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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. StartWithTheSBC

    I am telling you today – your greatest threat is coming from the Southern Baptist Convention.
    The Catholics have been far too generous in their conduct or brotherly love for this protestant demonination that has sought and succeeded in diminishing the importance of the Catholic church in the United States primarily in New England.

    The SBC started churches in Rhode Island in the 1950's. From that point, de-emphasizing and "capturing" Catholic families to destroy them has been a strong pursuit by most of the ministers in that demonination.

    I know – my ex-husband was one such minister.

    So – before you attack Washington, DC with your papers – listen to me.
    Start with the Southern Baptist Convention.
    Most have no seminary degrees to speak of, and are in "religion" for business purposes or to "conquer" the North – still fighting a civil war in the United States. Taking up the territory for God and a Confederate ghost from the past.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  2. RB

    Our most cherished freedom should be the freedom of speech. Period.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  3. Curt

    They have it backwards. The church is a major threat to liberty and freedom in the U.S.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  4. Cheerup6

    If we dont believe religion should "guide" our everyday lives, it is better to keep it where it is today and be ready to face social problems we are facing today and will be facing in the future in many different ways. That could be a mess boyond anyone's control. If we believe it is devine guidance and it is "better" than we humans can think about ourselves, follow what religion says and make changes accordingly. This is a good move by Catholic Church and every other faith should support them.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  5. BUDDY CHRIST

    Catholicism WOW!

    I miss George Carlin : (

    April 13, 2012 at 7:58 am |
  6. robert

    Just like preachers and rabbis and other relighious leaders bishops should keep their ideas and actions private like all religion should be. None should be in public. Its a private matter and has no place in public to me. booo to religions..yippy for an evolved human

    April 13, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • al

      Private? You mean like gays and gay marriage? All belief should be private? Humans are social, we group and we explore. Some things should be kept private, but others, like religious or moral values, are both public and private. Or are you saying Hitler was right?

      April 13, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Scott

      I'm pretty sure that two loving people getting married isn't a religious act unless you make it so.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Michael

      Al, how does gay marriage affect your private life besides you having to deal with other people being allowed to do it? You are the perfect example of what's wrong with the so called religious liberty when your hatred is no longer shared by the majority.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  7. Jim

    Seriously. Can they possibly be more out of touch?

    Like they said on SNL, “98% of Catholic women use birth control. The other 2% are trying to start a softball team”.

    There is no war on religion. There should be, but there isn’t. We just want to give women the healthcare they need. Of course what would these guys know? They all men. They can’t get pregnant and they all supposed to be celibate.

    War on religion? Is that why Christmas is a national holiday? Easter? Is that way in god we trust is on our currency? Is that way “under god” is still in the pledge? Is that why they say a prayer before every session of congress?

    They’re like a little kid with a big bag of M&Ms. Someone takes ONE and they cry that we’re trying to starve them. Go do something constructive with all your time and money!

    If procreation is so important why are all these guys wasting billions and billions of sperm?

    April 13, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • James

      Hey Jim, you are so right. Only men, but something is missing– None is Black, and they are not ashamed to take such a picture in 2012. They should look to reform themselves, and the conduct of their priests..... Before they worry about anything else– Self reflection should be their priority!!

      April 13, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • al

      This was a cropped CNN photo, IMO, specifically designed to show only white men. We have quite a few Hispanic and black bishops, we have four in Washington, 2 white, one black, one Hispanic. So making the comment based on a cropped photo is specious, at best.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  8. Joe

    The most Christian thing to do, would be to forgive.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  9. Those used guys.

    So let us all try and guess how many of the two and a half dozen or so guys in the picture were unwanted pregnancies, you know accidents. Their parents probably shuffled them off to the church as soon as they could just to get rid of them. You may think they look rich and prosperous in the picture but those robes are actually made of sack cloth, the sashes and beanies are faux silk and the chains and crosses are brass not gold and the Prada slippers are ripoffs, OR NOT.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:53 am |
  10. mark51

    Message to ANY religion....... Stay out of my house, my private life and get out of my face.
    I have the LIBERTY to do as I wish, as long as I respect the rights of others. I wish you
    would learn to do the same.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • al

      Well, that's exactly what the bishops are saying, stay out of our house and quit telling us how to run our church. If you choose not to follow the Catholic Church, then don't, no one is forcing you to.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • Michael

      Al, you are so out of touch with reality. No one is forcing the Church to do anything except for following the law. It's exactly the opposite when the Church wants to force their views upon everyone else.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  11. Michael

    Let them be taxed. Plain and simple.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  12. Carol A. Strickland

    I still don't understand why churches don't pay taxes. To my mind, that's a little too MUCH freedom. And someone: please point out the reality of this "War on [Catholic] Religion," for I certainly can't find it anywhere.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  13. MarkinFL

    Throughout U.S. history, religion does not trump law. Simple as that. If your religion says you must smoke marijuana, then tough. If your religion says you must withhold medical care from your sick kid, tough. If your religion says you can beat or r.ape your wife, tough. If your religion says you can deny services to certain people, then tough, you lose public funding.

    When religious practice breaks a law, it is no longer protected. If you wish to not use contraception, don't use it, but stop trying to affect someone else's ability to use it. If you want to exclude gays from your club, that's fine, but don't try to block their civil rights in the public arena.

    When your "contribution" to society involves imposing your beliefs on others then you are welcome to go away. The only reason the Catholics want to be involved is to help control the process. I did not actually realize that until they took their ball and went home when we stopped following their rules.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Mojojuju

      Here here here! This this this! I came here to say this...and you said it for me.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • Jonquil

      Thank you, MarkinFL! The Catholic Church is in no danger of being oppressed, by any means, and not being allowed to break our laws to oppress people - particularly, outside their realm of authority - is not about "religious freedom". I can't sacrifice someone's life and claim I had the right to, based on "religious freedom". The Catholic Church grants sacraments and provides religious services - they don't get to dictate our laws.

      This active, political campaign, might be the end of them. If it's the kind of scrutiny they want (those rows and rows of only men, in positions of top power in The Church) it might produce far, different results than they've anticipated. It's outragous that they would use their pulpits to demand how Catholics vote. I hope Catholics smell "corruption" from it all. This isn't about worship, this is about power and intimidation. They are exploiting God in order to maintain their power.

      But regardless, they will not stop Americans from realizing their rights. They have no authority to dictate how women use their health services. If they want to assume assume secular duties, they can follow secular laws.

      April 13, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • james pfeiffer

      Very well said. As long as these "religious" identified groups remain tax exempt their philosophical diatribes seem a moot point. As far as the Catholics are concerned, they have much more serious fish to fry then the red herring of birth control. Their huff and puff accusation of government control over religious freedoms is incredibly weak. Over 90% of Catholic women use birth control. The Catholics (and I was one) need to look in the mirror and ask some serious questions...but then objectivity is almost always sacrificed by religious dogma!

      April 13, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  14. WASP

    in the words of the great george carlin " if religion wants to get involved in politics let them pay their admission price like everyone else."

    April 13, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  15. 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 wicked 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 administrator 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, where people could find health for soul and body. 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-menical 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 they conceal the absolut power of the "pope-rat(z)". 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 in the course of history, because a human dwarf (the pope) tried to lead her and failed totally lacking any divine abilities to lead Christ's body. 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.

    Dear Catholic, Muslim, Mormon, Rebaptizer, etc. forsake your false cult, church or religion and join the loveable, meek and humble Jesus from Nazareth, become a Protestant Christian.

    Here is my love in Christ: 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 totally wrong and Luther rejected that doctrine. Luther started to reform the RCC. The congregations of the RCC, which accepted Luther's reform, became the Evangelical Church of Germany. 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 connected with Christ's death and resurrection by baptism (look Romans 6). In a narrower sense we can only believe in Christ in connection 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 7:39 am |
    • Those used guys.

      The Pastafaians accept all who fall from grace from any religion or race, including short people, try us out for thirty days. If you don't like us you can always go back to mumbling over your beads and throwing your hard earned money on the plate. The FSM requires no contributions just your devotion to pasta and beer, of course if you want to buy a T-shirt, go ahead.

      RAmen......blessings from the FSM

      April 13, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  16. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    Some nitty-gritty:

    "Twenty-one states offer exemptions from contraceptive coverage, usually for religious reasons, for insurers or employers in their policies: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (administrative rule), Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia."

    http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/insurance-coverage-for-contraception-state-laws.aspx

    Next:

    The Catholic hierachies do not believe in artificial birth control so why do they employ those who do? Did not the Supreme Court recently decide that religious organizations have the right to decide who they hire and fire? Bottom line: To reduce health insurance costs and to not be subject to Obama care regulations about supplying contraceptives, Catholic groups should simply not hire those who want contraceptives and fire those who demand such coverage.

    Next:

    There are different opinions as to what a religion really is or what a non-profit is and therefore all non-profits should file Form 990's. At the moment, religious groups are exempt. To be fair therefore, there should be no tax-exemptions for any group and that includes the Democratic and Republican Parties. Faith and community initiative grant monies should also be cancelled and there should also be no tax deductions for contributions made to charities and non-profits.

    Next:

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/01/supreme-court-backs-church-in-landmark-religious-liberty-case/

    "The government must stay out of hiring and firing decisions by a religious organization, even if a minister sues for employment discrimination, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

    Religious freedom groups praised the decision, and especially the fact that it came from a unanimous court."

    Next topic !!!

    April 13, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  17. Tom

    If this is an American issue, then RC organizations and all other faith based organizations should receive no federal funding at all. What is American is separation of church and state.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:35 am |
  18. The Beagle

    The bishops apparently don't realize that the Bible is *against* religious freedom from beginning to end. See http://pathofthebeagle.com/2012/03/04/contraception-and-religious-freedom/

    April 13, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  19. Boyamidumb

    One word. OVERPOPULATION.

    April 13, 2012 at 7:30 am |
    • Reality

      "Fertility Rates- Wikipedia

      United States

      The total fertility rate in the United States after World War II peaked at about 3.8 children per woman in the late 1950s and by 1999 was at 2 children. This means that an imaginary woman (defined in the introduction) who fast-forwarded through her life in the late 1950s would have been expected to have about four children, whereas an imaginary woman who fast-forwarded through her life in 1999 would have been expected to have only about two children in her lifetime. The fertility rate of the total U.S. population is at around the replacement level of about 2.1 children per woman. However, the fertility of the population of the United States is below replacement among those native born, and above replacement among immigrant families, most of whom come to the U.S. from countries with higher fertility than that of the U.S.[citation needed] However, the fertility rates of immigrants to the U.S. have been found to decrease sharply in the second generation, correlating with improved education and income.[7]

      According to a thesis submitted in 2005 to the Office of Graduate Studies of Texas A&M University, the lowest TFR recorded anywhere in the world in recorded history is for Xiangyang district of Jiamusi city (Heilongjiang, China) which had a TFR of 0.41.[8] Outside China, the lowest TFR ever recorded was 0.80 for Eastern Germany in 1994.

      [ Europe

      The average total fertility rate in the European Union (EU-27) has been calculated at 1.59 children per woman in 2009[9] .

      In the non-EU European post-Soviet states group, Russia has a TFR of 1,61 children per woman[10], Belarus 1,47[11]."

      April 13, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  20. quotidianus

    if by 'religious liberty' they mean 'catholic power'...

    April 13, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • sam stone

      no, they mean that they can diddle alter boys without government interference

      April 13, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • al

      Kind of like public school teachers, eh?

      sam stone
      no, they mean that they can diddle alter boys without government interference

      April 13, 2012 at 8:10 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.