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Catholics Reject the Bishops’ Fortnight for Discrimination: It’s Not about Freedom

June 21, 2012

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is kicking off its so-called Fortnight for Freedom this evening. Fortnight for Discrimination would be a better name for it. The bishops seem to be most concerned about their own power to discriminate against others’ freedom to act according to their conscience. Catholics and other believers in true freedom of religion throughout the United States are coming out against the ways the bishops are playing fast and loose with some fundamental truths.

Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice and co-convener of the Coalition for Liberty and Justice, said:

“This is not at all about religious freedom, unless it’s the bishops’ freedom to make the rules for everyone. It is no mistake that the bishops are waging a war to force the body politic to bend the knee to their demands in this election year. The bishops have been itching for a fight with the Obama administration and seek, not just to remove American workers’ ability to access affordable contraception, but also to win a free pass from politicians. They want a license to discriminate against the rights of workers, victims of sex trafficking, those living with HIV & AIDS and those dependent on social services by taking taxpayer money while providing sectarian social services.

“The bishops have brought their divisive, self-serving war to every parish in the country, but all the signs indicate it will be overwhelmingly rejected by Catholic voters. Thousands of Catholics have joined us in letting the Department of Health and Human Services know that Catholics support contraception. The silent majority in church on Sunday are not fooled by the bishops’ attempts to impose their political preferences on the faithful and the nation.”


The Coalition for Liberty & Justice is a broad alliance of more than 50 faith-based, secular and other organizations that works to ensure that public policy protects the religious liberty of individuals—of all faiths and no faith—and to oppose public policies that impose one religious viewpoint on all.

A sampling of the bishops’ falsehoods reveals what their campaign is really about.

The only Catholic position is to reject any attempt by the government to require contraception coverage.

Contraception is to Catholics what apple pie is to Americans. Catholics support and use contraception:

Ninety-eight percent of sexually experienced women of child-bearing age who identify themselves as Catholic have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives.

Two-thirds of Catholics (65 percent) believe that clinics and hospitals that take taxpayer money should not be allowed to refuse to provide procedures or medications based on religious beliefs. A similar number,63 percent, also believes that health insurance, whether private or government-run, should cover contraception.

Catholics overall believe that most employers SHOULD BE required to provide their employees with healthcare plans that cover contraception at no cost. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Catholics say that publicly owned corporations should be held to this requirement.


Politicians, decision makers and public health experts have a duty to support the bishops’ agenda to discriminate against LGBT people and women.

The bishops’ vision of religious freedom would allow them to discriminate against LGBT people who want to adopt or expect equality in the workplace, as well as against women who desire access to birth control.

The Catholic social justice tradition respects the dignity of all people. Discrimination against any person because of their gender, whom they love, whom they work for or if they work at all has no place in a society committed to the common good.

What is at stake is not contraception, but religious liberty, which the bishops are fighting to uphold for all Americans.

The debate is about both religious liberty and contraception, but the bishops’ end goal is clear: having failed to convince Catholics in the pews to follow their ban on contraception, they are attempting to eliminate all access for all people.

No group or individual holds the trademark on religious freedom, so the public should approach the bishops’ attempt to co-opt foundational American values as their own with one simple piece of advice in mind: caveat emptor, or buyer beware.