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After contraception controversy, Catholic Church announces 'religious freedom' campaign
The American Catholic bishops.
April 12th, 2012
05:25 PM ET

After contraception controversy, Catholic Church announces 'religious freedom' campaign

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The Roman Catholic Church announced a major campaign Thursday aimed at bringing attention to what it said were growing threats to religious liberty in the United States, including the pending White House rule requiring health insurance companies to provide free contraceptive coverage to employees of Catholic organizations.

An official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the initiative would stretch out over the course of a few years and that it would include everything from encouraging priests to address religious liberty concerns in church to sending inserts for church bulletins.

“Religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad,” the American bishops said in a new document titled “Our first, most cherished freedom.”

Compared to other Catholic communications campaigns, “This is bigger in that it’s not a one-time thing, not aiming for a specific Sunday” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the communications director for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “It’s going to be extensive and it’s going to be occurring over a few years.”

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The Catholic bishops say a proposed White House rule connected to the Affordable Care Act requiring health insurers to provide free contraception coverage forces the church to fund an activity it opposes for religious reasons. The White House tweaked an earlier version of the rule that required employers, rather than insurance companies, to pay for contraceptive coverage, mollifying some Catholic groups who objected to Catholic colleges and hospitals having to fund contraception coverage.

But the bishops said the so-called White House compromise didn’t go far enough.

In their Thursday document, the bishops also said that a handful of American states and municipalities have driven Catholic foster care and adoption services out of business because Catholic charities refused to place children with gay couples or unmarried straight couples.

The document also said that the federal government recently revised its contract with the Catholic Church’s Migration and Refugee Services to require it to provide or refer women to contraceptive and abortion services, in violation of Catholic teaching.

“Religious liberty is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home,” the bishops said in a Thursday statement. “It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith?”

“This is not a Catholic issue,” the statement said. “This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon or Muslim issue. It is an American issue.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church

soundoff (2,540 Responses)
  1. Pope Beenandisadick

    Hide Nazi war criminals strike one
    Hide and protect pedofiles strike two
    Treat woman as less than strike three
    I wonder why the catholic church is shrinking so fast?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  2. Anna

    You folks are hysterical – like you are actually going to change the Church. That doesn't and isn't supposed to happen. This isn't a popularity contest. It is refreshing to see the Church uphold its doctrine. For God's sake, someone, somewhere has to.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • OOO

      Someone has to? Why is that?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  3. Voice of Reason

    Mormons with magic underwear, Catholic men in dresses...they're not delusional!

    April 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  4. no nothing

    Well if you (the Catholic Church) would expose the molester in YOUR church and hand them over to the police and not hide them, then the rest of us might have nice thoughts about YOUR religion.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • mary smith

      let's get off the broken record, huh?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • DPGW

      As soon as the priests get off the alter boys.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  5. Chewbacca

    It would be wonderful to see every single one of the bishops in that picture have an aneurysm.

    Let us hope and pray that happens.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • mary smith

      what does a cynnical stooge like you know about prayer?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  6. Animenut

    Hogwash. What act, event, gathering or thought is being denied its freedom.There isn't a single thing that a person might want to do or not do that is being threatened.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • TownC

      The church is being forced to either provide services it finds morally wrong or go out of business! As a result these valuable services are being denied to those who could benefit thereby.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Primewonk

      No, Town. They are not beinf forced out of business. They CHOOSE to. If a "chiurch" runs a business, that business has to follow applicable laws and rules. And if that business receives federal funds, it has to follow federal rule regarding discrimination.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Lee

      TownC Wrong. The church is exempt. The Catholic inst itutions in question, such as universities and hospitals, hire a great variety of empolyees, many of whom are not Catholic. Should those employees be subject to the whim of their employer's religion? I could make my own religion up tomorrow that doesn't allow colonoscopies. Should my employees colons go unchecked due to my religious beliefs?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  7. Everett Wallace

    Religion is the problem with its tradition and other stuff. In the Bible GOD THE FATHER says "pure religion is caring for widows and orphans" none of you can save a persons soul or even tell them how to be saved ONLY GOD can save not man or woman. You dress you preach and WE know What you do in secret. Clean the inside of yourself first and then the outside those who have ears to hear let them hear.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • DPGW

      You lost everyone starting with the sentence "in the bible..."

      April 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • blastoff

      Why do all these bible talkers sound the same in that babbling way when in all other communications they can sound normal?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • mary smith

      very clever, stupid, but your remark holds no weight.... All right, what about the male force; what happens to them at the pearly gates... out of sight, out of mind, Goofball of first class.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • RalphMalph

      The role of religion, also in that same verse, is to "keep oneself undefiled by the world". Contributing to immorality that comes from contraception would fall under that heading.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • mary smith

      I agree ; YOU LOST EVERYTHING WHEN YOU STARTED WITH "IN THE BIBLE", Goof.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      ralph: isn't birth control used for other things than preventing pregnancy?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  8. eigenklarg

    All the Bishops want to do is turn the clock back to 1100 A.D. when the church could make policy.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  9. Anna

    Good for them.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  10. DPGW

    Jesus. There have been klan conventions with less old white guys...

    April 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  11. TownC

    The Catholic Church has every right to stand up for religious freedom. I applaud them for this. Religion does not force anyone to do or believe anything. It is all voluntary. It receives a tax exemption because religion helps make bad men and women good and good men and women better. If you take away the tax exemption then religion can and will become politically active including being partisan. If the Obama Administration would really follow the precept of separation of church and state and leave religion alone, the church wouldn't have to speak out..

    April 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Anie

      Religion makes bad men good? Good at what? Molesting little boys? Treating women like subservient objects? Teaching hate? Get a clue! Religion is for controlling and taking advantage of people. And by taking a loud, vocal stance against freedom and liberty they are being political already. Tax 'em at the highest rate or shut them down!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Lee

      Voluntary?!? Ask any well-indoctrinated 10 year old if their belief is voluntary. The choice between belief and eternal tortue is hardly a voluntary one.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  12. mark

    The Catholic Church should lose their tax exempt status. They don't like the rules, play somewhere else. The church has always, as long as I can remember, been telling their people how to vote, who to vote for and meddling in politics. That should disqualify them from TAX EXEMPT STATUS! I am a proud ex-catholic!

    April 13, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • PulTab

      Good for you on the ex-catholick part.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Bob

      Fine. Then every black church in America also loses their tax exemption since there is politics from the pulpit every Sunday. Ever hear of Jeremiah Wright? The guy didn't preach the Bible – he preached politics of hate. Obama belonged to his church because of the political connections.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • mary smith

      Glad you're out, proud ex-Catholic. We don't need anymore of your kind.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  13. Liz

    I feel like religion is constantly attacking me....Freedom of Religion is also a protection FROM religion. If your faith is strong then what someone else is doing with their body is not your business. Religion is about you and you alone. Its a personal journey of faith...forcing your journey on other so you feel more secure in your faith then the issue is you.

    I'm really sick and tired of Catholics and others forcing their ways on everyone else. I'm not an Atheist but I believe protection OF and FROM religion is way more important than imposing religious based laws or objection to laws on everyone else.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • ortidefan

      Individual rights far outweigh religious rights. The Mormon Religion use to (still believes) that bigamy is the will of God. If religious freedom was #1 then this should not be outlawed.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  14. Enlightened4

    HooRay for the Bishops! I'm not Catholic, but I do support their stance in every sense of understanding. The Federal Government needs to remember that there is a separation of Church and State and that means they keep out of the Religious Freedoms of the American people. For those people employed by Catholic organizations who are not Catholic; quit today if you don't want that employment. No one says you have to be employed by Catholic organizations. Quit, Leave, Go find yourselves an organization you like or better supports your life style. No one holds you to a job you don't like. Be gone.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • OOO

      Back in the 1920's and earlier employers were allowed to hire children and give no benefits. They were also told "you don't like it, then quit! someone else will take your job."
      Although not as draconion, this is a step back in that direction.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • m

      If the church or any religious organization wants to have a say in rule of law then they need to give up their tax exempt status. They only want seperation of church & state when it is convenient and profitable for them. However, when the rule of law comes into play then they all scream "seperation of church and state".

      The other side of the coin is that we deserve freedom from religion to dictate employment or any other law simply based on their preferences. It's just another case of they want it both ways. Freedom from law and freedom to dictate the law. Can't have it both ways.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • ortidefan

      And if they don't pay black people as much. leave! if they don't pay catholics as much, leave. if they don't pay women as much, leave. if they don't pay older people as much, leave! If I don't want to pay catholics, as much or let them have sunday off, leave!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  15. Lee

    These guys have to be kidding. The very word "liberty" applies to the individual. No individuals are being forced to use contraception. No indivduals are losing their right to anything. They are being offered a choice to use or not use very common preventive medicine. Should a Jehovah Witness employer be exempt from providing health care which covers blood transfusions to his Catholic employees? Of course not! That would be ridiculous, just like this whole birth control "controversy."

    April 13, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  16. CA Liberal

    Pretty high talk from a bunch of old men who molest their children. But then it is an election year and there is a lot of hypocrisy going around. Anyway what do this bunch of old men who have never even been married know about women's health? I think that most American Catholics feel differently about it than the priesthood.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  17. Phil

    Old non-married, virgin men who wear dresses should not get to make decisions about women's health.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • mary smith

      Let's get real, Phil. What are you so angry about?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  18. chris

    well religion has waged wars on us and others for like "ever" so it's only fair we smack that "control system" back and show them their place...

    April 13, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • mary smith

      Chris, did you realize the similarity in the spelling of your name to Christ's? Amazing... Think about it.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  19. Phil

    hmmm.....
    So if my religions says that a certain class of individuals are less human than others the Catholic Chruch would support that I do not hire them? If my religion says that I should not go to a doctor I can deny health benefits to all I employee? Labor laws exist for a reason and despite your personal or religious views you need to follow them.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  20. Andrew

    Want to maintain your following? Update your religion to apply to the 21st century!

    April 13, 2012 at 11:56 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.