At March for Life, The Catholic Association Discusses HHS Mandate and Engaging the Next Generation
The March for Life, which occurred last Friday, may be over, but this front in America's culture war is far from over. EWTN estimated that 500,000 marchers arrived in Washington to voice their support for life, especially as 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. The passing of Obamacare and the HHS mandate has also animated social conservatives, who vociferously oppose the federal mandate on health providers and business owners to provide contraception.
The number of young people of were impossible to ignore, especially young women, which makes me suspect that a lot of pro-abortionists have never seen a pro-life rally – ever. I was able to speak with Maureen Ferguson, wife of ex-Congressman Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), who is the Senior Policy Advisor for The Catholic Association. When I asked her about the HHS Mandate, she said:
The Church has about 43 different lawsuits filed, and there have been favorable opinions coming down from many of them. There are also a lot of private businesses that are fighting; in particular the most noteworthy is the Hobby Lobby case, in which they’re facing fines of $1.3 million a day. And they’re standing firm and refusing to comply. We don’t know how that’s going to play out now. They’re looking at their plan year, and trying to avoid the fines for as long as they can, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor declined to hear their emergency appeal, so we’re watching these lawsuits closely. As I said, there’s over 100 of them, and they’re a combination of religiously affiliated charities, schools, hospitals – that are facing this August 1st deadline – and deciding now how to deal with this issue, as they get their plans ready for the next year. And then there’s a whole category of private business lawsuits.
When asked if The Catholic Associatuon was working with the Catholic League, which defends the rights of Catholics in America, Ferguson added:
They [The Catholic League] do a lot of great work. We don’t necessarily coordinate with them. They have a different niche, but they do a lot of great work – the Beckett Fund for religious freedom. They have a great team of lawyers, who are spearheading a lot of these cases. Alliance Defending Freedom also has an army of lawyers working on this – so we’re not lawyers – our purpose is to be a voice for faithful Catholics and the public square doing what we can to support the bishops as laypeople.
However, outreach is a huge project conservative Catholics. Roughly half of the Catholics in the United States voted for President Obama in 2012, and it seems the conservative movement – as a whole – is lost in the wilderness in this area of communication. This issue overlaps with Hispanic outreach since they're a community that skews conservative on social issues – but voted overwhelmingly for President Obama. Dr. Grazie Christie, who accompanied Ms. Ferguson, is an Advisory Board member for The Catholic Association said that, "culturally, the Hispanic community is pro-life and pro-family – and that’s a huge part of our life – our everyday life. And it is a struggle. It’s a struggle to get that across."
So, how does The Catholic Association get their message across? What forms of social media are the utilizing to engage the next generation of Catholics? Ferguson said:
I would say Facebook and Twitter – we have a twenty-something odd staff that handles all that – I’m a little too old to handle all that, but yeah I would say Facebook and Twitter. And you know, obviously, we support the bishops, the Holy Father – and the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, was just talking about this issue – that we need to make use of social media for the good because he said, it’s not just the virtual world, this is the real world we’re living in, and we have to communicate, especially to young people using social media.
Given that ABC, NBC, and CBS devoted two-and-a-half hours on the Manti Te'o fiasco and just seventeen seconds to March for Life, conservative Catholics need to continue engaging the youth if they're to gain the edge in this fight for life.