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.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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. JB

    Religion's been attacking us for quite some time. About time we fight back.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  2. maniacmudd

    Jesus: You LOVE them, Like I love YOU! Make sure you take care of them and dont judge them!

    Someone in crowd: But what if they abort, or are gay or worship other gods??

    Jesus DID I F'ING STUTTER????

    April 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • *facepalm*


      April 13, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      How utterly stupid.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • y8

      Loving a person doesn't require me to love all of their actions. I can love a drug addict without encouraging them to take drugs. I can love a murder without encouraging them to commit more murder, or approving of their past murders.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • *facepalm*


      How exactly do you equate a murderer with someone who is gay?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • MarkinFL

      People like y8 will never ever ever get it.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  3. Brent

    The complaints they have are about regulations that are required in order to receive state and federal funding.

    The adoption agencies that were "driven out of business" merely lost the contracts they had from states who can't offer contracts to organizations that don't abide by its anti-discrimination policies. If they wanted to continue with private funding to facilitate adoptions, no one would stop them.

    It's the same with the Migration and Refugee Services. The government isn't saying they can't help immigrants and refugees, they're only saying that the full range of health services need to be available to them IF they want FEDERAL FUNDING.

    In both cases, what they're portraying as a crackdown or legal challenge to their works and services is merely a refusal to subsidize discrimination with public funds.

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

      Well said!!

      April 13, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • closet atheist

      I'd like to hear a catholic or other stripe of christian weigh in on this topic. Is there any valid argument in favor of the catholic church's grievances to counter Brent's points...??

      April 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Josef Bleaux


      April 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • closet atheist

      Mary Smith... you out there? You seem to have some real enlightening comments....

      April 13, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  4. Rodgers

    The Catholic Church is not being attacked, it is largely being ignored...by its own adherents. Stirring up a non-contoversy is an attempt by the elderly white men to rally the troops and reassert a dogmatic view that science has gone beyond. Gallileo is smiling.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:14 am |
  5. Voltaire

    Joe: Pointing out the abuses of religion–in this case Catholicism–is not hatred. It is high time the human race awake to the fact that religion has been the bane of civilization and advancement from the beginning. AS Robert Ingersol once said, "It is a mendicant, a beggar", which contributes little and which then has the temerity to tell its followers it is as needed as the air they breathe. Hawkins and Hitchens were right, and it is time to throw off this last vestage of barbarism that has the arrogance to claim to know the "Truth" and that should be disagree, we will burn in hell. If they believe that, fine; but do not tell me that I have to swallow (no pun intended) their dogma claptrap as public policy, then I will fight that.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • James PDX

      The Catholic church constantly committed murder during less civilized times to further their cause and remove opposition. They can no longer get away with that, so they took their anger out on small boys. Now that we've caught on to that heinous travesty, they're trying to attack women. Will their crimes against humanity never stop?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  6. HenryMiller

    "...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."

    If they're going to practice religious bigotry, they can expect some backlash.

    The day mention of religion earns the same indulgent smile as the mention of the Tooth Fairy will be a great day in Western civilisation.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  7. Rynomite

    Cut to scene in Vatican:

    Pope rubs hands together while licking his licks. Looks to the Cardinal on his right and says, "Oooh let's not allow our employees to have the option to have free birth control if they want it! That way we can ensure more little boys can be born. We need to have an endless supply of molestees!"

    April 13, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  8. Dennis

    I wonder if they will require insurance companies NOT to pay for vasectomies!!

    April 13, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • James PDX

      Of course not. The Catholic church allows men to do ANYTHING they want, as long as they don't do it with grown men.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  9. yakman2

    The Cat Lick church is out of touch with reality...plain and simple....

    April 13, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  10. Cody

    The Catholic Church doesn't have to operate non-religious affiliates that employ normal women either. But they chose to, and now they complain that they're being violated by having to offer coverage to these people. You would think that they would be tolerant enough to allow people to make their own choices...

    But they're not. And that's the great downfall of the Catholic church. The other denominations have adopted tolerance as a policy, while the Catholicism has stuck to its guns.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:05 am |
  11. nightsun2k7

    "Bishops take on 'attack' on religion."...the moment they take on the "attack" of little boys, is when i might give them some cred. Also, they need to stop taking peoples money and don't give me that crap that they use it to help others. Just look at those freakin churches and buildings.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  12. silverhorse

    Let me see if I'm understanding this right......the church (as a collective group) wants to maintain it's "freedom" to tell other people what rights they can/cannot have and what life choices they can/cannot make? They feel only they are qualified to decide that "good works" are to the benifit of the people, no matter what the people themselves decide? They are demanding the right to be at liberty to take away the liberty of others?


    I'm not sure how any reasoned mind can think this is a good thing.

    But it does explain why more and more people are leaving the church. Apparently modern Christians are not finding thumbscrews and iron maidens to be acceptable fashion accessories anymore.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Joe

      The church only wants to regulate what the members of its orginization can do. Catholics have a choice whether or not they want to be in the religion and the employees of the catholic church have the choice on whether to work for them or not. The government is not giving the Catholic church a choice on what services it has to provide for its employees.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • CMH

      Good news. Cathoic churches can tell their employees that they have to use bacon as a contraception if they want.

      The Catholic church also wants the right to dictate health care (or lack of it) in organizations that are not church owned. Look at the hopitals near you. I'm guessing they all have some kind of church affiliation. Now think of the empolyees. If the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or non religious staff at the hospital were forced to quit over Catholic dogma then you would have very few employees.

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

      Only in the public arena, not in its churches. Don't use fed dollars and then you don't follow federal rules. That simple.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Think Instead

      You are over simplifying. The church should have the freedom to dictate the behavior of their followers. Those same followers have the CHOICE not to be Catholic.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Number one, the church can NEVER dictate anything to anyone. End of subject there. ( Guess what percentage of Catholics use Contraception?)
      Also, many employees are not members.
      This is still only about using government money AND wanting to be able to discriminate. Too bad.!

      April 13, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  13. Tony

    You're all missing the point here. This is not "blame-your-local-church-for-your-misserable-life-day" This is about the separation of church and state that your president seems to not care about. It's about the Federal Government forcing others to do something against their principles. What's next? Mormons will have to share their wives with Muslims? or perhaps a mandate to share a percentage of your profit with "the underprivileged"? Stop the nonsense and realize that Obama does not have the best interest of the American people in his heart. He's bitter and will make you pay for it.

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

      Contraception isn't against the principles of God. It's against the principles of the corrupt leaders of the cult which claims to follow his laws. If I claim to follow the laws of America, but decide to ignore the ones I don't like and make up others which I think will benefit me, then I am the equivalent of a modern day Catholic.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Thomas

      Bollocks. It's political grandstanding against the black muslim kenyan.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • *facepalm*

      If you're against birth control, don't take it. Why does the Catholic church want the right to impose its belief upon non-Catholics. Why doesn't the church trust its own members?

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

      It is about separation of church and state. Health care access is a civil right. Catholics aren't forced to do anything against their consience, they simply should not be allowed to deny non believing employees that right.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • LT

      Tony I agree with you, this is about keeping Church and State separate. We fought for freedom of religion, we came to America to have the right to practice what we believe or don’t believe. Forcing a church, any church denomination to go against their beliefs is a violation of what we the people came here to the America for in the first place.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Your tax dollars pay for social welfare programmes. You're allready sharing a percentage of your profit with "the underprivileged".

      April 13, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • *facepalm*

      "We fought for freedom of religion, we came to America to have the right to practice what we believe or don’t believe"

      So you're fine with polygamy for fundamentalist mormons? Many religions also don't have a problem with underage marriage, so I'm sure you're cool with that, too, right? Because otherwise you'd be a hypocrite.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • LH20

      The government is NOT forcing the Catholic church to do something it does not want to (referring for contraception, etc.) the government is ONLY telling them to do it because the church wants government money. If the church does not want government money, they don't have to follow government regulations. The church came to the government then complains that the government is forcing them is an invalid argument.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • LT

      Seriously, non-believing employees in a catholic church, really?! Only a catholic would be working for a catholic church (for the most part) and they know the beliefs of that church and agreed to the conditions of employment when they accepted the job, most Catholics do not have an issue with the catholic church not providing birth control. And Planned Parenthood provides birth control for free to those who cannot afford it. If someone (anyone) really wanted birth control they could get it (and for free).

      April 13, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • J.W

      Tony that sounds like a slippery slope fallacy to me. It seems that some people only want separation of church and state when it is good for them. When it is not good for them then they think that the government should be able to pass any law it wants governing morality.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • *facepalm*

      @LT – do you really think that Catholic-run hospitals only employ Catholic doctors, nurses, and staff? If so, please join the rest of us in the real world.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • LT

      you do realize there is a difference between what I am talking about and the pathetic examples you are talking about.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • LT

      *facepalm* – Can you READ! – did you miss the part when I said "for the most part" and "they know the beliefs of that church and agreed to the conditions of employment when they accepted the job"
      ""Only a catholic would be working for a catholic church (((((((for the most part)))))) and they know the beliefs of that church and agreed to the conditions of employment when they accepted the job""

      April 13, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • *facepalm*

      @LT – ok, you're a hypocrite. You only want the freedom to practice your beliefs – your fine with the government telling other people they can't practice theirs. Where's the line?

      The fact that you see a difference is what's pathetic. Stop excusing misogyny.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • *facepalm*

      @LT – the whole point of the law is to protect non-Catholic employees. Please educate yourself.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Also, your made-up assumptions are quite baseless. Studies have shown about 80% of employees at Catholic-run hospitals are non-Catholics. Get a clue, dude.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  14. Rainer Braendlein

    How long do we still want to endure the daddy rat and his 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 10:03 am |
    • Really?

      UGH you type way to much.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Think Instead

      And I'm surprised your rose colored glasses haven't shattered under the stress.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • just sayin

      You have not mastered BREVITY. I don't bother reading the ramblings. However in respect to your first sentence. How long do we have to endure mystical thinking people? I say bring back the arenas and lions.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  15. Question Everything

    The problem here is the lack of ackowledgement that this isn't about an attack on religion, it's that they are not getting what they want and disguising it as an attack. People get told "no" all the time, deal with it.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  16. Really?

    “It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans". Really? I might take this stand more seriously if the Pope,Cardinals,Bishops, Priests who were/are involved in the various child abuses and cover-ups over the last umpteen years cared about the commond good of all innocent, unprotected children! THIS is what these guys should be screaming about, not about common sense birth control, which is the best way to avoid abortion. Abortion is child abuse and wrong as well and should be addressed by having the Church, each diocese, operate a temporary home for pregnant women to receive care to avoid abortions (with parishoner volunteers if they truly would step up to the plate in an attempt to stamp out abortion), not by the 'good ol' boys' pointing their fingers and condemning and then going about their own lives while so many pregnant women struggle with this issue. Let's see some REAL common sense contributions where there would be real caring!

    April 13, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • Really?

      Oh and by the way.....I totally disagree with myself and what I typed above.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • A Catholic Woman

      I live on the border of two Catholic Dioceses and they both have homes for pregnant women and mothers and newborns. They are run and supported by laity and totally free to the residents. As far as contraception lowering the number of abortions, it's not factually supported. You can look it up if you like. Non-Catholic secular universities have done studies. The abortion rate remains constant despite wide spread and more affordable contraception. Even Planned Parenthood won a Supreme Court case in the 1980s on the stance that conception that occurs even with contraception results in the necessity of abortion.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Then you are looking at old studies. Frankly, contraception obviously reduces abortion by reducing unwanted pregnancies which is the source of 99.5% of all elective abortions. To argue that contraceptives does not reduce abortion is like arguing that seat belts do not save lives.
      Do you believe abstinence reduces abortion? Same exact physical result as effective contraception. (except contraception is more realistic)

      April 13, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • *facepalm*

      To Mark's point, when fertility rates are accounted for, increased contraception results in decreased abortion rates.


      April 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  17. Jeff Williams

    """Religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad"""

    Holy whine.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Horay for factless blanket statements that promote fear!

      April 13, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Think Instead

      Get the cheese!

      April 13, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  18. pastmorm

    Has anyone watched, "The Borgias" on Showtime? You know it's based on true incidents within the Catholic Church. The pope had kids, they were killing each other and other people, lust, greed, corruption...etc. The current pope is the head of the current day "Inquisition" (look it up)...there's a lot of love for ya. Catholics need to go down on the ship they've been plowing into each native country for centuries. Their time is up. Only a fool would believe in their precepts.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Joe

      It was also of events that happened over a hundred years ago. Judging a whole orginization by a few individuals is lunacy. Also, that show is created by liberal hollywood which are trying to paint them in as much bad light as they can. Because it is based on true events does not mean it is exactly what happened.

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

      Joe is right. The Spanish inquisition was probably just one drunk Spaniard poking some dude in the chest and calling his mother bad names.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Think Instead

      @PDX put her in....... the comfy chair! Confess old woman!

      April 13, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  19. The Jackdaw

    A 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 9:58 am |
    • dabble53

      Actually, the catholic church went to great lengths in terms of their hospitals and such to get them declared to be businesses, in order to be able to collect insurance (like medicare) payments from the government. So, treat them like the business they are (and strove to be.)

      April 13, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      Great. Soon they will be looking for a bail-out.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  20. 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. Those who believe the church is trying to force their religion on you are foolish. The one true gift God gave us is the ability to choose. You didn't have to read that article. You chose to.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Those who believe the church is trying to force their religion on you are foolish."""

      There's no point in arguing with you because you, sir, are clueless.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Dave

      No Jeff Williams you are the clueless one.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Thomas

      "Seriously, the hatred spewed by the unreligious is mind boggling."

      Surpassed only by the vitriol of the so-called "religious"

      April 13, 2012 at 10:16 am |
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About this blog

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.