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

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

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church

soundoff (2,540 Responses)
  1. Snoozie

    Whenever any group starts yelling about "freedoms", it always strikes me that they are only ever interested in their own. What about the freedom to work wherever you want to and not having to worry about getting reduced health coverage because your BOSS doesn't like birth control? What about the freedom the worker has of not having to follow Catholic doctrine if they themselves are not Catholic? All this "war on" stuff is getting ridiculous.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Snoozie,,,, "freedom to work" you say? What about the freedom NOT to work? If one freely is unwilling to work then what are one's choices? I have deduced that "freedom to work" is but an outlandish and dastardly way to convince present day slaves to have choices as to which slave-master they hope to serve proudly or not.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  2. sir_ken_g

    They want the right to discriminate against others. That simple.
    The catholic church has been behind the times for centuries.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  3. BobZemko

    I don't hate God, it's his fan club I am not too crazy about.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Snoozie

      Awesome!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      I don't hate God either! I do though, hate His speakerships and their coniving ways to get "blood" moneies from the blinded sheep they fold!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Kindness

      Concur!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  4. Rob

    The world's worst hypocrites. Only looking out for themselves. The victims come second. They're an example of how not to live.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  5. Walter

    As a Catholic I've understood that the way a person acts using free will defines said person. Not allowing me the option of free controception seems to run contrary to my ability to use free will. Is that simple enough! No wonder people keep on leaving the faith, the church has become un-christian.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Independent Thinker

      Why should you get "free" contraception? Also, the government should not be in the business of forcing religious organizations (typically they self-insure) to do anything against their beliefs in the same way that religious organizations cannot use the government to force their beliefs on everybody.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @Independent Thinker, Why "should" you get a free education in the public school system, or why "should" you get free medicare one day, or why "should" someone else go off and fight your wars while you sit around and share your thoughts on a chat forum, or why "should" someone else build your roads for you or put out your fires? Maybe you should just keep your tax money and figure out ways to provide those services for yourself... or we could HOPE you get some of that free contraception and stop your genes from spreading too far.

      April 13, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  6. JohnK

    Would you buy a used car from any of these guys?

    Their idea of "religious freedom" only applies to their religion, not to the rest of us who don't want to hear their hypocritical nonsense.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  7. LouAz

    I spent a good part of my life fishin' . . . everything else was a waste of time.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  8. Mo

    I'm Catholic and this is nonsense. First of all, it's not free birth control; people always pay insurance premiums. Second, no employer should get to dictate what medical treatment an employee gets to receive – that's none of their business. Third, I'm sick of these so-called Catholic bishops pushing their political agenda and desecrating the altar while doing it. In the 4th place, if they feel they can't condone this type of coverage, then they also should tell every Catholic in the pews that they won't accept their money if they use any type of birth control – so as not to be hypocritical.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  9. ciabella23

    Guess they count the many rapings and child abuse under the headings of "religious freedom"

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

    Atheism is in decline because more and more mentally healthy people realize and seek their lord and savior.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Cain

      Where have you been? Non believer status is rising in the US since the 1990s at a pcae that far outweighs all religious growth combined. People see the light and the light is man made.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Mike

      Wow, thanks for the laugh. I got a great chuckle out of this.
      -Peace

      April 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Kindness

      If there were a supreme being or "God" as you put it, I'm certain he would prefer kind athiests over hateful christians. You just told someone to go to hell in another post,...shame on you

      April 13, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Kajal

      First of, atheism is not on decline.
      Rather, I'd say that religious fanaticism is, indeed, on the increase. It is still concentrated in a few people, but these people are way more loud and rabid than they used to be. I believe it is both a failure of the American education system and an exploitation of these people by politically motivated interested groups.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Cain

      Kajal,

      Nice points you make. More truth in what you posted than what could ever be explained.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • otto

      Mentally healthy people don't believe in voo doo...you do.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Atheism is in decline because more and more mentally healthy people realize and seek their lord and savior."

      Typical Christian, can't even follow the bible, lying is a sin.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  11. D. Maul

    The bishpos want religous liberty... as long as it is THEIR and ONLY THEIR religous liberty.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Reality

      I recommend scrolling down the page to see what the US Supreme Court has concluded about religion and liberty.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  12. Cain

    I am tired of these religious nuts getting all bent out of shape and being so intolerant of other people's choices. Thankfully, religion is dying off. And we will be better off for it. Time to end the fairy tale and let the human race develop into a more caring social conscience without the hate and intolerance that comes with modern day religion.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Go to hell your anti-Christian bigot

      April 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @† In God We Trust † – "Go to hell your anti-Christian bigot"

      Jesus would be proud.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Cain

      Religion has lost its soul because of the hate and intolerance seen in reply to my opriginal post. So crystal clear how religion has become a rationale for others to hate and wage war. If 'In God We Trust' was President, he would probably send the trops like Isral does. Slaughter in the name of God. Just what the world needs....

      April 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Cain,,,wrote,,,, "Thankfully, religion is dying off. And we will be better off for it."

      Dying off? I seriously doubt that such mumbo jumbo is of any True Concern to the religiously devoted! 2,000 years and counting! Just because humanisms have only shortly, become a nuclear society, we somehow can do without breligions?

      April 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Cain

      Pipe Dreamer,

      Look at non believer status in US. Also, look at how anthropologits explain the rise of religion. Religions were founded for 3 primary purposes (that I recall but there were more..). One was to explain the unknown to others. A second reason was to scare people into following the morals of that culture. Hell for etrnity would suck. Thirdly was to rationalize one persons hatred for another type. See Mormonism as an example of that. More wars, deaths, intolerance, coulod be attributed to any other reason in the history of mankind beating out even Greed.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Cain

      Pipe Dreamer,

      Look at non believer status in US. Also, look at how anthropologits explain the rise of religion. Religions were founded for 3 primary purposes (that I recall but there were more..). One was to explain the unknown to others. A second reason was to scare people into following the morals of that culture. Hell for etrnity would suck. Thirdly was to rationalize one persons hatred for another type. See Mormonism as an example of that.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  13. AK_steve

    Yes – they need more freedom so they can you what you can't do.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  14. † In God We Trust †

    ALL ATHEISTS/NONBELIEVERS MUST BE PUT IN JAIL UNLESS THEY CONVERT..... THEY HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH AMERICA, OUR CULTURE, OUR HISTORY, OUR FAITH AND OUR NATION.

    PUT THEM IN JAIL UNTIL DEATH AND EVENTUALLY BURNING IN HELL! SICK AND TIRED OF THEM AND I MEAN IT

    April 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Cain

      Only a true Man of Gosd would want others to burn in hell for eetrnity. Your hatred of others is what is killing off religion as a whole in this country. So hypocritical and does not even uinderstand it behind the fog of hate and intolerance. If I was a true Christian, I would pray to save the atheists as Goid loves all his children....

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

      Atheists are SATAN that's why they don't convert!!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Appalled

      I hope this is a joke!!!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      Spoken like a true christian..

      April 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • sam

      Dude, you've been at this all day – you were here when I checked in this morning. Are you that crazy, or do you trade off with another nut? I'm sure there's a free clinic around that will front you some of your meds if you're completely out.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Rob

      Troll, don't bother.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      [PS] @† In God We Trust †, Your nom de plume is taken from the quran, you muslim extremist! "In God We Trust" (Quran 7: 89)

      April 13, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  15. Reality

    Some nitty-gritty:

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    "Twenty-one states offer exemptions from contraceptive coverage, usually for religious reasons, for insurers or employers in their policies: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (administrative rule), Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia."

    http://www.ncsl.org/issues-research/health/insurance-coverage-for-contraception-state-laws.aspx

    Next:

    The Catholic do not believe in artificial birth control so why do they employ those who do? Did not the Supreme Court recently decide that religious organizations have the right to decide who they hire and fire? Bottom line: To reduce health insurance costs and to not be subject to Obama care regulations about supplying contraceptives, Catholic groups should simply not hire those who want contraceptives and fire those who demand such coverage.

    Next:

    There are different opinions as to what a religion really is or what a non-profit is and therefore all non-profits should file Form 990's. At the moment, religious groups are exempt. To be fair therefore, there should be no tax-exemptions for any group and that includes the Democratic and Republican Parties. Faith and community initiative grant monies should also be cancelled and there should also be no tax deductions for contributions made to charities and non-profits.

    Next:

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/01/supreme-court-backs-church-in-landmark-religious-liberty-case/

    "The government must stay out of hiring and firing decisions by a religious organization, even if a minister sues for employment discrimination, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

    Religious freedom groups praised the decision, and especially the fact that it came from a unanimous court."

    Next topic !!!

    April 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Reality –

      Excellent post; however, this issue is just out of the gate. I predict this will evolve into a battle between religious liberty and civil rights (the church is, after all, denying a healthcare service to only one segment of society). It should be interesting to watch this one as it develops.

      Cheers.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  16. SeasonLaurel

    Just curious.... The Church does not believe in Contraception, so they don't want to offer/pay for it, ok.....isn't it sort of like if the Church of Scientology was upset that their taxes went to any shots and medical treatments they don't agree with? If this was the case, would we have any insurance? I'm just trying to understand the logic here, maybe that's a lost cause...

    April 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Reality

      The RCC does believe in natural contraception. It does not believe in artificial contraception. Scroll down the page to see a review on se-x, contraception and STD control.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Reality

      The review is on p. 38:

      April 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Appalled

      When it comes to religion there is no logic!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  17. Barry G.

    In all fairness, how does one balance the rights of a woman to choose and the rights of the child to be born?

    Given that the child is in a more vulnerable position, shouldn't extra consideration be given to them?

    On the other hand, anyone who oposes abortion should take full responsibility to ensure that every child born receives the proper care that every human should receive.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Barry G.,,,,,,,,,,,, .

      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 woman or man cannot be a religious virtue to be considered as a part of Life!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      You assume that every fetus and blastula in the womb is a child. You also assume that there are not conditions in which the mother's life may be in danger, or the women may be a victim of r@pe or incest.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Barry G.

      Ash,

      I assumed nothing. I simply asked two questions.

      P-D,

      I don't understand what you're trying to say.

      I simply asked two questions and pointed out something, which is so obvious, it needs no comment.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @Barry G., then the question wasn't well formed as it presumes those conditions I mentioned.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  18. ccd08

    Religious hatred runs rampant on CNN.com

    April 13, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      Where does hatred not run rampant?

      April 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  19. Rodeo_Joe

    Tickets to Heaven, Tickets to Heaven, get your Tickets to Heaven.

    Don't buy any imitation fake tickets, buy our tickets.

    Tickets to Heaven. Hocus Pocus.

    April 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      I've got a cure-all prayer elixir, right here! Get your prayer snake oil!

      April 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  20. Pest

    Inflicting your religion upon those who do not practice your religion is the opposite of religious freedom. Fascist pigs!

    April 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • ccd08

      So someone who doesn't believe in the religion will choose to work at that religion's business and choose to be infected with their teachings? Yeah, right.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Ashrakay

      @ccd08, Religious insti.tutions affect the political process. Look at the abortion laws, gay marriage and the teaching of pseudoscience like intelligent design in schools. Also, parents often indoctrinate kids in their fantasy before the child has reached an age of reasoning. So, I'd say it's pretty common practice for religions to push their views onto others.

      April 13, 2012 at 5:18 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.