Newspaper ads urging people to leave church seen having little impact
Published: June 19, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Dialogue generated by full-page newspaper ads placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation is a good thing, said an associate professor of theology. "The very presence of an ad like that is a symbol for one dimension of the situation of Catholicism in American society today," said Tom Beaudoin, associate professor of theology at Fordham University's Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education in New York. The ads, which appeared in the Washington Post, New York Times and USA Today in May and June, encouraged "nominal Catholics" to quit the church. The full-page, in the form of an open letter, cited the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' contraceptive mandate, the Vatican's call for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and church teaching against artificial contraception and same-sex marriage, as reasons to leave. Beaudoin, who studies de-conversion in modern society, said that religion is changing in the United States and people live their religion differently. In his view, "responding to what the ad represents, rather than going point for point with the ad, is a more promising pastoral, theological response," he said. Paul Scolese, president of the John Carroll Society in Washington, said the ads misstated Catholic teaching and the church's stand on religious liberty, but he added that such campaigns were not likely to have an impact or propel a massive movement away from religion. "It was just a medium for this atheist organization to state their position," Scolese told Catholic News Service. "Their numbers are probably small, but they are very vocal."
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