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Julia Sweeney

The former “Saturday Night Live” star famous for playing the ambiguously androgynous “Pat” character has created a TV commercial painting Catholic bishops as “the real threat to freedom” in the nation’s ongoing debate over mandated health-care contraception coverage.

Julia Sweeney, in partnership with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or FFRF, as part of the organization’s “Quit the Church” campaign, has created a TV ad called “Stand Up to Catholic Bishops” for engaging in what she describes as attempting “to force their dogma on people who don’t want it.”

Many American Catholics, lead by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, have argued the Obama administration’s decision to require employers – regardless of religious objection – to pay for their employees’ contraception coverage is an attack on conscience and religious liberty.

But FFRF has called this stance “posturing” and an “inquisition,” blasting the bishops for backing legislation that would permit employers to refuse to offer contraception-providing health-care coverage on religious grounds.

“The Freedom From Religion Foundation is storming the ‘Bishops’ Bastille’ in an unprecedented TV ad campaign to counter the Roman Catholic Church’s inquisition against contraceptive insurance coverage,” declares an FFRF statement about the ad. “FFRF produced the TV commercial in direct response to the Catholic Bishops’ posturing as victims of religious persecution, while intent on limiting women employees’ access to contraception.”

The advertisement states, “Hi, I’m Julia Sweeney, and I’m a cultural Catholic. I am no longer a believer, and I even wrote a play about it called ‘Letting Go of God.’ But I wanted to let you know that right now Catholic bishops are framing their opposition to contraceptive coverage as a religious freedom issue. 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. Please join the Freedom From Religion Foundation and help keep church and state separate.”

The ad itself can be seen below:

The FFRF boasts the 30-second ad is running approximately 1,200 times over a two-week period, and says it’s been placed with “a heady mix of national and cable shows airing from early in the morning through midnight, including MSNBC’s ‘The Ed Show,’ CNN offerings such as Anderson Cooper, MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ and ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews,’ shows on History, and even Lifetime Movies.”

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