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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. Religion is controlled insanity

    I say we burn all churches.

    Or at least tax them to hell.

    In a REAL COURT all religious would be liable for fraud.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  2. Buddha2112

    TAX ALL RELIGIONS!

    April 13, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  3. citizen9

    Priest at the Pulpit: "The President is attacking our beliefs on contraception"!!!!!!

    Members in the congregateion think to themselves: "Where is my diaphram?" "That reminds me, I am almost out of birth control pills." "Remember to buy more condoms" "Did I take my pill today?"

    April 13, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  4. BADGUY

    Why must the tax payers continue to provide tax based assistance to this organization, which is becoming clearly, political, in nature? Also, IRS rules preclude political action, by any religion, directed toward a particular candidate, if it's a major portion of the Church's activities. I feel the Catholic Church is reaching that limit and warrants an investigation by the IRS. If they are found non compliant, the Church should lose its tax free status.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • jbcal

      So the catholic church should not have the right to defend its beliefs unless it pays taxes? That would affect a lot of corporations.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  5. dad

    Studied some religion at a religious school, however by no means am I an expert. I can say for sure though that I had excellent instructors... and none of them focused on this. They must have been misguided in trying to demonstrate the strength of character and perseverance required to love and help other people, while still treating them with respect and dignity. (regardless of their religion or sins they may have committed).

    April 13, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • BADGUY

      With the anti-progressive bent of the last two Popes and the rise of right wing "organizations" within the Catholic church, like Opus Dei and the Knights of Malta, the church has made a definite swing to the Far right.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  6. Nik

    "Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home." – Yes, it is.

    "It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans." – Not all Americans want your so-called contributions.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  7. Welled

    Here I got your "freedom". I can tell you where it is too. Its in the writtings of your "church" not the why but the drafts and notes that were used to make up a lot of what many of you take as "gospel". Not many of you know but some do. It's whole cloth what is being perpetrated by your "church". So I officialy excommunicate you from religion. Not that I consider myself a big deal. Some do. So put away your vestments in some vestibule and go find yourselves a babe. Or if your a nun get yourself a guy. One nun I know did. She shucked all the garbage and is happy in life. I hate to see someone suffer for no reason or purpose except to extend the empire of some paper printing swindlers. Go Bank America never come back. Signed I ain't gonna say it twice.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  8. Joe

    If a church is running a hospital or a school, then it should obey all of the laws associated with running a hospital or school, including employment laws and laws related to health care. Churches are not above the law. No one is forcing them to run businesses.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:32 am |
  9. person

    Silly Costumes = Important, better than you

    April 13, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Gotta love an organization with hierarchical haberdashery.
      The more ornate the hat, the closer that person is to God.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    Let us pray that the good God may give us faith and the Spirit.

    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 9:31 am |
    • person

      I loled. I was supposed to, right?

      April 13, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • Mick

      "The ecu-menical Councils were not predetermined by a lousy pope, but let by the Holy Spirit."

      So... instead of being led by a man who thinks he's getting orders from an invisible being, we should be ruled by a council who thinks the same thing?

      April 13, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  11. Steve

    When they start paying taxes like everyone else, then they get a say so in Government polices

    April 13, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  12. One one

    Religious liberty is not at risk. People can believe whatever they want and no one is stopping them. However, religious dominance and special accommodation is comming to an end. It's about time.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  13. citizen9

    Catholic Bishop at confession: "I confess, many Catholic universities and hospitals already supply contraceptives via insurance".

    GOP headquarters receives confession: "Ah....go in Peace....and SILENCE, my son".

    April 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  14. Vermonter

    Obambam is the most divisive president in history. The liberal lefties fear the Catholic church as it has always stood against the communists and their agenda throughout history. Obambam's agenda calls for dividing the Catholic church. What he doesn't realize is that the church has been around and seen this before.... the bum won't get far.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • Max

      Great. Now lets hear your thoughts and not Fox News

      April 13, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  15. Jerry

    Maybe if they had a few women in there they would see things a little differently.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  16. Rainer Braendlein

    @Denise

    I myself am a friend of "brevity is the soul of the wit".

    Yet complicated topics need a minimum of words.

    The Epistle to the Romans by St. Paul is also quite lengthy.

    Paul had to combat a lot of misunderstandings of the gospel in the Church of Rome.

    The gospel in itself is very simple. Only we produce so many wrong thoughts about religion.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • AF

      What? I wish I had the last 1.5 seconds of my life back.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  17. There never was a god

    last time i checked we live in a democratic society. the american people wish to have their insurance providers provide them with birth control. this means that theres a consensus within the majority. in a democracy a consensus rules, not the church. if you dont like it then get out of here, we dont need you nor want you. see the difference between you and muslims, jews, etc. is that they dont care about birth control like you do and they dont condone $ex with kids. so listen if you have an issue with the laws of america then leave america. the pope and rome do not call the shots in the country. period.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Vermonter

      OMG liberal lefties flip flopping, against church and state, for church and state..... if you don't like the church go some where else.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Max

      Hey Vermonter, go to Yahoo site where mindless people like you can quote what Fox News wants them to think all day long.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • AverageJoe76

      America was built to be that "somewhere else".

      April 13, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  18. AZ Wildcat

    Religion has been the blight on mankind for the last 2,000 years. Time to stop this medieval voodo.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  19. george

    Contraction: theology or church economics? More children means the pipeline of impressionable minds continues. With all the pain in the world, the pope asks Cuba to teach religion in school. Celibate priests: theology or economics? If they could marry, how many would not use contraception. The ones that would follow would need more money to support the family; a house, college expenses, etc.; a drain on the church's treasury. The ones that would not, would be an example of the hypocrisy of the church. Concrete examples do not work well in church arguments; dictating matters of faith which have no basis in reality work best.

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

      A church run by old,single men. Where is their touch with reality?? Where do women stand in this ?? They don't hear or care about our issues.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  20. phan222

    religion. its brought nothing but insanity, pedophiles, blood, hate, and damaged souls.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • FreedomFromReligion

      I agree, religion is fake and destructive to people.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • AverageJoe76

      Don't give religion credit for all of that. Most of it is just human nature. We can take religion out the equation, and I bet we will still have those things you mentioned.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:53 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.