New York Times advertisement, deemed anti-Catholic, sparks indignation

(Photo: REUTERS / Lucas Jackson)New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (L) laughs with Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan following a meeting at the Cardinal's residence in the Manhattan borough of New York, January 13, 2014.

An advertisement that says dogma should not trump civil liberties, deemed anti-Catholic, placed in The New York Times' July 3 edition has drawn criticism from Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

The atheist Freedom From Religion Foundation criticized the U.S. Supreme Court June 30 ruling protecting Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties from the Department of Health and Human Services mandate on contraception.

The mandate requires businesses and non-profit organizations to provide free abortion-inducing contraceptives to their employees.

Hobby Lobby is a craft store giant owned by a Protestant family and Conestoga Wood Specialties is owned by a Mennonite family.

Both employers objected that they could not provide some of the required drugs without violating their religious beliefs, the Catholic News agency reported.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation ad labeled five Supreme Court justices - Justices Roberts, Scalia, Alito, Kennedy and Thomas - as ultra-conservative Catholics.

It also branded their decision as an exercise of tyranny and not an "exercise of religion."


Meanwhile, one remaining Catholic justice, Sonia Sotomayor, sided with the administration of President Barack Obama administration, as did the court's three Jewish justices.

Cardinal Dolan of New York criticized the ad and said that it is part of a long history of anti-Catholic bigotry in the United States.

He said that bigotry against Catholics is, as Professor Philip Jenkins of Baylor University stated, "America's dirty little secret."

"In keeping with a long, shadowy, legacy of antipathy, justices who happen to be Catholics... are branded and bullied by a group who only succeed in providing the latest example of a prejudice that has haunted us for centuries," Dolan said in a July 3 column for Catholic New York.

He noted that added that the Freedom From Religion Foundation ad did not provide a "robust examination" of the decision in a way that attacked ideas and viewpoints.

He asserted the foundations may be aware that its religious arguments fall flat that's why the ad attacked personalities, instead.

In 2012, the same foundation placed a full-page ad in The New York Times urging Catholics to "quit" their church.

The ad featured a cartoon by Steve Benson depicting an angry bishop, with a woman next to a birth control pill telling him: "All the outrage over something this small is a bit hard to swallow."

It noted that The New York Times allowed the Freedom from Religion Foundation to buy the ad. In 2012, it didn't allow anti-Muslim activists to buy ad space.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation says it is for "atheists, agnostics, and other skeptics."

Its honorary board includes famous non-believers like Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, comedian Julia Sweeney, presidential son Ron Reagan, and Oliver Sacks

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