(CNN) - After weeks of attacking President Barack Obama's economic record, Mitt Romney took a sharply different tack Thursday in his latest television ad, going after the president for policies the Republican challenger amounts to a "war on religion."
In the spot, which also features footage from Romney's trip in July to Poland, an announcer says Obama's heath care law forces religious institutions to "go against their faith."
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"Who shares your values?" the announcer asks. "President Obama used his healthcare plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith. Mitt Romney believes that's wrong."
In a press release that accompanied the ad, the campaign justifies the "war on religion" claim using an editorial published in the San Antonio Express News in February, as a political firestorm waged over a controversial federal rule requiring employers cover contraception in their health insurance plans.
The rule in question mandated all employers, including religiously affiliated organizations like hospitals and colleges, provide free contraception to employees through health insurance plans. Churches were exempted from the law.
After uproar from conservatives and religious groups, Obama announced an accommodation to the rule on February 10. Under the new plan, religiously affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage to their employees. Insurers will be required, however, to offer complete coverage free of charge to any women who work at such institutions.
A poll taken in March by the Public Religion Research Institute showed a majority of Americans - 54% - said religiously affiliated colleges and universities should be required to provide employees with health care plans that cover contraception.
Romney's thirty-second ad, titled "Be Not Afraid," does not directly reference the contraception rule, or the subsequent accommodation from the Obama adminstration.
After the "war on religion" segment, the ad uses a clip of Romney speaking in Poland.
"In 1979, a son of Poland, Pope John Paul II, spoke words that would bring down an empire: 'Be not afraid,'" Romney is showed saying.
"When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?" the announcer asks.
Romney's speech in Warsaw marked his last public remarks on a week long, three-country foreign swing in July that was meant to bolster his foreign policy credentials. The trip also brought the candidate to London and Israel - two stops marred by stumbles, including a suggestion that the organizers of the London Olympics were ill prepared to host the 2012 Games. In Israel, his remarks in support of the Jewish state provoked an angry response from Palestinian leaders. But his stop in Poland was largely free of any major gaffe from the candidate.
In Thursday's ad, Romney is shown meeting with Lech Walesa, the shipyard worker who went on to inspire the Solidarity trade union and the eventual fall of the Iron Curtain. When Romney was in Poland, Walesa effectively endorsed him for president.
Romney's ad Thursday could be seen as a direct appeal to Catholic voters, who according to national exit polls went for Obama over Sen. John McCain in 2008 54%-45%. Organizations of Catholic bishops have led the charge against the contraception provision in Obama's heath care law.
Obama, who was campaigning in Colorado Wednesday, also subtly harkened back to February's debate over contraception. He was introduced by Georgetown University Law Center graduate Sandra Fluke, who was at the center of the controversy earlier this year after testifying to Congress about the importance of providing birth control to employees of religiously affiliated institutions.
Responding to the Romney ad, an Obama spokeswoman defended the president's contraception stance.
“President Obama believes that, in 2012, women should have access to free contraception as part of their health insurance, and he has done so in a way that respects religious liberty," Lis Smith wrote. "Churches are completely exempt and religiously affiliated organizations that object to providing the service will never have to pay for contraception. Mitt Romney apparently disagrees with this approach and it’s no surprise why. He has pledged to ‘get rid of’ of federal funding for Planned Parenthood and would take women’s health back to the 1950’s. Women can’t afford his extreme policies."
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The "war on religion" is being fought only by those who would so casually throw out such a divisive term.
So far everything team Romney has thrown against the wall, hasn't sticked.
And if the Catholic Bishops had their way women would still die in child birth. They believed up until the late 60's to save the child at the expense of the mother. If my father hadn't threatened their lives to save all, my mother would have died and probably my twin sister. So do I believe that a religious organization has the right to choose for me. NOT IN THIS LIFETIME.
This already was state law in Maryland, New York and California and the Roman PEdophile Church had no objections. Is anyone else taken aback by the assertion of religous freedodm by a church state that condemned freedom of speech, worship and conscience in the Syylabus of errors and the Condemned Propositions, De Rerum Novarum and other of its authoritative documents and who condemned the concept of "We, the People" in Humanum Genum?
Romney is a nutter who will say anything to get elected. The scariest thing is we have no idea what he will do if elected
Let us start a war on religion. I hope and I pray that it comes to that. We do not need a cultist in the White House. Moronism is not a religion. I laugh when I hear the bishop (who wants to go to war with either Iran or Russia gave a millions to charity. I don't consider giving money to his religion to perpetuate a scam giving money to charity. Thats like saying when he avoided serving his country because he was on missionary work. And where did he do that missionary work, why in Paris, France. I know Africa and South America were all taken by real religious groups. Last but not least, people do research on who really funded the mob in Vegas and you will find out it was the mormon religion. So much about their ban on gambling. When someone has a religion that believes, you can convert a dead person to your religion with a baptism and without the families permission, that is dishonest and manipulative. Just like "the bishop". I've never heard a bishop from any real Christian religion spewing lies and hatred as this guy.
Romney dont have no ideas how he going to defeat Obama now you throwing religion in the race.
I bet when people start talking about your mormonism you going to complain that they attacking your religous.
Romney do you believe people should be marry more then 1 person. Romney is mormonism a cult.
No war on religion. Why should your religious beliefs take precedent over mine as regards my health care? Your religion is no more important than mine. You can choose what you wish but I cannot be denied care because you said so.
Now religion is the part of the game. So bring Mormonism and I have a question how come a Mormon bishop doesn't have a slightest regard for truth? Does this reflect on the religion or Mitt is an isolated case?
The Constitutional protections of religious freedom are for the individual, not religious establishments, and especially not for religious establishments that are also employers of individuals who may not adhere to their employer's religion. Republicans want us to put the rights of churches above the rights of the individual, whereas the Democrats are advocating individual freedom.
Dude you're a Mormon. He's a christian. The real question is, if you were elected president, would you do what's best for your church? Or what is best for the American people?
One more reason to vote for Obama. No religious wingnuts int he White House.
Obama is saying that contraception should be available , not that anyone is compelled to use it. Mitt Romney is the king of misinformation.
Mitt Romney is such. Liar how can anyone believe anything he's sayn.
it's amazing how the repubs can straight out lye like its no tomorrow, but when the dems stretch the truth once, they are dragged by the media. Obama doesn't have a chance if the repubs can lye and the media thinks its normal, but when the dems do it once or twice they are austricated.
Please read Matthew 22:21, 4:8,9, John 18:36, and Luke 4:5-8. Christians have no business hijacking the government. It's against their religion. Obama took an oath to uphold (among other things) the establishment clause of the first amendment. He's being faithful to that oath. Please compare this to Romney's faithfulness to his public statements.
Wow. Its a scary thought having him as a leader.... Way to talk about progression. He should also look At bringing slavery and ownership of Women back too.
C'mon...war on religion? Most states require contraception to be covered already and the insurance companies want it covered. Perhaps Mr. Romney needs to be reminded that there is a separation of church and state in this country.
Why would Mittt Romney a Mormon , who's five sons avoided volintary milatary service go after the president for policies the Republican challenger amounts to a "war on religion." ?
Romney / Trump 29
Great hair , great look
Here we go again with the false hoods. :( Back to what's most important to date . . . Romney, we are still waiting for those taxes. Nothing you or your campaign says will mean anything until you come clean on those taxes. The American people demands that you release them right away to the public. Don't you know that you are still being vetted?
It's just utterly ridiculous. The Christians impose their faith on everyone. The Muslims impose their faith on everyone. The Westboro Baptist Church, as warped as they are, do the same thing. Scientology? Them too. Let's face it - every single religion out there wages war on all other religions. That's the way it's been since religion was first invented.
I'm all for the "war on religion". It's kept us down long enough.
What the Romney ad fails to tell America is that these religious institutions was already providing birth control to their employees thru their health insurance. Just more lies from Romney
Willard Mitt Romney Needs to read Ephesians 4:29 ("Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to  the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. ")
Economy! Economy! Economy! What happened Flip? Need another incorrect wedge issue to rile up the taliban sheep into a frothy rage?