Catholic League president Dr. William A. Donohue announced today the beginning of a New York subway ad campaign that challenges the accepted wisdom on condoms. Responding to subway ads this past winter of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Dr. Donohue emphasized that the Catholic League’s ad seeks to change the nature of the debate about the utility of condoms. The Gay Men’s Health Crisis featured ads that showed persons of the same sex kissing each other while holding condoms. The inscription on the ad read “Young, Hot, Safe!”; some showed pictures of dental dams as well as condoms. The Catholic League’s ad, on the other hand, reads as follows:

Want To Know a Dirty Little Secret?
But Restraint Does.
Only fools think condoms are foolproof.
Remember, better safe than sorry.

The MTA has approved the ads and all 2500 of them (llx28) are scheduled for installation June 1st. Dr. Donohue offered a statement on the ads today:

“The purpose of these ads is to directly challenge the irresponsible message of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis ads. The problems of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases will not be solved by gadgets and devices. The root cause of illegitimacy and AIDS (at least in most instances) is moral irresponsibility. Therefore any resolution of these problems must first and foremost address the moral dimension. It cannot be said too often that values govern behavior. What young people need to be taught is abstinence. There is something terribly perverse about a society that tells young people to abstain from smoking but doesn’t have the moral courage to tell them to abstain from sex.

“The Catholic League hopes that these ads trigger a debate on the wisdom of condom distribution. We expect support from all quarters, non-Catholic as well as Catholic. Furthermore, if there is one form of abstinence that we reject quite vigorously it is the suggestion that Catholics should abstain from engaging in public dialogue about moral issues. Catholics have as much right to speak to moral issues as anyone else and we will not be intimidated, much less silenced, by the bigots who think otherwise.”

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization. It defends the right of Catholics—lay an clergy alike—to participate in American life without defamation or discrimination.

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