Last Friday, at Madison’s Stand Up For Religious Freedom rally, I snapped a photo of a friend, Joe Leone, a Madison attorney, who was one of the speakers at the rally. He was holding his beautiful baby girl Lucia, and beaming like the proud Catholic father that he is, which is what prompted me to take the picture. The epitome of love; parent and child. Both dressed so beautifully for the Religious Freedom Rally!
However, in reviewing my photos, I was at first disappointed to see that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) demonstrators (who could not bear to tolerate free speech and showed up to disrupt our rally) had snuck up behind Joe and purposely thrust their signs into our photo. One of them even seemed to be gloating over his shoulder, directly behind him (click on picture to enlarge), proud that she had intrusively thrust her poster, which supported the Contraceptive Mandate, into my photo.
And then it struck me-this was actually the most striking and beautiful picture I had taken. Aside from the beautiful father-daughter shot, I had inadvertently captured an image epitomizing the cultural war with which we are wrestling in 2012:
- Christianity versus “Freedom From Religion”
- Life versus Death
- Charity (Love) versus Self-absorption.
- The irony of FFRF’s lack of realization that they would be unable to demonstrate here today if they themselves had been aborted.
Further examination of the photo brought up even more unexpected symbols; one of the national leaders of secularism was in the photo– Annie Laurie Gaylor, a co-President and founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison (black T-shirt, white pants, arms raised). Behind her, a figure which might be her mother (white shirt); co-founder of FFRF and extreme abortion advocate (proud of assisting 18, 986 women to get abortions). Two generations of women who want to kill their babies. Lucky for Annie, she made it through unaborted.
So here we have a Catholic father of seven beautiful children, who appreciates and loves God’s gift of life to us so much that he adopts children whose parents were unable to raise them, contrasted with those who resent the gift of life, who abort, and who militantly demand that everyone else in our nation also help to wipe out Christian teaching and promote widespread abortion. The gloating young woman with the contraceptive mandate sign would like to force my friend, the attorney, who is in front of her, to pay for other people’s abortions, sterilizations and contraception (i.e. for the destruction of babies as precious as the one he is holding).
The sweet beautiful little Lucia, most likely to have been aborted if FFRF had had any say , now safe in the arms of a beaming loving Catholic father, safe from those who want to kill religion, to kill their own children, and who pursue the killing of babies so fanatically that they have to come to our rally to interfere with our freedom of speech and our freedom of belief.
An extremely compelling 2012 illustration of the battle between God and Satan, with human life in the balance.
Photo of the Year
If it were up to me, this photo would make the Photo of the Year. But, of course, the mainstream media does not take marching orders from me. Not happening. Incidentally, I’m not bragging; this photo was not planned, it was fortuitous. It is only by God’s grace that the image was captured. And the image is not unique; the same story is lived out in the daily lives of millions who love, who defend life, who sacrifice, and who radiate the joy that this Christian lifestyle brings.
Thank you so much to my friend Joe Leone, the attorney, for providing such a beautiful example of light, love and of hope, on a beautiful day, at a beautiful rally.
More ‘Interesting’ Opponents
Present at the rally also, was another infamous member of FFRF, Dan Barker the other co-President of FFRF and husband of Annie Laurie Gaylor. A man whose chosen work in life is to crusade around America finding public expressions of Christianity which his organization can sue. Not a very courageous man, nor a very courageous organization; suing primarily small communities who cannot afford the litigation costs to fight FFRF, and too timid to tackle Islam. FFRF seems to focus primarily on Catholicism (note their signs in the photo opposing Catholic Bishops), then secondarily to focus on Christianity in general. Quite a contradiction to their claimed mission of fighting all public expressions of religion!
And what was Dan Barker doing at the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally? He was shouting rude things at children. He was shouting at them to beware of their priests. And when the children knelt to pray, he was shouting at them to beware when they kneel down around priests. An obvious reference to priest scandals, which hopefully the children did not understand, but a warning, nonetheless, against being harmed by their trusted priests. And no, he was not shouting at all of the rally attendees, he specifically addressed himself, more than once, to kids – “Kids, watch out…”
If this does not paint a sufficiently shocking picture of unprofessionalism and intentional scandalization of children to you, try imagining me going to a Madison Public middle school playground and shouting at children through the fence to beware of their gym coaches and their teachers, particularly in the locker room, because I read that Jerry Sandusky committed some unspeakable crimes in Pennsylvania. Dan Barker seems to have lost all reason and all professionalism. When he attacks Catholics, he is Barking up the wrong tree.
Incidentally, this accusation is even more unfair because the Catholic Church has actually had the lowest incidence of child abuse of any societal organization. Children are at higher risk of sexual abuse in their own homes and in the public schools, and, statistically speaking, they are at more risk of sexual abuse from any random man in the street, than they are from Catholic priests. And why is Dan Barker not shouting warnings at children through Madison public school playground fences? Why is he not shouting warnings at children whom he sees with their parents? Answer: he’s probably only interested in bashing Catholicism, not any other, larger, source of potential child abuse.
People like Dan Barker and FFRF fail to recognize the essential role played by Catholic priests in our society. Their role is essential to the spiritual well-being of 25% of U.S. Citizens, and of 1 billion Catholics worldwide. Catholics operate more service organizations, hospitals, schools, and adoption agencies than any other group. They operate institutions like the Multicultural Center in Madison. Think about the Multicultural Center; the Diocese of Madison (run by Bishop and priests), with an annual budget of about 4 million dollars can provide this service to the poor. A service that the City of Madison, with an annual budget of $500 million (including schools), does not seem able or interested in supplying. Priests give up a family life of their own to serve the families of others. And even though there are a few bad apples among them, as there are in any group of human beings, there are fewer bad apples among priests than anywhere else. This is what Dan Barker and FFRF appear to hate.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)
Here are some little-known facts about FFRF:
- FFRF is quite small- it has a staff of four and an annual income of about $500,000.
- Catholic-bashing seems to be a favorite pastime of FFRF. In fact, their attempted interference in the activities of Catholic students in Madison at UW Madison is what brought them to my blog’s attention first.
- FFRF appears to be somewhat cowardly. They shy away from pursuing Islam in the same way they pursue Catholics and other Christians.
- FFRF is not representative of most atheists. Their membership constitutes approximately 0.1 of 1% of atheists in America, or only 1 out of 1,000 atheists. Most atheists are not radical, nor intolerant. Most atheists are happy to leave religious people alone, and they are happy to be beneficiaries of the services that religious people provide to society. Most atheists do not spend their time pursuing and harassing others or trying to drown out their freedom of speech. Most atheists are even willing to participate in the more secular aspects of celebrating religious holidays like Christmas. In other words, most atheists are tolerant.
Did the Whole FFRF Organization show up at the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally?
It appears that practically the entire FFRF organization may have shown up at our Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally. There were at least ten in their group, including Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker, co-Presidents, for sure. Other FFRF members are less visible, but the young man I spoke with (actually, tried to speak with, but he kept interrupting me rudely and trying to put words in my mouth, so rational discussion was impossible) was probably Andrew Seidel, a new attorney who apparently joined FFRF very recently as a constitutional consultant. If I’m not mistaken, he’s the one in the green shirt. Green shirt’s was one of the particularly rude signs that FFRF brought to the Religious Freedom Rally (click on photo for larger image). The lady in the pink blouse is probably Katie Daniel, FFRF’s accountant, who is cited on FFRF’s website as one of their few religious members, a “practicing Wiivangelical.” Not sure whether this is her snarky reference to avid playing of Wii, or a reference to Wicca, a pagan religion which FFRF appears to favor. Although illogical, this is not too surprising, since FFRF’s Christmas plaque refers to celebrating Winter Solstice, an ironic promotion of an alternate religion by FFRF, an organization which claims to oppose public expression of religion, and which prides themselves on their “REASON.”
Why Did FFRF show up at the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally?
- Was FFRF in attendance to support Religious Freedom and the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally?
- Was FFRF in attendance to recruit for their organization? Among the most faithful of Catholics?
- Was FFRF in attendance to get into the news and attract attention? (Bad move, Madison’s liberal media did not cover the event; nor did national ABC, CBS, or NBC cover any of the 158 Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rallies in 158 cities across the United States, in which over 60,000 people participated.)
- Was FFRF in attendance to harass religious Americans?
- Was FFRF in attendance because they enjoy harassing children?
You decide why FFRF turned out in such force (all 10 of them) at Madison’s Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally. The only thing that was clear was that FFRF came to interfere with the freedom of speech of religious Americans.
More Examples of Apparent Hatefulness and Unprofessionalism from FFRF
- Opposing the rebuilding of Madison’s Catholic Student Center with private funds on private property.
- Mocking the Nativity at Christmas
- Mocking the Catholic Church publicly in newspaper ads while pretending to recruit.
Aside: FFRF’s recruiting efforts would be better spent on the 99.9% of atheists who do not belong to FFRF, instead of pretending to target Catholics for membership. They appear to be in dire need of fundamental marketing advice: recruiting among your opposition is not likely to be productive, nor cost-effective.
This FFRF gaggle’s rude and unprofessional behavior at the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally last week typifies the behavior of Madison’s radicals; socialists who disrupt Pro-life rallies and require police interference, unions which occupy Madison’s Capitol Square, radicals who attempt to recall democratically elected officials and collect Mickey Mouse signatures, and radical atheists who harass children at religious freedom rallies.
Observation of these Madison radicals in action during the past year has clarified something for me; that fanatical insistence on one’s own rectitude is less a mark of those who are religious and more a mark of the secular; the secular who reach within themselves to find ultimate wisdom and ultimate authority.
Those who are religious seem better able to accept defeat, turning problems which overwhelm them over to God in prayer. The secularists, however, have nowhere left to turn when they are defeated, having exhausted their own meager resources. The secularists despair, begin to wallow in the hopelessness of their own inability to order the world, and turn to irrational behavior.
Their fanatically driven self-assertion leaves no room for considering the thoughts of others, for reason, for justice, for fairness, or for democratic rule.
Photos and News on Madison’s and 157 Other Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rallies
Slideshow of Madison’s Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally photos, and Links to news on the 158 rallies held across America, will be coming soon. Check back.
Meanwhile, if you’re on facebook, Tom Reitz has some awesome Madison photos posted there.