Surprise! The New York Times Despises the Catholic Church!

I am thinking about quitting the New York Times. Ever since I took my present job six years ago I have been frequenting the website of what is generally regarded as the leading paper of record in the United States and, frankly, I find it sadly predictable. A Times headline on any topic that matters to me — whether women, the family or religion — gives me about the same sense of anticipation as a scoop from China (The People’s) Daily.

For weeks now I have been getting alerts from the Times on the subject of birth control. Over 40 of them have dropped into my box since December (thanks for that, NYT), the majority of them reporting or commenting on the now infamous White House decree that all insurance plans must fully cover birth control (including abortifacients) regardless of conscientious objection on the part of certain employers — chiefly, Catholic-affiliated hospitals, schools and other institutions.

Birth control, you must know, is one of the Gray Lady’s sacred cows – perhaps the most revered of them all. It is allowed to wander at will through the establishment, attended by acolytes from Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute, rudely bumping into such moderate columnists as David Brooks and Ross Douthat on its way to the friendly offices of Nicholas Kristoff, Gail Collins, Maureen Dowd and a seeming host of others. Ms Dowd, by the way, is one of those writers highly prized by the Times — a dissident (or is it ex-?) Catholic.

Which brings me to the proximate cause of this article: the full-page advertisement run by the Times in its March 9 issue (front section, page 10) and headed, “It’s Time To Consider Quitting the Catholic Church”. The ad, placed by a group called Freedom From Religion Foundation, takes the form of an open letter “to liberal and nominal Catholics” setting out reasons why they should exit the church “en Mass” (ha ha) for the sake of women’s reproductive freedom. It is decorated with a cartoon showing a big-mouthed bishop, a pill and a brassed-off woman.

The message is that those Catholics who don’t agree with their church about birth control (and, gosh, Guttmacher reckons that’s 98 per cent of the women) gay rights (including marriage), and embryonic stem-cell research — are propping up a benighted, ruthless, dishonest, anti-democratic institution when they should be fighting against it — by, for example, joining FFRF. “You are better than your church, so why stay?”

The text of the ad is a more succinct, and slightly more cautious, version of the original on the FFRF website, no doubt the result of judicious editing by the Times. The headline advises Catholics to “consider quitting” where the original just tells them to quit. A tasteless reference to a Catholic doctrine is omitted, and Thomas Paine is quoted in support of shucking off the church instead of Bertrand Russell (who probably means nothing to most Americans, even to Times readers) although the latter is quoted indirectly on the necessity of freeing oneself “from ideas uttered long ago by ignorant men, from blind obedience to an illusory religious authority”. A Times trademark appears in the addition of “overpopulation” to the miseries the church wants to inflict on the world.

What remains, however, is quite intemperate enough. It presses all the buttons of popular prejudice with references to “the Dark Ages”, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and — the Times’ own favourite issue — the sex abuse scandal, “involving preying priests, church complicity, collusion and coverup going all the way to the top”. The paper has never given up its goal of pinning responsibility on the Pope.

So it’s pretty nasty stuff, the sort of thing a respectable newspaper would not publish under its own aegis, although some columns in the Times have come near it. However, it sounds very like what the editors might have wanted to say, in which case the ad would have seemed the perfect solution. All care (from the legal department), no responsibility.

(The times would not, however, take the risk of publishing a copycat ad from the Stop Islamization of America group, even with the price tag of $39,000 dangling before it. At least, not yet, according to a letter from the paper quoted by Fox News. Afghanistan, you know…)

So the ad is nasty, yes, but also a rather desperate move on the part of folks who see that the Catholic Church has found its backbone over this issue and that all the huffing and puffing from the birth control establishment, all the Times editorials and columns, all the dissident Catholics paraded in front of the media, are not gaining them any ground. I just checked the FFRF website and I did not see it boasting any sign-ups from ex-Catholics over the past week, or a sudden surge in demand for “debaptism” certificates. In fact, their campaign could have just the opposite effect. People have all sorts of gripes against their mother — until someone else starts insulting her; then they remember whose child they are.

As for me, the New York Times was never my home, just a place to find out what was going down in Manhattan and the select postcodes of the north-eastern United States, so it would not be difficult to quit. I was never a true believer. Heck, I still only read within the free quota of articles — there’s no way I am going to subscribe.

It does seem a shame to give up on an institution that has lasted so long and served the public quite well at times — a bit like the Catholic Church. But then, by using their website I am boosting their hit rate and helping to prop up a business that seems bent on attacking the things I most value. Like those “nominal” and “liberal” Catholics whom the FFRF thinks still go to church.

So I’m thinking seriously about quitting. I might even find it a liberation — there are so many good things out there to read.

Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet.

Carolyn Moynihan


Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet.

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  • Het

    that’s a very smart ad, I would say. Although I am sure the majority of so-called Catholics have already in effect quit the church by rejecting the teaching so of the Church. True followers are so few, I’m still to meet one

  • Nicstevens

    Why would any God loving person read the NYT? 

  • Joel 
    listen to this excellent speech at Notre Dame

  • Denise

    Subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. No longer just business news and has come out in defense of Catholic Church multiple times.

    You are not actually getting “news” from the NYT. You are getting leftist, agenda driven, slanted coverage. It’s a waste of money.

  • Dan

     It’s difficult in such a small place as this to respond to the raft of inaccuracies and misstatements and common biases shared as facts in this talk.

  • Dan

     I am surrounded, thankfully, with faithful Catholics who do not reject Church teaching – not sure where you are from, but quite easy to meet with many. I will admit, however, that the faithful are fewer than previous times due in no small part to the radical secularization of the culture.

  • Dan

     I would say, so as to understand the secular culture. It is a window on our current environment and one that allows us to engage in dialogue in a more knowledgeable way.  We can’t just wall ourselves off in a Catholic ghetto, but rather must engage the culture with thoughtful response.

  • SHGray

    “It is a window on our current environment…”
    Holy cow, we can’t get away from all the windows on our current environment:  TV, teachers with agendas, the news media in general, the meth house down the street, the neighbor’s daughter who was kidnapped, the rising prices of everything.  Some days, I’d give anything to wall myself off in a Catholic ghetto.

  • Matt B

    Het, they say that the souls in hell emit a terrible noxious odor.  So if you’re not meeting any “real Catholics,” it’s probably because you’re repelling them.  Similarly, Catholics are leaving the rabble of “civil society” faster than elves departing middle earth.  Look for us to disappear completely one day.  Then your smugness will be complete!

  • Aeyler

    You call that excellent?

  • Aeyler

    Some might refer to us as the Silent Majority.

  • AnnaMarie53

    When I read of things like the NYT “ad” it makes me aware the Devil is alive and very busy.  After all, he has plenty of acolytes these days.  The vitriol of printed trash like this sickens me to my core, but I assure those in doubt there are plenty of us seriously committed Catholics out there…me, for one.  My faith is the most important thing in my life, and while I am very, very far from perfect, I am why all of us imperfect, but loyal Catholics are called “practicing” Catholics.  I look forward to meeting my Lord Jesus when I die so I can finally get it perfect.  Until then, I will include all these sad, angry, hate-filled types in my prayers.

  • Milo

    The Florida Times Union (Jacksonville) ran a horribly derogatory cartoon a few weeks ago touting a Catholic Bishop (in vestments) as a wine slugger in a bar – downing his drinks from chalices.  I promptly called the subscription office and cancelled, after almost 30 years of receiving home delivery.  Yes, it is liberating.  There are many other sources for news.

  • Laurabrady

    Love this article.

  • The NYT has become nothing better than “yellow journalism.” Correct that, it’s not even worth using to line a cage.

  • Rjs223

    Do a little research.  There are more Catholics in this world than any other Christian religion.

  •  haha, laughable…simply. Misconceptions after misconceptions..when the left blasted the Catholic Church on the sexual abuse, it concluded it was pedophilia- not homosexuality- and proposed laws to help kids, but when the bishops says to include secular- institutions-…whuh?…the legislations went away- why?..because leftist unions wanted to protect their teachers- a hundred fold more abuses than the liberal homosexual priests. 

  • Richard III

    Hi there, I ain’t a saint, but I believe in God, the Father Almighty….