The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) is known for creating a stir, particularly among people of faith — a cohort the group so regularly targets. In recent months, the atheist non-profit has set its sights primarily on Catholics, first running a New York Times ad that read, “It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church.” Now, the FFRF has released a new television spot slamming what co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor calls the “Catholic Bishops’ war against contraception.”
Coincidentally, the 30-second ad, which features former “Saturday Night Live” actress and comedian Julia Sweeney (she played the popular character “Pat”), will run from June 21 through July 4. Interestingly, this is the same time frame during which the Catholic Church’s “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign is going on (yes, an intentional action on the part of the atheists).
On the FFRF web site yesterday, Gaylor praised the ad’s placement throughout mainstream and cable media:
The 30-second spot featuring personable Julia Sweeney is running approximately 1,200 times over a two-week period on a variety of national TV — but in regional markets. Those who may view the ads have the following TV or cable carriers: Dish, DirecTV, Cox, Comcast, Verizon and Viamedia.
We’re getting a lot of phone calls at the FFRF office in response. Some callers are giving our female receptionists a hard time, making unprintable comments. But others are our kind of folks, such as a grandmother in Pennsylvania who said she was raised Catholic but is “98 percent atheist,” and is disgusted by the Catholic Church’s attempt, as she put it, to “put canon law over civil law.”
A kind man living in a remote area of North Carolina caught us on MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews. Another North Carolinian called after seeing Julia’s spot on a rerun of the The Daily Show and said people have forgotten the need for a strict separation between state and church. I couldn’t help replying: “It might sound strange for an atheist to say this, but hallelujah, brother.” He laughed and said, “Amen, sister.”
In the clip, Sweeney makes it clear that she’s left the Catholic Church behind and that she doesn’t appreciate the Bishops’ treatment of the contraceptive issue.
“I’m a cultural Catholic. I’m no longer a believer…but I wanted you to know that, right now, Catholic Bishops are framing their opposition to contraceptive coverage as a religions freedom issue,” Sweeney proclaims.
“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,” she continues.
Watch the controversial ad featuring Sweeney, below:
The ad will reach 42 million viewers, according to Gaylor (a full list of the shows it will appear during and air times can be found here).