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.

Tyndale Against Tyranny (Again)


English: William Tyndale, Protestant reformer ...

English: William Tyndale, Portrait from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Česky: William Tyndale (portrét ve Foxeově Knize mučedníků) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you own a copy of the Bible in English, you should be thankful for a man named William Tyndale. William Tyndale fought both the government and the established church to give the plowman his own copy of God’s Word. Tyndale held the courage of his convictions firm to the end, translating the New Testament into the language of the people. For his heroic efforts, he was killed. He died as a true martyr for Christ.

Today, the publishing firm that bears his name is also trying to get God’s Word to people in their own language. Tyndale House Publishers was born out of the passion of its founder, Kenneth N. Taylor. Dr. Taylor wanted all people everywhere–including children–to have full access to God’s Word.  In the spirit of the original Tyndale, Taylor’s publishing house has published millions of Bibles starting with The Living Bible and moving in 1996 to publishing the New Living Translation.

In addition to publishing bibles, Tyndale House also publishes Christian literature such as the Left Behind series. Tyndale House has become a standard-bearer for athletes and stars who want to share their positive testimonies of faith. Examples of those who have published through Tyndale include Kurt Warner, Emmit Smith, and Rick Santorum.

Still, the Obama administration does not consider Tyndale House Publishers religious enough to avoid paying for abortifacient drugs in their health insurance plans. As a result, the publishers filed suit against Obama’s Health and Human Services Department (HHS).

Thankfully, a federal judge has awarded a temporary injunction to Tyndale House Publishers so that fines will not accrue against them until after the case has been settled. As I have said before, the HHS mandate as interpreted by the Obama administration is a direct assault on the First Amendment, and, if it is ultimately upheld, Americans will no longer be free to exercise faith convictions in public.  This decision is monumental.

I am very thankful for Mark D. Taylor and Tyndale House publishers for their willingness to fight against the tyrannical imposition of abortion upon Christians in the marketplace. I hope you will join me in praying for their success in this matter of religious freedom.  Specifically, there are 3 ways to pray as the case progresses:

  1. Pray that the courts will see that Tyndale House (and other Christian businesses filing suit against the HHS mandate) are operating by faith with faith-oriented purposes like Bible publishing. Christians (and people of faith)  live public and complete lives of faith.
  2. Pray that the courts will honor the protections inherent in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which protects the right of religious liberty for Tyndale House through its parent organization, the Tyndale House Foundation. It is clear that the Foundation exists for explicitly Christian purposes and that the leaders of the Foundation and the publishing house operate from the standpoint of Christian conviction.
  3. Pray that the Obama administration is not successful in its attempt to restrict religious liberty to activities related to church gatherings. Such a “success” by the administration would be a defeat for all Americans, not to mention it would mean the virtual eradication of Christian witness in the public square. This is significant because it will ensure a systemic persecution of Christians in America, as light cannot help but shine–even when the government says it can’t.

Again, thank you, Mark Taylor and Tyndale House Publishers, for bringing your faith convictions to bear on public policy. May the Lord grant you a success which would keep people free who may not even be aware of this encroaching bondage.

Religious Liberty Is Important for All Americans


For more than three years now, I have had an unsettling fear that religious liberty in America is on the wane. Turns out, I am not alone. A movement is afoot among state legislatures across the country.  According to Baptist Press, there is a plan in place to have caucuses for religious freedom in every state legislature by the end of 2013.

This movement is significant because every American—including the atheist and the agnostic—will be less free without religious liberty. A look at the history and function of Religious Freedom in Americareligious liberty will demonstrate what I mean.

Historically, it is not arbitrary that Religious Liberty is our first liberty.  The First Amendment to the Constitution (which includes the freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and addressing grievances with our government) is anchored in the reality of religious liberty.  The freedom to speak and to call out injustice flows from the freedom to believe in reality beyond the governing authorities.  Religion is all about these greater realities.

Charles C. Haynes and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development have chronicled 29 influences religion had upon the founding of our nation. Their point is that without affirming religion, one cannot understand American history. Ours is a history founded on religious freedom for the individual.  Benjamin Rush (one of our “Founding Fathers”) speaks thus of our history of religious liberty,

The only foundation for a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments. Benjamin Rush Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical, 1798.

As important as religious liberty is to our history, it is even more important to our functioning as Americans.  We have all likely heard of the “rugged individualism” which forged a nation from the frozen streams of northern winters to the barren plains and western deserts.  America has been a remarkable experience of entrepreneurs and innovation. From the telephone to the iPhone, America has always sought to excel—each generation outdoing the past in an ever-upward pursuit.  But such individual-inspired accomplishments are not possible without liberty. And liberty is not possible without religious liberty. Here are two reasons religious liberty benefits all Americans (not just Christians).

First, religious liberty empowers individuals.  It is born of the spirit of Luther—a spirit in which one man can stand against his government and against the world on the basis of truth as dictated by his own conscience. One man—through principled conviction (like Martin Luther King) or through the flourish of individual creativity (like Alexander Graham Bell)—one man can change the world. That is the spirit of America grounded in the spirit of religious liberty.  One man following the dictates of his conscience can call all men to a greater tomorrow if he is free. For him to be free, he must be free to obey first his own conscience and not some government mandate or tyrannical dictate.

Second, religious liberty begets excellence. The reason religious liberty is fundamental is that it frees the individual to call the government (and all citizens) to a higher standard of justice and liberty for all. On what grounds would an individual need redress of his grievances with his government except on the grounds of injustice? Such redress means that justice itself is a higher reality than the government. If men are free to believe in God, they are free to call others to a more excellent reality than that which the government prescribes. While the government must enforce basic laws and rules, the government is not the final authority on the highest truths and greatest impulses of America’s citizenry.

Religious freedom liberty America religionEach individual should be free to explore and create and call others to greater truths.  If, instead, the government is able to define reality for its citizens, then freedom in any meaningful sense is lost. The individual becomes free only in the sense that he is free to choose between government-mandated options.  That’s not First Amendment freedom; that’s a Third World loss of freedom—like the freedom of Chinese families who can choose to have a boy or a girl (but not both).

Sadly, government mandates are trumping individual freedom of religion in the Obama administration.  More and more, religion is welcomed less and less. The HHS mandate in Obamacare is exactly the opposite of religious freedom.

Obamacare mandates—against the religious conscience—that employers must provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs.  The freedom of religion that the Obama administration has in view is a freedom restricted to the gathered congregation on Sunday morning—not the freedom of religion necessary for individuals to flourish—not First Amendment freedom.

It may seem to some that the HHS mandate concerning “contraception” for women is just a “Catholic” issue or a “Christian” issue, but it is not. When Christians, Muslims, and Jews are forced as individuals to provide for abortions against their faith and their own consciences, they are being asked to rob America of excellence—to stop calling America to higher truth. In effect, they—we—are being asked to just shut up and do what Uncle Sam says.  And that is neither free nor good.

Christians will likely face intensifying persecution, but all Americans will lose. America will be smaller when religion—especially Christian religion—is muzzled. Don’t take it from me. Listen  to another of the early Americans,

Without morals, a republic cannot subsist any length of time, they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.” Charles Carroll to James McHenry November 4, 1800.