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. William

    Whatever happened to separation of church and State. I’m really getting very irritated with churches (and I don’t care which denomination) pushing their distorted theology/morals on American society. This country was founded on this very separation. The churches won’t leave it alone – so tax them. They will get rid of the deficit.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  2. closet atheist

    I have yet to see one catholic or christian on this thread coherently defend the catholic church's grievances in this article. Admittedly, I'm biased, but the non-believers are mopping the floor with your dogmas....

    April 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  3. Zero Gods

    The pink and black costumes are awesome. These guys should definitely influence legislation.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Kenneth

      The pink shows their feminine nature.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • rad666

      Gang colors.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  4. Kenneth

    It would be a joy to see each and every one of those bishops in the picture beheaded, and their heads stacked neatly in a pile.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  5. rad666

    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. ============= So, you equate a golf club to a worldwide religion? Okay, I guess golf is a religion to some.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  6. Reality


    Some nitty-gritty:

    "Twenty-one states offer exemptions from contraceptive coverage, usually for religious reasons, for insurers or employers in their policies: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (administrative rule), Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia."



    The Catholic hierachies do not believe in artificial birth control so why do they employ those who do? Did not the Supreme Court recently decide that religious organizations have the right to decide who they hire and fire? Bottom line: To reduce health insurance costs and to not be subject to Obama care regulations about supplying contraceptives, Catholic groups should simply not hire those who want contraceptives and fire those who demand such coverage.


    There are different opinions as to what a religion really is or what a non-profit is and therefore all non-profits should file Form 990's. At the moment, religious groups are exempt. To be fair therefore, there should be no tax-exemptions for any group and that includes the Democratic and Republican Parties. Faith and community initiative grant monies should also be cancelled and there should also be no tax deductions for contributions made to charities and non-profits.



    "The government must stay out of hiring and firing decisions by a religious organization, even if a minister sues for employment discrimination, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

    Religious freedom groups praised the decision, and especially the fact that it came from a unanimous court."

    Next topic !!!

    April 13, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  7. David

    The takeover of the Catholic church by the Republican party is now complete.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  8. pat

    Those old men have no use for contraception.(Little boys can't get pregnant anyway)

    April 13, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Kenneth

      If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  9. Don Jones

    Just wait until the United Nations comes after you...

    April 13, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  10. coreoveride

    One day soon the world will realize that the few positive effects of religion are completely overshadowed by the incredible harm they have caused for 2000+ years. If not for religion we would literally be exiting our solar system right now or at min would have colonized other planets in our system as well as most diseases would be cured. Religion has tried to hold back every bit of progress we as humans make and I for one am sick of it. I am now all for banning ANY religion as being harmful to humanity and for their 2000+ years of attempts to prevent humanity from advancing. ALL RELIGION IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY!

    April 13, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I disagree. If it were not for many of the worlds relgions we would be still in the caves and the jungles.

      Or just look at it this way, many Atheist stupidly claim that the wars are mostly started by Religions. If we hold that and point to most of Mankinds advancements in medical and science came from our need to find the next great weapon to kill each other off and that exiting the solar system will probably start with a rocket, which you can thank mostly German scientist .... then I would challenge you that using the Atheist logic of Religion equals wars ..your vision of colonizing planets would not be possible if it was not for Religion.

      So, which Atheist theory or banner do you wish to fly?

      April 13, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • pat

      Mark – I never realized that human progress was actually advanced by religion. How do you feel about fetal stem cell research?

      April 13, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Realist

      I agree. It is time we stop giving religion a free pass. It's NOT all right to be ignorant, to practice pure mythology, and to teach your children dysfunctional beliefs. I stop short of saying we should outlaw religion, but we should certainly discourage it. That's the way it is in Europe: if you say your religious, most people will view you in a negative light, like, "hmmmm, he's one of those." And that's how it should be. People should not be respected for their religion–they should be respected for what they contribute to society. And religious people have contributed far too little for far too long. They are dead weight. They don't believe in science but are glutinous consumers of it. It's time we call these people out and stop being so tolerant. They aren't tolerant of us.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  11. joe dokes

    Catholic employers, you can't hire people outside of your faith and expect them to adhere to your religious desires just because you think they should. Besides, contraception should be a non-issue. Catholics espouse the natural rhythm method of birth control for married couples. In case you haven't noticed, this is total hypocrisy. Why? Because whether you use natural or artificial methods of birth control, you are *still* subverting God's will that married people have children. So much for Catholic logic! The Catholic Church should simply shut its mouth on this and move on.

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

      Yeah, here' s how out of touch the Catholic church is: the Pope went to Africa a few years back and preached against contraception in countries that have been decimated by AIDS. Stupidity. And like 7 billion people on this planet isn't enough. God sure didn't plan this whole population control thing out very well if we're not supposed to be using contraception.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  12. Paul Willson

    They should loearn to0 cfomply. with the law of the l;and in which theyu live . And if ANY hold Vaticanh passports be given the choice you are either an American or a citizen of Vatican City. No special treatment just because they are clergy .

    April 13, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  13. tnfreethinker

    Religious freedom is an individual right. The contraception mandate does not hinder one's religious freedom. Now if the gov't said ALL women must use birth control, then that would be a violation of religious freedom. Why not have a years long commitment to addressing pedophilia in the Catholic church, instead of centuries of covering it up?

    April 13, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  14. James - St Petersburg FL

    I just do not understand what the Catholic Church has against contraception and why some would call this an attack against Religious Liberty. Couldn't the same argument be applied to Federal bigamy laws and their affect on the Mormon Church's freedom of religion? It seems to me that those laws seriously restrict the normal religious practices of the Mormon faith. This seems to be a huge issue for the Catholic Bishops, did they react so harshly when their own were being accused of pedophilia? Nope, they attempted to cover it up. Does this mean that they consider contraception a bigger attack on morality than pedophilia? Seems to be......

    April 13, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  15. LyndaSoo43

    "Religious Liberty" ???? An oxymoron if there ever was one. Religion (ecspecially Catholicism!!) is ALL about bending to rules, demands and an out-of-touch "old boys club" who expect blind obedience not to only the Lord/God, but more importantly to the Vatican (a billion dollar corporation)

    April 13, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • WDinDallas

      So...you're not Catholic are you.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  16. Jason

    Contraception and abortion are not part of any formal religious text and the church's stance is based on the literal teachings of the Bible, therefore the whole contraception controversy is not an attack an any body's religious freedom.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Chris

      It's not, but it's easier for them to play victim. Christians are 80% of the country...have created tons of laws that limit what I can do(blue laws and various others)...and they STILL act like they are mistreated. Try being an atheist in South Texas for a day...I'll show you persecution.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  17. Astra Navigo

    Lemme get this straight....

    There's a group of old men who've (1) never held a job; (2) never paid their own bills; (3) never had a family, and (4) never been in a position (as far as we know, anyway) to engage in the process of reproduction, who (5) think it's their province to tell the women of America what to do with their bodies, and (6) are part of a system which has engaged in some of the world's greatest brutalities, wars, and other egregiousness, but who still think they are somehow in possession of the 'moral high ground', and can tell us what to do.

    These same old men now think that since the government has ordered that their self-insurance pay for common medical procedures, that they're somehow being 'persecuted'.

    Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

    (If the degenerate Catholics want to politicize their organization; fine. Let's tax them. A lot.....)

    April 13, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • WDinDallas

      Read the First Amendment....

      April 13, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  18. pat

    Caption under photo should read – "How many pedophiles does it take to screw in a light bulb"?

    April 13, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • Astra Navigo

      Whatchu said.....

      April 13, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • BeverlyNC

      Amen....these Catholic hypocrites are irrelevant and should shut up and be happy they are still allowed in our country!

      April 13, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  19. Marlin

    Wow! The writers of these comments must have spent years studying philosophy and theology to have the audacity to make such infantile remarks! I find your lack of faith (and pitifully childish insults) to be disturbing...

    April 13, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • William Demuth


      We find your cult offensive and bigoted, and some of us intend to destroy it

      Have a nice day

      April 13, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • WDinDallas

      William, the Inquisition was entirely a internal issue in 15th century, mainly in Spain. But, let us know where you are and we can make adjustments.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • otto

      You should be dissappointed with the leaders of your religion who have spent their lives studying theology and morality and yet are more concerned with the organization than what is actually morally correct. They are more concerned with themselves than with the well being of children and individuals. They are disgusting.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • Michele

      And your continued faith is not only misplaced, but completely undeserved. These are not even men. They are predatory beasts who should not be permitted to roam free among humans. I will never understand the depths of stupidity and denial in which Catholics wallow. How could you ever let one of these creatures near your children??????

      April 13, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • coreoveride

      I find your reliance on faith (without evidence) to be even more disturbing than our "lack of faith". At least all that we non-religious say is based on actual facts and evidence not some fairy tales made up 2000+ years ago by a bunch of sheep herders who do not have any reasoning or logic skills.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  20. pat

    “This is not a Catholic issue,” It is an American issue.” – If that church wants to assert its influence over Americans who do not believe in their faith, then it is time for them to give up their tax exempt status.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Scholar

      If they lobby the government, then they must be taxed as an ordinary business and lose all charitable taxing status.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • ruducky2

      What you're saying would be a violation of the First Amendment. Not because taxes violate freedom of religion. To the contrary, tax the heck out of them. No, it would violate freedom of religion because it would make it justifiable for the church to use the government to promote its dogma.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      They had their chance, but their two stooges both fell off the chart in the Republican Nomination race. One was a serial adulterer and convert to Catholicism, who is convinced that anyone who will not vote for him is a moron who shouldn't be allowed to vote, and the other was a cradle Catholic who believed anyone who would not vote for him was committing a Mortal Sin and could never achieve redemption. So much for their attempts to influence the election.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Think for yourself

      I could not have said it better.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:19 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.