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. Rabbit One

    so long as there's a universe, humans, animals, air and the possibility of a god or gods or simply the unknown – there is no attack on religion – because religion is as strong as life – it cannot be attacked by a man or a woman or by nature or by governments – they only time religion stops (for those who have it) is when you are dead

    April 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  2. Carol123456

    I want to know when these religious organizations are going to stop trampling on the rights of others. Separation of Church and State should go both ways!

    April 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  3. Everett Wallace

    Here is knowledge for all who seeks it. The Church is the Earth not these religous buildings of meetings on certain days of the week. HE wants you to be yourself and not who someone try to mold you it to what They want you to be, there is only ONE Preacher and that is GOD THE FATHER, once you unplug from religious traditions and religion Then you can know HIM and know how much You truly mean to HIM. HE has so much LOVE for HIS children and it does not matter if you are a day old or a thousand years old You will always be a child to HIM. Moses was the only Man of GOD.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You are delusional.
      delusion |diˈlo͞oZHən|
      an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder: the delusion of being watched.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • OOO

      How do you know what HE wants? You talk directly with God? Are you...special...

      April 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Carol123456


      April 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Babui Boomerang

      Great!!! There should be one peacher as you said. Let's get rid of these phony pedophiles and disband the Vatican.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Rbnlegnd101

      Good for you. It's great that you are called to preach your faith to total strangers. But if you want a little feedback on your technique, it's totally unconvincing, and the only people listening to you are the ones who already agreed with you. Was that your intent? If you want to reach those who do not share your faith, you may want to re-think your methods.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  4. axolotl

    It's about freedom FROM religion more than freedom OF religion.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  5. Antonio666

    The Catholic Church is one of the most politically divisive organizations in the world. They rant and rave about abortion (pro-lie indeed) but their ridiculous policies on contraception have probably been the largest contributor to abortions in the US and in third-world majority Catholic countries. If they really cared about reducing abortions, they would be more than happy to make contraception free and readily available. But their real issue isn't abortion. It's power and control. Jesus would be oh so proud.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • 12 years of Catholic School

      It's a shame that the Catholic church does not concentrate on love. They always want to vilify someone and never take responsibility for any of their own mistakes. If they think that the majority of Catholics are against birth control or think that being gay is a choice then they are sadly mistaken. The church is going the way of the dinosaur. If you go into a church today in the U.S. 90% of the congregation is elderly. They need to wake up and embrace women, gays and those who chose to use contraception.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Patti

      Well put!!!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  6. Ian

    Through almost the entire article I agreed with most of the posters here. It sounded like once again the Catholic Church trying to force their views on others. However by the end, I changed my mind.

    What I think they are complaining about is the Government telling say a Catholic Hospital that it has to not only provide access to, but also pay for birth control for their patients. Personally I don't agree with the Catholic stand on birth control, but to tell them they have to pay for it, is a slippery slope.

    Just as I feel people should have the right to choose on birth control or not, they also have the right to choose if they want to be at a Catholic Hospital or in a Catholic run healthcare program. It isn't the Governments place to tell the organization funding those programs how to run them. This isn't a situation where if they don't provide it then people will be hurt.

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

      Ian, churches were exempt from this rule. Businesses run by the churches were not exempt. Then Obama caved and made them exempt as well, shifting everything onto the insurers. The religious îdiots still aren't happy though.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Rbnlegnd101

      If I found a hospital, and call it a Pastafarian Hospital, can I then only serve pasta with meat sauce to my patients, because my faith says that is a holy food and will heal that which ails mankind? Can I have the nurses wear appropriate pirate wench costumes, with short skirts, fishnet stockings, and halter tops, because of the special role pirates play in my faith? Can I get special insurance that does not cover any football related injuries, because football is not blessed by the flying spagetti monster?

      Of course not, because my patients may not share my faith, and my employees may not either. Changing it from pastafarian to christian doesn't somehow make those same things ok. If I run a business, open to the public, employing the public, I have to run it like a business, and that includes following secular law, not church law. In my church, the holy sisters are required to wear the costume, we do eat pasta with meat sauce, and we don't play football, and that's ok.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Ian

      I would need to read the actual legislature to know how to respond. If it is saying that for cases where women need to be on birth control to regulate their period and improve their health because of issues with their cycle then ok.... But if it is saying that they should be forced to provide it for anyone that just wants to avoid pregnancy, then I don't agree. If the Catholic Church chooses to run a healthcare program they need to abide by rules that apply to good health, just like you would in starting your Pasta only Hospital.

      My take on this article (which may be wrong) is that this legislature applies to providing birth control regardless why someone wants to use it. Where does it end? Should they also be required to pay for diet pills for EVERYONE? What about steroids? and the list could go on and on.... It needs to end at what is good health.

      I guess my stance in this case is more than just the Catholic Churches position, but accross the board. This shouldn't be something that is being required of any Healthcare plan, because in most cases it deals with people's personal choice. In the Catholic Churhes case it also goes against their religious beliefs. At some point we need to take responsibilty for ourselves and not expect others to take care of us.

      If you choose to be on birth control just to avoid pregnancy, than good for you, but don't then expect someone else to pay for that choice.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  7. Voice of Reason

    Who in the heck would want to go to heaven knowing that these freaks would be there?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  8. wow..

    these are the same bishops who cover up abuses to small children to protect their own reputation first. Yes, one who abused me is a bishop today.

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

    Just bu saying that one does not go to church is an ATTACK on religion, if they had it their way.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  10. CRC

    WOW, the haters of religion are out in full force. They are just being their intolerant, hateful selves and show the ignorance that they have is astronomical. Essentially the opposite of what they all say is true.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • wow..

      you must be a priest, because they are the only ones here who protect this pedo church

      April 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      delusion |diˈlo͞oZHən|
      an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder: the delusion of being watched.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • jimbo

      To be called ignorant by a theist is so ironic.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Gotta love how the believers call us ignorant and haters but do not think about how their own comments sound or care about whether or not their belief is the truth.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  11. Pipe-Dreamer

    FYI Phosphorus, I smoke no pipe,,, haven't for many so many years,,,,,, I do however smoke filtered cigars. Science you say? Here's a weenie of science for ya! Long ago in the ancient timeperiods of Greek and Roman civilizations, there were these Theological Philosophers who made stories as to just exactly what was the smallest things and their roles in the meanings of Life. In their still known to us writings they did write that the smallest things known were the "elemental gods". Todays scientists do scoff at such an idea and they have renamed an old fling to call these "elemental gods as being atoms putting to bed the ancient Theological philosophers' understandings. So much for pragmatisms' lamentations!
    Another tid-bit to ponder upon is the exact size of this "Celestial Cosmos we find ourselves living within. Just how big is it really? Do you agree with our sciences' rather mundane stand that the universe is all there is out there? If you do then you get the booby prize! This Celestial Cosmos is riddled with way more than just our knowable to us universe! The actual size and immensity of the Celestial Cosmos is beyond thye perceptions of many science ladled folks!

    Another diddy to feast upon is called "Fractal Cosmology" Ever heard about it? Probably not so here is the main jist of it! Fractal Cosmology deals with the very real possibiliy that there are places where there are universes within universes. These places where there are "inner-universes" must and I dare say again, must be sheltered from the outward universes blasts of stellar radiation. What a better place to hide Micro-universes than within all forms of living bodies! Here's the clincher! All Life Forms and Life Formations are all made up of cellularized universes that are living places for the elemental gods' ever so smalled living generations of inward living life forms and life formations! Many verses of the KJVB does back up this diddy of thoughts!

    Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is INSIDE you.

    1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building

    April 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  12. Patti

    Religious liberty is under attack? The Catholic Church is right!
    They have been repressing human rights ( burning heretics at the stake, having therm drawn and quartered or thrown into boiling oil, it all counts) and more egregiously women's rights, including a woman's right to chose what to do with her own body since they have been in existence. The Church is right in saying religious freedom is at risk. Ask The Church why won't they allow it?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • just sayin

      The Catholic Church is dying a slow death. Until its final breath,. we must endure the whines and cries.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • wow..

      ah, it's patty the priest. You guys are pretty dishonest. Then again, most of already know you are con artist. Been pick pocketing the people in nursing homes today? Robbing their cash?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Patti,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      Libertarinialisms of the religiously orientated humanists is of Freedoms' consternations much the same ways of Civil freedoms and socialized liberties are as oozings in a river of lava.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      just sayin,, ,, ,

      To God and His elemental gods, all built by humanists' hands so-named churches are but deadened things with no heart and no soul nor spirit to be found out!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Patti

      jjust sayin, I believe you are correct (thank God 🙂 In the mean time I guess we'll have to wear earplugs.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  13. blaqb0x

    Stop taking our tax money and you can be as free as you want.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • CRC

      Are you going to stop taking the church's money. When they do good in your community and provide hospital care to your family and provide orphan care for your community. What about when they teach you how to be saved from your sins and go to Heaven to be with Jesus when you die? Besides that what money is the church taking from the tax base?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  14. SeanRed

    From my experience as a once-Catholic, I remain convinced that the priesthood and other "religious" orders of that organization are repositories for maladjusted, abusive, hostile, and narrow-minded reprobates. They need to spend more of their time sorting out their own psychiatric maladies and less time denigrating women and violating defenseless children. As a veteran of four Catholic schools while growing up, I'll say that the verbal, physical, and emotional abuses perpetrated by these hypocritcial "religious" adult authority figures were, and are, heartbreaking.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Rick W

      just remember this slick, when you die, you WILL SEE GOD!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  15. DAN

    why can't the church get back to being the neighborhood church that I went to as a kid. the church in those days wanted the poor in their neighborhood to attend. Churches today want only people to attend who can contribute to the church with money or a specific skill. They send many members overseas to build churches in poor countries that can't even get food. A bible to these people does not help. The last church I attented, in order to actually be a member you had to nonomitated by church members. And why is church always getting into politics. Plus why does the church interpete modern day life events as things jesus and god don't want us to do. Like contraceptives, where will you ever find anything in the bible about contraceptives. the church just like other business in the us is profit hungry. they have forgetton about the fact jesus was poor and helpled all people. another thing many catholics flat out deny that islam is a religion. there are more muslims in the world than christians and they are all wrong. we are talking about millions of people. I believe in god more so than most christains but i will not go to a church. I don't like reading the bible it is interperted differently by everyone, and it is full old english words whose meaning is unkonw. I can pray everyday and I don't need a church. jesus never went into a church because he didn't believe what that were teaching, the same is true today.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  16. pedos

    As a victim of pedo, one a bishop today.. They are all liars and deceivers.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  17. Chris Hogan

    The Catholic Church Leadership is mad because they are losing members and money faster than Rush Limbaugh, and now they are lashing out at the world and screaming PERSECUTION! because those filthy gay people are being treated equal by society. And Catholic Charities wasn't driven out by anyone. They CHOSE to stop helping people, lest they turn out to be gay. Is it time to pull out the tiny violin yet? Give me a break!

    April 13, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  18. terry

    If you accept taxpayer money for your adoption services you must play by the same rules as everyone else. Nobody has said that individual catholics are requrired to violate their religious beliefs. I can imagine some future time when the Bishops will have their annual convention, and it will be in hell.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  19. blaqb0x

    Article Pic = Virgin Con 2012

    April 13, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  20. dbrock010

    Where do we draw the line? In Uzbekistan and China, the governments force women into sterilization after they have had one to two babies. These governments rationalize that it is in the best interest of the people. I'm not afraid of religious groups for believing that abortion is wrong–I'm afraid of the government! The government scares me!

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

      The US government doesn't want to do that at all! This "religious liberty" is a load of Bull!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
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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.