There are two major stories whose trajectories are coalescing toward a permanent loss of religious liberty in the United States. The first story is the on-going saga known affectionately as Obamacare. The second story is more subtle, under the radar, but perhaps more damaging in its scope. It is the story of code enforcement. Let me explain these in order.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was passed in June 2010. Certain provisions did
not take effect immediately. One of those delayed provisions was the Health and Human Services mandate for contraceptive coverage. Now that this mandate is in effect, businesses and other entities nationwide are suing the federal government to demand an exemption on the basis of conscience.
The latest business to join in the lawsuits is Hobby Lobby. They are the first evangelical Christian business to join the fray, but hopefully they will not be the last. In all, there are27 different lawsuits in the courts on this issue. The objection is to the mandate’s insistence that all companies (and Christian schools) provide insurance coverage (without co-pay) for abortifacient drugs like the morning after pill or the week after pill.
The Obama administration is arguing two basic points germane to religious liberty. First, they argue that Christians must abandon their religious liberty when they choose to enter the commercial marketplace. This argument is based on their second argument, which is that religious liberty extends only to official houses of worship, not to individuals in their diurnal affairs. In other words, religious liberty (according to the Obama administration) means an American can go to a facility on Sunday and do his worship thing there without government interference (except for theaforementioned tax code restrictions), but he mustn’t think his liberty extends beyond the building.
The Obama administration clearly does not believe in religious liberty at all. Instead, they believe in restricting religious liberty to “houses of worship” only. Arguing for this view of religious liberty would be like arguing that a prisoner is actually free because he can do whatever he wants (inside his cell). This is a radical departure from American history and reflects more of a communist view of religious freedom than an American one.
In China, for example, Christians are “free” to join the public, Three-Self Patriotic Church and worship there—in that “house of worship.” They are not free to gather in homes or worship elsewhere. They certainly are not free to carry their Christianity into the workplace or the university. The defense of the Health and Human Services mandate of Obamacare rests upon such a demolition of religious liberty.
In addition to the Obamacare drama unfolding, there is a second stream of American stories all pointing to the same enslaving end. There is a rash of code enforcers around the nation taking aim at house church gatherings. We have seen instances of this in Illinois, California, Arizona, and now it has come to Florida as well.
Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, is representing the Florida couple who is being threatened with a $250/day fine for having a small group (6-10) in the home for a Bible study.
Dacus says, “They are having a specific problem with this family solely because they are having family and friends over to read the bible and pray. That may be fine in some tyrannical parts of the world. That is not okay in the United States of America.”
The idea behind the code enforcers is the same as the idea promoted by President Obama: Keep your Christian God in a box. Go to your church building and do the Christian thing, but don’t bring the subject up at your work or your home. This is a Communist view of freedom, which, of course, means this is no freedom at all.
Code by code, insurance plan by insurance plan, America is shutting out its Christian past and killing the concept of liberty and justice for all.