Go Cards!


No, this post is not about the once #1 (but now #12) Louisville Cardinals basketball team. Though the Cards are the local favorites, they are led by a coach I don’t particularly support. So, chances are, I won’t ever have much to say about those

Angelo Bagnasco

Cards. This post is about Cardinals, but not the ones in Louisville.  I’m not talking about the Cardinals in Arizona or St. Louis either. The former’s football season was over pretty much after week 5, while the latter’s baseball season has yet to begin.

This post is about cardinals of a different (and more serious) sort.  Specifically, I am speaking of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference who, in his opening remarks to the conference this past week, urged Roman Catholic leaders to remember the persecuted church. Cardinal Bagnasco surveyed the worldwide persecution of Christians, noting,

In too many countries, Christians are not allowed any sign of religious affiliation, except by camouflage or in hiding.

The Cardinal went on to say,

Those who suffer and die for Christ, do so for us, and they are our brothers regardless of the distance that divides us. In the mysterious economy through which the kingdom of God on earth is concretely woven, communion with these situations of martyrdom gives truth and vigor to our pastoral work, today focused on re-evangelizing the lands that have long known the Gospel”.

Finally, the Cardinal urged (in accordance with Hebrews 13:3) to remember brothers and sisters who are suffering persecution. The Cardinal noted that such a memory revitalizes our faith, too. And he is right. Remembering those persecuted on behalf of Christ causes us to remember our own faith in Christ. Even more important, we are forced to remember Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith who is undeniably present with those suffering on account of Him.

Thank you, Cardinal Bagnasco and Cardinal Bertone (who joined the call to remember the persecuted). May the Lord raise up an increasing number of Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders who call all followers of Christ to remember the persecuted.

The Individual Conscience: Another Casualty of Obamacare


You Can Fool Everybody But God And Your Consci... You Can Fool Everybody But God And Your Conscience. Give A Full Days Work – NARA – 534350 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Martin Luther once famously said,  “I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound.” His life was on the line for his Christian beliefs, and he reasoned that dying would be better than going against his conscience. He believed that a man lives beyond himself in world in which he must give an account for his soul. Thus, he could not violate his conscience—even if it meant he would die.

Today, our government is demanding the end of conscience for anyone who runs a business in America. It is ironic, isn’t it? We castigate business owners as “Wall Street Fat Cats” who care nothing about people—only money. And yet, when a businessman like David Green tries to run his business on principle and according to deeply held beliefs about what is best for other people, he is threatened with a fine of 1.3 million dollars per day for doing so.

The Obama administration appears to be more concerned for providing abortions than they are about preserving David Green’s right of conscience. The administration desires to provide abortions everywhere and have Roman Catholic and Evangelical citizens pay for it. Does that sound too cynical, even conspiratorial? Consider the matter for yourself.

The Obama Administration is arguing, first, that businesses are by definition secular and, second, that even if they were religious by nature, the burden posed by the mandate in Obamacare is not substantial. (After all, it isn’t like early abortions are killing real babies—just babies in development. No big deal!). Read it for yourself from the legal brief by the Department of Justice:

Hobby Lobby is a for-profit, secular employer, and a secular entity by definition does not exercise religion. Even if a secular entity could exercise religion within the meaning of [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] RFRA, the preventive services coverage regulations still do not substantially burden the company’s or its owners’ exercise of religion for an independent reason: any burden caused by the regulations is simply too attenuated to qualify as a substantial burden.[1]

So, who decided that a business owner must become secular to do business in the United States? The Constitution is supposed to protect the free exercise of religion. That is the reason pacifists have been given a pass in military combat—not because the Army is a religious entity. Obviously, it’s not. Individuals have a duty to be bound to their consciences and cannot be asked to violate them for political whims by coercive governments. But that is exactly what has happened to America after Obamacare.

David Green has always run his business in such a way that he has shown a great concern for the people he employs.  Hobby Lobby pays its employees 80% above minimum wage. Employees enjoy free time in the evenings and on weekends. And even though the company could make lots of money on Sundays, they close on that day so families can enjoy a day of rest. David Green and family believe in a Sabbath rest, based on conscience. Hobby Lobby has always been a conscientious business.

And now, the Obama Administration is saying, “Your conscience must go.” The individual conscience is yet another casualty of Obamacare in the new America.

Some of the People Obamacare Hurts–Hobby Lobby in a Lost America


I am still sad from the November elections because of the damage Obamacare does to human life and to the fabric of our

English: Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio English: Hobby Lobby store in Stow, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

republic. I have listed below a letter from David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby concerning why he had to file a lawsuit against our government. I hope you will read it and hear the heart of an American whose conscience is torn between running a prosperous business for the good of thousands of people and being forced by the government to violate his conscience so that women can abort their babies for little or no cost.

Just a snippet gives you a feel for the heartbeat of Green’s concern. It is a concern for all people. Obamacare represents an overreaching of the First Amendment. It is a law that restricts the free exercise of religion. As Green says,

The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church.

Unfortunately, a federal judge struck down Hobby Lobby’s first attempt at a reprieve from the enactment of this law. Hobby Lobby filed an appeal on November 21st. We should pray for them. They may be forced to close their doors because they cannot pay more than a million dollars a day in fines to the government.

If you are interested in following this case, I have linked here the website which posted the letter. On that website, there are links to the legal briefs, statements, and court filings related to the case.

By David Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80% above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government health care mandate says that our family business MUST provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions, which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the Biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million PER DAY in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running it’s business according to it’s beliefs. It’s not right. I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief.

So, Hobby Lobby and my family are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit today, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American and no American business should have to make.
The government cannot force you to follow laws that go against your fundamental religious belief. They have exempted thousands of companies but will not except Christian organizations including the Catholic church.

Since you will not see this covered in any of the liberal media, pass this on to all your contacts.

Sincerely,

David Green, CEO and Founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Baptists Join Catholics in Fighting Uncle Sam


Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online has recently conducted an interview with Samuel “Dub” Oliver concerning the recent court filing by East Texas Baptist Samuel Dub Oliver East Tx Bap against obamacare mandateUniversity against the Health and Human Services mandate in Obamacare. I have listed just a snippet from the interview so you can get a feel for the motive behind this Baptist’s actions.  Baptists were too far behind Roman Catholics in the original Roe v. Wade abortion debate.  Now, Baptists seem to be coming on board for the sake of religious liberty–which really should be called Christian liberty, since our concern is actually upholding Christ and His righteousness more than upholding the American rule of law.  Nevertheless, we are Christians in the context of nation with a rule of law. Thus, we ought (as Paul did in Acts 16) to speak out against injustice.  So, I am glad East Texas Baptist has joined this battle against injustice.

Here is an excerpt, but the whole interview is worth your time:

LOPEZ: Should going to court to make political points really be a priority of a university? It’s not like the government is asking you to make abortion services available on campus. What business is it of yours what medical services your employees need or want?

OLIVER: The administration’s mandate covers emergency contraceptives such as Plan B (the morning-after pill) and ella (the week-after pill), which even this administration admits can interfere with a human embryo.

The most recent science tells us that these drugs may cause abortions. But, under the administration’s mandate, our school will be required to buy insurance so that our employees can obtain these drugs for free, as if these drugs were no different from penicillin. We believe that is wrong.

We are going to court to defend religious liberty. We would rather not have to do so. There are many other ways that we would choose to spend our time and resources. However, the administration refuses to listen to our concerns or accommodate our religious views. Frankly, it is hard to believe that a religious institution has to take the Department of Health and Human Services to court to protect something guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

LOPEZ: Do you respect the women you employ? How can you when you’re denying them their freedom — or so was my understanding of the issue from the president?

OLIVER: This issue is not about women’s health. This is about whether the government can get away with trampling on the rights of religious organizations.

It’s ridiculous to claim that organizations like ETBU don’t care about women’s health. As far as I am aware, no religious group objects to most of the preventive services in the mandate. In fact, we already cover preventive services, including contraceptives, under our employee health plan. We simply object to a few drugs, which the government calls contraceptives, because we believe they cause abortions.

Additionally, I’ve heard it suggested that this mandate is necessary to increase access to contraception. The president has said that close to 99 percent of women use contraception. I don’t know if that number is true, but surely if the president is quoting this number, he knows there is no problem accessing these drugs.

This issue is not about women’s health; it is about religious liberty. It is about whether the government will force religious people and organizations to do something they believe is wrong. Good people everywhere want women to have access to quality health care. What we are asking is that our religious views be respected.

Religion and Politics: A Thorough Review


The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just released a new study concerning the increase of “Nones.” What they mean by that is that there is a rise in the number of people not affiliating with any religion at all. Overall, the study shows that we are still (at least nominally) a Judeo-Christian country, but the atheist, agnostic, and nothing-at-all categories are increasing.

More and more, it appears, the religiously unaffiliated are finding a home in the Democrat party, while fewer and fewer of them are becoming Republican. Notice, however, according to the graph, that the numbers are not directly inverted; this means that many of the religiously unaffiliated have no home in either of the two major parties.  I have included a small snippet from the article below. If you are interested in religion and politics, then you should check out the entire study.

nones-exec-20

“The religiously unaffiliated constitute a growing share of Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters. In 2007, there were about as many religiously unaffiliated Democratic and Democratic- leaning registered voters as white mainline and white Catholic Democratic voters. And the religiously unaffiliated were only slightly more numerous among Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters than were black Protestants (17% vs. 14%).” (From the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life)