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 does not care about David Green’s conscience. They care about abortion. And they care about having Roman Catholics and Evangelicals pay for it. Does that sound too cynical, even conspiratorial? It isn’t. It is the truth. 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 free of charge.

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 this draconian law. Hobby Lobby filed an appeal on November 21st. We should pray for them and for the people who work for Hobby Lobby. 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.

Who Is Paul Schneider and Why Should We Care?


I have been reading recently about the upcoming challenges to Obamacare in the Supreme Court.  Liberty University has re-filed a case at the direction of the Supreme Court on the basis of Christian liberty. What exactly can the government compel a religious organization to do? That is the question before the court.

Church-state relations typically bring my mind back to Paul Schneider.  Paul Schneider today is all but forgotten, though his Paul Schneider Nazi Martyr Christian persecutionfaithfulness is certainly worthy of being remembered.  Schneider was married to Margaret Dieterich (whom he affectionately called Gretel). With her, he had six children, five sons and a daughter.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer once called him “our first martyr.” Bonhoeffer was correct. Paul Schneider was a martyr in the truest sense of the word.

In fact, Schneider was the first Christian martyred by the Nazi regime in Germany.  His life and death speak volumes regarding faithfulness through persecution. Specifically, Schneider ran afoul of the Nazi government when he spoke out against a Hitler Youth leader during a funeral service.  The leader attempted to introduce non-Christian ideas into the otherwise Christian funeral ceremony, to which Schneider protested in order to maintain the reverence of the service.

Schneider was the presiding minister at the funeral and, thus, had every right to protest the introduction of non-Christian ideas such as a “Horst Wessel Troop” waiting to welcome the young man who had died into heaven. After the service, Schneider sought to reconcile with the officer, but it was too late. He was arrested. This would be the first of four arrests for Paul Schneider.

After his third arrest, Schneider was issued a warrant from the Nazi authorities which stated in unequivocal terms that he could not return to his flock at Dickenshied to pastor.  He was free to leave prison, but he could not any longer preach at Dickenshied. So, Schneider had a dilemma.

I can imagine in our day that pastors would simply say, “Okay, I’ll go preach somewhere else.”  If we were commanded not to preach any longer in Kentucky, we would say, “Fine, I’ll just preach in Indiana or Tennessee.”  Would this have been the right response for Schneider?  Should he have accepted the exile order and left for greener (less dangerous) preaching pastures?

Schneider agonized over the question, spending at least one sleepless night in prayer over this topic alone. There were two obstacles in his mind preventing him from accepting the government’s orders not to preach. First, he had never actually been found guilty of any crime. In fact, no charges were ever made formally against him.  His arrests were supposedly for “protective custody.”  How could he obey a sentence for a crime which he was never charged with committing?

The second obstacle for Schneider was the more formidable impasse to obeying his order not to preach in his home church.  In a manner quite akin to that of Peter and John in Acts 5, Schneider had to decide whom he would obey: God or men? Like the Apostles, he chose to obey God rather than men and, thus, set himself on a course of direct clash with the Nazi government.  Schneider believed it was Christ Himself who had called him and appointed him to the pastorate. Thus, it was an affront to Christ for anyone–including the Nazi government–to decide where Schneider could and could not preach.  Schneider did preach in his church at Dickenshied, and the Nazi government did follow through with their threats.

Schneider was again arrested and taken from his sweet Gretel and the children.  He was taken to the new “labor camp” at Buchenwald, where  

Finally, on 18 July 1939, the starved, beaten, bleeding Paul Schneider died when the camp doctor injected a massive overdose of strophanthin. Paul was forty-one years old. Gretel became a widow at the age of thirty-five.

The Nazi guards were cold and ruthless, offering his wife a 24 hour window to claim the body before turning it to ashes. Even after she arrived, the Nazis sealed the coffin shut and kept it under armed guard so Gretel and the rest of the outside world would never see (nor hear from) Paul Schneider again.  Fortunately for us, his faith still speaks.

Paul Schneider's cell in Buchenwald

Paul Schneider was called “Pigheaded” by his guards because he would not accept the government’s command not to preach in Rhineland churches. Was he pigheaded? Stubborn? Sinfully defiant against the government? Too bold or audacious?

For Schneider’s part, he did not think so. In his mind, the matter boiled down simply to, “Whom should I obey, God or man?”  We may all face this question some day, even in America. Will we answer as this great man did?

(To read more on Schneider the martyr, see here)

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.

Election 2012: A Sad Nightmare but Steady Hope


Obama Obamacare AbortionI went to bed late but arose early, hoping against all hope that my waking would prove the nightmare of President Obama’s reelection to have been just a bad dream.  But it was not a bad dream; it was a bad reality, a sad statement about the soul of our once great nation. I am wide awake now to the reality that I live among a godless and gutless people who have traded real freedom for the illusory freedom of sexual promiscuity.

Worse, I live among a people who apparently count it a privilege—a right—to kill their own children in the womb in order to keep their sexual promiscuity free of the “burden” of children. And now, thanks to Obamacare, I live in a nation which not only condones this awful practice, but one that also expects me and others of good conscience to pay for baby-killing drugs so college co-eds need not even “suffer” the financial costs of their killings.

I cannot wake up from this bad dream. I cannot believe that my neighbors and fellow countrymen have become such callous condoners of innocent slaughter.  I must find a way to sober up from this sickening stupor which has robbed me of my sleep.

Indeed, I must awaken to the sad reality that the light of which Reagan spoke has died. Though I understand that America has never been a Christian nation in the sense of all or even most of her residents actually being Christian, still, there was the Judeo-Christian mindset, a heritage of “light” which brought freedom to all. Now, that light and that freedom is lost.

This election will be spoken of in many ways. The athletes of politics will sit with their analyst coaches and talk strategy, as though this election loss were merely a matter of turnovers, political fumbles, or lack of execution. But this election—like the Democrat National Convention which preceded it—sent a chorus of boos up to God and snubbed the concerns of the Almighty.

Thus, I cannot think of this election in any terms but theological. It was an awful night for America, and the nightmare has really just begun. I think from this point forward, America will spill more and more of its historically Judeo-Christian blood. It was once our lifeblood. It means we are dying. As Mark Steyn so deftly tweeted, this election was a Thelma and Louise moment for our nation. We’ve decided to go full speed ahead toward our demise.

I am sad for all the greatness which now seems lost in our history. More important, I am very sad for all the babies which will now be killed and whose killing will be paid for by conscientious objectors. I can only think of how Scripture explains such people:

as it is written:

                “None is righteous, no, not one;

                                no one understands;

                                no one seeks for God.

                All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

                                no one does good,

                                not even one.”

                “Their throat is an open grave;

                                they use their tongues to deceive.”

                “The venom of asps is under their lips.”

                                “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

                “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

                                in their paths are ruin and misery,

                and the way of peace they have not known.”

                                “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18 ESV)

This would be a time of bitterness and despair for me, except that my citizenship is not first and foremost in America. My citizenship is first in heaven, where the hope of my soul is anchored, where Christ is—seated at the right hand of God, having completed all the work necessary for my salvation. My soul rests in the care of the Good Shepherd. In Christ, I shall renew my strength and preach the gospel that others would turn from wickedness into the eternal rest of Christ.

I am awake now to the furious reality of peace in Christ. Take courage, all believers, “You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly” (Hebrews 12:22).

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.

Christians Should Fight Obamacare (and the HHS Mandate)


The Family Research Council is calling on Christians to pray for those who are filing lawsuits against the Health and Human Services mandate. The mandate—which is part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)–states that all employers must provide “preventative” care to all women.  The word “preventative” must be put in quotes because the Obamacare definition of the word is misleading.

When it comes to providing contraceptives in healthcare, the word preventative is a reference to preventing pregnancy, right?  In Obamacare, the meaning of preventative Obama approve hhs mandate against religious libertyis twisted like a Chinese acrobat to mean preventing children from being born. The HHS mandate in Obamacare calls on all employers (Christian, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Jewish) to provide both contraceptive drugs and abortifacient drugs. Contraceptive drugs prevent babies from being conceived (preventing pregnancy), while abortifacient drugs prevent babies (who have been conceived) from being born. That is an enormous difference and an unbearable burden for the conscientious believer who believes in the sanctity of human life.

Obamacare mandates that all employers fund abortion-inducing drugs.  President Obama’s view on abortion is extremely liberal, even to the point of allowing infanticide (which is killing or “allowing” babies born to die). Sadly, such views are now enshrined in our law and are imposed upon Christians who run businesses.

Thankfully, about thirty Christian employers have filed lawsuits against this injustice. One case (the O’Brien case) has been thrown out by a federal judge who does not believe that providing baby-killing drugs is a substantial burden on the employer.  Hopefully, the other cases (like Hobby Lobby and Tyndale Publishing) will fare better in the courts.

Some Christians would prefer to stay above the fray, as though there is a pristine approach to living Christianity without becoming embroiled in politics. I think such an approach is un-loving and too aloof to be considered gospel-worthy.  We are called to be salt and light. Failing to challenge injustice takes the sting out of our salt and the brightness out of our light. There are three reasons Christians must fight the injustice of Obamacare.

First, this injustice defies God. If anything, God is the God of life. He is the consummate life-giver. Every living thing is God’s personal creation (Genesis 1; John 1).  Every living creature gets his breath from God (Acts 17:28; Hebrews 1:3).  Jesus repeatedly referred to Himself as the life (John 11:25; John 14:6). God is decidedly pro-life. Death is a curse which entered because of sin (Genesis 3); and murder is the work of the evil one himself (John 8:44).  Abortion does not prevent pregnancy; it prevents a conceived human baby from being born. It kills a baby. That is not from God.  Abiding quietly by the practice for the sake of not “being political” is cowardice in the face of innocent children being slaughtered.

Second, Christians must fight this ungodly mandate for the sake of the 3,000 souls which enter eternity every single day through abortion.  Phil Keaggy wrote an apropos song which simply asks, “Who will speak up for the little ones?”  If not Christians, then who?  Those who know the author of life must speak for the little ones who do not yet have a voice.

Third, the view that Christians should not engage in political issues fails to understand the significance of being a Christian in America. Religious liberty is a fundamental (First Amendment) right for Americans, including Christian Americans.  Though Christians are to be first and foremost citizens of the Kingdom, we are also—at the same time—citizens of the USA.  As a result, we serve as standard bearers for freedom in the world. When freedoms are lost in the USA, they are also lost also in Pakistan, Nigeria, Libya, China, and North Korea.  We have a responsibility to the world. If freedom falls here, it will fall everywhere. It is the United States of America which tells the world that people should be free to worship and serve according to dictates of their own consciences. If we stop telling the world that people should be free, then who else will? The U.N? China?

In my opinion, we should be in prayer for those filing lawsuits against Obamacare and its ungodly mandate to fund abortion. We should pray that justice would prevail and that babies would be saved and that Christians around the world would be free to live out the gospel for the sake of humankind.

The Chicken and the (fertilized) Egg: Why Chick-fil-A Is Not the Story of the Day


On a day when cultural crusaders are appreciating Chick-fil-A for the statement made by Dan Cathy in support of traditional marriage, other concerned Americans are heartily bemoaning the implementation of the HHS mandate in Obamacare.  Whereas many see the swelling support for Chick-fil-a as a ray of hope for the future of freedom, a few more are forecasting clouds of doom as the HHS mandate begins. Both Chick-fil-A and the Obamacare mandate are linked with religious liberty (or the loss thereof).

Mark Steyn is on the mark: the Chick-fil-A drama is less about gay rights and more about constitutional ones.  Likewise, as George Weigel points out, the HHS mandate calling for universal contraception is less about reproductive rights and more about the constitutional right to religious liberty.  Weigel’s point is probably the one we ought to pay closest attention to on this day, if for no other reason for the simple fact that it is being overshadowed by the chicken fight.  While more drama surrounds the Chick-fil-A counters, more damage is being done today by those insurance agents counting up the number of abortifacient drugs they are now required to cover thanks to Obamacare.

There are two reasons the Health and Human Services mandate is the more dangerous news event of the day. First, the mandate requires Christian business owners and Christian institutions to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.  Much has been made about this accommodation or that accommodation being made by the White House in order to ameliorate the angst of those whose consciences are pulled between wanting to comply with the law and yet remaining steadfastly committed to protecting human life.  At the end of it all, however, there has been NO accommodation whatsoever.  The mandate remains in full effect.  Christians are being required to pay for sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs.

Second, the HHS mandate is a direct assault on religious freedom.  To this point, religious freedom in America has included the freedom of the individual to express his religion personally.  The Obama administration has implemented this mandate with the understanding that religious freedom applies only to the church (not to the individual).  If this interpretation is allowed to stand, then Christians will be free only when they are in their worship buildings (which must have met the standard of the code enforcement unit).  When they are not in their places of worship, they are not free to act on their religious beliefs.

If one thinks this is hyperbolic—or even hysteric—then I would suggest they take another look at the Chick-fil-A fiasco.  Elected government officials in Chicago and Boston promised punitive measures enforced by the full weight of their public office against anyone who believes the basic biblical doctrine on the definition of marriage.

Instead of celebrating chicken while aborting fertilized eggs, Americans ought to be scrutinizing political leaders and holding them to account for sacrificing our first freedom—religious liberty—on the altar of expediency.  Leaders of both parties have allowed interest groups and personal profit to trump religious liberty.  So, I think the lesser-covered news event of the day is the more destructive one. What do you think?

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Principles and Power


I am an optimist.  I know the outcome–that all things will work together for good for those who love the Lord.  So, I am an optimist.  Yet, I am not optimistic about Obamacare ever being overturned.  I hope it is.  I will support the repeal of this terribly invasive healthcare reform.  I don’t think it will be overturned.  Here is why.

Entitlements are never overturned.  Once people begin getting something for “free,” they don’t want to give it up, even if it restricts their freedom and burdens their neighbors.  Everybody likes a free lunch.  Don’t get me wrong.  I believe there is a huge backlash coming for Democrats in November, and I know people are angry right now.  But that will change.  Public opinion always does.  The Democrats know this, too.  Once things calm down, the Democrats will simply bring up all that will be lost by overturning this bill.  We will begin hearing stories of all the terrible suffering which will result from “taking away” these “free” benefits for needy people.  When that happens, public opinion will swing back to the middle.

When public opinion swings back to the middle, then the true mettle of conservatives will be tested, and it will be found lacking, in my opinion.  Why do I say this?  Not simply because I have seen conservatives cower in conversations concerning life, though that is reason enough for saying conservatives often lack mettle, but, rather, because I have been listening to the majority of conservatives express their outrage at the notion of a congress and a president going against the will of the people.  Granted, I am outraged, too, that this congress and this president have ignored the voices of millions–and they really have completely ignored large swaths of the American landscape in this.

However, I find a glimmer of principled conviction in the actions of the Democrats.  Their leadership has accomplished something that conservative leaders have not accomplished much.  They have led on principle–even if it costs at the polls.  Sadly, we once thought it was virtuous to stick to your guns and stick to your principles.  I remember President Bush (I think it was in his debate with Gore?) stating that he would not lead by opinion polls, but by principles.  I thought that was admirable then.  I don’t like it much now because it involves principles against which my mind and body viscerally revolt.  Yet, one cannot claim that the Democrats did what they did by merely sticking their fingers in the wind to see which way it was blowing.

The Democrats acted out of their belief that women should have access to abortions everywhere, and we all ought to pay for it.  They did it out of their firm conviction that the federal government should decide how to pay doctors and nurses.  They did it from their soft, socialistic outlook on life.  Oh, I know they violated protocols in the House and in the Senate, and I know right now people are outraged about that, but they acted out of principled convictions–even if the principles were horrendously wrong-headed.

Outside of Congressman Ryan and a few others, the Republicans responded that the Democrats should have listened to the will of the people.  So, in the course of repealing this repugnant set of rules governing my private colonoscopy, the Republicans must hope that public opinion remains strongly opposed to Obamacare.  Even though I hope it does, I doubt that it will.  I doubt that public opinion will remain strongly opposed because the radical new policies don’t take place until 2014, conveniently after the next presidential election.  In fact, around the time of this election in November, there will be $250 checks going out.  If public opinion were the reason for opposing Obamacare, then public opinion may in the future become the reason for keeping it.

What I wish would happen is that Republicans would become steeled in their resolve repeal Obmacare on principled grounds.  Let conservatives learn to be passionate and unapologetic about ending abortion on demand, taking a principled stand for babies even if public opinion swings against them.  What I wish would happen is that an unwavering regard for liberty would gain a foothold in the minds of conservative leaders.  Real leaders don’t lead by looking at polls.  They are fixed on eternal principles such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  I fear that–even though for today we are outraged–in the future we will accommodate (as Europe has) to suckling our existence from the breast of a federal nanny who increasingly kills her unwanted children.