Occupy the Pews

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=birth+control+pills&search_group=&orient=&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&commercial_ok=&color=&show_color_wheel=1#id=161026&src=587a3399e1128c667140390d26b0ba2c-1-99">Christy Thompson</a>/Shutterstock


It looks like it’s going to be a long hot summer. The Christian News Service reports:

Having organized 43 plaintiffs—including the archdioceses of New York and Washington and the University of Notre Dame—to file 12 different lawsuits against the Obama administration last Monday alleging the administration is violating the religious freedom of Catholics, the Catholic bishops of the United States are now preparing Catholics for what may be the most massive campaign of civil disobedience in this country since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and early 1960s.

“Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified,” the bishops state in a document developed to be inserted into church bulletins in Catholic parishes around the country in June…

The bulletin insert reminds Catholic parishioners that the bishops have called for “A Fortnight of Freedom”—which they have described as “a special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action”—to take place from June 21 to July 4.

In case you’re wondering, Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches has been covering the “Fortnight for Freedom” for a while. (I’m still wondering if anyone in America will understand what a fortnight is…) They may be disappointed in the turn out, however. While I’m sure there are plenty of conservative Catholics who will join the cause, it’s not a majority opinion among the flock:

Catholics overall are generally more supportive than the general public of the contraception coverage requirements. Nearly two-thirds (65%) say that publicly held corporations should be held to this requirement. Roughly 6-in-10 report that religiously affiliated social service agencies, colleges, hospitals, and privately owned small businesses should be required to provide health care plans that cover contraception. Less than half (47%) say churches and other places of worship should be required to provide this coverage.

White Catholics make few distinctions between churches and other religiously affiliated employers. Less than half of white Catholics believe that churches (43%), religiously affiliated colleges (43%), social service agencies (44%), and hospitals (48%) should be required to include contraception coverage in their insurance plans. However, a majority of white Catholics believe that non-religiously affiliated employers, including privately owned small businesses (55%) and public corporations (61%), should be required to provide employees with contraception coverage.

They may be able to muster a campaign of civil disobedience with the help of evangelical protestants but the problem is that the Catholic Church is the church that employs large numbers of people in non-church institutions. On the other hand, they signaled some time back that they were going to enlist like-minded private employers in their fight (a signal that Roy Blunt heard loud and clear when he filed his Amendment allowing a “conscience” opt-out in the name of religious freedom.)

It remains to be seen if this will turn into massive civil disobedience. And it’s hard to know exactly how they define such a thing. But it certainly sounds as if it’s something beyond employers refusing to comply with the Obamacare rules. I can hardly wait to see what they have in mind.

Heather Digby Parton is guest blogging this week while Kevin Drum is on vacation.

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