Produced by a Florida-based organization, a video calling on Catholics to vote against politicians favoring same-sex marriage, abortion, and euthanasia is going viral on YouTube. With over 1.5 million hits, ‘Test of Fire’ depicts a blacksmith in a darkened workshop pounding out on a forge the words ‘jobs,’ ‘taxes,’ and ‘energy,’ as haunting vocals and symphonic music provide a background.
The video tells viewers that some issues, such as the above, are negotiable even while others are not. “Many issues are at stake,” the video declare, “but some are not negotiable.” Among these are the defense of life, "From conception. Until natural death," says the video in a quote from Pope Benedict XVI. “This November,” the video says, “Catholics across the nation will be put to the test,” in reference to the current contest between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Governor Mitt Romney. In the video, a presumably Catholic woman is seen striding to a polling place to cast her ballot on Election Day.
Polling shows that while a majority of Catholics supported Obama’s election campaign, there is now a majority that rejects his administration’s mandate requiring Catholic hospitals and charitable institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraception to employees, even against Catholic teachings. This has been considered a dealbreaker by much of the Catholic hierarchy. As a result, this week some 43 Catholic universities and institutions have filed suit in federal courts to challenge the mandate imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services.
“In generations past, the church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. This generation of Catholics must do the same,” declares the video in an opening graphic. Saying that issues such as jobs and energy require work by America’s citizens, the video asks rhetorically “But what if we labor in vain?’ Referring to Scripture, the video provides an answer from the 127th Psalm “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
Catholic bishops have fought the Obama administration mandate, which would exempt insurance plans provided to employees of houses of worship but would not exempt Catholic institutions that serve non-Catholics such as its hundreds of soup kitchens and other charities across the country. “Forcing the Church to buy insurance that goes against her teachings violates religious freedom,” declares the video, which then quotes New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan “When government tampers with a freedom so fundamental, one shudders to think what will come next.” Echoing the concern on the part of Catholics, just this week the Rabbinical Council of America passed a resolution approving actions by the Catholic Church on this issue while also calling on the Obama administration to “further necessary protections to safeguard the religious rights of all Americans.”
The video was uploaded to YouTube on March 10, and is sponsored by Catholics Called to Witness, a group based in Florida. It was produced by Creative Lab, a West Palm Beach film company that has made other videos for Christian organizations. Catholics Called to Witness is led by Adriana Gonzalez and Dr. Manuel D. Gonzalez, as well as Al Silva.