While America’s Catholic bishops are promoting a “Fortnight of Freedom” to combat Democrat President Barack Obama’s health insurance mandates, a group of nuns are on a multi-state bus tour to oppose Republican budget-cut policies.
The “Nuns on the Bus” are focusing on budget cuts proposed by House of Representatives budget committee chair Paul Ryan, a Catholic who has in the past expressed enthusiasm for the views of libertarian author Ayn Rand.
The nuns, a rotating crew of 14 sisters sponsored by the Catholic social justice lobby group Network, say Ryan’s plans to cut spending on Medicaid and the Childrens Health Insurance Program would harm “people who are already suffering”.
In their big, colourful bus, the nuns are attracting rock-band attention, with video crews from CNN, PBS, CBS and documentary makers following their path.
Since the bus tour dates overlap the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Fortnight of Freedom”, some observers suggest the nuns aim to divert attention from the bishops’ campaign.
This campaign, targeted mainly at President Obama’s decision requiring most employers to provide health insurance that includes birth control, has been organised around liturgical feasts for martyred defenders of the faith.
It includes prayer vigils, rallies and other events to draw attention to what the bishops see as government attacks on religious freedom.
Independent advocacy groups such as CatholicVote.org and Women Speak For Themselves, have joined the effort with TV ads, videos, Facebook appeals and petition drives.