissenter may question their own church’s credibility, but fails to question anything else they learned from it: they still think their church is the “true” church, and all others are lacking.

The more understanding we can be of our RC brothers and sisters, the more likely they will join TEC.

Kevin McGrane

I quit today. The only reason I didn't walk out is because the only reason I attend Mass is to take my 79 year old mother.

Starting next week I will become a chauffeur service.

We missed a couple of weeks so I was not warned about this initiative. I come in, sit there waiting to hear how great John the Baptist was and why people followed him since he comes across as a little nutty in scripture.

Granted I have never been a "real" Catholic. I'm official - baptised, confirmed all that but I went to public school and I spent my teen years at my best friend's Protestant church because they had a better youth program and my mom's priority was for me to believe in God not the Pope (yes I said it). Hence most of my Christian education is not Catholic. However, I was very culturally Catholic. I still am, that won't change. The only change is that I refuse to attend any longer.

I can't imagine going to a Protestant church as a parishioner because I am too trained with the sign of the cross and things like that. Although, thinking that over, I don't do the Rosary or any of the saints days unless they fall on a Sunday.

The point is that this is divisive. I think every person in my parish voted for Obama - although I think at least 51% including me regret it but it's not about Obama for me, it's much bigger than that. It's about misogyny and controlling women and like the person above said, infringing on my religious freedom by claiming their religious freedom is being infringed upon.

MaryRachelKate -- please sign your name next time you comment -- Thanks ~ed.

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