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. TC

    The reality people is that no one reads crazy and insane long winded comments – that's the reality.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  2. One one

    They don't get to dominate people's affairs and get special accommodation simply because they are a religion.

    Where is the problem?

    April 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • TC

      2 words – religious freedom.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Snow

      So, religious freedom means they get to dictate what govt does?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  3. Reality

    Beyond politics and religion and onto real life:


    Se-x, contraception and STD control: – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

    Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

    The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

    : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

    Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

    The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

    1a. (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
    1b. (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

    Followed by:

    One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
    Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
    The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
    Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
    IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
    Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)- RCC approved
    Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)- RCC approved
    Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)- RCC approved

    Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

    April 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • The Dude

      Thank you for this insightful and detailed response to those idiots. education is what is needed not religious BS shoved down our throats by these rapists, liars, and stupid MEN!!!!

      April 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  4. Peter Pearson

    I'm wondering about the religious liberties of all the folks who do not agree with the Roman church, what about them? Also, isn't it expected that convictions bring with them a cost?

    April 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Well considering their God intends to roast them all in hell for eternity, I suspect they don't care.

      Throw the deviants in a cell and tax the cult coffers until they disapear.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  5. André

    These bishops fail to realize that in all western countries (except USA), contraception is given to ALL women by government since we have free universal health care. Bunch of hypocrites talking about US religious liberties lol

    April 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  6. Galen

    They never looked internally, only listened to the voices of the gods. And when the voices were silenced they could know the laws of God upon their hearts.
    And when there was nobody left to judge them, they finally judged themselves.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  7. AverageJoe76

    Atheist and agnostics have a better understanding of God than most religious people. Just an example; "Free will". My understanding..... it makes no sense. The God I imagine sees the flawlessly the past, present, and future. To imagine that God can create a universe but NOT know what I'll do with the life I'm given is beyond me. Therefore, there IS no free will. And then it leads to... "why cretae me to send me to hell?" God knew the choices I'd make. Unless you're trying to tell me there's something the "Almighty' cannot do??

    April 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • One one

      Why create you and send you to hell? Because, even though god is all powerful and can do anything, he prefers to solve his problems through torture and death. Just look at how he decided to "save" mankind from the curse he put on humanity in the garden of Eden.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  8. Descarado

    America needs less family values from religion and more Muslim values from Obama and atheist values from Hillary (Mrs. Fingerbanger) Rosen.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  9. TC

    This will continue to be an issue with elected leaders that are liberal and secular (mainly dems). If they can convince the sheeple that religious belieifs are invalid then churches will be forced to comply with secular law.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Since when are churches above the law?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • TC

      Since when is the governmnet above my beliefs? I think the English started colonies here becoause of religious freedom. Next.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Snow

      Try this.. you are a devout christian and god comes in your dream, asks you to kill your kid.. should the govt leave you alone because your belief commands you to follow the word of god – and your belief is above everything else?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  10. Penn7277

    It makes no sense to be against birth control and abortion. One thing that they are against causes more of the thing they are even more against. They have to pick just one to be against. Their position makes no logical sense. Until these guys can understand that, their opinion means next to nothing. Besides, if you don't play the game, you shouldn't be making the rules. Oh, wait; they do play the game. Never mind.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Anie

      You don't have to worry about birth control or abortion when you're pegging little boys.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  11. Brian Ritchey

    Maybe these Bishops should bring back the Inquisition so they can torture "heretics" to death. They use rhetorical ticks such as setting up a straw man to attack. The nuns taught us how to "defend the faith" along with our catechism.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • ted

      "Religious liberty" = belief in God without religion.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  12. asd

    this is the same catholic church that out lived the roman empire, america will never win this one....2000yrs of catholic history in Jesus Chrsit, america is 400yrs old, she can learn from mother church.....hail mary full of grace, the lord is with thee,

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

      You're an imbecile.

      And God is imaginary.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • lana

      This is the same catholic church that forbids use of condoms even when one of the spouses is HIV-infected

      April 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Bear

      So, if Hinduism is like 1500 years OLDER, does that make it even more reliable?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      That would be the same RCC that was able to thrive because of the roman empire and the way it treated (and killed) non believers?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Well.....

      Bear, actually Paganism is the oldest known religion/form of worship

      April 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • RockwoodON

      Well the Greek Civilization lasted almost 1500 years; the Minoan for about the same; and the Egyptian for 3000 years or more. I'm sure the followers of Zeus, the mother Goddess, Horus and the rest boasted about the stability of their beliefs. Not to mention the religious of the Aztecs, Incas etc (I'm sure all that human sacrifice really made a difference, right?).

      And of course we do forget the deities of the previous 50-100 thousand years, all insurmountable in their time.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Joshua

    It is sad, when the government of the United States is fighting against basic human rights, like the freedom of religion. This greatly weakens our diplomatic capabilities abroad. How can our government negotiate the freedom of Christians in Iran, who are currently under death sentences just for being Christian, when they can't even claim to support religious freedom at home? How can we chastise China for not allowing free speech, when we don't allow free religion? It is sad how far we have come from the moral high ground.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Really-O?

      How is prohibiting insurance payers from denying a basic healthcare service to the insured a violation of religious freedom?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Chris

      Joshua, does your employer's religion allow modern medicine or not? If not, start worrying about your own health, you are next to be denied basic health coverage while still paying insurance premiums.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  14. rbsrs

    @ snow you are grasping at straws.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Snow

      How so? care to enlighten me?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  15. SconnieGuz

    I wish I could hide behind my imaginary friend, not pay taxes and try to dictate what happens with my government.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Snow

      Don't forget that when the govt does not like the way you dictate and decides to push back, you should cry out "Persecution" and "Invasion of religious freedom"!

      Rule must be that "Rules apply differently for me compared to others"..

      April 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Pander Bear

      Don't forget get off scott free after molesting little boys because it's a "church matter".

      April 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Joshua

      Snow, the rule is, Congress shall enact no law that abridges the free exercise of religion. Is it the Church that is not following the rules or the government?

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

      Sweet gig if you can get it!

      April 13, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • TC

      Hmm – I probably pay way more taxes than you and I can't hide behind God. So your point?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Snow

      cite .. or never happened.. This is not your bible for people to blindly believe every imaginary thing written

      April 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Snow

      "Congress shall enact no law that abridges the free exercise of religion"

      Does religion get to block congress from doing its job? which begins with protecting civil rights of every person.. employed by church or not?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      I'm guessing you geniuses aren't constitutional lawyers. This country restricts practices by religions all the time. See: polygamy.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Frederick John

      Couldn't have said it better myself!

      April 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • John

      But do I gotta wear satin dresses?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  16. Freddy

    Bunch of hypocrites and child molesters.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • John

      The vast majority of atheists commenting on this blog do seem to be hypocrites but I don't know how you can tell they are child molesters.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • John

      To the other John. We are all hypocrites. That accusation is one of the most desperate arguments you can resort to. These same priests knowingly offer sacraments to and accept donations from a majority of parishioners who regularly use birth control. Now that's hypocrisy on steroids.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Realist

    I'm trying to figure out exactly where it is that religious freedom involves inserting the church into any sphere you like, and then doing things–not the way they are normally done in that sphere, but the way the church says it is going to do them. It seems to me that one of the basic needs of immigrant and refugee women would be birth control. Last time I checked, that's still legal. So is abortion. And if your organization is purposely withholding services from women that they need, because you don't agree with them, then you're not really providing a service–and you shouldn't be in that business. Again, no body is stopping any Catholic from practicing their religion. That's complete right-wing propaganda. But if the church is going to stretch its tentacles into all these other areas, then they're going to have to play by society's rules. It's been the other way around–backwards–for far too long.

    And let's face it–we all know that the main reason the church wants to be in these areas anyway is to assert its influence. I find this particularly distasteful, and often in violation of the establishment clause. For example, in my city, anyone who might need housing assistance, has to go to the Catholic Charities, and sit and be judged by a panel of old lady Catholics to see if he or she is just the right kind of person to receive such assistance. And it's not even their money. It's the federal government's. This is but one example of how the Catholic church tries to insert itself in every place it can, to assert its influence and impact other people's lives. I believe in freedom, all right. Freedom FROM religion. It's time we had some.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  18. Godfrey

    Wow! I haven't seen so many wizards in one place since the last Harry Potter flick!

    April 13, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  19. TXBlade

    People give off about Religion and the tie into politics, but has already been pointed out almost 80% of the US is Christian and only 4% are Agnostic or Atheist. Yet again the vocal minority try to destroy the foundation and tradition to satisfy their belief system (or lack of) . The US is a democracy and supposedly the majority wins, well currently Christians are by way in the Majority over any other single or combined religion or non-religion, people who don't want to pray or join in with religious ceremonies can abstain without issue but the vocal minority want to take away the right to choose by telling you no you cannot pray in a public place and we should remove all religion from anything public or connected to the government so therefore forcing their views on others, which incidentally they are accusing Christians of doing. Stop being hypocrites and trying to destroy everyone else s views and practices to enforce your... if you don't like the Catholics insurance don't use it, if you don't want to pray.. DON'T and if you don't want to follow the 10 Commandments then DON'T but be aware the law may have an issues with some of those.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Realist

      You're wrong. The percentage of people claiming "no religious affiliation" is 20% in the US. That's 1 out of 5 people. And that number is rising every day as religious baby boomers die off and a new generation comes of age–a generation that has no interest in being brainwashed like you are.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Chris

      Stupid me, thinking the US is a republic. But if you say it is a democracy, it must be so.
      If you need a blood transfusion and need to pay for it out of pocket on top of paying your insurance premiums because your employer's religion condemns blood transfusions, then you will scream louder than women who need to pay out of pocket for oral contraceptives to treat ovarian cysts. But no one will care about you as it will be your employer's freedom of religion to prevent your health insurance from paying for your blood transfusion. Or maybe even cancer treatment, or any form of modern medicine. Some religions refuse those too.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • John

      There is a big difference between "no religious afflilation" and "atheist/agnostic". Most people with no religious affiliation still believe in God. Nice try on skewing numbers so that you don't look like a wingnut.

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

      I think all these numbers cited are questionable, but I will say that there is a huge difference between (Atheist + Agnostic) and "No Religious Affiliation". No Religious affiliation includes the aforementioned but also people who have specific beliefs that don't fit a survey defined religious group. Depending upon the survey this can include paganism, magical beliefs, animism, Buddhism, etc.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @TXBlade –

      Two quick points:
      Human and civil rights are not subject to "tyranny of the majority".
      The government of the United States of America is secular (please refer to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Consti.tution).

      April 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • sosume

      In the Roman Empire pagans ruled and Christians were a tiny minority. If you lived then would you be making the same statement? After all, majority rules. I think not. Just because some belief is or has been in the majority does not make it right or deserving of any privileges.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • biggal195

      Your own Lord told you not to pray in public places: "And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Mt. 6:5-6 NRSV) One of those who opposed "voluntary prayer in the public schools" during the 20th century once said, "Voluntary prayer in the public schools is neither." In other words, it wasn't voluntary because there was always pressure to participate, and it wasn't prayer because it was done to be seen and heard by others and not strictly to communicate with God.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  20. Rob

    Religion is responsible for the death of religion. Because of their ridiculous adherence to mythological absurdities and their inability to enter the real world. They just continue to molest children and blame the "secularists" for their problems. Get over yourselves already. In 50 years there will be no religion left.

    April 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Truth7

      In less than 50 years, there will be no wicked left, only those who believe in God. Truth always prevails.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • ted

      Religion like bacteria or virus will always be around, until God says – enough!

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

      "In 50 years there will be no religion left." We can only hope.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • TC

      In 50 years there will be more adherents to religions becasue man has no faith in other men.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Rob

      Guess what, "Truth"? I believe in God. I DON'T believe in organized religion which claims to speak for it. GOD has NOTHING to do with religion. Once again, you are just a bunch of cowards afraid of the real world.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • RNC

      truth7 I think you missed your spaceship

      April 13, 2012 at 4:33 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.