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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. No way

    We need more protection FROM religion, not for it

    April 13, 2012 at 3:15 am |
    • No way

      Churches need to start paying taxes if they're going to get involved in political affairs

      April 13, 2012 at 3:15 am |
    • Mad Cow

      Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and all other religious groups need to start paying property taxes whether they get involved in politics or not.
      Churches can do their good work in the community by paying their property taxes like anybody else that might use that property.
      Let charity begin in our own county.
      I wonder how much tax dollars of ours that the Catholic church receives ends up in Rome? Does the Catholic Church send money to the U.S., or do we send money to them?

      April 13, 2012 at 3:43 am |
  2. Craig

    So, the church is going to try to make a big thing out of something the majority of their members don't believe in the first place. If you want to run businesses other than "churches" then you'd better get used to the idea that you're outside of your tax-exempt special deal playground. If you want to run a school, you have to meet the State's education requirements, like it or not. If you want to run a hospital, you have to abide by the same rules as any other medical facility. If you're going to employ people who aren't Catholic, you can't force them to abandon their own beliefs, any more than they can force you to abandon yours. In short... separation doesn't mean you get to pick and chose which laws you follow. I'd have thought the spate of priests molesting kids would have taught you that. Apparently you missed that treaty in 1929...when the Pope finally admitted that he wasn't automatically the ruler of all elected rules in the world. Darn history.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • hopemac

      Answers to the problem, don't hire anyone but Catholics, or don't provide health insurance. That will solve the problem and make Obama happy. Then there will be one more group of Americans who are unemployed and without any insurance.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:16 am |
  3. Stephen

    The thing to understand was Jesus was fully man and fully God in the flesh. God revealed who he was centurys before he was born thru his prophets as recorded in books such as Isaiah, Psalms and Micah. "unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders. his name is called, wonderful counselor, Everlasting father, Mighty God, prince of peace."taken from Isaiah. Jesus stated to the religous leaders of his day " I told you unless you believe I am he you will die in your sins." taken from the gospel of john 8. JEsus is the only one who has the power to deliver you from eternal death and punishment. GOd has to judge sins. We have all broken his laws such as "you shall not bear false witness ( Lie). You shall honour your mother and father, You shall not take the name of the lord in vain. GOd has granted us life but we have not honored him. we have broken his laws. we do not seek his will. A person who has commited a crime must pay. In this world that doesn't always happen but with God he absolutley will not allow ours sins to be excused but there must be payment. Either you will pay for your sins which means eternal punishment in Hell or you will recieve Jesus payment for your sins. GOd has graciously sent his son Jesus to die on the cross. THe bible states God has layed on him the iniquity of us all. " all who call on the name of the lord will be saved." "there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved except the name of JEsus" " if you confess with your mouth Jesus is lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead you will be saved"
    Please my friend don't wait until it's to late. when you die you can not turn back. there are no 2nd chances. Now is the time of Gods grace. He truly demonstrated his love when he sent his son to take you sins on his body and offer his perfect blood to God to satisfy his requirement for sin. he is the only one who God would recieve because he is perfect. without sin. God in the flesh. Ask JEsus to forgive you and confess he is lord. open a bible, New kings james or new american standard and Read it. If a man is sentenced to the death penalty for his crime the only way he will escape is a pardon from the governer. GOd has given the pardon to forgive your debt thru JEsus.

    April 13, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      "Either you will pay for your sins which means eternal punishment in Hell"

      How exactly do you believe this to be moral?
      However, given that your god nor hell nor heaven can be verified with evidence to be true, this can only be seen by the rational as a fear mongering tactic.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  4. Summit Fox

    Are you serious? Isnt there more important and beneficial things they can invest their time and money into? Aren't things like people starving, contracting life-threatening illnesses and diseases, kids not receiving education and health care, genocides, civil wars with refugees in need and many other life altering events happening out in our world currently?

    It seems that contraceptives being covered by your insurance companies is a bigger threat and danger to the people of the world cause god knows people arent procreating enough already. The real catholics dont even have to accept this birth control if they dont want to correct? Whats the big deal of allowing people to have access to contraception and it be covered by something they are investing into.

    I guess the church needs more members to procreate more to help keep numbers up, this campaign is a long term investment in keeping the pews full I guess

    April 13, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  5. Alabama Doc

    Ok. This is absurd.
    I think you must be confusing religious privilege with religious freedom.

    1) Has anyone been prosecuted or threatened with prosecution for their religious beliefs and opinions? I think not!
    2) Will there be a difference of opinion among free responsible citizens of the USA with regards to what is proper and improper according to their religious and/or moral views? Of course!
    3) Can the government or its agencies control or restrict what different religious groups profess or instruct? Of course not!
    4) What legal authority does an official with any religious group have over citizens of the USA? None!
    5) I am unaware of any requirement for members or officials of the Catholic Church (or any other that I know of) to engage in activities against their conscience or beliefs (as long as that doesn't involve depriving others of their rights!). The requirement for hospitals and other agencies to provide contraception, et al ONLY APPLIES IF THEY TAKE TAXPAYER MONEY!
    6) As citizens and taxpayers of the USA we can decide how our money is to be spent. If we collectively decide to fund certain services, then it makes no sense to send our money to people who will not perform those services. If the Catholic Church decides to not perform those services, they are not obliged to take the money.

    I am not going to assert that the Catholic Church is better or worse than any other group. That is not the point and is totally irrelevant. In this country their religion is their business.

    Their freedoms are still protected and sacrosanct. But they have no privileges beyond that of any other citizen whether we (as individuals) support or oppose their views.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • WachetAuf

      Understood.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  6. heyheyhey

    KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY OVARIES TY! I grew up Catholic as well. I don't think a bunch of men who have no female issues should be telling people what to do with their uterus! You ignored many little boys, now your gonna think you can tell me how to reproduce! I am not having 20 kids TY very much! I hope a plague of female problems plauges you including fibroids, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and so on...............but that wont happen cause it would be a fairy tale wish!

    April 13, 2012 at 2:55 am |
  7. Spangler

    The only named abomination in the NT is Luke 16:15 where Jesus calls the love of money an abomination. The RCC needs to give many more speeches about this one rather than selecting some of the 65 abominations in the OT to get excited about.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • WachetAuf

      They will tell you that they are values voters, evangelicals, that they want Biblical principles brought into the public arena and taught in our schools. But, when do you ever hear them identify which Biblical principles they want taught and when do you ever see them integrate those principles into their own lives? Things like turn the other cheek, examine the plank in your own eye before you examine the spec in someone else's, do not cast the first stone. I know it is tough to follow, but at least they should publically identify these principles and begin giving all of us a lesson on how to do it, in all aspects of our lives, not just talk about it on Sunday morning.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:00 am |
  8. WachetAuf

    Jesus' message was directed to individuals, not tribes, herds or other groups. Jesus, for the first time, brought individuals in direct communication with God. People no longer had to seek out advocates, intercessors or mediators who would then take their prayers to God. jesus upset the entire religious structure. Jesus' message destroyed the "pecking order". The tribe murdered him. So, after he died those same primtive instincts rose up to create new tribes which are no less evil than the one which killed him. Herds, tribes, groups all amplify the worst traits in human nature.

    My message for the current crop of tribes is to stop acting so rigidly tribalistic. You are not relevant and you are no less dangerous than those whom you oppose. You are made of the same primtive instincts.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:52 am |
    • Christian law is not above government

      Hope you talking about church not acting closed mind people.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:01 am |
    • WachetAuf

      To Responder:

      Explain?

      April 13, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      "Jesus' message was directed to individuals, not tribes, herds or other groups"

      Everything recorded that jesus apparently said was done so 30+ years after he apparently died, so there is nothing to prove he said anything, if he even existed and even then there is no proof that he would have been anything more than a normal man.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  9. victor

    the real threat to the church isnt the government, its demographics... its the youth, who while they still believe in god dont believe in the catholic church.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:48 am |
    • Christian law is not above government

      and that is bad ....why?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • WachetAuf

      I get it. The real threat to the church is jesus who was not a corporate man.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:10 am |
  10. Rick

    Why don't these priests get Jesus to help them? I mean....seriously. In the Bible Jesus says, "All you have to do is ask me and I will do it." So...why don't they ask Jesus to appear before the nation so they we can all believe and be saved from eternal hell? The reason why they can't do this is because Jesus is invisible. He's the magical, invisible ghost who never says anything or makes his presence known. Kind of like the Easter Bunny.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • Lewis Keseberg

      At least with the Easter bunny you get chocolates, not blood and flesh

      April 13, 2012 at 2:49 am |
  11. Shane

    What a huge joke. These idiots try to claim religious freedom and the whole thing is a huge mythical fairytale. Give me a break on this crap and let's move on finally.

    Their real fear is losing their damn money. But the followers are just right there believing it all....it's sad. Really sad. Fortunately, we are growing smarter, they are getting outnumbered and their hate campaign will only force more to really examine their wasted lives of faith.

    Damn child molesters....

    April 13, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • heyheyhey

      yes and the only reason they support the immigration of Mexicans is because most of them are Catholic, more money! Not that I am agains immigration, but it is the truth of the matter.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  12. Kevin Barbieux

    If you God is everything you say he is, then you have nothing to worry about. But, just maybe, He isn't. Scary thought, isn't it?

    April 13, 2012 at 2:29 am |
    • Rick

      Good point. They should just pray about it and then see what happens. He he.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  13. ChristianMarriedMother

    Thank you, Catholic Church! As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I am so glad that you are taking a stand for all who desire to lay claim on the freedom to exercise religion. I have personally been alarmed by a number of different laws and happenings showing the erosion of respect for religion, especially with regards to the mentioned closure of adoption agencies and church pavilions. It is unfortunate that some feel threatened by religious people. I recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology. I studied Marxism, along with a whole host of other theories on down from the time Plato to the present. I know how to evaluate information and make informed decisions based on data that has been deemed valid. In short, I can think for myself, and I'm Christian. I'm not alone. In my church, education is a high priority. And if you study class, one of the three pillars of sociology along with race and gender, you will discover that most educated people are religious. Educated people can think. They have decided for themselves, after reading the scriptures, perhaps reading other theories posited by philosophers, and have made a solid decision that they believe in Christ. I believe in Christ. I know that He lives, and that He wants us to be happy. There is so much good that has come from Christianity, and religion in general. According to research, "more than 90 percent of those who attend weekly worship services donate to charity, and nearly 70 percent volunteer for charitable causes." Also, it was religious sentiment that bolstered many of the great movements in history, such as stopping the slave trade in Great Britain, the American Revolution, the emancipation of slaves, and even the Civil Rights movement was given so much strength because of religion and the religious convictions held by people like Martin Luther King Jr. This is because we–Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Muslims, Baptists, Mormons, and other faiths– are taught to care for others. True, there have been many an unfortunate event that has taken the property or lives of innocent victims in the name of religion. That is indisputable. What is disputable is that these acts do not characterize religion. Religion and religious organizations are good. Some in this soundoff have said that they don't believe in evil, yet they are basically calling religion, and hence religious people, evil. Religious people are good. We fight for freedom for all. We may have beliefs that are different from some, and some of these beliefs are founded in our religion. Interestingly, the more I study society and look at the actual data from peer-reviewed journals, I find that most of what I believe is confirmed and supported by empirical research. This has been especially true of research on the family–which is the fundamental unit of society. If the family falls apart, society falls apart. In America, the family is struggling. Research consistently shows that nuclear families, that is, families headed by a father and mother who are married to each other, who have born or adopted children together, provide men, women, and children with the best, happiest lives compared to other family forms (ie. single parents, co-habiting parents, step-parents, etc.). However, nuclear families are becoming less and less common in the US with unwed childbearing, divorce, and cohabitation on the rise. This is very unsettling because this means that more and more people are at higher risk for a host of ills. For instance, unwed childbearing and divorce are the number one reasons that women and children go into poverty. When deciding how many jails to build, one can turn to the number of single mothers raising boys by themselves; for whatever reasons, these boys are at a significantly higher risk of criminal activity and juvenile delinquency than boys coming from a home with a father and mother, married to each other. Why does the family matter in a soundoff on religion? Religion–especially Christianity–supports the family. It has for millenia. Religions teach people how to have a successful family. This starts with marriage, defining it as a union between a man and a woman, and goes on to teach men and women to be patient with each others shortcomings, to forgive each other when mistakes are made, and to love and cherish one another. They teach parents to love children and to rear them in righteousness, meaning that they teach children to love God and to love their fellow man, to serve God, and to serve their fellow man. Christ once told the parable of the Good Samaritan. A Jewish man had fallen among thieves, and was beaten and left for dead. A priest and a Levite passed by the poor man and did not help him. It was the Samaritan, whose nation was hated by the Jews, who stopped to help. At the end of the parable, Christ asks, "Who was the man's neighbor?" to which came the response "He who showed mercy on him." As a follower of Christ, I hope that those on this soundoff will reconsider the value that religion has for society. You are my neighbors. I respect your right to express yourself in the public sphere and I always will. It is your right, and it is my right, and the right of about 300 million other Americans, not only to freely exercise our religion without having to fear laws that would prohibit such exercise, but our rights include the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the freedom to assemble, and the rights to vote and run for public office. Do not deny me my rights. Thank you, Catholic Church, for taking a stand for our freedoms.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • HellBent

      So I assume that you have no issues giving the FLDS churches like the one formerly run by Warren Jeffs to freely practice their religion, correct?

      Also, paragraphs can be your friend.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • Observer

      Do your rights include denying equal rights to hom0s-xuals to get married?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • Rick

      You quote from Christ. But actually nobody really knows what Christ actually said because they didn't even begin to write about him until forty years after he supposedly died. So there is no way to know for sure what Christ said.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • ChristianMarriedMother

      I can't see my last reply to Hellbent, Observer, and Rick. Is that normal?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • HellBent

      There's an automatic word filter to block certained banned words, even if they're contained in other words. For example, you can't write constitution or dictionary, but you can write consti tution and di ctionary. Brilliant, huh? By attempting to eliminate words, they make people highlight them.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • ChristianMarriedMother

      Thanks Hel lbent! I replied to you, but it is on page 10.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:20 am |
  14. SE

    Yes, let's all sit together wearing matching purple hats and sashes and shove our religious beliefs down everyone else's throats and call it "religious freedom." I never saw this much purple in one room for a "campaign" against Catholic priests raping children.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  15. Revjim

    A bunch of old, mostly white, men who are not only out of touch with most Americans, but also out of touch with most American Catholics.

    April 13, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • TR

      That's not true. The Catholic Church is strongest in the incredibly "non-white" Latin America and Africa. The Catholic Church has no color.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:18 am |
  16. 13monkees

    Are you kidding me??? Threats to religious freedom from the same bunch that forced "under God" and "in God we trust" on the whole nation? If you are going to take federal money, expect strings to be attached to it. If you don't want to accept the strings, don't take money.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:48 am |
  17. HellBent

    I'm sure that the RCC wants religious freedom for everyone and for the government not to intrude upon religious beliefs. Thus, if religions want to marry same sex couples, I'm sure the RCC won't have any issues with the government recognizing the legitimacy of others' beliefs.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  18. Charles

    How can these clowns hope to be taken seriously about anything while paying hundreds of millions of dollars to keep their hundreds of pediphile priests out of jail? Higher-ups in the cover-ups should spent some time in jail too, where I'm sure they'll make friends quickly enough.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  19. Alex

    Hold on, are these blind !!!"growing threats to religious liberty" The priest are the freaking biggest threat to the church
    damn child molesters

    April 13, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  20. Dana Richardson

    Catholic Bishops & Evangelicals = America's Taliban.

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

      they just haven't learned how to make IEDs yet

      April 13, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • America Is Not Jesustan!

      We've already suffered from Christian terrorism in America. The KKK had a long run as Christian terrorists. Bombings of abortion clinics (two already this year) and even bombing a lesbian bar, and of course the murder of numerous abortion doctors. The bombing of the Atlanta Olympics. Those happy people of the Army Of God. The Aryan nations. Phineas Priesthood. Hutaree.

      We won't mention the Norwegian Christian terrorist who slaughtered 77 and injured 151, mostly teenagers.

      April 13, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • TR

      That could not be further from the truth. The Catholic Church never has and never will run the United States like a Taliban, and it's also not forcing you to cover all but your eyes and hands when you go grocery shopping.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:24 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.