Leaked e-mail shows media campaign against US bishops
A leaked e-mail shows that the Democratic-leaning organization Faith in Public Life is running a behind-the-scenes media effort to undercut the U.S. bishops and the “Fortnight for Freedom” events intended to rally opposition to the HHS mandate.
Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, released the e-mail detailing the campaign on June 18. He said a copy of the e-mail had been leaked to him.
Donohue said “fair minded persons” may disagree with the religious freedom effort “but there is something unseemly going on when those who work for a George Soros-funded group are quietly providing talking points to the media.”
The June 7 e-mail from John Gehring, Faith in Public Life’s Catholic Program Director, is addressed to reporters, editors and columnists. It describes itself as a “backgrounder” and contains talking points, adversarial questions for Catholic bishops and recommendations of experts to interview.
It appears aimed at shaping a narrative skeptical towards Catholic objections to a Department of Health and Human Services mandate that requires employers, including many Catholic institutions, to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.
“Are you willing to sacrifice Catholic charities, colleges and hospitals if you don’t get your way on the contraceptive mandate?” reads one proposed question for a bishop.
“Are you willing to drop all health insurance for your employees?” reads another.
The e-mail encouraged journalists to “ask critical questions” about the bishops’ “sweeping claims” in light of a “charged political backdrop” ahead of the 2012 election. It noted that both the June 8 “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rallies and the June 21-July 4 “Fortnight for Freedom” campaign include Catholic dioceses.
CNA sought comment multiple times from Gehring and Faith in Public Life but did not receive a response. [More]