For Immediate Release
Joe Conn, Rob Boston or Simon Brown
Catholic Hierarchy's 'Fortnight for Freedom' Campaign is Thoroughly Misguided, Says Americans United
Bishops Want To Keep Massive Taxpayer Funding While Refusing To Comply With Basic Civil Rights And Civil Liberties, Says AU’s Lynn
WASHINGTON - The Catholic bishops’ new “religious liberty” campaign jeopardizes the rights of all Americans, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
In a statement issued today, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called on every diocese in the country to engage in a “Fortnight for Freedom” during the two weeks leading up to the Fourth of July. Parishioners will be asked to study, pray and take action about alleged infringements on religious liberty.
First on the list of topics is the Obama administration’s effort to ensure that all American women have access to birth control through their health insurance plans.
Another topic is government defunding of church-affiliated agencies that refuse to comply with public policy mandates. The bishops’ statement complains that Catholic agencies have been denied government funding because they refused to provide adoption services to gay couples or reproductive health care to women who are victims of sex trafficking.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said, “The bishops’ campaign is thoroughly misguided. What they want is massive taxpayer funding of their ministries without complying with the fairness rules that everybody else observes. Maybe their two-week venture should be called a ‘Fortnight for Taxpayer Funding.’
“The bishops want to maintain their privileged status,” Lynn continued, “even if it means that other Americans’ freedoms are infringed. It is imperative that President Obama and Congress refuse to cave in to this outrageous assault on church-state separation.”
Lynn said the bishops’ religious liberty isn’t in danger but the freedom of other Americans is.
“When taxpayers are forced to support sectarian agencies that refuse to meet the needs of women, gay people and other communities,” concluded Lynn, “that’s a real violation of religious liberty. Public funds should go only to agencies that serve the public interest. If the bishops want to run sectarian social services, they ought to collect the money from their parishioners, not the taxpayers.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.