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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. Mott the Hoople

    Yes, the atheists proclaim how horrible religion has wrecked havoc on our planet. But what has atheism, or even humanism given us? More people died during WWII (60 million) than ALL of the other wars put together. Was that a religious war? No, of course not. Fully 99%+ of the murders and deaths you will read about in your local paper are not due to people warring over theistic beliefs. No, it is due to gangs warring over turf; drunk drivers; thievery and so on and on and on, all brought on by selfish hedonism. Wars and the havoc of environmental disasters are brought about by greed, pure and simple. No one can deny this.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • blastoff

      Whatever the % is of deaths due to religious beliefs, we would have that many fewer without religion. You can't say that deaths not due to religion are automatically due to athiesm of humanism.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • William Demuth

      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

      -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

      April 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • TexasCentrist

      You argument is illogical. You cannot blame non-religious wars on atheism, because they were not waged in the name of atheism, even implicitly. We can, however, blame religious wars on religion because they WERE waged in the name of religion.

      You ask what atheism or humanism brought us? What has religion brought us? Science, which is closely related to atheism due to its historical conflicts with religion, has brought us all of the conveniences that we enjoy today. (Granted, the record of application of science is blemished because of factors such as greed entering into the picture.) And every step of the way, religion has resisted in a futile effort to preserve its archaic doctrinaire belief system.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      Mott the Hoople, you said, "More people died during WWII (60 million) than ALL of the other wars put together. Was that a religious war? No, of course not." ...... then let me ask you this since it seems you've forgotten... if not for religion, what reason did Hitler have to point out the Jews?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Johnny in NC

      Social DARMINISM buddy.... the application of science to morality.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  2. Axtricant

    Of course the clergy doesn't want their congregations using contraception. They want their crop rotation of fresh children to feed on.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  3. ObviousReally

    If these Bishops are successful, it will set an interesting precedent.

    Sorry officer, my religion exempts me from those laws, *cough* I'm a Rastafarian *cough*.
    Sorry IRS, since eating pork is a sin to me, I won't pay my taxes; I can't be sure that money isn't being spent by Congress to buy ham sandwiches.
    Sorry judge, I had to stone her to death, leviticus says so, you understand.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  4. rad666

    America, one nation under God.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      the new America, one nation OVER god.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Magic Jew

      I don't think you understand the gravity of the part where your god doesn't exist and was invented by primitive Mesopotamians to explain the inexplicable.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • lordshipmayhem

      You are aware that the "under God" part was not added until the 1950's, during Senator Joe McCarthy's Red Scare?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  5. Pipe-Dreamer

    The ritualizationings ov vmuch better!aliancies in the reprobations of libertarianisms will ever stir the cauldrens of wiitiness regards. We are as crazed lots out infatuationists ever ready to be armed with integral remedials of looney binned temptrous algorythms of self-integridousnesses. The shallowness of living waters will ever mire the grand boats but those boats of littleness will fair

    April 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Sorreee all,,,, This hellish computer has amind of its' own when I type things plus I do ever fail to "always" checking what I type!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  6. Sir Ivanhoe

    For a better insight into religion read the novel -- king of Bat'ha -- and the sequel - Tales from the East: Return of Ivanhoe – sequel is due out by summer 2012. You will get a better perspective on religious belief in the world today.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Lorfat

      I don't want a better perspective on religion, I think people use too much for their own purpose. I am a atheist and am a better person than a christian. I would not use violence to threaten people to "go" to church and accept god.I think I am a better person that a christian because i don't go around telling people what they have to do. Freedom means FREEDOM!If you choose to go to church and follow their rules you are a lamb being led to the slaughter. More deaths have happened in the name of god than any thing else.WWll had nothing to do with religon.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  7. Descarado

    On the other hand, shouldn't political involvement be restricted to Obama's delirious h o m o s e x u a l and l e s b i a n supporters?

    April 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  8. 84 Million Strong

    As I read these comments, I truly wonder what will become of this nation, of this world. In fact as a godless society, the results are already in...just read the news. Non-believers won't find lasting happiness on earth because they'll only rely on themselves or other earthly things for that happiness and as flawed individuals – in which we all are, their happiness will be flawed as well, either flipping from one thing to the next in hopes that they find that one true item or thing that makes them happy. But like everything does, those 'things' get old or become less desirable, and they simply toss them away, or make excuses to walk away from it. Everyone posting here is acting as if they're their own god, that they're their own religion and that they know what's best for them. Again, we're all flawed, so their ideas are flawed as well as their results. There are 84 million Catholics alone in the US – enough to elect the President, enough to stand up against most anything. So let these folks have their say, let them think what is best for themselves...because it won't last. It never does so Catholics – be patient.

    In my profession, I'm with a lot of these same people as they're passing away and first, they're always apprehensive about dying because to them – there is nothing on the other side. Secondly, once they pass, the expression on their faces as they pass are ones that I wish every non-religious person could see. So let them have their time with us here. Catholics – just keep your eye on the greater prize.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      So you prefer the model that says nothing on earth is really important unless it involves getting into heaven after you die. So you can actually do anything you interpret to be compatible with your belief.

      And if you depend on the fear of eternal retribution to be a "good" person then you are not much of a person to begin with. So your god simply rewards fear, not being a good person, since the road to he.ll is paved with good intentions. If we do not fear and obey your god yet are otherwise good people, we will be eternally punished....

      Its all a bunch of hooey. How about we just live by the golden rule (predates your religion) and dump all the superst.ition?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Cathy

      There might be 84 million BAPTIZED Catholics but how many actually live a Catholic lifestyle?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • TexasCentrist

      You are injecting a host of attributes on non-believers that are unwarranted. Obviously you cannot be objective. Non-believers want to create the best possible world to live in because that's all we have. Believers, on the other hand, do not hold the Earth and all of its residents (including non-human) in such high esteem because what is most important is where you go after you die.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Lorfat

      There is no greater prize! When your dead your dead. I am a believer in proof, where's the proof of your god. If he was to come down to earth and say "hey I'm here, here I am , here's the proof!" Then I would believe. But if that's what you want to believe then that is your right, Just stop trying to convince me because that is MY right!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  9. devout atheist

    just because most people are realizing religion is just a bunch of b#llshi!t that does not mean there is a war on religion. sorry if people just don't buy any more preacher. Religion has waged war on reason and logic and humanity for eons.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      AMEN!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • TexasCentrist

      Correct. Religion has enjoyed protection from condemnation in the interest of political correctness. No more. This bastion of backward thinking needs to be exposed for the sham that it is.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • LolDems

      devout – 2-3% are most people? Delude yourself much? Religion waged war on logic, reason, humanity? What are you smoking? Do you know Christianity's sponsorship of science or just the Galileo story. Do you know Isam's preserving Greek literature and advancing medicine? The only war on logic and reason I see is going on in your head.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Cathy

      If you believe "religion is just..." then are you really an atheist? I thought an atheist doesn't believe.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      With the tagname 'devout atheist', I'm gonna be a betting man and say he is Atheist, Cathy.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • TexasCentrist

      Cathy, illogical arguments from believers (as presumably you are) abound. Atheists believe in things that can be proved. Atheists believe that religion is BS because it is making unsubstantiated claims.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  10. Regis990

    When are we going to get freedom FROM religion? That's what I want.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      AMEN brother!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  11. JAB

    The Catholic Church's definition of freedom of religion is that they are free to impose their beliefs on me. As a former Catholic who grew up going to Catholic schools, I want no part of that. In regard to things like contraception, each Catholic woman can make her own choice, but health care insurance should cover this vital medicine for women's health.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      Hallelujah!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Cathy

      Next thing you know, the government will be providing chewing gum to everyone to prevent bad breath!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  12. Emperor Vadik, CA

    How about freedom from molesting young boys systematically???

    April 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Chris

      re·li·gion noun \ri-'li-j?n\
      A mass human psychosis that usually results in participants believing in incredibly silly crap and acting like total retards.

      x10

      April 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  13. stonrdude

    The Soviet Union had it right, haul these guys off to a Gulog in North Dakota, no religious leaders left. Make them suffer at the hands of the Westboro Baptist church. Place John Q and Mary Catholic in charge of the church. They can not do worse than these guys have. Let people worship in their hearts. Get the Catholic church out of peoples bedrooms.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Johnny in NC

      You must be Obama's political director.... You know he will have much more flexibility after the election.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Nii

      STONRDUDE
      Thanks for perpetuating the Atheists are Communist stereotype. U want the RCC to have a leadership whom u yourself will reject as ignorant if they asked to be your alderman.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Johnny in NC

      Nii,

      Atheist are Communist right? Both believe they have all the answers, both believe people of faith are the enemy and both deny God....three strikes.... Ok so that is not fair, I should not play to ignorance nor encourage it...sorry.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @Johnny,

      If all communists are atheists, please explain Cuba.

      Sorry to tell you, but no political system necessitates a lack of belief in a deity.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  14. Nii

    ATHEISTS
    We are watching the anti-gay statements u r making against the Roman Catholic clergy with keen interest. when u finish with them come and announce being pro-gay. If not for blognames we will boo u soundly on the street for saying things a Xtian won't say to a gay ever.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i am an atheist. i am pro-g.a.y rights.

      the bible says to KILL g.a.y.s. read that again: KILL. but you guys don't hate g.a.y..s, right?

      so wthat the hell are you even talking about? what anti-g.a.y comments?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      Paint a gigantic "X" on the sidewalk so they know where to stand when you guys start booing. Are all the atheists doing this, Nii? Or you found like one guy and have waged war because they're atheists?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • TexasCentrist

      I haven't seen atheists making anti-gay statements. However anti-Catholic clergy statements are probably commonplace, and well-deserved.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Nii

      BOOTY
      I have made this observation several times on this blog. Atheists using LGBT terms as insults against Xtians. I overlook them at times. Personally I am Protestant and hate pedophillia but when u use gay insults it seems to me that u r no different just that u r choosing one gp of gays to like.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  15. Zannie

    I am a practicing Catholic, but having a very hard time with the church at the moment. As Joe said, they have plenty of time to fool with the mass, but have not addressed anything of importance to the issues now. If they are acting as a business, they need to follow the rules. All of my Catholic friends and I were or are on BC for years. It is not like the church was going to help us support all of these kids we would have had without birth control, whether in a marriage or not.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Cathy

      #1 Being on BC means you are NOT a practicing Catholic!!!
      #2 Ever heard of respecting each other? Control your hormones and respect your mate. Then you won't have a problem raising the children you end up having!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @Cathy – Really? I can understand the feeling over abortions, but what is the deal with BC? You would think that would be a better option. Oh and Cathy....... kids cost money. Zannie has taken measures from preventing an unwelcomed pregnancy. That's called proper planning, has nothing to do with respecting your mate. Cathy, there are approx 7 billion people on the planet. I think we can slow down..

      April 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Concerned Citizen

      Cathy, you are brainwashed.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      Cathy, wow, just wow.

      BTW, can you tell me the difference, spiritually, between using early withdrawal/rhythm method/whatever other timing method vs. a condom or the pill? They ALL have exactly the same intent.
      Or are you one of the few that actually believe you should try to be having a child EVERY time you have se.x?

      I only see hypocrisy if it is not the latter. And if it is the latter I hope you have NO hormones.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • sooperbee

      Thank you Cathy, you judgmental shrew. Tell me..is the Bible the unequivocal written word of the creator of the universe or do you take a few moderate liberties to accomodate your mostly pious lifestyle?
      I have no time for your ilk and misery you bring to humanity.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • sam

      Cathy must be one hell of a fun neighbor to have.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Zannie

      Sorry Cathy. I missed the point where you were elected Pope. Yes I am a practising Catholic and so are most of the women in the pews in church who do as I did. I do respect my husband. And as a couple we decided that 2-3 kids were as many as we could support, unlike the famies that we know who had more than they could support and have our Catholic school giving them a cut on tuition, that my kids tuition pays for.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  16. Moishe

    I don't see any minority males in the photo...what's up with that?

    April 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • T

      My point exactly......

      April 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  17. jason snowpeas

    What is this? A group shot of pedophiles?

    April 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  18. TexasCentrist

    That people still subscribe to these medieval beliefs is really mystifying. God wants you to believe in him even though there is not a shed of proof, and if you don't, you are banished to pain and suffering for all eternity. But remember, God loves you! Complete nonsense if you step outside the bubble and look at it for what it is.

    Religion oppresses free thinking. It forbids scrutiny. Anything so divine should invite scrutiny with the confidence that it will hold up. But they know if will not hold up to scrutiny, so they forbid it. Turn off your rational thought and just have faith. And all those red flags that pop up because things don't make sense? Again, turn off your rational thought and just accept that God has a plan. All designed to keep you in the bubble. And the rewards? You receive them *after* you die. Right.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      Right on the money. Captain Kirk said it best, "What does 'God' need with a starship?"
      As a creation of the 'Big Guy', want does he need from me? He created everything – now I gotta pay rent for living or something? I don't get it....

      April 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  19. Scott

    From what I understand, if you go to church and confess your sins you are forgiven. So if I use a condom and tell the preacher I did then I should be good right?

    April 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Cathy

      No, there's more to it than that. You need to be honestly and truly sorry for your sins in order to be forgiven. And only the Good Lord Himself knows if you are truly sorry. And it's the Lord who forgives (through the priest). So, if you're going to lie during confession and say you're sorry when in fact, you plan or committing that sin again, then that is another sin. The bottom line is, you're not forgiven!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      I am sooooo thankful law enforcement looks to evidence to solve crimes instead of my crazy nieghbor, Cathy, screaming that I'm a witch. Because I'm NOT a witch. I'm a wizard.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  20. TheWiz71

    I am a believing Christian, and I believe in the separation of Church and State (for the mutual benefit of both), and therefore I understand that it is the POTUS's job to protect the rights, liberties, and freedoms of all Americans, regardless of religious doctrines. The Roman Church is not required to provide contraception, in violation of its beliefs, but that does not mean that those who work for them should be deprived of such should they require it. It is a reasonable compromise. If these Papists spent as much time and energy rooting out pedophile priests, they wouldn't be in the mess they're in right now.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Pipe-Dreamer Ramblings

      And the dreamers do ever dream on and onward to ever consider and be considered. Some considerations are thoughtful while other considerations Truths to be reckoned and bantered about! Such are the meds of diaspercivities against the aspirins of unintentionalisms' bereavements cunning moments! eat freely and drink much with the zealots their fruited wines from their sheltered wineries!

      Freedom of Religions is not Religions of Freedom nor can one have it both ways. Either one is the one way or the other. Choose wisely and wise you may become,,,,,,,,,,,,

      The so-declared "two-way-streets" are akin to a field being fenced but unlike the fielded fences, the two-way-streets carry things one way and another. Knowing which way one is traveling is the importance of one's direction and destination. Moreover the road to Hell is much traveled while the road to the Heavens is less sought to be traveled upon and toward.
      All, "built by the hands of humanists" churches have no heart nor soul nor holy spirit of God! They are as empty shells with no powers! The "True Churches" of the Kingdoms of God lay within/inside the bodies of the people and all other forms of Life upon this Earth and where ever within the Celestial Cosmos of Dimensional Tranquilities!

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

      Do not women have misscariages? Do they not have still births? Who then is to say as one said I "feel" that abortion is murder when truly one considers the "natural" murdering ways of misscariages and still births?

      Losing one's faith in one thing, faith is found in another thing. The measuring of faith is shared and in sharing faith among others such faith becomes them yet still faith can not be one's abundancy for it is measured equally between and can only be shared with a give me some and I'll give you some acronism.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:26 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.