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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.”

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. ron

    This so-called war on religion is so ridiculous that even the reassertion of separation of church and state is now considered a war on religion. If religious organizations want to accept government money, they have to go by the rules. They aren't used to that.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Johnny in NC

      No, you are wrong...giving money does not allow the government to push aside the first amendment.... you know the part the says no infringement on the "free exercise thereof". That is part of the bill of rights the atheist academics have convinced the left does not exist. Obama.... just look at who his friends and contributors are and you will see the story clearly. He has been a big disappointment to me...he is a bigger liar than Bush.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • *facepalm*

      @Johnny – so the government should allow fundamentalist mormons the free exercise of polygamy, right?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • J.W

      This has nothing to do with the first amendment. That is just what people who hate Obama say. Everyone still has the same religious freedom they had before.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • y8

      So you're saying that if you receive welfare, medicaid, food stamps or any other government aid that the government can tell you what to say, do and think? Very interesting. . . .

      April 13, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • *facepalm*

      say and do and think? No. Don't be obtuse. How is the government telling anyone how to think. Please. You just have to follow the laws written by your democratically elected officials. Simple.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Johnny in NC

      JW- I assure you I worked many fold harder to get this president elected for free than you will work for any other candidate in your lifetime. So my feeling on Obama are those of betrayal, lies and hypocracy, because I have actually kept up with what he promised and how he gone against those since day one. I am not just a partisan banner waiver like many others.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • J.W

      I do not see insurance covering contraception as an attack on religion still. Catholics have to get their medicine from a pharmacy, and generally pharmacies carry contraception. So how would that be different. The money you would be spending there still could be used to purchase contraception.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  2. Prince Albert

    Seems Liberals are all for Freedom of Speech and Religion- so long as it agrees with their viewpoint.

    Personally- I despise Libs and won't assocuiate or allow my family to associate with them any longer

    April 13, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • maniacmudd

      Why don't ya just leave the country? Iran would LOVE your frame of mind....sad as it is!

      April 13, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Johnny in NC

      Don't despise all of them....some are just sheep being lead by Atheist academic types who have completely conquered the left.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • One one

      Christians preach god sends people to hell for not believing as they do. That is intolerance for others viewpoint.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • nope

      nope

      April 13, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • sam stone

      atheist academic types? i suppose sheeple are better?

      April 13, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • closet atheist

      What about us conservative non-believers? I feel so alone.

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

      How Christian of you to despise people.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  3. rad666

    Golly gee, not one woman bishop. Religion for men only? Oh yeah, women are second class citizens in most religions.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Brian McNally

      If you travel in Europe and visit the old churches you will see fewer young people. The catholic church is behind the times in its dealing with women, marriage of priests, ordaining of women priests as well as looking at its own mess, hiding pedophile priests. No wonder I left the church forty years ago, its a relic.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • madonfan

      The problem isn't that there isn't women. The problem is the Catholic faith. When Jesus gave his life, the priesthood became null and void. He became our high priest and the church His royal priesthood. Meaning EVERYONE became his royal priesthood. The rock they claim built their church which is Peter, was married! Peter's confession was the rock not Peter in which God built His church. There are so many rules and regulations that are truly not necessary that the Catholic Church engage in. Same God and Jesus, just not the way God intended for us to expand His church. Rule of thumb. If you have any books along with the bible, the "religion" should be something you stay away from. The Catechism was not God breathed. Only the bible. We need to open our eyes people. In love I say this. Catholicism is not the poster child for Christianity and shouldn't be viewed as such. Non-denominational teaching of the bible. Period!

      April 13, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • y8

      I'm sure you're also on the top of the list of people who think that women should be members of Augusta National Golf Club. The last time I looked, this is a free country. As a private club they should be allowed to invite and admit whomever they want. As the Chairman of the club keeps explaining to the press, the membership decides who will be admitted. Why don't you whiners go start your own club. You can even have an all women's club if you want, but who would want to join that?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  4. Russ

    It has always been the accepted truth that religious freedom is a personal freedom. You are free to worship in any way you see fit, which is why snake handlers are allowed to handle dangerous snakes. However, your freedom ends when it comes up against the right of anyone else. Thus, if your religion calls for human sacrifice you're welcome to believe it but unwelcome to practice it. It seems to be fairly clear, then, that this is not an "attack" on religion. If a state recognizes the right of a gay couple to adopt then the church can't infringe on that right in the name of religion. If women have a right to access to contraceptives then the church can't infringe on it in the name of religion, either. The church is entirely within its rights to preach whatever it sees fit, but it can't impose those beliefs on others... because that violates the First Amendment rights of those people to be non-Catholics.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Johnny in NC

      The church just doesn't have to pay for the birth control.... nor should anyone have to pay for anyone else's bc...If you
      are old enough and mature enough to play, you are old enough to PAY!!!

      April 13, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Russ

      The rule as it stands doesn't require the Catholic church to pay for anyone's birth control. Still, all health insurance is socialized. Everyone in a group plan subsidizes the access of everyone else. Of course, one has to wonder if this is actually true anyway. Quakers believe violence is never the answer, but they're required to pay taxes that fund the Department of Defense.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Daniel

      Russ, I appreciate your well-composed response. The flaw in your approach is that, if all religion must change their practices in order to conform to what the state deems as rights, then it ultimately leaves the state in charge of religion in this country. I agree no organization should have the right to infringe on another rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but the Catholic church isn't making an attempt here to deny that others; they are simply trying to get out of being forced to fund products and practices to which they have a moral opposition. The only group that's having its rights infringed here is the Catholic Church.

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

      Thanks, Daniel! I understand that this is certainly the way the church feels, I'm just not sure it's a logical extension of how the First Amendment has been historically applied. Of course, IANAL, but Catholic organizations are required to do other things that might be considered infringing. For instance, in WA we have the Death With Dignity act, which allows for terminally ill people to seek physician-assisted suicide. Catholic organizations aren't required to participate (and none do), but they ARE required to refer patients seeking such a service to another physician that does participate. So, in essence, they're required to facilitate suicide because the state has defined "death with dignity" as a right, and thus a Catholic organization can't impede it.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • closet atheist

      @ Russ ~~ Until the church gives up its tax-exempt status, they must play by the non-discrimination rules that apply to all.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  5. One one

    "religious freedom campaign" = Protect our phoney cushy jobs campaign.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  6. dollydocker

    looking at the above photo i am reminded of victor hugo's observation of the repressive nature of religion :every community has a tourch bearer and an extinguisher ,being a metaphor for the teacher and the priest .again when i glance at the photo i ask myself what is the true meaning of the verse in the song "suffer little children come unto me " these religious types want to inflict society with a solopistic view that is so void of reason and rational thought that they should be comedians .

    April 13, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  7. Chuck

    You don't get an excused pass from the law just because you suck "Saint" in the name of your business.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  8. Potrzebie

    Let's see.....the Inquisition, helping bring the Nazis to power, helping to spirit Nazi war criminals out of Europe after the war, the death of the majority of continent of Africa due to AIDS, the ever widening child molestation scandals and cover-up and involvement of the Pope/Ratzinger in that cover-up. I can't imagine why people are leaving the Catholic Church.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  9. Johnny in NC

    Thank you Catholic church for telling it straignt. This administration under the influence of Project Reason (Bill Mahar et al) are out to destroy faith of any form. The fact that Mr. Mahar has any influence what so ever on our President is alarming. There is an all out assault of faith in the Nation and this President appears to be leading the troops. Is it any wonder that Ricky Gervais (another Reason Project advisor) thinks he (Obama) is an atheist down deep inside. Its an silent assault....deny deny deny....but follow the money.

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

      OK Chicken Little.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • PMS

      Really? Attack on your faith? How about you nut cases trying to outlaw abortions because of your mytholigical Jesus belief? What about your demonizing of gay men and women? If you don't want the government in your business, keep your church out of the government. You are a bunch of hypocrites.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • PMS

      Further, being called an atheist should never be an insult. You believe in a mythological god-man with no facts to back up his existence. Atheists are smart enough to know it's all myth. You people make me want to vomit, you are so unbelievably uneducated and gullible.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • closet atheist

      Ha ha... North Carolina... anybody surprised? Johnny, I bet you want prayer in school too, huh...??

      April 13, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • y8

      For Ms. PMS, first of all, abortion should be illegal because it is MURDER, not because Jesus ever said 'Don't kill your babies'. Second, there is more historical records of the existence of Jesus than there is for you. More first hand accounts of his activity and actions than there is for you. Whether you want to believe Jesus was the son of God or not, you're a revisionist if the claim Jesus is a fictional character. I'm sure you think the Holocaust was made up by the Jews and Americans as a way to control oil in the middle east too.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • sam stone

      y8: does putting murder in caps make it any more so? the fact of the matter is, it is not murder anywhere in this country.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  10. EC

    It is not an attack to call false and harmful that which is false and harmful.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  11. The Truth

    It's funny how people who don't agree with what the Catholic Church stands for seem to point only the instances (which are few and far between when looked at in the broader scope of the history of the religion) that degrade the Church. They typically fail to mention that the Catholic Church does more for the sick, homeless, underprivileged, and mankind as a whole than any other organization of the FACE OF THE EARTH. If you think this world is a sad place right now, just imagine it without the Catholic Church.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • William Demuth

      Truth

      You can't be serious!

      These men are PARASITES

      April 13, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Humanist11

      I agree some religious organizations help relieve suffering around, but at what price? The motivation behind the charity is to convert more followers to their form of delusion. If the Catholic church cared so much about those that are suffering, they would not spend so much money on lavish buildings and wildly expensive ceremonies. The organization (not individuals necessarily) will not help unless there is a profit in it for them.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • closet atheist

      @ The Truth ~~ As Humanist11 stated, it's all about the church's motives. Good deeds by the church are not selfless. They are just an outlet for missionary work.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • The Truth

      So it's not enough that they help more people on the planet than any other organization, country, or government has ever helped or likely will ever help? People get hung up on buildings? If they spent money on buildings only, and didn't provide the charity they do, then yes, I would say that is a problem. But that's not the case, so this isn't a real problem. Furthermore, if you believed in something so deeply and lived your life for that thing, wouldn't you want to pass that along to others? I guess some people see it as pushing religion on others, but Catholics see it as passing along the most valuable gift that can ever be given.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • closet atheist

      @ The Truth ~~ "I guess some people see it as pushing religion on others, but Catholics see it as passing along the most valuable gift that can ever be given."

      This is the arrogant (stupid? naive?) thinking of the church and its followers. What makes YOURS so right? You are so convinced you've got it right... in direct conflict with those of various other religious beliefs or non-beliefs. Aggressive missionary work is arrogant self-promotion.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • The Truth

      It may or may not be right, but when did it become wrong to believe? Catholics are not convinced they "have it right" they simply have faith and hope, and find strength in Catholicism. They see, know, and feel in their hearts what the religion has done for their lives and want to make that known to others. The fact of the matter is that without an open mind, we all suffer, which you have made very clear in your post. Your narrowmindedness is no better than the exact people you claim have arrogant, naive, or stupid thinking. Don't you see that the very thing you are speaking out against also seems to be your ideology? You don't know what is right and true just as much as I don't know what is right and true. But to simply condemn what you don't believe is just as bad as spreading what you do.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  12. LT

    Rodgers
    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 10:29 am |
    • William Demuth

      LT

      Many Catholic school teachers are not Catholic.

      Most are Christian, but not Catholic. Some are other faiths, and some are Athiests

      April 13, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • *facepalm*

      @LT,

      There are already provisions in the law whereby a church-run business that employs only members of the church is exempt from the law. This is ONLY relevant from church-run businesses who employ people of a different (or no) faith.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • J.W

      I agree with William on this one. Generally if you work for the catholic church and are involved in the priesthood or ministry then you must be catholic, but a church custodian or bookkeeper for example would not need to be catholic.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Russ

      The US is littered with Catholic hospitals – St. Mary's, St. Luke's, St. Joseph's – that employee thousands of people, many of whom are not Catholic.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • y8

      So LT and facepalm think that only Catholics work for the Catholic church? Are you advocating that the church discriminate against people because of their religious beliefs - or lack there of? What about the small business owner who is strong in his Catholic beliefs. He now has to pay for his employees to commit acts that the employer sees as immoral. I'm not saying he should have the right to tell his employees how to behave in their personal lives, I'm saying he should be stuck footing the bill. Is it OK for the employer to make the employee sign a 'morals' clause contract? Is that even legal? Can the employer ask what the potential employees religious beliefs are? I don't think so.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  13. Josef Bleaux

    Religion = Mythology. Period. End of story.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Mike

      Atheism must be so awesome. It's the only religion where, just by claiming to adhere to it, you can also claim to be more intelligent than 80% of the world's population. How cool is that?! Free IQ just for picking one unprovable belief over another one! Sadly, I guess I'm just too dumb to be able to navigate all this fancy scientific 'proof" out there that God doesn't exist. I guess I'll just go back to my unintelligent, hum-drum life of seeing the exact same patterns of order that all those scientists see, but attributing them to an infinitely intelligent God who designed them that way rather than to random chance.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Prince Albert

      you=insane , nuff said

      April 13, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • closet atheist

      @ Mike ~~ You clearly are not stupid. Just misguided. It's not your fault. Indoctrination from early childhood does that.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Mark Bailey

      Now there is a classic example of a short, well thought out argument! I'm really greatful that atheists are coming out everywhere. I'm so sick of these religious nuts thinking that people of thought threaten their world. It is quite the opposite. Thoughtless people (the religious) are the real threat to our peaceful existence.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  14. Billy C

    Weird. Where's their outrage over Mennonites and Quakers being forced to fund violence?

    Church leaders are hypocrites. In other news, the sun rose in the East this morning.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  15. happyprimate

    Religion has been attacking humanity and free thought for thousands of years. It has demanded, on pain of death for most of that time, that you could not believe otherwise. There is no reasonable basis to believe anything in religion is actually real or true. Religion knows it cannot withstand the light of reason and free thought. Religion's clergy are desparately frightened of actual facts that show its falacies for what they are. These bishops are scared that their flock they regularly fleece might actually start living in reality. It is quite amusing to watch their pompus indignity. They know they will disappear like vampire in sunlight when the light of reason is shown upon them.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  16. William Demuth

    It's time we drive a stake through the heart of this evil organization.

    They are on the ropes, just a few more blows and they will go the way of all the cons that came before them.

    Strike now, and seek the death blow. Choke them of money, prosecute them for their deviances and tax them into oblivion.

    The hundreds of thousands whose lives were destroyed by them will bear witness to what we do now.

    Let us find the courage to slay the beast.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Will

      hundreds of thousands? where are you getting your info. from? hallucinations?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • William Demuth

      Will

      Do you have more than a third grade education?

      Christian war ALONE has called the deaths of that many.

      Study history for half a century and we can talk

      April 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Will

      do you know how to google.? Google the topic on how many people were killed by atheistic communist governments before hallucinating. you may also want to try bing as an alternative. living in wilful ignorance does not help with historical knowledge

      April 13, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  17. xab

    Look at that gaggle of evil men up there.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  18. Jay Kenney

    The leaders of the catholic church cannot control their "flock". 98 percent of catholic women use or have used birth control. These old men of the chuch are presiding over its decline. Jesus would not recognize his church.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Ian

      That stat has been debunked multiple times, even by some on the left.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  19. Martin

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY

    April 13, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • America is not Jesustan

      Of course, loving Jesus is, by definition, religion, but we understand: the kids realizes that religion is the source of so much evil in this world, and he is desperately trying to seperate his invisible friend from the damage that the belief in invisible friends does.

      This video is nothing but a weird mix of denial, delusion, and hypocrisy. Which is exactly what religion is.

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

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLta2b9zQ64

      April 13, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  20. Nancy Myers

    It's an effort by the Church to preserve just a little corner of liberty for everybody before everything, including our once free spirits, are controlled by the government.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Jay Kenney

      Really Nancy, do you live in a communist country? You poor thing.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • happyprimate

      Nancy, there is no such thing as liberty within religion, particularly the catholic religion. It shackles the mind and deludes and despises the worshiper. Disposing of the shackles of religion and learning the truth of the world we live in and who and what we all are is true liberation of the mind and body from false guilt and shame. There is no evidence that there have ever been anything other than man-made gods and people who have used them to frighten other people into doing as they want.

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

      You have never had the right to impose your religious beliefs on someone else, which is what the Catholic Bishops are trying to do by denying access to birth control to non-Catholic employees of Catholic organizations. The First Amendment protects your right to worship, but that right ends whenever it infringes on the right of another. Thus, you can believe birth control is wrong, but you can't deny someone else access to it simply because of that belief. That violates the First Amendment right of the non-Catholic.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:45 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.