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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. Christian law is not above government

    Where all the Christian Nun, Christian female priest, or simply Christian Women? Why are there Old men talking about Female Viagra. Do Christian men all have Viagra now?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:46 am |
  2. LMD

    This is a scenario we as a nation cannot take lightly. If the fanatical Catholic Church gains just one small step into the footholds of our nations policies(or should I say another foothold) we will surely be on our way to a theocracy.The bigotry and fanaticism that exists deep within the church is something that belongs left back in the dark ages.People of faith need to step away from the churches and do what their Jesus wanted them to do. And it was not to bow down to these men. It was to make a community and share,to help those that were down,to accept all,no matter what. With people like Santorum who are followers of this cultist body,if you did not like what you saw in him,imagine hundreds more like him dictating to the nation.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  3. Richard

    Oh, I thought they meant freedom from religion...sort of disappointed when I read the actual article. Morality is not religion and religion is not morality. Now that we've used it to as a third training wheel it's time to drop it and ride with our moral compass. We have rules and we (I think) for the most part understand good from bad. I don't believe in evil but I do believe in greed, human suffering and disease. If we all really believe in treating others like we want to be treated religion is unnecessary.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • FLIndependent

      Right on. I always say that if you follow the Golden Rule in life that is all that matters. One's morality is subjective and I know plenty of so called "Christians' that do very unmoral things that I would never think of doing. But, since they "believe in God" and are "Christian" they consider themselves forgiven. Take Gingrich for instance – how many times did he cheat on his wife and how many times married, but the Catholic Church forgives him – WHY? Politics and money,that is all it amounts to.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  4. Dave

    another cnn atheist troll bait article...brilliant

    April 13, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Christian law is not above government

      another Christian troll posting bad line...brilliant

      April 13, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • NoTheism

      did it work?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • fsm2012

      cnn's a place where religion bashing is acceptable. one of the few. we've gotta take what we can get

      April 13, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  5. Marine5484

    This is ridiculous.....this is beyond stupid! Your religious freedoms under threat? Please give me a fricken break. For being a worldwide organization you really don't know what religious oppression really looks like do you. Go to the ME, China, certain countries in SE Asia, many countries in Africa. So sorry were not like South America where they see mother Mary in a piece of bread or on a wall every 5 seconds.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  6. Christian law is not above government

    Do Christian have Women head figure or important Christian women leader. Because having a pure male group talking about Women right, even if it about religion freedom, I would still like to hear a Christian or at least a Christian Doctor.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  7. Men are clueless.

    .

    April 13, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • NoTheism

      misandrist

      April 13, 2012 at 12:30 am |
  8. bsad

    Forcing Catholic organizations to provide contraception for free? Something that goes against their beliefs? Where do you get 95 percent what is your source? Catholic church being the most intolerant? The pope has close ties to every major religion in the world and catholics are found in every country and culture in significant numbers. pedophiles are found in every denomination and religions and acually occure more in protestant churches. Here is my source: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2489752/posts .

    April 13, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  9. JC

    It's a club for people with in an imaginary friend. Why do they get to have a say what the rest of the world does?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • John

      Why do you all say "imaginary friend"? Don't you think it stupid to parrot received notions? Do you know what a "received notion" is? Why did you leave out the "sky god" thing this time?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  10. @Jim Dobry

    Christain had never form school or hospitals. They were against it. Most christian believe long time ago, if you were sick it was god way and Christian was known to burn library and school when it wasn't teaching Christian. The dark age was a example where christian burn all the library that didn't suppose Christian teaching.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Interesting

      I take you never read a history book before or you'd probably know that the catholic church provided some of the first public schools.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • mike

      You're obviously a foreigner and a brainless one at that. Let's make a guess here– muslim? Every university and hospital in the Western World began as a Christian organization. Go back to the third world. And I'm hardly one to defend christians, but the cultural marxists have gotten so far in this nation it's nauseating. Yet, the jews get to build a holycost monument on public land with public funds in wash dc?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • @mike&Interesting

      @mike Greeece had the first school, and i know for a fact that Christain burn the Great library, starting the Dark Age era. Christian may help build school at the USA, don't change the fact they burn some.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  11. abcontador

    He's right, its not an issue with any one religion -– they all should be stopped. I will ask the community here, what is the best, most effective way that I, as an individual, can fight religious influence in this country. In other words, I am ready to enter the fray and push for removing religion in all its forms from as many places as possible, but I don't know the best way to do that yet. Any ideas?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • NoTheism

      Look for atheist organizations, donate, discuss with others... Stay informed.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Al

      abcontador = Alberto Contador?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • LMD

      Read,broaden your views,step outside the box. Look at all religions and learn about them.Ask questions and even when you get an answer ask more.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:37 am |
    • Dock

      Religion is just one more mental illness in a world filled with crazy people. Each religious believer has an individualized manifestation of this delusional form of mental illness. Depending on the person, religion can be relatively benign or extremely damaging to themselves and others they may come into contact with.

      At the root of most religion is indoctrination. That's why it is so hard to fight. Brainwashed zombies will not accept anything that appears to threaten their particular delusional belief system. It is like that with any heavy indoctrination.
      Some don't get the full dose of indoctrination or they may be more averse to delusional aspects of religion and so can be reasoned with to some extent. But others cannot even discuss their religion with anyone outside their perceived group.

      How do you fight insanity that is inst.itutionalized, extremely pervasive, is burnt into the brains of children using every tactic known to man, and results in differing levels of neurosis and psychosis?
      That's really the question here. Current medical science can help, but these people will fight anything they see as a threat to their delusional illusions even to the point of extreme physical and psychological violence.
      I guess it depends on just how hard you want to stop what is happening. Education can help, as we can see, but they will violently oppose any education that is seen as a threat. They prefer ignorance to knowledge, lies to facts, fantasy to reality.
      They are nuts to one degree or another depending on each person.
      Some of them we're going to have to kill to stop them, like we did to OsamaBinLaden. Others we can just talk calmly with and gradually get them to see how badly misled and programmed they are/were.

      You are fighting insane organizations filled with insanity of all sorts. I keep myself near the exits at all times, don't actually talk religion with them if they can hunt you down or do anything to you, and hope humanity will someday destroy these propaganda machines of purest insanity. Until then, you can expect more craziness and delusion-based violence and hatred.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:55 am |
    • Mike

      We must start demolishing all churches and the world would be a better place. Just ask Bill Maher.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:57 am |
    • John

      When it's time to round them up, you can help push them into the cattle cars.

      Or how about this: "Bring them out, so we can know them!" (Sorry, my bad – those were angels the locals were trying to s0domize, not Christians. Although none of that so-called bible stuff is true, anyway! Sky god! Imaginary friend! Other Pejoratives Athiests Always Parrot in Their Comments!)

      April 13, 2012 at 1:01 am |
  12. Craig

    It's about time we stopped talking to invisible people and fobbing off the responsibility we as humans have to think for ourselves onto a book of fairy tales or some guy at a pulpit.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • John

      You get the R Dawkins Barking Seal of Approval!

      April 13, 2012 at 1:04 am |
  13. Christian law is not above government

    The funny part, there is a logical explaining to women contraception, I remember in news that giving women contraception, it help heal some woman problem and therefore saving the company (or religion) money. And all I heard from the church side is old men saying against their religion freedom.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  14. Nick

    The church is always trying to get others to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example – Mark Twain

    April 13, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  15. Qubee

    Let's face it – religion is a farce and it's speeding to total annihilation within a few years. Too little too late for the Catholic Church. Bah humbug!

    April 13, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • ArranWebb

      Actually religions, churches and societies of faith outlive political nation states. Nations geographic boundaries change. Nations and empires completely fold and are renamed. Where is Persia? Formosa? New Amsterdam? Kampuchea? Yugoslavia? It is the very fact that a society of faith is not bound by geography that it lives and provides the new foundation for the reformation of nation states.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Mike

      Your right. The faster people start to realize that Jesus is just a fictional character, the faster religion can be abolished.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • John

      Yes, Let pre-Christmas Ebenezer be your spokesman. Less controversial than other Heroes of the Movement like Pol Pot, Vladimir and Uncle Joe....

      April 13, 2012 at 1:08 am |
  16. LouAZ

    Why are these men(?) in dresses ?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • OS

      LMAO

      April 13, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  17. Christian law is not above government

    I like to hear what Christian women have to said. But all i get are this weird old men.

    April 12, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  18. vancouveral

    There is no war on Christianity in North America, what there is is a war on intolerance. Unfortunately most of this intolerance is found inside Christian churches especially the Catholic Church. If the Catholic Church showed as much vigour in rooting out Paedophile priests as it does in fighting contraception laws they would have much more respect. Over 95% of Catholic women, of child bearing age, use some form of contraception, mostly the pill, so why is the Catholic Church continuing on making these people sinners. Christians love to demand their freedom of religion, but see no hypocrisy in their trying to deny the rights of other people, namely gays and lesbians who only want to have the rights to marry the person they love.

    April 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Jim Dobry

      It is because of their faith that most of the hospitals and many of the universities were formed, as well as countless charities that help the needy all over the world. There is no other religion in the history of man that has inspired this kind of selfless giving. Now the government wants to tell these organizations that they can't follow that they must live in direct contradiction to that very same faith or close their doors. And you say there is no war!!!!! The intolerance is not from the Christians!!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Christian law is not above government

      Buddhism

      April 13, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • NoTheism

      Jim, if being confronted with reality is war to you, then yes, war it is. These organizations, when providing secular services, should be bound by all the same rules and regulations as similar secular organizations are. Religious organizations are an insult to modern society.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • badlobbyist

      Jim – They may do as they wish. However if they are going to operate in the public domain they need to conform to the public's standards. They no longer have to hire anyone not of their faith. So be it. Only hire Cathollic women and do not provide birth control. That is their prerogative. But if they want a larger talent pool to select from, they can can conform to normal, modern health care standards.
      (And this does not even address the "They pay no taxes but get the benefit that we have to pay for" argument.)

      April 13, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Brian

      Jim...yes the Catholic Church has done good things. They have also done some absolutely horrid things. More people have been killed in the name of the church and god than for all of the countries combined. The Catholic Church is and always has been about power, and not of the divine type.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:21 am |
    • @Jim Dobry

      Christain had never form school or hospitals. They were against it. Most christian believe long time ago, if you were sick it was god way and Christian was known to burn library and school when it wasn't teaching Christian. The dark age was a example where christian burn all the library that didn't suppose Christian teaching.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  19. BADGUY

    Does the Catholic hierarchy REALLY believe reading letters to their liberal parishioners will get them to vote against Obama in November? Do they REALLY think the government will let them off the hook and NOT fine them if they don't comply. Do they REALLY think the tide of ill feeling against them and the Catholic Church will not isolate them even MORE than they are now from mainstream America?

    April 12, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Nick

      Yes, apparently, they have deluded themselves into thinking that. Catholic organizations no longer do any charity work. They spend more time in politicking that I don't know why they should tax exemptions.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  20. DenvMike

    Ironically the greatest threat to religious freedom are the churches themselves. The intolerance, ignorance, and backward thinking championed by many churches and their clergy does far more damage to their cause than any external factor. Anyone involved in organized religion that wonders why more people are turning their backs on the church these days need look no further than their own doorstep.

    April 12, 2012 at 11:54 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.