Followup on Catholic Fortnight for Freedom

The USCCB’s Fortnight for Freedom has passed with remarkably little public reaction or engagement on the part of the country’s 70 million plus Catholics. Here’s three responses to the campaign:

Fred Clark: Flaccid ‘Fortnight for Freedom’ fizzles for fathers

Part of what we learned here, I think, is that if you’ve got a top-down, hierarchical mentality that regards listening to anyone else as beneath you, as an affront to your righteous authority, then you’re probably not well-suited to rallying grassroots support. When that arrogant mentality shapes your outlook, it seems, you’re probably not even capable of recognizing that you’ve utterly lost all grassroots support.

Note that Fred’s own point here slightly undermines his alliterative title. There were plenty of fathers, as well as lay Catholics, who refused to participate in or outright opposed the Fortnight, which was assembled by Catholic bishops. The divisions and disagreements between laity, different types of clergy, and different parts of the power structure are important to remember. The Catholic church, for all its power, is not as unified as it might seem.

Jessica Coblentz: Fortnight for Freedom: Whose Religious Liberty?

Yet the mandate is not simply a “women’s issue” because it concerns contraception; the mandate is a “women’s issue” because it concerns religious liberty, as the bishops insist, and the Catholic theological tradition insists that religious liberty ought to protect the ability of a woman to obey her conscience. The bishops, or anyone for that matter, need not theologically condone the contraceptive decisions of Catholic women in order to recognize them as exercises of free, religious choice. Yet the current rhetoric of the USCCB’s “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign does not. With last week’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act that contains the HHS contraception mandate, the USCCB has vowed to continue its opposition campaign. But if the bishops continue to exclude so many American Catholics from their representation of religious liberty—notably, the majority of Catholic women—the USCCB fails in its own stated aim to protect the religious liberty of all.

Katherine Stewart: How Corrupt Catholics and Evangelicals Abuse Religious Freedom

It is a terrible thing when a once-noble phrase gets beaten to a meaningless pulp. The time has now come to rescue the phrase “religious freedom” from its abusers. In the writings and speeches of Catholic bishops and evangelical leaders in recent months, “religious freedom” has come to mean something close to its opposite. It now stands for “religious privilege”. It is a coded way for them to state their demand that religious institutions should be allowed special powers that exempt them from the laws of the land….In other words, rather than being a guarantee of your freedom to worship, religious liberty is the power to rewrite laws that offend you – such as laws designed to protect the health of working women.

I didn’t discover this until assembling this roundup, but it turns out that Catholics and Evangelicals have another thing in common: praying “Jesus’ blood over” certain targets. The outline of the “Patriotic Rosary” includes specific instructions to pray for the conversion of the country and then before each Hail Mary to “plead the blood of Jesus over [name of state] and every soul in that state.” I suppose once someone came up with the idea of a “Patriotic Rosary” the fact that there are 50 Hail Marys and 50 states seemed like too good of a match to pass up.

I’m not going to rehash here the reasons that this is incredibly offensive. I’m simply surprised that not only the expedient political tactics but the language and prayer practices/spiritual warfare of these groups are converging. Anyone want to suggest why that is?

I don’t think this kind of spiritual warfare is as much of a concern to Pagans per se as some of the other Evangelical/Dominionist campaigns we’ve seen, but I think it’s something to be aware of because the rhetoric used internally by a group can be an important indication of the lengths to which they are willing, or not willing, to take their actions. And of course the issues of women’s health and individual conscience (not that of corporations) are vitally important to all of us as people and citizens. Thankfully with so little response – especially compared to the Nuns on the Bus tour – it looks like the bishops’ big leap to cast themselves as martyrs turned into more of a pratfall.

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Literata is a Wiccan who studies theaology and enjoys developing poetry and rituals. Her work has appeared in several anthologies, including Mandragora and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. She also blogs at Forging Futures and writes for her own site, Works of Literata, . When she's not leading Rose Coven, reading Tarot or communing with nature, she works on her Ph.D. dissertation in history and enjoys travel and spending time with her husband and four cats. Please note that everything Literata writes here is solely her own personal opinion. It does not represent the position of any organization with which she is affiliated.

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