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. liko

    cnn-resident atheists are too loud.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • NoTheism

      at least many of us make sense

      April 13, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • America Is Not Jesustan!

      Loud? We write too loud? Are the voices in your head a bit too loud?

      April 13, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • liko

      are you sure?

      April 13, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • NoTheism

      .... yes, I am sure that most atheists whose posts I read make a lot more sense than the theists'. You should try looking into it.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:42 am |
    • liko

      atheism by itself is irrational.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Christian law is not above government

      you talking about making sense when you talking about too loud in a written post.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • HellBent

      Just turn down the volume of your etch-a-sketch. And please, enlighten us as to why lacking a belief in something for which there is no evidence is irrational.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:50 am |
  2. tony

    See the BBC:

    Sister Maria Gomez Valbuena, 80, is accused of stealing a mother's newborn daughter at a Madrid hospital in 1982.

    Appearing before a judge on Thursday, Sister Maria refused to testify.

    Thousands of babies are thought to have been taken from parents in hospitals and given to other families during the Franco dictatorship and later.

    The alleged thefts are thought to have started in the 1936-39 Civil War. Some cases are believed to happened as late as the 1990s.

    The practice is believed to have been motivated by a desire to remove children from "undesirable" left-wing parents and give them to "approved" right-wing families.

    The Spanish authorities have investigated hundreds of complaints related to the events. Many parents say they were told by hospital staff that their babies had died during or after childbirth.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • America Is Not Jesustan!

      Argentina did the same thing during the Dirty War. In a few cases, the children went into the families of people who had been directly involved in the murder of their real parents. Devout Catholics all in a Catholic-supported dictatorship, making the world better through murder. True in Spain, true in Argentina.

      God sure makes bad choices when it comes to allies.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Roipoe

      That also happens to be the exact thing that happened with that Argentinian "miracle baby" that "came back to life" just recently in the news.

      A stolen baby is easily explained to both sets of parents if they don't know it was stolen but thought it died. Very easy hoax.
      Some women are very kidnap-oriented towards other people's children. Some are murderous. Some do very horrible things.
      If I were investigating, I have no doubt that the DNA of the "miracle baby" and that of the "grateful parents" did not match at all.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • Christian law is not above government

      Why do you people talk like that, what wrong with given a nice statement that is relate with the topic and some reason or explaining to it.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:50 am |
  3. bspurloc

    religious freedom campaign.... freedom? like forcing their beliefs on others, teaching people INTOLERANCE and hatred for other humans beings after JUDGING them.... these are all THINGS this god did NOT tell them to do and in fact told them NOT to do...

    April 13, 2012 at 1:31 am |
  4. Michael

    TAX them. We all know they worship their dollar a lot more than their so called morality.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:29 am |
  5. Michael

    The states didn't drive those adoption agencies out of business. The Church placed its hatred of gay people before its desire to help orphans. Why is the Church allowed to have their tax free status when they thrust themselves into politics?

    April 13, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Roipoe

      Just because someone pays taxes is no reason to listen to their extortionist and terroristic speeches.
      Their criminal behavior should be enough for everyone to ignore them when they speak and to weed out the criminals amongst them.
      Face it people, they have no real authority. All they have is a bunch of followers who blindly listen and follow, many to their death – for lies, greed, lust for power and sxx, etc.
      They don't know what they are talking about and everyone else can see it quite clearly, but from within the cult – they are blind and afraid and so thoroughly brainwashed that they will even defend the child molesters amongst them.
      They are disgusting and vile. Everyone can see they are baldfaced liars with every so-called "announcement" they make.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  6. JG

    Religion is the route of all evil

    April 13, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • Interesting accident

      It's the root of all evil, but your way works too.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:24 am |
    • tony

      He was branching out a bit, Bud.. Leave him be. He'll twig it eventually.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  7. Flashdog2

    It's 2012 and people still believe in the imaginary man in the sky. If they really want to impact policy, then start paying taxes. Maybe then they will be taken seriously...

    April 13, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  8. Susan

    These many bishops CAN be all wrong.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • tony

      Never trust grown men in frocks.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      Never trust grown men that think they drink human blood every week. Makes the pedophilia thing make a little more sense since they're clearly all bat$hit crazy.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  9. Ben

    Its obvious to everyone here, the only acceptable form of contraceptive is to simply go anal, have you ever heard of a 8 y/o boy getting pregnant?

    Wouldn't a good catholic just not use contraception. Im sorry but I think it goes down to freedom of the employees. If I wanted to say my religion believes in less than minimum wage salaries, could I get away with it. Its not like its for the priests and nuns, its actually for the catholic church owned businesses who do not hire people based on their religion. So at this point, the catholic church is actually infringing on their employees right to contraception. Plus, its like a few bucks a month. How much does an out of court child molestation settlement cost?

    April 13, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  10. Mike

    Dock, very good and intellectual sounding comment. We need more leaders like you in our world rather than all these Tim Tebow like followers.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  11. *facepalm*

    Perhaps if the bishops want to be exempt from certain laws they should refrain from lobbying efforts aimed at restricting the statue of limitations for child sexual assault victims to protect their pedophile brethren.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  12. angelo harvey


    April 13, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  13. angelo harvey

    and to think they were not supposed to be involved in politics. hypocrites. i'm glad i'm no longer a catholic

    April 13, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  14. Wade

    The Catholic church has done great harm to itself and to any moral authority it might of once had. Of the great mistakes they have made the first is not dealing quickly and forcefully with the pediphile problem. the second was getting into bed with the Liberals. Liberals eat their young and throw each other off cliffs every day. Liberals have no morals at all they would gladly sell out the future of our children to pay for the things they want to enjoy today.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  15. In Reason I Trust

    Funny how they never launched, "Let's stop raping children and covering it up Campaign".

    April 13, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  16. 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 12:58 am |
    • Susan

      And it should always be, in a nation of true religious freedom, 'Country before God' and not 'God before Country'. It isn't any longer so in the United States today and this is a major stumbling block.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  17. Mike Scott

    Only problem is what they are calling "religious freedom" if not the freedom to practice religion. They already have that. They can pray and go to church all they want. Now they are using that "religious freedom" BS to legally be able to force religion on others and control other's lives.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:53 am |
  18. Baba Booey

    Awwww... don't they look cute in their little black and hot pink get-ups?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  19. jessie

    Where were these bishops when their own people are molesting young boys for the last few decades? Whom are they trying to fool pretending as if they care for their parishes.This is out right hypocrisy.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  20. Cheryl Jefferies

    It's a lot more than birth control, people. The little "smoking gun" in ObamaCare, the thing Obama, the Dems and the lap-dog media never mention is that you won't just be paying for birth control pills. You/we will all be paying for sterilizations. And, here's the key word: abortifacients. And, that is nothing more than a fancy name for non-surgical abortions. IUDs and the so-called "morning-after pills" are NOT contraceptives. They do NOT stop conception. They act AFTER fertilization takes place. So, they actually destroy an already-forming human being. And, most churches consider that to be murder. And, you know what...so do I. They're right. The Church is not trying to keep all you liberated folks from purchasing birth control pills. Neither is the Republican Party. But, there are lots of us out here who will not pay for your act of murder. And, the First Amendment protects our right to practice our faith as we see fit. Anyone or anything that tries to force even one single individual into violation of their conscience or violation of their faith is, frankly, evil. Pure and simply evil. If you want to commit murder on an innocent life with an abortion...well, Roe v. Wade lets you do that. If you want to be sterilized, fine...do it. If you want birth control pills, fine...buy 'em. But, don't expect me to violate my conscience by paying for what you want to do. You forget: I have freedom, too. Or, don't you care about MY freedom? Guess not. Guess you figure that the First Amendment only gives you freedom FROM religion. Well, it does do that. But, you'd better read it again. So should Obama. It also give me freedom OF religion. It cuts both ways.

    April 13, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Christian law is not above government

      I take it you little out of your mind....sterilizations, abortifacients.....Dude the moment a sperm and a egg enter dont make it a person, it DNA have not combine yet. It just a protein.

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


      If you believe that the death of a fetus can be murder, then you should support all miscarriages being investigated as possible homicides and all birth defects be investigated to see if the mother did anything that could have caused child abuse.

      Are you consistent? Have you thought this through at all?

      April 13, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • eh250

      Well-written post! I agree wholeheartedly!

      April 13, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Boohincus

      You're just another religious crank. Go away.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • tony

      When you go to heaven, try having a conversation with the soul of a fetus that didn't make it.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • d3volv3d

      Wow. Really?

      April 13, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • FLIndependent

      Cheryl, I'm afraid you're being hypocritical. If you don't want to have to pay for something you find immoral or offensive, then I shouldn't have to pay for dumb wars, or for people that can afford health insurance but don't have any because they think they'll never have a medical issue and would rather spend their money on luxury items, or for schools when I don't have children, etc.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:52 am |
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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.