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. PoBoy

    Average age of that group of angry white males is about 65. That is the problem, not religious freedom.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  2. Voltaire

    Humanity will never achieve its peak until it rids itself of this horrible virus called religion, which includes the belief in invisible creatures.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  3. PoBoy

    This is not an issue at all. This is a manufactured attempt by the Catholic Church to make itself relevant again. Facing dwindling numbers, declining national influence and internal church upheaval because not all Catholics tow the strict religious line, these Bishops are desperately trying to find a way to right their sinking ship!

    April 13, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • BADGUY

      In an interview I heard, one leader of a progressive group within the Catholic Church say he felt the Church was attempting to remold itself toward the right. As a result the progressive elements are meeting strict resistance from the Church hierarchy. It appears the Church is attempting to wean down its membership to just those who follow its strict, right wing, regime.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • PoBoy

      No surprise there. This group is so anti-Obama (which by the way, makes them political and in violation of IRS rules regarding religions) that they'll accept Mittens, a member of a religion which they don't even recognize as being Christian. They're following the the Muslim rule, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

      April 13, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  4. Byrd

    Apparently a significant majority of these oh-so-chaste priests and bishops think pedophilia also falls under the protection of religious freedom, loving the little children like their lord before them. The concentrated morality within that room wouldn't fill a fairy's thimble.

    The mere sight of this gaggle of whatever-sucking vampires makes me want to puke. Holy men my dying a..........

    April 13, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • BADGUY

      The local Church has declared Bankruptcy in order to avoid the release of damning and detailed information on Priest Abuse. The judge in the case indicates the material was to graphic to be released. The non-release is being contested by local victims groups. The court action will also limit damages.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  5. Oh My God

    Dude, I read the whole article then read the first two pages of comments (because i am at work) and i bet those bishops did not really take into account those responses. I am LMAO. Those guys must really think no one else can read, write, or even reason.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  6. Chris

    wow...a whole lot o hate going on there, you guys.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • edwardo

      Yep! We are at war with religion, and the horrors it inflicts on humanity. War is not a pretty thing!

      April 13, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Well, there is a whole lot to hate.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  7. DPGW

    Take a look at the picture. And Americans have a problem with the U.S. banking system being run by old, rich white guys...lol holy crapola. Diversify much???

    April 13, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Denise

      Yes. One of religion's many problems. Time for religion and myths like Christianity to fade away.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  8. Artie

    The country was founded on religious freedom by people who were escaping religious persecution. Furthermore, the revolution was fought by The People for exactly one reason – to say 'no' once and for all against government overreaching (Boston Tea Party).

    Furthermore, the 'other countries' you refer to are socialist countries where the government provides contraceptive to the people (thus the higher taxes). They do NOT have laws on their books that force religious organizations or churches to provided contraceptives against their will or teachings. In fact, one may argue that there is MORE religious freedom in these countries! The last in the article says it all, "This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue."

    April 13, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • William Demuth


      Huge numbers of us don't believe your God, or ANY God ever existed.

      We believe your 'imaginary freind" is fine if it stays in your home and out of our government.

      But be advised, becareful where you try to shove him.

      You see, we killed him once for interfering with government, and we will gladly do it again

      April 13, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • MarkinFL

      If you think the cost of contraceptives is a statistically measurable portion of healthcare costs, much less government budget costs then it is no wonder you believe in invisible super-beings.....

      April 13, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • Oh My God

      I wish me would stop thinking this country was founding on religious freedom. This country was founded by people just like those bishops who said do as I say or die. The lie that this country is founding on religious freedom keeps people from looking at exactly how many people of different religions and races actually were killed off by the people just like the bishops.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Brent

      In countries where health care is state-provided, providing contraception lowers health care costs overall by reducing unwanted and high-risk pregnancies. People are not paying higher taxes because of the cost of contraception, as you suggest.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  9. Yellowtevo

    What a pompous photo.

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

      Pharisees and Sadducees

      April 13, 2012 at 9:02 am |

    They are just trying to shift the spotlight away from the catholic clergy's numerous pedophile scandals. Billions of dollars in settlement cash paid to their victims while not paying any taxes on their lucrative real estate holdings in this country. Tax the churches and evolve past religion!!!

    April 13, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  11. heyheyhey

    Ha! Threat! You threated people by killing them in the dark ages for not following your religious beliefs. You threaten little boys as well. discusssssting, I saw no apology. Religion is brain washing at it's finest.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  12. Rick Blaine

    Religion is not under attack. Humans have been under attack by religion for centuries.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • edwardo

      It's like a human mind virus. It has to perpetuate itself onto others, in order to survive. It will stop at nothing. Murder, hatred, any sort of violence, control via wealth. It is a powerful virus indeed.

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

      edwardo, totally agree. I think we can make headway against the virus by publicly exposing it and the nonsense it contains to open, critical examination.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  13. Jack O'Fall

    Sadly, this is a problem of the Church's own doing. When they decided to take government money for various tasks (faith based initiatives, federal aid for students, various federal grants,...) they became intertwined with the Government. They tought they were in control of the relationship at the time.
    As anyone who has worked with the Government for a while can tell you, that never lasts. They will now want to get the Government to back off without losing 'their' $$. The solution is as obvious as it is painful: Stop accepting Government money and you will be free from Government controls.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Dave

      Absolultly correct. This is why a lot of Texans want to suceed from the union. This administration wants to control every aspect of our lives.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      once they stop being a church and try being a business then they need to realise you follow business rules.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Really? I suppose the GOP wanting to control who you love and marry and how and when you have a family is the kind of freedom you want?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • dozapolis

      Not quite true. Insurance is regulated by the government regardless of who supplies the insurance, whether it be private or public. Even if the Catholic church took $0 from the government, what they would need to cover through insurance would remain the same.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  14. George

    It would make way more sense if they were just as passionate about the 1. Death penalty 2. War 3. guns & the NRA 4. poverty. But they aren't. Instead they focus on what? Birth control! Really? Sounds like a war on women. Maybe if 1. there were women in their administration 2. they were allowed to have families they might just 'get it'. But they are revealling themselves more & more as an organization that exists to perpetuate itself (job security) by appealling to the hegemony of paternalistic society (in other words, men are dominate over a 2nd class of non-men ). There is an Arab Spring igniting a world wide release from oppression. Just as the Mesopotamian was the cradle of civilization! Man will look back at this period and lump all religions togetheras mechanisms to control a society just like Divine Right.

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

    How can this group of child molesters who pay no taxes and have amassed huge sums of money and property get political about religious freedom. The SCOTUS now for the first time has no Protestant members and it has six Catholics for the first time in history. I think that with these members who are from such a restrictive religion sitting on the bench, that it is Americans freedom that are at stake. Conservative Catholicism is the greatest threat to Americans freedom since fascism. No wonder the founding fathers were deists

    April 13, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  16. thes33k3r

    This isn't about religious freedom. It is about religious privelege. The liars for jesus are worried about their loss of power. You can't simply do whatever you want, r@pe children, ignore the laws of the land, spew hate toward women and gays, and then cry like a baby "religious freedom" when you are held responsible for it.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  17. nookster

    The article should have said, the catholic church thinks their religious control is uder attack. Catholics are bailing out of the church in record numbers. Many still call themselves catholics but they rarely participate in the church.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  18. Rainer Braendlein

    Abolish the Vatican and Islam and many other cults, sects and false churches and the mankind would become much happier.

    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 8:42 am |
    • Denise

      Try for short, concise posts next time.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • edwardo

      Xtians worship the very thing most people would find repulsive. Someone having to be bloodily murdered and slaughtered, so some blood-thirsty god can forgive his "children" for something he created in the first place. BIZARRE !!!

      April 13, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Ron

      Very good reply. Intelligent and thought provoking. Not like 90% of the retards that make posts here.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Ron

      learn to read and process information. Texting is not a intelligent from of communication.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • closet atheist

      @ Ron ~~ "Texting is not a intelligent from of communication."

      Nice try, christard. Get out of your trailer and go get a GED.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  19. glades2

    Once again, CNN includes a misleading byline – because it's known that most people only read that...

    The byline makes it sound like the Church, after the "conctraception controversy", is launching a freedom of choice campaign...

    Very misleading and a rewrite is definintely needed!!!

    April 13, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  20. SV

    Is the Catholic Church singling out the United States? Can't they go bother some other country that has universal health care coverage...ya know, one that REALLY works instead of this piecemeal disaster of a bill Obama had to setttle for?

    I personally don't like having to pay extra taxes just to make up for these churches. Everytime I see another one being built all I can think of is "well, there's more lost tax revenue". One of these days there's going to be a REAL war on religion and that's what it's going to come down to. Hit 'em where it really matters. In the wallet. Til then, they ought to just shut the hell up and read their fairy tales in quiet.

    April 13, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • edwardo

      Applause! Applause! I so 100% agree with everything you said!!!

      April 13, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Denise

      100% support what SV said.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • aginghippy

      I agree with you about everything except the coming "war on religion". It won't happen, because you can't force people to stop believing in fairy tales. Instead, I like to think that people will eventually see this kind of hypocrisy for what it is, and decide for themselves that all religion is nonsense.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:07 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.