Watch Sneak Preview of FFRF TV commercial starring Julia Sweeney

Julia Sweeney, one of America’s most famous former Catholics as actress and playwright of “Letting Go of God,” stars in a new TV and radio ad just produced by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The commercial counters the anti-contraceptive campaign by Roman Catholic Bishops. The wealthy U.S. Catholic Church has pledged to spend multimillions in a PR blitz leading up to July 4th to overturn the Obama Administration’s contraceptive health insurance mandate.

“This is why FFRF exists — to ensure that religious dogma is not enshrined into our secular laws, to ensure that humanity is placed above dogma and that dogma is not allowed to trump personal conscience and civil liberties,” noted Dan Barker, FFRF co-president.

In the ad, Julia (who once portrayed a nun in some episodes of “Sex and the City”) is sitting at her office with figurines of nuns in the background. A red-skirted bishop’s figure is reflected in the mirror. In her 30-second spot, she says:

Hi, I’m Julia Sweeney, and I’m a cultural Catholic. I am no longer a believer and I even wrote a play about it called “Letting Go of God.” But I wanted to let you know that right now Catholic Bishops are framing their opposition to contraceptive coverage as a religious freedom issue. But the real threat to freedom is the Bishops, who want to be free to force their dogma on people who don’t want it. Please join the Freedom From Religion Foundation and help keep church and state separate. [FFRF’s name, toll-free number and website are displayed throughout the ad.]

A version of the ad starts next week as a radio commercial on the Randi Rhodes Show, where it will run daily June 11-24.

Julia also recorded a longer version of the ad to play at FFRF’s website (watch at end of press release).

FFRF plans to place the 30-second spot on TV, with a goal of raising funds to place the ad on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. Members may also wish to arrange to place the ad on their local or cable shows.

Churches and denominations are explicitly excluded from the contraceptive mandate. Under a compromise by Health and Human Services, non-church religious institutions, such as a schools or hospitals, will not be forced to pay for or provide contraceptive insurance for employees — HHS rules require private insurers to cover those costs. Nevertheless, more than 40 Roman Catholic institutions around the country filed suit against HHS’s contraceptive mandate in late May.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is corralling its membership — who have overwhelmingly ignored the church’s injunction against contraception — to put political pressure on HHS to overturn the mandate, and on Congress to adopt a broad law allowing any religious employer to veto health care services based on a religious or moral objection.

Thanks to membership help, FFRF has previously placed a full-page ad, “It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church,” in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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