After contraception controversy, Catholic Church announces 'religious freedom' campaign
The American Catholic bishops.
April 12th, 2012
05:25 PM ET

After contraception controversy, Catholic Church announces 'religious freedom' campaign

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The Roman Catholic Church announced a major campaign Thursday aimed at bringing attention to what it said were growing threats to religious liberty in the United States, including the pending White House rule requiring health insurance companies to provide free contraceptive coverage to employees of Catholic organizations.

An official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the initiative would stretch out over the course of a few years and that it would include everything from encouraging priests to address religious liberty concerns in church to sending inserts for church bulletins.

“Religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad,” the American bishops said in a new document titled “Our first, most cherished freedom.”

Compared to other Catholic communications campaigns, “This is bigger in that it’s not a one-time thing, not aiming for a specific Sunday” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the communications director for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “It’s going to be extensive and it’s going to be occurring over a few years.”

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The Catholic bishops say a proposed White House rule connected to the Affordable Care Act requiring health insurers to provide free contraception coverage forces the church to fund an activity it opposes for religious reasons. The White House tweaked an earlier version of the rule that required employers, rather than insurance companies, to pay for contraceptive coverage, mollifying some Catholic groups who objected to Catholic colleges and hospitals having to fund contraception coverage.

But the bishops said the so-called White House compromise didn’t go far enough.

In their Thursday document, the bishops also said that a handful of American states and municipalities have driven Catholic foster care and adoption services out of business because Catholic charities refused to place children with gay couples or unmarried straight couples.

The document also said that the federal government recently revised its contract with the Catholic Church’s Migration and Refugee Services to require it to provide or refer women to contraceptive and abortion services, in violation of Catholic teaching.

“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home,” the bishops said in a Thursday statement. “It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith?”

“This is not a Catholic issue,” the statement said. “This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church

soundoff (2,540 Responses)
  1. chris

    The catholic church continues to put their two cents in. Seems the changing of times have not influenced better thinking on behave of the church. But I personally dont even care, do as you wish.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:15 am |
  2. Phosphorus

    Ten bucks says that half of their smiles are due to the thoughts of young boys hopping up and down on their laps.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:09 am |
    • Phosphorus

      You can tell that some of them are just salivating at the thought of, shall we say, veal instead of beef?

      April 13, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  3. Not An American Issue

    This is not an American issue. It is a Catholic issue! In Judaism, we have no problem with abortion, or with birth control! Yet again the religious are trying to force others to have their morals.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:06 am |
  4. martog

    1. You believe that the pope has personal conversations with God (that nobody else ever hears) and is infallible when speaking on matters of Church doctrine. You then wistfully ignore the fact that Church doctrine changes and that former popes therefore could not possibly have been “infallible”. Limbo, for example, was touted by pope after pope as a place where un-baptized babies who die go, until Pope Benedict XVI just eradicated it (or, more accurately, so watered it down as effectively eradicate it in a face saving way). Seems all those earlier “infallible” Popes were wrong – as they were on Adam and Eve v. evolution, heliocentricity v. egocentricity, and a host of other issues that required an amendment of official Church doctrine. You also ignore the innumerable murders, rampant corruption and other crimes committed over the centuries by your “infallible”, god-conversing popes.
    2. You reject the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours. You are blissfully (or intentionally) blind to the fact, that had you been born in another part of the World, you would be defending the local god(s) and disdaining the incorrectness of Catholic beliefs.
    3. You begrudgingly accept evolution (about a century after Darwin proved it and after accepting Genesis as literally true for about 2,000 years) and that Adam and Eve was totally made up, but then conveniently ignore that fact that your justification for Jesus dying on the cross (to save us from Original Sin) has therefore been eviscerated. Official Church literature still dictates a belief in this nonsense.
    4. You disdain native beliefs as “polytheist” and somehow “inferior” but cannot explain (i) why being polytheistic is any sillier than being monotheistic. Once you make the quantum leap into Wonderland by believing in sky-fairies, what difference does if make if you believe in one or many?; nor (ii) why Christians believe they are monotheistic, given that they believe in god, the devil, guardian angels, the holy spirit, Jesus, many demons in hell, the Virgin Mary, the angel Gabriel, thousands of saints, all of whom apparently make Earthly appearances periodically, and all of whom inhabit their life-after-death lands with magic-sacred powers of some kind.
    5. You bemoan the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees or the 3,000 Israelites killed by Moses for worshipping the golden calf (or the dozen or so other slaughters condoned by the bible). You also like to look to god to for guidance in raising your children, ignoring the fact that he drowned his own – according to your Bible.
    6. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that God impregnated Mary with himself, to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to “forgive” an ”Original Sin” that we now all know never happened.
    7. You disdain gays as sinners, but have no problem when Lot got drunk and committed father-daughter in.cest (twice) or offered his daughters to a mob to be gang ra.ped, or when Moses, time and again, offered his wife up for the “pleasures” of the Egyptians to save his own skin.
    8. You believe that your god will cause anyone who does not accept your Bronze Age stories to suffer a penalty an infinite times worse than the death penalty (burning forever in excruciating torture) simply because of their healthy skepticism, yet maintain that god “loves them”.
    9. You will totally reject any scientific breakthrough that is inconsistent with your established doctrine, unless and until it is so generally accepted as to back you into a corner. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you of the deep inanity of your silly faith, some priest doing magic hand signals over bread and wine is enough to convince you it is thereby transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus because of the priest’s magic powers (or “sacred powers” to the extent you see a difference).
    10. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to Lourdes, Fátima and other magic places and prayers in general. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. The remaining 99.99% failure was simply “god moving in mysterious ways”. The fact that, if you ask for something repeatedly, over and over, year after year, sooner or later that thing is bound to happen anyway, has not even occurred to you. A stopped clock is right twice a day.
    11. You accept the stories in the Bible without question, despite not having the slightest idea of who actually wrote them, how credible these people were or how long the stories were written after the alleged events they record occurred. For example, it is impossible for Moses to have written the first five books of the Old Testament, as Catholics believe. For one, they record his death and events after his death. In fact, the chance of the Bible being historically accurate in any but the broadest terms is vanishingly small.
    Heavens, I could not fit them into ten. Maybe, if they pray hard enough to their sky-fairy, the Catholics can turn them into 10

    April 13, 2012 at 6:00 am |
    • Jt_flyer

      "This would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it"- John Adams

      April 13, 2012 at 6:04 am |
    • FL Jimmy

      A long list of good points, all of them lost on the "flock" . lol
      I prefer the late great Christopher Hitchens summary of religion since it ends all discussion :
      Assertions made without proof can be denied without proof.
      End of story.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:22 am |
  5. nemo0037

    So these bishops want religious liberty to include the liberty to control other people's health care choices? Wonder what their thoughts on that would be if some religious group wanted to make THEIR employees rely exclusively on faith healing? Or should religious liberty be extended to sanction human sacrifices? Maybe there's a line to be drawn over how far such liberty should be extended, but I really don't think the Catholic line is what this country needs.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  6. Stymied

    If they really want to do a service, quit defending and hiding child molesters in their midst. They can also lose their antiquated views on women's health issues including birth control. Since churches want to enter the political areana, they should lose their tax exempt status. I used to be a CINO ever since the child molestation scandal. Now I consider myself an ex-Catholic over the continued coverup.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:58 am |
  7. The way it always is

    "“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home... it is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans."

    Religious liberty is also a two-way street, including the ability NOT to be religious... something the good Bishops never seem to address.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:39 am |
  8. Aurie del Carpio

    First group portrait of paedophiles all in a row?

    April 13, 2012 at 5:38 am |
    • snowpeas

      lololol +1

      April 13, 2012 at 6:19 am |
  9. mike

    Criticize catholics all you want. But don't dare mention that little group of hate-filled megalomaniacs who wear yarmulkes or you'll get the "CNN/RICK SANCHEZ" treatment special. Remember, you can criticize all religious groups equally– except for that self-chosen one! You all have fun!

    April 13, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • Bill

      Funny how they wear the same beenie caps...birds of a feather?

      April 13, 2012 at 5:58 am |
  10. Larry

    The catholic church makes up most of what it preaches. The rest are words its twisted from a bible that was put together by a group of religious scholars in order to control religious beliefs. True religious freedom would come from them not telling everyone who isnt like them theyre wrong and un natural and going to hell. These people just SUCK. To quote george carlin if they want to play politics "they should pay their admission price just like everyone else"

    April 13, 2012 at 5:10 am |
    • Howard of Alexandria

      Could there possibly be any connection with the Catholic Church revving up the publicity machine for this "religious freedom" pitch for no better reason than to divert attention from the pedophilia cases and the corresponding cover-ups?

      Naw! What self-respecting child abusing criminals would do a thing like that?

      April 13, 2012 at 5:30 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Religious Scholar almost sounds like an oxymoron!

      April 13, 2012 at 6:33 am |
  11. chiggi

    Oh PLEASE... we have to suffer under a thousand vestiges of Christian oppression every day in the US! I'm SO free I can't even marry my partner. I don't want to hear about it. ...and this from the group that's given us more wars, hate, divisivness, absolute power and control than anyone.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:01 am |
  12. DontTreadOnMe

    I want to be very clear to the Roman Catholic Church when I say, "Stay out of US politics or suffer the negative reactions that could strip all churches of their tax exempt status". Also the RCC has not, does not now, nor will in the future represent my beliefs, interests, or political views and should not express their actions as doing so.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:57 am |
  13. John

    Glad to see the bishops reaffirming fundamental beliefs. Let's hope people of all faiths take note and push back against the onslaught of this secular president.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:54 am |
    • Mirosal

      The ONLY way to change from a secular president to a non-secular one is to abolish the Consti'tution, and have a NEW one ratified... yea, good luck with that!!! We have a secular government for a REASON.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • Earthling

      These hypocrites have no idea what religious freedom even means. They are more than welcome to believe whatever nonsense they want in their cult of ignorance and repression, but they are not welcome to impose their bronze age mythology on everyone else. If they are so worried about having to pay for medical services, they can subcontract their employees through another company and let them pay for it. They already get a huge and unjustifiable break by not having to pay taxes. If they don't have to pay their fair share of government costs, they shouldn't get a voice in government policy.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • Phosphorus

      This is a row of predators that is facing the full realization of their own impotence, both divine and physical. They are vipers without fangs and lions without claws. They are the shades of the shadows of the shells of something that was once great, and only then were they great in the absence of knowledge, pride, self respect. This is a row of men that are cowards and sheep, and a dying breed of vultures that have no more carcasses of which to feed. May their hunger lead to that which is the most natural of all: natural selection and descent with modification.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:06 am |
  14. divi

    what a load!

    April 13, 2012 at 4:21 am |
  15. Ron

    What I'm more concerned about is the church's interference in American politics. If they wish to force their beliefs on our society, I think it's only fair they should give up their tax-exempt status or mind their own business and save their rhetoric for their sheep who feel the need to bow and kiss the pope's ring. I seem to recall something in the Bible about not putting other 'gods' before Me.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:20 am |
    • Larry

      BE careful thats just what control freek extremists like the catholic church dont want , people using logic and reason.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:06 am |
  16. qwerty

    So our religious freedom to force everyone to conform to christian ideologies is under attack?

    April 13, 2012 at 4:14 am |
  17. Dom

    The fact that people like them have any say in anything regarding people's personal lives proves how primitive our society still is.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:44 am |
    • reason

      Primitive is an understatement.

      If we are to have freedom of religion, then why not respect cults? Why not respect sacrificing virgins? If you have freedom of religion to eat the flesh of a man and drink his blood (doesn't that sound ridiculous) then why can't I shoot people in the head because my god(s) tell me too, e.g., the bible telling me to kill anyone who works on the sabbath. Don't believe the bible says that? Then read the bible and see what vile acts it permits and condones, subordination of females in society, slavery, murder, assigning sin to innocent unborns, etc....

      April 13, 2012 at 4:17 am |
  18. Bootyfunk

    always make me laugh when i see the words "religious" and "freedom" used in the same sentence... LOL

    April 13, 2012 at 3:44 am |
  19. Spangler

    Couples who have a religious marriage service only, without filling out the civil paperwork, are not legally married. Couples who have a civil marriage service only, with no religious event at all, are legally married. Marriage is a civil, not religious event. A religious service, dinner, reception, honeymoon etc. are extra, but not necessary, for a legal marriage.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:36 am |
  20. ChristianMarriedMother

    Hel lbent: Thabk you for telling me about the banned words. That is an excellent point, and I'm glad you brought it up. I was just as much enraged as anyone when the Warren Jeffs situation came on the news. I did an internship as a social worker and while I am a stay-at-home mom now, if I were to work it would be in an area of policy or non-profit organization that goes to rescue and help victims of se xual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and so on. I do not believe that religious extremism should be protected. Here is a statement from the LDS church: "Of course, the accommodation of religious liberty does not undermine other societal interests. The free-exercise clause of the United States Consti tution unequivocally protects religion in America, but religious extremism that threatens others is not protected. Government can and does, for example, impose reasonable restrictions to ensure safety in a pluralistic society." You can read more of their official statement here: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/introduction-religious-freedom

    And thank you for the tip on paragraphs. I didn't realize I could do that on here–I'll definitely make use of them next time I comment.

    To Observer: That is one of the beliefs that we differ on. I won't begin to assume I know what you believe, but I have decided I truly believe marriage to only be between one man and one woman.

    To Rick: You are very astute! Thank you for that. I had originally put "Christ BASICALLY said," but deleted 'basically.' I shouldn't have.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:17 am |
    • Helpful Hints

      Here is a list of some more of those tricky words...

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN automatic filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      cu-nt.....as in Scu-nthorpe, a city in the UK famous for having problems with filters...!
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
      o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      p-orn… as in p-ornography
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • ChristianMarriedMother

      Thanks a bunch! I saved them to a notepad doc. Have a good night!

      April 13, 2012 at 3:43 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.