The Freedom From Religion Foundation has placed a 14x48-foot billboard (things are bigger in Texas) in patriotic colors off busy Interstate 30 east of Highway 360 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It will be up for a month.
The message, aimed at Roman Catholics, urges them to “Put women’s rights over Bishops’ wrongs” and “Quit the Church.”
FFRF is a Madison, Wis.-based state/church watchdog with 18,500 nonreligious members nationwide, including about 860 in Texas.
FFRF chose the location because the Diocese of Dallas and the Diocese of Fort Worth are among the dozens of Catholic institutions suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services over its contraceptive mandate. The mandate, to take effect in August, will ensure American women have uniform prescription contraceptive benefits.
Churches and denominations are explicitly excluded from the mandate. Bishops are claiming that President Obama's compromise, in which workers at religiously affiliated or quasi-religious hospitals and schools, will have contraceptive benefits provided by private insurance companies, is an attack on their religious freedom.
Catholic hospitals and Catholic Charities receive vast infusions of public money, and employ many non-Catholics. In addition, a Gallup Poll in May showed 82 percent of U.S. Catholics think birth control is "morally acceptable."
“The church says that its religious ‘liberty’ is being harmed, when in fact it's the church which seeks to deny rights to workers,” said Dan Barker, FFRF co-president. “We don’t think most Catholics, especially the 98 percent 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 oppressive institution.”
Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said the Catholic Church has launched a “political inquisition” in the form of a multimillion dollar campaign leading up to July 4 to pressure Obama to rescind the mandate.