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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. asdf

    because if there's one thing the Holy See has been concerned with, its religious liberty....

    ...riiiiiiight.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  2. CAH

    There is no war on religion. This is made up to work everyone into a tizzy. The religious hospitals and school all take federal money so I say to them stop taking federal money. Then you can run your schools and hospitals like you want. As long as you are in line for a hand out you should play by the rules that everyone else plays by. The catholic church profits from their schools and hospital and if they stop taking money from the government then I don't have a problem with them not providing birth control. However if they continue to take federal hand outs then they need to play by the rules for all.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • rhobere

      careful. your comment is bordering on the line of common sense. wouldn't want to make a rational argument in a debate about religious freedom.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Daniel

      CAH, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is that these hospitals can't stop taking money from the government, or they go out of business. Which gets us to the real root of the problem: government has usurped so much money and power into the affairs that should belong to individuals, that they now control the way that virtually every aspect in our lives should be run. They've successfully taken control of the purse strings, and each and every one of us will suffer loss of freedom and liberty as a result. It's great when it's something you agree with, but it's awful when it isn't.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  3. otto

    If it were possible to get boys pregnant the Catholic church would mandate contraception for everyone...

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

    I think we should all bear in mind that the Catholic Church is STILL the STATE RELIGION in several-to-many countries, which should clear up any question about the Church's official commitment to "freedom of religion".

    April 13, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  5. Mike Texoma

    At the bottom of thiis is the control issue. I doubt the Church sees this as Obama against Catholicism. I believe the church sees this as Catholics against Catholicism. They must be aware that Catholics universaly practice birth control other than "the rythm method". Catholics take pills and use condoms. I think this is an attempt by the church to grasp control of the repoductive process away from women and bring it back in line with its theology. They forget that men not members of the clergy insist on birth control as much as women. And the Biblical basis for the oposition to birth control is tenuous at best. The Bishops may as well go back to the assertion that the Earth is flat. Worse, I fear they will do real harm to the church.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  6. revansatoda

    Almost every problem we face today can be helped or solved by giving women control over their fertility. From substance abuse to nuclear proliferation to environmental degradation and on and on. Contraception is more than a women's right it is an essential human right.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Daniel

      Do women not have control over their fertility today?

      April 13, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • ajk68

      Prove it is a right. You are just making ill-founded assertions.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  7. Bhicks

    The old men that control you are not happy with this freedom movement.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  8. guest

    The catholic church can do whatever it wants with its money – just not with tax payer money. of course they got their funding cut for foster and adoption services – they were discriminating against who was getting the children. of course they have to pay for contraception for employees, the employee has the right to religious freedom as well. it's not a war on religion, it's a war on discrimination – they just happen to embody discrimination.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  9. WKass

    It is ironic that a group that tries to spread its irrational and supernatural beliefs and has a tax exempt (unjustifiedly) status is complaining about their frredom to exert its control over the rest of sociey.

    I think the issue is whether those who are not Catholic should be subjected to their beliefes and rules. The role of the government is to provide options for everybody. If you want to believe in Snow White, so be it. But don't try to ompose your beliefs on anybody else.

    What hypocrisy. We have been conditioned to think inside the box, but take a little jump outside and you will see a priestly class whose power has been curtailed thanks to free thinking and rational people. Try to read the First Amendment carefully. Keep your beliefs to yourselves.

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

      It's unclear to me how the Catholic Church is infringing on anybody's rights by requesting not to be forced to pay for products and practices to which they have a moral opposition.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Shocking

      Instead of trying to force their beliefs down our throats maybe they should put the money into stopping the Priests from abusing children

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

    So how many bishops in that picture do you think have touched a child in an inappropriate way? I am guessing a third of them have. I know that's probably a low estimate, but I play by Price is Right rules. Better to be under than over.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • ruducky2

      For those who didn't touch.... How many covered up....?

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

      ...or in some way been involved in a cover-up of a member of the fold who did?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Daniel

      How is that relevant to the article and issue at hand? I agree that Catholic priests have been involved in reprehensible, immoral, and illegal behavior, and those who have perpetrated these crimes on others should be subject to the full punishment of the law. But how it that relevant to the discussion in the article?

      April 13, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • just sayin

      80%

      April 13, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • just sayin

      100% fraud above. God bless

      April 13, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • ajk68

      Do you realize that about 1-2% of priests were involved in abuse? This is below most levels for people in contact with children (teachers, youth group leaders, etc). It is still heinously wrong, but let's be fair in who we condemn.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • closet atheist

      @ ajk68 ~~ Ok... we'll split the difference and say 1.5%. I counted 32 in the picture above. Given these assumptions, there's appx 0.05% chance that one of these men actually diddled little boys then. I know that seems like a small number, but given the gravity of the crime, it's an alarmingly high number.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  11. One one

    Jesus doesn't believe in religious freedom. He sends people to hell for not believing in him.

    2 Thessalonians, 8-9:"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."

    April 13, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • ruducky2

      Are these the words of Jesus or his followers?

      April 13, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • otto

      What an ass.hole

      April 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • just sayin

      Jesus was gay, delusional/insane and now it apears an a hole. Nice

      April 13, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • just sayin

      Fraud quickly degenerates into a disgusting filth.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  12. chris

    I am all for religious freedom and don't think the government should tell religions how they practice. However, I think that goes both ways, in other words, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Stop trying to pass laws based on your religious beliefs.. not everyone believes what you do!

    April 13, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • *facepalm*

      Also helpful – stop lobbying lawmakers to restrict the statue of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • ruducky2

      Exactly! And exactly why we have a First Amendment Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Religion necessitates Freedom FROM Religion.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  13. Nancy

    Stop the hating. Can't you see they are CLEARLY getting ready to run in the Susan B. Komen Race for a Cure (with those pretty pink hats and belts). They are SO pro-women's issues.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Yuki

      Now that was just plain funny. I don't care who you are or what you believe.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  14. Dale

    In my entire life it never even occurred to me that freedom of religion only applied to business owners and business managers. I had no idea that regular workers aren't supposed to have freedom of religion. Any business leader in any company in any industry anywhere in this country is free to impose their own religious restrictions on all of their employees? Really? And working class Americans can either obey the religious mandate of their boss or quit? Are you serious? I totally support the religious choices of any individual to live their life following their own religious beliefs. I totally support the right of any religious organization to enforce their religious doctrine within their own organization. When any organization begins to run a business operation then they really need to follow the same rules as any other business. If they want to restrict their employment and services to their own religion then they have the full right to do that. When any religious organization runs a business that employs and serves people of other faiths then they need to respect the choices of each of those American citizens. I firmly believe that freedom of religion in America is a right of every individual and should never be restricted or taken away by any organization.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • DrJStrangepork

      If a religious organization intends to employ someone then they need to spell out the exact terms of employment. Not any of this "good christian role model" or whatever stuff. They must spell out exactly what it means. At that point the employee and employer can agree on the terms.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  15. Su Lynn

    The church can have religious freedom, if it stays the he11 out of my secular rights! If the church does not want to obey American law it can get out , and take its child abusers with it. I guess the Bishops were afraid that if birth control were available to its employees that all the "faithful" would run out and buy it!!!!!!!! No more new little catholics would be made. Frankly, Castro had the right idea – ban all religion!

    April 13, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • hmm

      I would not ban religion. However, if a religion or church or whatever organization accepts federal money there are strings attached. Also, any religion or church or organization must follow the laws. The Roman Catholic practice (allegedly) of allowing "men of the cloth" to be shielded from the law after abusing (allegedly) children and just being shipped off to another place to abuse (allegedly) more children and then be covered up must be stopped and those guilty must go to trial.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 13, 2012 at 10:46 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 10:48 am |
    • Wallace

      What about getting burned at the stake, ripped off by mega-church con men, molested by a priest, etc., etc.

      Are those things good for children?

      Religion serves to keep the gullible and ignorant in their place.

      .

      April 13, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • One one

      It didn't help Rick Santorum.

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

      Prayer changes things.....from reality to delusion.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • One one

      Atheists don't tell children and other living things that god sends them to h e l l to be tortured forever for not believing as they do.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Trolling, it is a kind of power rush or ego trip to be a troll. Being online is a place that is largely free of perceived consequences... an insecure person can get a sense of power online, without ever having to face someone directly. With the Internet being a world of imagination and fantasy for some, cowardly users can forge an alter ego for themselves, and act out their feelings of anger and inadequacy. It's sad and unfortunate that our advanced communications also brings out the darker side of many people.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Hmmmmm

      The Catholic Church is not healthy for children. See pedophile in the dictionary.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • JPX

      Prayer changes noting. You might as well pray to the Easter Bunny or Santa, it's all make-believe embraced by primitive thinking people.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  17. Cam

    Heathcare is not a right. Healthcare should not be managed for us. As adults we should pay for our own health costs. We should be able to determine what is responsible and what is not. We do not want the government managing our personal health.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • William Demuth

      So you want the CHURCH to?

      You liable to end up with leeches on your testicles if you let these deviants call the shots.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      So if you get caught in a crossfire and through no fault of your own suddenly require emergency medical treatment as well as prolonged hosiptal care – how do you pay for it?
      Break your arm while unemployed and sell your house to pay for treatment?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Jonah

      Cam,
      When you can't pay for that $100,000 hospital stay, please know that my choice is that my tax dollars don't go to pay for your medical care.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • ruducky2

      Fine, Mr. Health Care is not a right. If the government shouldn't see that health care is provided then every employer should be required to pay their employees so they can afford health care (without having to end their financial lives).

      Access to modern medical treatment is something that everybody needs and not just when they're on the verge of bleeding to death.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  18. Tom

    This just in, bishops have decided to rage a war on businesses. Citing religion, the bishops released a statement noting that their religion should control what type of health care doctors, hospitals, and medical insurance companies can provide their patients. When asked about the issue of women's health, pregnancy, and abortion, the bishops replied with "Everyone should learn to love young boys ages 6-13, they can't get pregnant, and have zero use for advancements in medical treatment."

    April 13, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  19. Lewis Keseberg

    Why does anyone listen to what a bunch of blood-drinking, flesh-eating cannibals have to say anyway?

    April 13, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • just sayin

      And r a p ists

      April 13, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  20. Mike

    Here's what I don't get. My "employer provided" insurance would cost me $200 a month if I were unemployed and purchasing it for myself from the same company. Instead, I only pay $100 a month. So... what, exactly, is the difference between them paying for half of my insurance and them paying me an extra $100/month and telling me to find my own insurance? A lot of people end up getting their own insurance anyway, because they don't like the options of the company they work for (or because they have special needs that the company doesn't cover). So why can't we require employers to give an insurance subsidy rather than requiring them to provide insurance and THEN requiring them to violate their religious beliefs by dictating to them what insurance options they must provide? You get the insurance you want, they absolve themselves of involvement in your decision and thus get to continue to adhere to their beliefs... how is that not a win-win? Or should we just go ahead and add "unless it's a particularly contentious political issue" to the freedom of religion clause of the first amendment?

    April 13, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • ruducky2

      Employers pay lower rates because they can give an insurance company a number of customers. This allows the insurance company to play the healthy/unhealthy averages with a group instead of an individual. Buying on your own you would consequently result in much higher rates for less services.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Think for yourself

      @Mike: ruducky2 is right. The reason employers provide lower-cost coverage, as compared to the individual coverage you are referring to, is because they can provide it at a much lower cost. The insurance company can spread this risk over the entire company, not just one individual. That way, both healthy people, as well as sick people are included in the groups "experience." This is how insurance companies stay in business. If they only insured those who "use" the insurance, they would quickly go bankrupt. I think your misunderstanding of how it works is common. The voucher system is illusory as it will only help you pay for individual coverage, which for most Americans, is out of reach financially.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:38 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.