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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. CarrotCakeMan

    sandy is 100% correct, the GOP Catholic bishops were just doing a GOP Dirty Trick® again by whining about contraceptives. The Catholic NUNS who actually own and operate the hospitals have long since announced they are 100% SATISFIED with the contraceptive compromise. Lay Catholics just laugh at the silly men in the fancy dresses.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      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? I see no reason why contraceptives by wman or man cannot be a religious virtue to be considered as a part of Life!

      April 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  2. Thinks2010

    Why does the government have a contract with the Catholic Church's Migration and Refugee Services? Our government shouldn't have any contracts with any churches. By contracting with the Catholic Church, isn't our government favoring the Catholic Church over other religions? Doesn't it blur the lines between church and state? It's bad enough that churches are tax exempt especially when they are running secular like businesses and running campaigns designed to influence our government's policies and laws. I'm a religious person, but I think this needs to stop.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Agreed 🙁 🙂 🙁

      April 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  3. sandy

    If it weren't an election year, would anyone really care about what the church is saying? Let's face it, the majority of Catholics follow their own guidelines when it comes to birth control. The Catholic church has been quietly funding birth control through the insurance companies that they deal with for years. I say it's more about how they feel about Obama and the law than the actual birth control issue. They don't like his liberalism.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • visitor

      Then Sandy, I have the right to picket churches every Sunday as right-wing fronts.

      Is that really what they are looking for? Maybe it is. It would get them more attention.

      Clearly they are wh-ring for media attention.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @sandy asks:
      "If it weren't an election year, would anyone really care about what the church is saying?"

      There lies the problem. I think about what the churches say every waking day of my life and I make it a point to have discussions and debates with others concerning the perpetuation of the ignorance and intolerance of religion and how it is destroying our ability to think rationally.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  4. Patrick Burke

    “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?”

    Answer: No. Your faith is your own. Don't use the excuse that because you're helping others, that makes it okay to tell them how and what they should believe. If you're genuinely interested in helping people then do it and let them decide for themselves whether or not they agree with your faith. Your contention that your freedom is being interfered with is shameful. It is a lie. You should try to be better than that.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • William Demuth

      The salvation carrot and stick!

      You can be saved if we can bugger your sons.

      You can be saved if we can have your money.

      You will burn in hell if you question us.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • sandy

      They have no right making the decision to use birth control for nonCatholics. That is their beliefs not the beliefs of others. Very antiquated ideas and a way of keeping women in their place.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      This is not about the Catholic Church telling anyone, anything about what they should do. Its about the State telling the Catholic Church, and indeed Catholics who believe as the Church does that contraceptive is a grave evil what they should do. The notion that the Insurance Companies are going to pay for contraception without passing the costs on to everyone is laughable. If you want to say that Catholics don't have the right to act on their religious beliefs fine... but also start campaigning for a repeal of the the first amendment.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      They are not claiming they have the right to stop anyone from using Birth Control, they don't want to be forced to pay for it since they view it as intrinsically evil.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      "If you want to say that Catholics don't have the right to act on their religious beliefs fine."

      So, do you advocate for repealing the first amendment because we outlaw polygamy? Where's the line?

      If I belonged to a religion that taught that black people were evil, would it be ok for me to violate anti-discrimination laws if my religion owned a hospital so that my federally-funded hospital only hired white people?

      April 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      There is a crucial difference between Polygamy and this law. Polygamy is prohibiting a an action, this law is compelling a an action. Further this is based on our understanding of God's moral law (which Polygamy is not).

      As for your Hospital example, that is a bit of a straw man. One, this has nothing to do with the Catholic Church discriminating in their hiring. Secondly, this requirement is not simply limited to organizations receiving federal funds. Lets say I start a Catholic University tomorrow; I still have to provide this coverage even if I never take a dime of federal funds.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @Bill -it's not a straw man, you just find it inconvenient because you only want exemptions for your own personal beliefs – you don't necessarily want to grant the same to others. Take out the federal funds part, and this is still relevant.

      And while polygamy isn't a great comparison, the argument used by Catholics against this law is the same argument that polygamists would use – they are not allowed to exercise their religious beliefs. One could easily word their argument as polygamists are compelled to live a monogamists life style.

      Where do you draw the line?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Lee

      Mary and Bill – If I was a Christians Scientist and business owner, is it my right to deny basic medical attention to my employees, based solely on my faith? If my Catholic employee needs a blood transfusion, should my insurance coverage force him to pay it himself? If we make an exception for one type of business owner (and this is about businesses since churches are exempt already) then where do we draw the line? I could start my own religion tomorrow which is against colonoscopies. Should my employee's colons go unchecked because my religion find them immoral?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Lee

      I just noticed that your name is in fact MarylandBill – my mistake. But please answer my questions. I'm curious to see if you are consistent with your dispensation of religious freedom.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  5. AverageJoe76

    I've always had hope in the human race. I knew oneday there would be this 'awakening' of the minds. And I see it on these blogs. I see more and more atheist/ agnostic commentors, and although some of you guys are a bit mean to the religious folks, I know where the fustration comes from (still isn't right, tho – Lol). I just need more religious folks to get into science and math. Education should help stamp out the overzealous nature of religion. (But then again, crazy is as crazy does)

    April 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • O

      Amen!

      April 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • John

      "a bit mean to religious folks" 🙂 kinda like "Bill Gates has a bit of money".....but this is the world of the CNN religious blog....atheists practicing thier religious freedom bash people who believe in God without respect or understanding while claiming to suffer from what they practice.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  6. Turtle man

    I’ll tell you why Atheists get involved. It’s morally wrong to tell a child they will burn in hell for eternity if they don’t believe. I am an Atheist and have three children. ALL three of them have been exposed to Christianity through school friends. My 11 daughter came home with a book given to her by a friend’s parents. This was a Christian book describing what happens to non-believers. My 11 year old daughter is now terrified I will burn in hell if she can’t convert me. If I sent my daughters Christian friend home with a book debunking religion how would that go over? Would the Christians child get involved?

    April 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      That's the mind-screwing they give you with religion. Fear. Always fear, and punishment. The love comes later in the story. Then more FEAR at the end of the story.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You make a very good point about our children. Children should not be taught religion at an early, impressionable age. Allow them to make their own decisions when they are mentally mature to make a rational choice.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      I would even say that it is a form of child abuse, the teaching of religion.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      I hope you reported those creeps to the police, Turtle, or at least destroyed their Hate Book. What they did is immoral and illegal.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Get Real

      Turtle man,

      That's just awful about your daughter. Someone earlier recommended a book for kids called, "Maybe Yes, Maybe No" by former evangelical preacher-now atheist, Dan Barker. You might look into finding it for your daughter.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Anie

      Like any other harmful, possibly dangerous thing, it should be illegal for minors.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Get Real

      p.s. The book is not religiously oriented, just an introduction to skepticism and critical thinking.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Get Real

      I have friends and relatives who constantly bombard me with email prayer chains and other sappy religious propaganda. I just ignore and delete them with no comment... but just imagine if I were to be sending them excerpts from "The God Delusion" or something like that...?!

      April 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  7. rstlne

    That is a hoot and a half! The Catholic Church lecturing others on religious freedom? Really?

    April 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • Thinks2010

      That's the first thing that came into my mind when I saw this article. The Catholic Church's history regarding religious freedom is very negative indeed. They are such phonies on this point that it is unbelievable.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  8. visitor

    by the way, Question, maybe you SHOULD read more about Atheists or other points of view.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  9. † In God We Trust †

    HAHAHA I love that my religion is imposed on everybody including the 20% non-Christians living in America 🙂

    We enjoy our tax exempt, religious holidays observed by public/state/govn., God in our currency, federal/state buildings, motto etc., only Christian presidents, both political parties being Christians, blue laws in some places etc. etc. 😀

    April 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      This will all go away soon.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Ah

      But the reign is drawing to a close!

      Perhaps your preachers buggered one more boy than they should have, or defrauded one little old lady too many, but the tide is turning.

      And if Allah gets the upper hand, you may get your day of judgement sooner than you had hoped for!

      April 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Yepp sure they will.... HAHHAHAHA

      good luck

      April 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • CarrotCakeMan

      Are YOU a "dominion Christian, "In god"? Do you want to murder everyone who doesn't share your beliefs?

      Look up R J Rushdoony, the founder of "dominion Christianity," and you will see he did want to murder every American that didn't share his "beliefs."

      April 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Jarvis.Lorry

      You are forgiven my son for your sin against atheists. I urge you to read the new atheist bible, "The God Delusion", by Richard Dawkins.

      April 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  10. Voice of Reason

    @FajitaBob asks:
    "Voice: How has religion harmed you?"

    It has robbed me of the truth for nearly 75 years.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      And, oh yeah, I'm pis*sed!

      April 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      Makes me lose friends, family and other highly religious people in my life. Makes me pretend to be someone I'm not to keep my job. And then on top of everything else (which there is more) I can't drink on Sundays. Religion has robbed me of living my life the way I want to live it.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      And I can't tell my grandchildren that god is a big load of nonsense because their parents won't allow me to see them.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Get Real

      Voice of Reason,

      So sorry (and angry) to hear about your being unable to visit with your grandchildren. Hope things change someday...

      April 13, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  11. Anomic Office Drone

    Freedom of religion also means freedom from religious you're not a part of.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  12. Vince

    Catholicism is a threat to civilization and humanity! Let's not forget that.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      Yeah, other than that saving Civilization during the fall of the Roman Empire and the viking invasions, inventing the modern university, establishing Hospitals, Universities, schools, inspiring Art and architecture it has done nothing but threaten civilization; oh right, lets not forget its role in the development of western music. But besides that, nothing......

      April 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  13. Greg

    Leave the church alone. They have as much right to their say and beliefs as you heathens do.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • William Demuth

      No they don't.

      They are bigoted, and we have a moral obligation to condemn bigotry.

      To many lives have already been destroyed by our patience with this cabal.

      Tax the charlatans, imprison the deviants, and shut this cult down for the good of all.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • rstlne

      @ William Demuth – Amen to that!

      April 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      You obviously have missed the irony of your statement Mr. Demuth.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • John

      You are right, Greg but the religion blog are under attack by a very aggressive, militant, anti-religion atheist minority with an agenda to spread their hate. They practice what they complain about....what are those people called?....oh, yeah....hypocrites. They won't like this at all because they know its true but this is just one of many truths that they evidently have a problem with.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      @William Demuth
      BTW, who are we morally obligated to?

      April 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  14. LouAz

    Why are these men(?) wearing dresses ?

    April 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Thinks2010

      Because it makes them look pretty.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  15. Dan

    What a load of crap! Religion isn't under attack. Political lobbying wrapped in the guise of religion is!
    If any church/religion wants to be involved with politics fine, but they should have to give up their tax exempt status, as their lobbying is geared toward filling their coffers. The Catholic church is, if not the richest, one the richest, organizations in the world. They should focus on their supposed purpose and use their lobbying dollars for helping those in need!

    April 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • James Huerkamp

      Amen to that. After all the ostrocities the catholic church has done. They should be paying taxes and paying for water etc.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  16. Gamer Geek

    Looks like a pimps and ho's ball.. all that black and pink, and dem chainz!

    April 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  17. REG in AZ

    Since 2000 what seems to be the obvious is an aggressive pushing for government to be more controlled, and thereby the populace more controlled, by dictated Christian (as interpreted by a few) values. What really needs to be understood is that part of what makes America great as a truly free country is it's religious freedom – which is what the founders intentionally and clearly established after escaping the persecution in europe. Before we give that up, whatever religious or non-religious background anyone comes from, it would be good to look at the really severe problems seen in other countries when giving up the true separation of state and church. There are those politicians using the biased Christian attraction for manipulation and for political gain but it would be good for all, including Christians, to understand what is lost and to see the con for what it is.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Thinks2010

      Excellent post full of good points.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  18. FajitaBob

    All the people here who spew hatred against religion have no idea what they are talking about; likely have not even talked to anyone connected with a church recently. Real religion is solely about being a good and valuable servant to ALL people, just as Jesus. Christians are human, so will err, but those I know are focused in the right direction, anyway. Reading these comments, I would no sooner put my trust in an atheist than put my nuts in a gator's open mouth. Come on, people! Why is it so hard for you to let others have an opinion? Just s hitting on other's beliefs does not lend more credibility to yours. Nobody said you have to believe in God, but if others choose to, so what? Let 'em. PEACE! (okay, now you canb itch all you want)

    April 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      I bet you I know more about religion than you do?

      April 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Bob

      Many times we humans have tolerated bigotry we new was wrong because of political correctness.

      Many paid the price for our silence.

      No longer shall we listen to these deviants. Let them fade into the past where they belong, because there is no room for cults in the 21st century.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
    • JJC

      Studies have shown that the non-religious know more about religions than the religious do. We read the bible because it is being shoved down our throat, so it is good to know your enemy. Most Christians in the U.S. cannot even name all of the ten commandments. Yet they fight tooth and nail to get them in public places. The best way to get the religous to give up their religion is to have them read their own religious books. For instance, the bible is a hate spewing piece of bigoted garbage, and it takes a lot of effort to spin it otherwise. What parts of the bible do you not believe in? I am positive that you do not believe the whole book, because if you did you would not function in a civilized society. So if even the religious do not believe all that they promote why should anyone else?

      April 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • visitor

      Fahita, have you read the bible cover to cover?

      April 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • OH_CHRIST!

      How wrong you are to assume atheists don't know about religion. Most of us are recovering from our religious upbringing and therefore made a decision to become athiest/agnostic after much time researching, questioning and struggling to let go of the lies and unfounded truths forced on us growing up.

      Every atheist/agnostic I personally know has studied the bible as well as other religions to learn. I know very few christians who have the capability to even open their minds to studying other philosophies or religions as they are convinced nothing else holds truth but the king james version good ole' bible.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • FajitaBob

      Of course, you people have totally missed the point. I couldn't care less if you can quote the ten commandments–bully for you! My point is that youb itch all day long about how evil religion is, and you couldnt be more wrong. I speak from experience. I had trouble in the past, and I turned for help to the government (just like the rest of the sheep). Waste of time. Then I went to my local church. There I found more people than I could count who were eager to do anything they could to help. I only hope I can do a tenth of what some of these people have done for a total stranger. You guys expect the gov to throw money at problems and they will go away–wrong. I will put my money on the church every time, and I will get exactly what I have seen–a COMMUNITY of servants who live what they believe. You bozos can take your chances with the gov. And don't think you will never need help (that was my mistake too). I know I will never find a better group of people than I have met.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  19. † In God We Trust †

    *An image of Moses carrying the tablets of God's Law faces the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

    *The U.S. Congress begins every session with prayer.

    *The entering President takes his courtroom OATH OF OFFICE with his right hand on the Holy Bible, and concludes his vow "So help me God."

    April 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Mike

      All of which should be banned.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      That won't be around much longer.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Commenter

      IGWT,

      You had to have seen this list on page #5 (and I'm sure elsewhere), yet you continue to spew... what is wrong with you?

      Christian law = The 10 Commandments???

      1: Have no other gods – NOT A LAW
      2: Make no graven image – NOT A LAW
      3: Don’t take the name in vain – NOT A LAW
      4: Honor the Sabbath – NOT A LAW
      5: Honor thy father and mother – NOT A LAW
      6: Thou shalt not kill – NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY (long pre-dated it)
      7: Thou shalt not commit adultery – huge number of Christians commit adultery by LEGALLY remarrying
      8: Thou shalt not steal – NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY
      9: Thou shalt not bear false witness – NOT UNIQUE TO CHRISTIANITY
      10: Thou shalt not covet – NOT A LAW

      April 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Anie

      These things are abominations to the concept of truth, freedom and true justice. They should be eradicated/ abolished immediately!

      April 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  20. Religious Freedom for individuals

    As a non-Catholic working for a Catholic organization who is going to protect my religious freedom to have the same access to medical care as other non-Catholics working for non-Catholics. The Bishops purosefully get it wrong. It is my religious freedom they step on when they impose their religion on me.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • yoyo

      then look for another place to work and quit blaming the Bishops

      April 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Religion is harmful.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • FajitaBob

      Voice: How has religion harmed you? Probably hasn't, but people like you need something to hate...

      April 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • sandy

      This says it all. They have been paying for your health care and birth control if you need it. They just are against President Obama and health care.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
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About this blog

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.