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. Thomas

    There are no threats to religion in the US. This is a non-issue.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Bingo. Catholic church simply employing good old-fashioned double-speak.

      Its similar bigots complaining that there freedoms are being taken away when they are not allowed to discriminate. Or that people that dislike bigots are bigots.....

      Its all double-speak by those who are used to being in power seeing their power melt away in the modern civilized world.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • MarkinFL

      "their" not "there"... :/

      April 13, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  2. Joe

    Long live his noodliness the one true god! This christian impostor god and his followers will have to answer to the FSM when their time comes.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Nicholas Amann

      I bet a full months pay that if little boys could get pregnant these preists wouldn't say anything.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Mirosal

      And may the Sauce be with you!! 🙂

      April 13, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • Those used guys.

      RAmen. Arrrgh.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  3. Janiemac

    As a Atheists I felt compelled to read the bible. Criticising the book when I knew nothing about it just seemed wrong. Well, I have to say that it reafirms my committment to the fact there is no god. Just finished the part where god killed some of Aaron's sons because they make a fire god didn't like and then ordered Moses to tell his brother not to mourn. That's just one example of the killings he committed. There are many more. Nice god!

    April 13, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      It has been said that the greatest way to make a person a disbeliever is for them to read the buybull. Sadly most of the people claiming to be christian cherry pick the book and dismiss all the negative or in the least make excuses for it.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  4. maine liberal

    requiring health insurance companies to provide free contraceptive coverage to employees of Catholic organizations.

    This like any other "free" coverage comes out of the premiums the only requirement is that should an individual choose to use the benefit th insurance companise must 'gasp' must use premium dollars for coverage and benefits. How is this free when annual premiums average about 8000 dollars and the cost of birth control coverage is about 30 dollar per year.

    This is how insurance plans work. more non-users than users of any benefit coverage. Just as all men pay for "free" maternty benefits

    The woman still maintains free choice to use birthcontol, not the church or the government or the insurance company

    April 13, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  5. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 13, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • Mirosal

      The more you post your drivel, the more people will just ignore you and your message. You'll be seen as a typical christard, and you'll lead them to Atheism. So, thank you for driving people away from religion and letting them live THEIR lives without the fear of some sky-fairy watching over them and judging them. The only judge I'd ever answer to wears a black robe and sits on a bench, not a throne.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Mirosal: You mean the same type of judge that will be trying Zimmerman? 😀

      April 13, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • Mirosal

      Yeah, kinda like that kind of judge. You know, the one who, depending on verdict, really CAN punish someone, unlike a mythical, non-existent character in a fictional book.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • TR6

      If prayer actually did anything, the pope wouldn’t have to ride around in a bullet proof pope mobile.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:50 am |
    • MarkinFL

      TR6, well that presupposes WHICH god is the one true god.... 🙂

      Perhaps the Catholic hierarchy do not actually possess as much faith as they profess. 😉

      April 13, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  6. Those used guys.

    If those guys in the picture want to get involved in politics maybe they should start paying taxes like everyone else. Freedom of religion also includes freedom from religion, in other words believe what you want, but do not try and force others to comply with those beliefs. I assume that the campaign has more to do with dwindling cash flow than morality and as in any corporation a little publicity may help the bottom line. The Catholic church has always been more concerned with power and money than their beieifs, just look at the picture of the Board of Directos above. Morality is what has been sadly lacking in the Catholic church for over two centuries.

    I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.
    Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  7. Limbaugh is a liberal

    You are free to practice any religion in this country... as long as it's mainstream Christian, and in line with your boss' financial interests...

    April 13, 2012 at 6:42 am |
  8. Francis

    Sure it's an American issue, but is it a biblical issue? I'm a Christian and it is Christianity's "personal agendas" that we have failed to let other people know about God's love. As I read through all the comments, I can see that we have failed to show God's love, but rather that we have suceeded in created a world full of division and hate. Know, that this was not our intend, and most certainly wasn't God's intent.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • I am God

      Look I have nothing against religion as an Atheist, but if there is a God he isn't going to punish me for not believing in him. That is the first mistake Christianity made. I live my life to the fullest and I don't bother reading the Bible because that has been changed over and over and over again for centuries. No one knows which Bible is the real Bible in the world any more. Let people live their lives; not trying to shove religion down their throats.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:43 am |
  9. Robert

    Everytime religion feels like it's power is threatened it ends in a bloodbath. When are people going to reject these power brokers that do nothing but sell snake oil to the mindless masses? It was secular governments that brouught us out of the dark ages. It was secular governments that ended the centuries long violence between the different religious factions. If anything is under attack it's secular government.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • MrHanson

      So I guess the unborn's blood doens't count.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  10. Terry

    Where were the US Catholic Bishops when thousands of Altar Boys were being molested by Catholic Priests? I stopped going to church at the age of fourteen thanks to the Catholic Church that created a society of pedophiles. The Catholic Church was created and maintained down through ages to provide this Society of Perverts a place of sanctuary.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • FatherWannaBE

      Good lord – shut up with that already. Everyone acknowledges that huge mistakes were made. Get off your soap box.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Mistakes? Covering up, and then covering up the cover-up is not a mistake, its a crime. Premeditated self-protection at the expense of the children.

      Mistake?... Oops sorry about your son being scarred for life, but it would have been inconvenient to get rid of pedo-priests and it was certainly to embarrassing to turn the criminals in. Heck, everyone has urges, right?

      April 13, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  11. akismet-9ae2665dd6afb516fb10830b2ccb4b4f

    Who can trust the Catholic Church? Of course they don't want birth control- that would mean that the children going through the place would diminish. Just because I don't follow an organization that CONSTANTLY wants to ignore its own history of protecting and rerouting a bunch of pedophiles, doesn't mean that I follow the "evil one". In fact- much of the evil in the country has COME from the Catholic Church. So this is incredibly hypocritical of them (as usual).

    April 13, 2012 at 6:35 am |
  12. Fake god

    Religions are a bunch of rich crooks and STUPID followers.
    They all should burn in hell!

    April 13, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      I think that was attempted last year when their god burned Texas.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:36 am |
  13. rla

    The problem is standards- Too many who are spewing their hate on this blog have none . People have always had faiths and Gods and America was first to recognize that and make the practice of a religion a private and indesputible right. I see nothing good from the secular left to brag about

    April 13, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • I am God

      Um actually no they didn't. That is like trying to claim that the United States is a Christian nation, which it isn't.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • Robert

      It's the "secular left" that made this country possible and the basis for our existing government. You might be more confortable in say Iran.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Nothing good from the secular...really? You obviously have not done research...UNICEF, Doctor's Without Borders, PlanUSA, National Center for Science Education, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers,National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Ipas, EngenderHealth,Treatment Action Campaign,Planned Parenthood Federation of America,Wheelchair Foundation,The SEED foundation,S.H.A.R.E.,Rotary/Rotary International, Oxfam International,The Nature Conservancy-all of which are secular. So enlighten us again with your knowledge on the bad of secularism or is it that you simply do not comprehend the meaning of the word?

      April 13, 2012 at 6:50 am |
  14. I am God

    Didn't God create us in his image? So then God created me to be an Atheist in this world. That is weird isn't hmm? Tells me that God never existed. Time for people to start putting faith in humanity, not an invisible dictator from the sky.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Dee

      You must have no soul that there is not a god. Keep being an athesist and you will rot in hell.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • Mirosal

      Dee, now THAT is a standard tactic from a christard... do what we say, believe what we tell you to believe, or you'll be punished forever and ever. That isn't spreading the "good word", that is simple coersion. People like you don't donate to a church, you're giving them protection money like the mob collects. If you don't give, "god" will come after you. What makes you think that one should be scared of ANY deity, especially yours?

      April 13, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      "You must have no soul that there is not a god. Keep being an athesist and you will rot in hell"

      Keep being a hypocrite!! It is a very typical threat from christards...the use of fear mongering without the use of evidence to back them. Try replacing the word 'god' with Zeus and see if it makes any sense and then maybe just maybe you'll understand why we don't believe in your god. It is you that has the issue in this world, not us. We do not use fear mongering on people-I understand that you don't see it that way but we don't expect people who base their life off of faith (belief without evidence) to comprehend that.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Hey, Dee, what makes you so certain that you personally are praying to the one true god? Why should we believe that your particular flavor of deity is the right one? If I did believe that there really was a vengeful god I'd quaking in my boots wondering which one I should follow. Because there are at least 4 billion people on this earth that are getting it wrong. Possibly 6 or more billion. What makes any one think that our own perception is so much better than those other billions of people.
      Considering that most people generally believe something similar to their parents, they are simply going to be fated to believe what they were born into, right or wrong. Quite a way to decide the fate of your eternal soul....

      Good luck with that Dee.... Wouldn't want to be ya.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Dee only proves that religious thinking is dangerous. It is people that think like her that caused the Crusades and numerous other religious atrocities. I pity any children she may have...threats of eternal torture should be considered child abuse!

      April 13, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  15. Fake god

    Thanks to Pastor Long and Haggart, we all knew they are freaking BS.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:33 am |
  16. Rainer Braendlein

    We should wonder sometimes, why at all the Reformation took place in Europe. The Reformation was an epochal event, which changed Europe completely up to now.

    One of the reasons, why Prof. Dr. Martin Luther (University of Wittenberg/Germany) started the Reformation, was the papacy.

    According to the Bible actually Jesus Christ himself shall be the invisible head of the Church. This office the pope has stolen. One could remark, let the pope just be the highest human secretary of the Church and Christ still may be the invisible head. Papacy could be endured, if the pope would really be merely the highest human andministrator of the Church organisation.

    Yet in fact the pope is the spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church and this cannot be tolerated.

    What is the problem about that?

    The first Christian Church was the Church of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Church). It was a really good and Christian Church. This Church consisted mainly ot the Churches of Italy, Egypt, Greece, Palestine and Syria. Clerics of these Churches met sometimes on free international (ecu-menical) Councils, where they freely discussed complicated matters of the doctrine. The ecu-m. Councils were not predetermined by a lousy pope, but let by the Holy Spirit. The outcome of such Councils was indeed the divine decision and these decisions are still valid today after so many centuries.

    Nothing is more blasphemous than a predetermined council, because it is pure hypocrisy. Imagine Obama would predetermine all decisions of the Congress and the Senate. It would be ridiculous, if they would still meet. Predetermined councils are a lie in itself, because conceal the absolut power of the pope-ratz. All Catholics are ruled by one ridiculous individual from Bavaria, which doesn't understand the Bible.

    At a predetermined council the bishops only gather to let sth. through on the nod. How shall the Holy Spirit influence such a council of hypocrisy? It is impossible. The Spirit is completely extinguished on such a council.

    The real Church is a spiritual body in a real sense. No human being is able to lead this spiritual organism, but merely Christ or the Spirit, which are powerful, divine persons.

    Hence, it is clear that the Roman Catholic Church had to corrupt totally because a human dwarf (the pope) tried to lead her and failed totally. The RCC has become a pi-sspot of heresies.

    In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit we condemn the Roman Catholic Church. There you can find no health, but merely damnation. She has become the cursed harlot of the Revelation, which will finally get destroyed by the Most High.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:32 am |
    • John

      Whole lotta hate come from one who says they follow the teaching of Jesus Christ!

      April 13, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • Pope Benedict

      Why resort to fantasy? The catholic church and all religions live in a dream and take advantage of the church members ignorance and fear of dying. This effort by the bishops is clearly political. Therefore, they are violating the trust the American taxpayers have put in them to stay out of politics. All churches should be taxed now like other businesses. They should also be made to provide complete health insurance to their employees, regardless.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein


      Here is my hatred: In contrast to the pope Luther teached the true gospel. What is that?

      Luther once was a Roman Catholic Abbot (even a supervisor of several monasteries). As a child Luther got baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. He never got baptized again.

      The Roman Catholic Church had added on someting to the baptism: Righteousness by good works. This was wrong and Luther rejected that doctrine. Luther teached that a believer shall always live a life of righteousness by the power of his first baptism (mostly infant baptism) and if he has sinned again the believer shall exercise privat confession and return to his first baptism, but not try to get righteousness by good works (to say a rosary, to do a pilgrimage, buy indulgence and the like).

      What happens at baptism?

      God, the Father, delivered God, the Son, for our sins and raised him from the dead for our justification. We get metaphysically conneted with Christ's death and resurrection by baptism (look Romans 6). In a narrower sense we can only believe in Christ in connectrion with the sacramental baptism. At baptism we die and resurrect with Jesus. Our sins get atoned by his death and we get a new life of righteousness by his resurrection. This is the true and powerful faith, which restores sinners. After baptism we are dead for the sin and in Christ. We have died and resurrected together with him. Day by day we overcome our sinful body by the power of baptism. We daily invite Jesus to be our meek and humble ruler.

      This is the doctrine on baptism by Luther, St. Paul, Bonhoeffer and the Early Church.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  17. Dave M

    Sure, you can do your "good works [your] faith calls [you] to do, without having to compromise that very same faith". Just don't spend public funds on it when it manifests your bigotry. No one is forcing Catholic charities to consider gay couples since no one is forcing them to apply for government funds. If they want to discriminate, the government should not fund their religiously inspired intolerance and prejudice.

    Pretty simple stuff.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:24 am |
  18. gpforreal

    So many of you: so many different ways to show your hatred ! Please, really think, really feel, really evaluate what you are saying. Your hatred comes from the evil one. But of course, you all know best; we are all 'captains of our own souls', right? In your self-righteous, self-centered invective YOU CHOOSE to reject God and to reject the paths to Life. (In this world AND the next one!) You choose to reject God, someday you will learn the horror and real meaning of that.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • I am God

      How can I be horrified of rejecting something that has never existed in the first place?

      April 13, 2012 at 6:31 am |
    • Brandon Comer

      keep believing in fairy tales, we'll be here waiting when you grow up

      April 13, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • barlowc

      What? Really!? Let's look at your post sentence by sentence: you call me a hater; then you patronise me; then a possessed hater – nice; then you say I'm arrogant; then self-righteous and selfish, and then you threaten me with torture. So who is doing all the hating here?

      April 13, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Mirosal

      Just WHICH "god" will punish us if we don't accept "him"? There have been thousands upon thousands of "gods" thoughout history. So, which one is the correct petty, vindictive, arrogant, war-mongering megalomaniacal one?

      April 13, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @gpforreal: Pot meet kettle! What makes you so special that you think hypocrisy is moral? Your god can't be verified with physical evidence to exist and you're telling us how we'll suffer eternally for not accepting it based on that. Self-righteous? Nope, not at all definitive of us-we don't think we have all the answers. Self-centered? Nope!
      Next life? How are you so certain one exists? Have you ever personally met someone who returned from the dead or are you basing this off the stories of sheep-herding men?

      April 13, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ Truth ... m'lady, are you sure they were just HERDING the sheep? Maybe they were doing something "else" with/to them ... after all, there was no TV, no radio, no internet, no books .. they had to fill their days and nights somehow, right? 😉 lol

      April 13, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Mirosal: Good to see you back my friend and I'm not certain I wish to know what else they might have been doing....some images are not needed. 😉

      April 13, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • gpforreal

      Love your replies, keep them coming! All I am saying, is read and think about what YOU are saying. It becomes obvious who is filled with hate, just follow all the threads. I don't claim to have all the answers; I have doubts myself, despite trying to be a committed Christian. But, God and Christ have enhanced my life beyond measure, and filled the 'hole in my heart' that only one thing can fill. A few of you will come to see that. I have never believed in pre-destination, BUT reading these hatred filled posts, now maybe I am not so sure. Consider changing your hearts, sorry if I imply that we can all, really, change for the better...

      April 13, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      "But, God and Christ have enhanced my life beyond measure, and filled the 'hole in my heart' that only one thing can fill. "

      No, you enhanced your life and you are the only one that deserves credit for that. You have total control on what happens to you, no-one else.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      After re-reading your post your ignorance is shining through. You failed to answer even the basic of questions asked of you here and instead continued to judge...how hypocritical of you. What verifiable evidence to do you have for your god? Where is the evidence backing your claims in general? Don't judge us without having your facts straight...we are not any more hate-filled than you are when you use fear mongering to attempt to make us believe in your god. Maybe it is you that needs to READ and THINK about what you are saying. We attempted to put things in layman's terms for you but you have been too blinded by a 2000 year old book (which was written by 40 men, none of who ever met god or jesus and written over the course of 400 years). We have chosen to base our opinions off of verifiable, testable evidence. Chances are we know your buybull better than you do.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  19. Josef Bleaux

    All religions are nothing more than ancient mythology, written thousands of years ago by members of a primitive culture. Thankfully more and more people are finally starting to realize that. I like this quote from Bertrand Russell, it's so true:
    "Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines."

    April 13, 2012 at 6:20 am |
  20. Bob

    There are no threats to religion. The threats are FROM religion. Tax the Catholic church.

    April 13, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • McBain05

      Tax all churches.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:35 am |
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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.