Freethought Today · June/July 2012

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Not afraid to be a minority of one

I am writing to tell you about the June 8 Catholic rally in New York City. I found out where it was being held from the email that FFRF sent, which included a banner to print out.

It was much too large to print on my home printer at home, so I called my local Staples early the next morning to find out if they could print it from an email forwarded to them. The result was a beautiful 1x3-foot laminated banner on heavy paper for a very reasonable cost, saying “Quit the Church — Put Women’s Rights Over Bishops’ Wrongs.”

The rally was held in front of Federal Hall at 26 Wall St. in Manhattan. A speaker told attendees the site was selected because it was where James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights in the First Congress. The First Amendment’s Establishment Clause forbids government from establishing religion in any way.

This was the crux of the Catholics’ argument, that their so-called “religious freedom” was trampled on by the Obama administration’s health care proposal, later altered in a compromise, to ensure that all women had access to reproductive health care services, particularly contraception, which is contrary to the Catholic point of view.

I was interviewed and photographed by a journalist from the Brooklyn Diocese. He said he was seeking “opposing voices” to balance coverage of the event. I gave permission to use this material.

I can’t tell you how many people came up to me and photographed the banner and said things such as that they would pray for me, etc. I got into discussions with several people and tried to articulate why I believed that what the Catholic Church called “religious freedom” was in reality an attempt to prevent any woman, including those who worked for a Catholic employer, from having access to contraceptives through their health insurance.

I argued in vain that no one was required to use contraception even if available in their health care program. Over and over people said that “contraception is easy to get and cheap, about $9 a month, and so women can get it if they want it. The Catholic Church just doesn’t want to pay for it.”

I was the only opposing voice there, as far as I could tell. There seemed to be 100 to 200 demonstrators, many with signs being handed out opposing “ObamaCare” and abortion and anything else that the Catholic Church opposes in this regard. There were prayers and hymns. Speakers included, among others, a Catholic female physician, a lawyer and Martin Luther King Jr.’s granddaughter (or so I was told).

The rally’s organization and the fervor of the onlookers was very sobering and made clear the enormous battle being waged as well as the reality of what we are up against.

I learned that it’s very difficult to be a minority of one in the face of such numbers. At least I still have my beautiful banner for another day!

Fairfid Caudle is a Lifetime Member from New York.

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