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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. Rainer Braendlein

    @ The Jackdaw (thank the King of Pruzzia)

    Isn't it fun how we can mock the holy rat today.

    Some centuries before he had beheaded us for this without hesitation.

    Thank God for Frederic the Great, who promoted enlightenment and finished Catholic Europe by fighting against the Habsburgians.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  2. James PDX

    The Catholic religion is a following of the New and Old Testaments which ostensibly contain the word and law of God. Therefore, the Catholics can deny women contraception when they can show us where in either book of fairy tales it says that women can't use them. If it isn't there, they need to just shut up and quit trying to change the rules of their cult. if God didn't say it, it isn't a rule.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • justme

      sorry james but the catholic religion does not even come close to following the books they claim to teach. they have been lying to the people that revere them for centuries.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • just sayin

      Take your opinion and a buck and see if you can get something from the dollar menu at McDonalds. God bless

      April 13, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • James PDX

      justme, I see we agree.

      just sayin – I can. But great job refuting my "opinion" with all of the solid facts you could think of.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  3. Chasbo

    Will these bishops ever respect our right to "not believe"? When the traditions of our secular government separating church and state are under attack from the relgious right, I find the idea of "religious freedom" to be self serving;. It's freedom as long as you believe as they do.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Woody Stemms

      Bolshoi!

      Read the scientific studies, and weep.

      "Prayer" doesn't do diddley for the sick.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Joe

      Not really. Pray helps in a way, but it shouldn't be relayed upon like crack for an addict which is what it is to a lot of people. People like yo.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • James PDX

      Some people pray and good things happen. Others pray and nothing or bad things happens. Fact. Some people don't pray and good things happen. Some people don't pray and bad things or nothing happens. Fact. So explain again how prayer makes a difference when the results are the same – arbitrary and random.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven

      April 13, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • jimtanker

      http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_6894/is_1_14/ai_n58571135/

      April 13, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • James PDX

      Atheism is healthy for children and other living things – Great comeback. You really showed me. I never knew you could just say "proven" and that was all of the proof you need. You sir, are a sheople. Proven. Anything you say is foolish. Proven. I win, and I even played by your own rules.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! –

      April 13, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  5. Anti-Organized Religion

    Can someone explain to me how one of the largest control structures in the world, that has done nothing but oppress true freedom. You know 600 years of inclusion in slavery, turning their heads during the Holocaust, condoning the torture of women in the 14th & 15th centuries, promoting illiteracy, editing the bible to help promote their control structure(Pope Gregory 13th century), non-inclusion of women in everything (except to cook, clean, and procreate to keep the flock filled with blind ignorant subjects). Would know a dam thing about freedom. Don't get me wrong I'm a spiritual and religious person and believe in God, but I also respect everyone's religious affiliations. However, I'm getting pretty dam sick of organized religion, it is like organized crime. A setup meant to benefit those at the top of the organization at the expense of everybody else. The United States in a country of religious freedom Roman Catholic Church so stop trying to shove your religious slavery down American throats.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  6. Vad

    Love the religion bashing going on. People who say religion is the cause of all these wars make me laugh. Religion is merely one of the tools people of power exploit to keep the masses divided, not the cause. What are the root causes of war? Power, money, land, resources, women? What causes people to fight over these? 1. Lust 2. Gluttony 3. Greed 4. Wrath 5. Envy 6. Sloth 7. Pride. Religion tries to point this out to us but we do not see.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Joe

      True wisdom Vad.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Joe

      Actually, that comes from a book that trashed the Church. Dante's Inferno.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • BADGUY

      I agree..BUT...where is the Catholic Church's multi-year campaign to eradicate or lessen those vices? It appears THIS campaign is directed, solely, at maintaining the Church's right to not pay its female employees for contraceptive coverage. And...I suspect..the real campaign is to move the Catholic Voters to vote against B. Obama in November.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • James PDX

      Vad, maybe religion should point it out to their leaders. They don't seem to get it. Or they're just hypocrites.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Vad

      For Joe, the 7 deadly sins have been used by early Christians since around the year 325. They were called "Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins." The poem Dantes Inferno used them to describe a chilling version of the layers of hell. That was not written until the 14th century but it certainly did have an impact on 14th century culture. As to why leaders, church or otherwise don't heed their own teachings... Why do drug companies treat symptoms and not find cures? Why do some police officers break the law? Why do auto mechanics charge you for repairs you don't get? Why do lawyers get people off they know are guilty? Why do people on food stamps buy cigaretts, liquor or gamble? I could go on and on but the answer is that we are just people.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  7. Joe

    Seriously, the hatred spewed by the unreligious is mind boggling. And they call the church evil when the only thing that comes out of them is hatred. You all should look in the mirror before you start ranting about what's good and evil in this country. As Jesus said to those who would stone the adulterer "he who is without sin, cast the first stone." You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  8. BADGUY

    We would like to hear from the IRS regarding the compliance of the Catholic Church with rules laid down to ensure it hasn't participated in the political activity that would preclude it's tax free status.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Yeah, ploticians never make decisions based on religion, especially Republicans.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Tommy

      Even though the Church isn't allowed to lobby political issues or support certain candidates for election, it still has a right to defend itself under the IRS 501c3 law you are talking about. The Church believes that its own rights are being infringed upon, so it is at liberty to do what it thinks is appropriate in calling for protection of those rights.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  9. Bill Ricard

    geeeeezzz first they stop us from loving little boys, and now they want to take away our tax exemptions. This has to be an attack on religious freedom!

    April 13, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    How long do we still want to endure the holy rat and its church. Let us accomplish enlightenment and abolish the rat-church at last.

    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 9:46 am |
    • Mohammed Cohen

      How hypocritical and ten-faced garbage! You said in your double tounge nonesense "Abolish the Vatican and Islam and many other cults, sects and false churches and the mankind would become much happier"... but how conveniently you forgot the third religion "Judaism". Abolishing Christianity and Islam is the panacea for you but keeping the Talmudic tyranny is OK? Shame on your hypocritical and bigoted filthy mind!

      April 13, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • BADGUY

      After years in the Catholic Church, I'm FINALLY starting to realize why Martin Luther (a Catholic Monk) decided "enough is enough".

      April 13, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  11. louis

    Let them as the Pope who allowed child molesters to move around to molest more kids clean up their own house first before they try to tell us what to do.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  12. BostonLegal02110

    Oh, poor ole sad ole Catholic Church!

    Haven't you heard of the First Amendment?? You ARE ALREADY PROTECTED!

    Stop playing politics!

    April 13, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  13. GreenWoman

    I think Catholic organizations should be able to do anything they want, and not do anything they don't want, *as long as they are not receiving federal or state funds, or are not exempt from federal and state taxes.*

    April 13, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      No church should be tax exempt unless they can prove that over 50% of their yearly income is being put back into the community through charity. Otherwise they are a business, not a church, and they should have to pay like the rest of us.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  14. Rainer Braendlein

    The name of the current pope is Joseph Ratzinger.

    "Ratz" means rat in bavarian dialect.

    A man, whose name is rat, is pope. That fits well.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Maybe "inger" means exterminator. Maybe it means Holy King. Maybe it means Boy Lover.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @ The Jackdaw

      Isn't it fun how we can mock the holy rat today.

      Some centuries before he had beheaded us for this without hesitation.

      Thank God for Frederic the Great, who promoted enlightenment and finished Catholic Europe by fighting against the Habsburgians.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Oh no! What if "inger" means Habsburgian!

      April 13, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  15. The Jackdaw

    The threat that the church needs to face is their own refusal to evolve. Instead of moving forward with society, they are moving backwards, looking to draconian standards for support. This is only seporating them from the world more and more. Eventually people will be unable to relate to the church, and the church will evaporate. Without valuing their women, they have already excluded 51% of their supporters. The strength of the church is in the congregation, not the Pope. If they fail to see that, they will vanish.....but maybe thats okay.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  16. Welled

    I actually like you people thats why I wrote undersigned. Your lovers of cultures which is great not anything bad. Your a great social organization. However keeping people trapped in the name of pacification of workers and citizens obeidence etc. You were bought for a price. Servants etc. Guys wake up. Seriously they have you waiting till the end where all the people that piled it high get theres. Where they fling their gold out of caves. All in the last day. Stop waiting for it. The earth is blessed. No sweat. See the whole earth. You skipped that step. Turning Jesus into something he isn't. Sure the whole earth bows to him supposdly. Familiar ring to it isn't there? So you were mostly nice to me in life. So I'll be nice to you. Get a life. Have a nice life. The earth is a great place.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  17. jimtanker

    They need to start handing out fliers to their own priests to remind them not to diddle little boys in the rear before they start whining about their imaginary persecution.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  18. BADGUY

    What is the difference between Islamic Sharia Law and the Catholic Church's demands for immunity from our laws based on religious principles?

    April 13, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Tommy

      The difference is that we have a First Amendment and the Islamists have AK-47s. Not very similar at all if you ask me.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  19. The Bishops are Right

    The Bishops have set in place a plan that will attempt to protect the unprotected. Our country values freedom in a way that may be hindering our collective duty to protect those that are younger and weaker. Municipalities and states that do not allow Catholic charities to house feed and protect the unwanted because the church opposes gay marriage is wrong. It is an intrusion by government on the right to observe ones faith and the duty to protect the unprotected. The federal government’s actions to force contraception mandates on Catholic charities is another intrusion. Good for the Bishops, they are heroes. Their position is one that supports the weaker in our communities, and supports the basis of society; the family. Their cause is noble and honorable.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • BADGUY

      The Catholic Bishops and Church organizations are bound to follow ALL laws of the United States, whether they agree with them or not. Making their hospitals and universities pay for contraceptives is nothing that any and all other organizations in the United States are required to do. So, such requirements are not directed at the Catholic church to limit its "freedom of religion". The Bishops can contact their political representatives, if they so desire, to have these laws changed. Until then, they are bound to comply.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  20. Smako

    If people who believe are wrong, they have done no harm. If people who don't believe are wrong the consequences are greater than the blissful feeling of hangovers and STDs. Read the book, if they turn you away, knock the dust of their doorway off from your feet as you leave. You didn't read about Christ going back to the same people over and over again trying to convince them.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • jimtanker

      You are attempting to use a form of Pascal’s Wager and you are losing. In fact, if you want to use Pascal’s Wager YOU should be a musIim. Their heaven, getting 72 vir-gins, is much cooler than your heaven. Now if you really want the best deal then you should be a Pastafarian. The FSM heaven has a beer volcano and a stri-pper factory. And even if you don’t go there, their heII is the same as their heaven except the beer is flat and the stri-ppers all have V D.
      Can I get a R’amen?

      April 13, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • closet atheist

      @ Smako ~~ "If people who don't believe are wrong the consequences are greater than the blissful feeling of hangovers and STDs."

      Idiots like you make me sick. You people are so brainwashed. Religiosity does not equal morality. And lack of a faith does not mean amoral. Most moral codes that we value predate any organized religions of today. Educate yourself before making vile assumptions and spewing your idiotic, close-minded views.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • AverageJoe76

      Then lay it all out on the table Smako, you believe because you don't want to go to hell, right? Does that mean one of the main reasons you have faith is due to fear? Your fear of what could happen if you turn your back on God?

      Where's the love?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:30 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.