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. aizen

    this is funny..a bunch of child molesters defenders, archaic thinkers, women bashing men tryign so hard to protect their lie and business of people's control in the name of God and christ.....i see busichrist is huirting now huh? no wonder churches are empty

    April 13, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • Denise

      Hopefully we are seeing the dying days of religion, the various sects of Christianity especially included. Women have been oppressed by Christianity for far too long and have suffered too much from the power-holding men of religion.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • Really?

      Denise, you are see false religion falling. This has been fortold in the Book of Revelation as occuring when the beast would turn on the Great Harlot (False Religion) Babalyon the Great.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Denise

      No, practically nothing has ever been accurately foretold in the bible. If you think otherwise, present specific predicted dates and evidence; I highly doubt that you have any.

      The bible is worthless junk by many authors, patched and repatched. Time you got past it.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      Denise, see what I mean? All religion is false, except of course for the one that the individual believes in. I am so tired of hearing people talk to their imaginary friend jesus, and pray empty prayers to an invisible sky god. And this is the true religion, not the false one?

      April 13, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Really?

      Denise, you do not have proof that what the Bible fortold has not occurred. Look at the prophecy of Jesus hundred of years ahead of time. everything that God has said would occur has or will. I just wish peoples minds would not be so blind as to see it.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • Really?

      Denise I have a TON on dates and Prophecy that has come true and would be happy to discuss it with you.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      So let's hear them...

      April 13, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  2. FreedomFromReligion

    All religions are fake and based on myth. Can't fix brainwashed!

    April 13, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Denise

      Bump up. Defend your freedom from religion!

      April 13, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      Denise, I could get all philosophical and mushy, but it simply would not do any good against brainwashed individuals. People are products of their environment, they only believe what their parents or grandparents tell them to believe. I used to be brainwashed as well, so I sort of understand the "need" to comply. People that believe have no choice. Their family will not let them believe anything else. So, with that being said, I put it as simply as I can....Religion is fake, all myth. They can take it from there... Religion is a yoke around your neck, one you don't even need, and when you don't see the need anymore, you gladly discard it. I am glad I did.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • FreedomFromAtheism

      So, FreedomFromReligion, you say you are enlightened merely because you bucked your religious upbringing. Well, I am doubly enlightened because I bucked it and bolted to atheism, and then I grew up and realized that atheism is abhorrent because there is no coherent, overarching moral base and no God to hold us to it when we deviate due to inherent selfish desires. Here's to hoping you grow up in your philosophies one day too and stop putting down people of religion as if you're somehow brighter.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Really?

      You cannot prove that religion is fake.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Really? Really?

      It seems as if you've just learned the "prove a negative" tact. There is a time and place for it, but you need to recognize its limitations. For instance, you can't prove there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster God, can you?

      April 13, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      FreedomFromAtheism... I am not an atheist. I deny any and all made up beings. As far as your sense of morals, you can plainly see that people will have a sense of morals even without religion. I believe in what most people believe in: honesty, integrity, hard work, love, etc. I just don't adhere to a belief in ANY higher being at all. None. Those who do believe in religion would not if they were raised in a different environment. People used to believe in zeus and pharaoh. You know why they don't anymore? It is because they found out it just ain't so. Same thing with jesus and god, and the devil. I have found out it just ain't so. And as far as morals go, I know personally "christians" and "religious zealots" who are far worse people than anyone else I know. In our society(about 70 % of Americans), people believe in a higher power. And it's false.
      So, what does that tell you? I don't cause myself an atheist at all.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      REALLY? That is pretty lame, I must say.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      I don't have to prove religion is fake. The burden of proof would be on the believer.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • FreedomFromAtheism

      Ah, I see the old "I'm not really an atheist even though I don't believe any God(s) exist" trick is still alive and kicking. Your cherry-picked "morality" is borrowed from the ancient religious threads that permeate the majority of society (as you pointed out, the majority of society is religious). If you were to actually hold contrary moral beliefs, you'd look "bad" or "evil" now wouldn't you? The atheist can point to no book or coherent, overarching code of ethics to which everyone should subscribe, and that creates anarchy. In fact, there is no reason an atheist should feel "bad" or "wrong" for doing absolutely anything they wish because nothing is really "moral" or "immoral". Is that big sky daddy going to punish you after all for not always holding to your values (or the ones you borrowed)? Atheism (or whatever atheists want to call it these days) is abhorrent.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      Once again, ALL religions are fake. Can not put it any simpler. They burden of proof lies with the believer in fake beings.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • FreedomFromAtheism

      Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

      –George Washington's Farewell Address

      April 14, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • FreedomFromAtheism

      A truly refined and educated mind abandons atheism and returns to religion.

      “A little philosophy makes a man an Atheist: a great deal converts him to religion”
      ― David Hume, Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

      April 14, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  3. RS, CA

    This is a good thing. FINALLY the Church speaks up loud and clear. Obama, who thinks he's God incarnate, had better pay attention! He's NOT!

    April 13, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Denise

      Present any evidence for your claims. I doubt that you have any.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  4. BioHzrd

    I would have been nice if they got this riled up and campaigned against pedophelia and child molestation within their own ranks.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Denise

      Indeed. I doubt that we'll see that happen; many of those in power are hiding and protecting their own few supporters, who are the culprits.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:40 am |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    Catholic bishops are merely puppets of Daddy Rat.

    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 8:29 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Daddy Rat = Papa Ratzi = Benedetto = Holy Rat

      April 13, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  6. Terrence Nicholson

    relics of the past, sort of like that racist great uncle everyone tolerates but is thoroughly embarrassed by. that is why ex-Catholics will soon outnumber Catholics in the developed world, if they don't already.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  7. Really?

    You can truly see false religion falling.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Common Senser

      She will soon be devoured and nothing will be left of her.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Really?

      So true, it is amazing to watch Bible prophecy come true.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  8. Atheism is healthy for children and all living things

    Prayer .. since we don't really believe God(s) knows what they're doing.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  9. NightOps

    Hmm... Churches don't pay tax...so they aren't supporting any such activity...why do they think they are? How is the Catholic church supporting this? The health insurers are the ones who are providing contraception. They will then get reimbursement from the Government. The Government gets it's funds from taxpayers...which the Catholic church is not a taxpayer. If they are taking the stance that their congregants are paying taxes, and thus supporting this, then why not have a special tax that is an opt-out? Then we could see who is truly a devout Catholic...lol. Of course, that means that anyone that doesn't stay opted-in is not applicable to receive free contraception..tons of red-tape and legal procedures...but this would accommodate those who object....right?

    April 13, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Duh

      Dude, the church is made up of individuals who do pay tax. Not only that, but their charity organizations are forced to support ideals that are against church teachings. Religious freedoms are under serious attack in the US.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  10. mike

    All religion should be about persuasion, not compulsion. The issue of catholic employers funding birth control wouldn't be an issue if they could successfully convince their members not to use it. Even if they had to provide it, their employees wouldn't want it.

    Last tme I checked, there was no major religion that believed that you could force someone's admission into heaven by strictly controling their conduct. Otherwise, you'd be doing your children a favor by locking them in a cage their whole life to prevent them from having the opportunity to sin.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  11. dcnfla

    Talk about "Do as I say, not as I do..." Isn't this the same church who is attacking the LGBT community for marriage equality when the overwhelming vast majority of the LGBT community are not Catholic?????

    April 13, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  12. Zargoth

    Faith: the belief that something is true in the absence of evidence.

    I am not sure that this is something actually praiseworthy...

    April 13, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      Well said.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Roger

      Actually your definition is flawed. Hebrews 11:1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen. So faith, if proper, is based on evidence. I cannot see gravity, yet I see the evidence of its existence by the effects it produces.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Duh

      Atheism: Faith that there is(are) no God(s) in the absence of evidence and the resulting lack of a coherent moral system.

      I KNOW that is not praiseworthy.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Denise

      Actually, Roger, your definition is worthless. The bible is not a valid dictionary, or a vailid reference here. Nor is it a historically accurate reference. Nor are its claims of the supernatural backed by any evidence. And while the bible content is mostly fictional, it's not even very entertaining fiction.

      Better that you discard your bible and do some learning and thinking, based on some more factual and insightful texts.The bible was obsolete to the point of absurdity centuries ago.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Yah Right!

      Denise, are you seriously suggesting that "Do unto others as you'd have done to you," and "Love your neighbor as yourself" are "obsolete to the point of absurdity"? I guess immorality rules the day for those who wish to destroy religion.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |

    FUCK 'EM.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Kevin

      Very clever, your parents must be proud.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:28 am |

      Your parents must have used a coat hangar to pull you out.

      You can go ahead and eat a bucket of shit.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:31 am |

      I am low. I am the lowest of low. I am a cursing dunderhead with a low IQ.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  14. Brooklyn Boy

    These con men and perverts can sit around in their silly costumes and scream about religious freedom all they want. The fact of the matter is that they cannot accept government cash without obeying the law. They cannot use the government to push their agenda on the general populace either. The larger question is why anyone should pay attention to anything the bishops say at all, especially since the vast majority of people who call themselves catholic do not follow the church's teachings about contraception anyway. The very notion that this body exerts some kind of "moral authority" in light of the enormous, global child abuse scandal is totally beyond me.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Duh

      And you in now way generalize in order to make something you personally hate sound bad in spite of evidence to the contrary in multiple charitable organizations that do good in the world on a daily basis.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  15. PeaceFrog

    Seriously, Bishops, you and your coworkers molest children and cover up the crimes. Why don't you address the 500 pound gorilla in the corner of the room. Then you can have a go at telling people that condoms are evil and other moral measures. Then we can also talk about the contradictions of opposing abortion and contraception at the same time.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  16. brad

    Who cares, if you want your tax exempt status, and if you want all the perks from the govermnet for your good deeds, then you have to follow the rules like everyone else. If you don't like that, then you can fund everything 100%. It's that simple, they call it a war on religion, the rest call it following the rules. Just seeing a room full of priest made my skin crawl, dont let your kids go near that place.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  17. Head Bishop

    I know we keep telling people that prayer makes a difference, but since we all know that's baloney we need to launch a major campaign!!

    April 13, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  18. Kit

    People on the boards have been wondering "what war on religion?" Yet they themselves write in a demeaning way towards any faith saying it should stay private, out of the public, shouldn't touch them in anyway, etc. I have to wonder what people think faith is? True faith is not just going to a church, synagogue or mosque every once in a while. Real faith is lived every day. It changes who you are and you act and live your faith. I believe the very things written in this forum are a form of "war on religion". Everyone has a right to their opinion, but don't be bigots in your own turn please.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Religion is a very personal thing .. and it needs to stay that way. Keep religion out of a government for ALL the people.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • mike

      Disagreeing with the political position of the catholic hierarchy is not a "war on religion". The catholic church's position is "because I say it, it must be true". Poeple don't buy that. Calling BS is not a "war on religion". Religious types really like to believe they are being persecuted. The reality is that they're just not convincing people to accept their world view.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Reality

      Faith cannot be taken out of government, as it represents the core beliefs of every human and their politics are usually based on it, atheist, agnostic, or person of religion.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  19. robinublind

    Apparently only Republicans go to heaven...

    April 13, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  20. Peter Anthony

    The Catholic Church is built around oppression. Women are not allowed to be Priests. People are not allowed to love each other in their own bedrooms. You cannot choose a mate that you prefer to be with if it goes against Catholic doctrine, which it almost certainly will, statistically-speaking. The verse about "My God is a jealous/Angry/Vengeful God' from the Old Testament is pure folly...that could NEVER be the case of the True God. Lovemaking is all but forbidden in Catholism

    April 13, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • wimanf

      I can see where you are coming from. You see Peter, nature itself has laws that must be respected. That is the reason why animals recognize that as males they must go after females and not after their gender. only mentally disturbed people think that it's okay to be in bed with the same gender. Remember, two elements with the same polarity should repel each other; not attract to each other – Science.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Lilith

      LOL @ wimanf .. if you end a statement with – Science, that makes it true. Yup, people can be compared to magnetic polarity. Mentally disturbed people believe in God(s) – Psychology

      April 13, 2012 at 8:32 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.