Feb

14

2012

Joe Carter|12:45 AM CT

Evangelical Leaders Call for Civil Disobedience Against U.S. Government

The Story: After the Obama administration's announced that health insurance coverage would require the inclusion of contraception and abortifacients, several Christian leaders---including Chuck Colson, Richard Land, and Rick Warren---called on evangelicals to stand with Catholics in civil disobedience to this law.

The Background: In a special edition of his weekly video segment, Chuck Colson said:

We have come to the point---I say this very soberly---when if there isn't a dramatic change is circumstances, we as Christians may well be called upon to stand in civil disobedience against the actions of our own government. That would break my heart as a former Marine Captain loving my country, but I love my God more . . . I've made up my mind---sober as that decision would have to be---that I will stand for the Lord regardless of what my state tells me.

On the same day, Saddleback pastor Rick Warren wrote on Twitter:

I'm not a Catholic but I stand in 100% solidarity with my brothers & sisters to practice their belief against govt pressure [...]

I'd go to jail rather than cave in to a govement mandate that violates what God commands us to do. Would you? Acts 5:29

And Richard Land and Barrett Duke wrote in an op-ed:

The Obama administration has declared war on religion and freedom of conscience. This must not stand. Our Baptist forebears died and went to prison to secure these freedoms. It is now our calling to stand in the gap and defend our priceless First Amendment religious freedoms.

Why It Matters: Because opposition to contraceptives is most closely associated with orthodox Catholics, media have portrayed the current controversy as a Roman Catholic issue. But as these evangelical leaders make clear, the direct assault on freedom of conscience should be a grave concern for all believers.

Acts 5:20 records a profession of Peter and the apostles that all evangelicals should heed: "We must obey God rather than men." In almost all cases, Christians are required to obey the laws of the state. But when we are forced to choose between obedience to God or obedience to man, we have no other recourse but to disobey the magistrate and obey King Jesus.

(Via: Denny Burk)

[Note: If you find a story our community should know about, please send the link to joe.carter *at* thegospelcoalition.org.]

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Current Events
  • Taylor

    I've seen the talk about civil disobedience, but I have yet to see a method set forth. How does a non-business owner go about civilly disobeying on this area?

  • Laura

    Exactly why is this a matter where there is a conflict between obeying God or the government? Providing contraception is not sin agaisnt God (although some Catholics may belive it is) and so the christian should have no trouble obeying the law while adopting legal methods of protest (the US is a democracy after all). Moreover it seems the issue is much more about the defence of the USA's bill of rights than about obeying God (since no one is claiming contraception is immoral). Whether it is justifiable for the Christian to disobey a government on these grounds is questionable.
    It's often difficult for Christians in the rest of the world to make sense of our American brothers and sisters!

    • http://www.jimnear.com Jim Near

      This policy provides for sterilization and pregnancy abortion pills. The 1st Amendent states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;". This policy is restricting the beliefs of many.

      • Gordon

        I'm just trying to understand the position here, hence my questions are to understand, and not from an agenda one way or the other.

        ~How does this policy restrict liberty of beliefs?
        ~Does the policy insist on sterilization, or merely offer it?
        ~How does something the state offers restrict your liberty?
        ~Given that our western democracies already favour the rich, and place greater burdens on the poor, why is that issue (and all it's apparent injustice) not a greater cause for "civil disobedience"?
        ~And just what do you mean by "civil disobedience"?

        G.

        • Eric Miller

          1. This policy restricts first amendment rights by forcing religious institutions to pay for and provide for their workers products that directly contradict their faith.

          2. This policy policy forces providers to offer and cover the cost of contraceptives, abortifacients, sterilization treatments.

          3. This is not the issue at all. The state is not offering it, rather the state is forcing others to offer products that contradict their religious values which vilotes the U.S Constitution.

          4. This is not a call for civil disobedience, but a call for love and charity.

          5. At the very least refuse to comply with the mandate.

        • mel

          Gordon,
          Say that you had a mentally disabled child that you loved dearly. And our country passed a law saying that they are a drain on resources and a parent shouldn't have to bear that burden. So they come up with a "humane" way to put them down. Your neighbor wants to be free of his burden but doesn't want to foot the bill alone. So they take up a mandatory collection of the neighborhood and you HAVE to chip in on something that you consider a hideous murder.
          No one is making you put your child down. Just pay for the murder of another child. Would you feel that you were sinning to pay for the death of another child?

    • Jamie

      Laura (et. al),
      As Jim notes there are other issues involved, most notably the mandate that religious organizations provide abortions and not just providing contraception. The Obama administration through HHS defines contraception to include not giving birth hence the morning after pill; and this slippery slope will also include in utero abortions as provisions of women’s health. This alone is enough

      However, there are other issues at hand which your post demonstrates a lack of understanding. First the United States is not a democracy; we are a Representative Republic which allows for the people, you and me, to elect others to represent us in Congress. This form of representation is very much like how Adam and Eve were representatives of the human race in the garden. It is this form of Government which protects the minority from the majority which would not be the case in a Democracy.

      Now as such we also have established a process for the introduction of laws which is presented very well by the old “School House Rock” series. Just Google “I’m Just a Bill” enjoy and learn. From this you will see that laws emanate from the Congress and are approved or dis-approved by the sitting President. (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7266360872513258185)

      However, this is not the process which got us to the point we are at now. The President issued an Executive Order that this will be the law of the land. Just out of fiat… Yet this exceeds his authority as provided by the Constitution. IMO Executive orders should only be allowed during a recess of Congress and only then if there is a real and present danger to the Country.

      So you see this is not the law of the land.

      Further, yes defiance of the Government is always a questionable act and is why it must be a matter of conscience. However, that argument can be and has been used to sit and do nothing as our form of government as been dismantled piece by piece. We sometimes forget that although it is God that establishes thrones i.e. Presidents, He has also ordained our form of Government which includes the Constitution and Bill of Rights which you seem to be willing to disregard at worst, or not willing to defend at best (which is really the same as disregarding it). If that is what you are willing to do fine, just move out of the way so that those who hold dear the ideals of this Country, which is the actual rule of Law and not the whims of the majority, take up the issue.

      And lastly, it really makes little difference if “Christians in the rest of the world” understand or “make sense” of our actions. It only matters that it pleases God.

    • James

      Contraception is the knife edged wedge into covering all abortions and solidifying it forever as a 'moral right'. Right now it is 'law' but enough people still believe it is a moral evil that there is a chance it could be reversed. If this current Statist agenda to mandate all employers cover contraception sticks, it will not only affect us financially, it will affect the nature of the abortion debate.

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  • Jeff Dunlap

    I, like Laura, seem to be missing something in this whole controversy. As far as I know this law does not MAKE anyone use contraceptives or abortifacients, it only requires that all employers provide medical (health) insurance that is equal to all employees. I don't understand how this is an attack on religious freedoms or even the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the USA.
    I do not think that the government should mandate that all employers provide health insurance...I think that should be left up to the individual employer/employee in contract negotiations. However, since that is the law at this time, it seems that it is now up to the individual to choose whether or not they will use the available resources.
    In my case, I have full medical benefits provided by my employer, but have chosen to not be treated for some ailments because I do not want the treatment. No one is FORCING me take the treatment.
    In like manner, making contraceptives available to Roman Catholics is quite a bit different from FORCING Roman Catholics to use them. That would be intrusive and worthy of all the uproar.

    • Eric Miller

      The federal government is forcing certain religious institutions such as Catholic hospitals, charities, and orphanages to cover products like contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization treatments in their health care plans. This is a abrogation of the First amendment because it is FORCING these providers to make available products that directly contradict their religious values. This should concern both Catholics AND Christians who can all agree that abortifacients are immoral.

    • Ryan

      I agree with Jeff and Laura. I'm having a difficult time connecting the dots between "all employers must provide birth control options with a health care plan" to "the government is forcing you to take birth control and pregnancy abortion pills thereby violating your 1st Amendment rights."

      Even less clear to me than the controversy is the assertion in this article that we must obey God's law regarding birth control (and 1st Amendment rights?). Therefore, we must disobey government to serve our higher calling in Christ. Strikes me like we're intertwining a view of politics (i.e. government structure and involvement) with what one perceives as "biblical." Again, as Jeff said, nobody is forcing an employee to take/purchase/consume birth control. Just because the plan provides it doesn't mean you MUST use it. If government forced an employee to ingest birth control then yes, we would have a "direct assault on freedom of conscience."

      • Eric Miller

        Not at all, Ryan! Your first paragraph shows a misunderstanding of the issue at hand. The abrogation of the 1st amendment is that the federal government is forcing religious institutions to carry products that directly contradict their values.

        The very fact that the federal government is forcing religious institutions to carry a product or products that contradict their faith IS in violation of the 1st amendment even if taking said products is voluntary.

        • Ryan

          Eric - the disconnect for me is that your insurance is already paying for the things you're against. The many cover the losses of the few. It's the insurance model. Your premiums subsidize the research, development, distribution, and deployment of all these various drugs already. The difference seems to me now that the government is requiring everybody to hold some type of health insurance. Before it was more of a "benefit" of the job. So you could "feel" like you weren't participating in it.

          Additionally, even if I grant you you're point of view that this IS an assault on the 1st Amendment, I still can't make the jump that this demands an act of civil disobedience (the point of the article). If people feel this an inappropriate step by government then this can (and will) be challenged by other legislation as well as in the Courts.

          • Earl

            When is the government going to mandate that everyone purchase bibles? You don't *have* to read it if you don't want to! LOL

          • Colin

            Ryan - I think you're getting hung up on the idea that the article is saying all Christians across America should disobey. I think what the article is saying is that for Catholics/Christians in the health insurance industry (who now have to offer a service that they consider to be murder) and Catholics/Christians running businesses and non-profits (who now have to choose an insurance carrier that provides services they consider to be murder) there is a moral conflict. These are the people who must employ civil disobedience though it's not clear what exactly they can and should do.

            Also, there is a big difference between participating in an industry that does things you disagree with and directly purchasing from a vendor that does something you disagree with. Before, there was an option to choose a health insurance that wouldn't pay for abortion pills for anyone.

    • Amanda

      That's like saying there is no problem with a church being forced to pay for insurance that will cover abortions, sex changes, unmarried partners, etc., because no one is being forced to have those things. No one is forcing anyone to take them, true. But the government is planning to force the Catholic church (and any Protestant employers who are opposed to the birth control method, and there are some) to pay for their employees to have these medications and procedures covered in their insurance. There is a reason that the Catholic church does not already cover birth control in the insurance plans for their employees - it violates their beliefs.

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  • Jon

    Laura and Jeff,

    I believe the rub is this: The government forcing a Catholic institution to pay for those things that violates their religion. Yes, it is up to the individual whether or not to take the morning after pill, but if the individual does choose to do that, it the Catholic institution who has paid for it.

    In short, I don't want my dollars paying for an abortion. It is not ot even a public tax dollar, but a private expenditure I am forced to make to pay for something I don't agree with.

  • William A.

    I have to agree with Jeff. If they were forcing christians to take birth control and abortion pills then it would be a problem and a serious violation of our constitution. I see nothing wrong but its still good that as christians we come together and stay on our toes when serious violations like segregation and human trafficking appear for example.

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  • Tony

    Wait a minute. Am I missing something here? Didn't Obama already reverse the birth control mandate last week? Catholic institutions (schools, hospitals, shelters, etc.) no longer have to pay for contraception. That's what Obama said last week. He caved under the pressure so this should no longer be an issue

    • Eric Miller

      Not at all Tony! All he said was that the insurance companies will have to provide the services and products not the institutions. This only pushes the issue back a step because it's the institutions that pay for the insurance coverage, so in effect nothing has really changed.

      • mel

        And nothing is free. The price would be spread to the other coverage. Obama thinks that everyone is stupid.

  • just some guy

    Laura & Jeff,

    The issue is also that if the gov't goes through with this, where will it end? If they can force one group to do something against their religious conscience, when will it become illegal to preach against abortion, or be illegal to deny someone a job or membership in a church because of their lifestyle (co-habitation, homosexuality, etc). The problem isn't hitting most of the evangelical community now, but it certainly could end up there.

    Now I'm in absolutely no way comparing this with the Holocaust, but looking at the principle of this quote... "When Hitler attacked the Jews, I was not a Jew, therefore, I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics, I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned... Then, Hitler attacked me and the Protestant church--and there was nobody left to be concerned." (Niemoller).

    If we don't stand up to this breech of religious freedom now, how will (can?) we later when it does hit home?

    • Ryan

      Wow. Godwin's Law in full effect, not even 20 comments in!

      Amazing!

      • mel

        Ryan how about?

        Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

        • Ryan

          @mel

          From the internets - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law
          Godwin's Law states - As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1. In other words, Godwin observed that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably criticizes some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by Hitler and the Nazis.

          "just some guy" whom I responded to, did just that. This discussion is in no way related to Nazi Germany. The comparison is a poor argument and does not further the rather fruitful and intelligent conversation being produced here. The easiest way to point this out without being rude tends to be using Godwin's Law (and if someone does know it, they can easily Google it).

          • mel

            Ryan Why do you think I didn't know what you were saying? We the people are a stupid, spoiled and complacent people. We will lose our freedoms because we don't want to be bothered with thinking about it too hard.
            On the bright side, there is nothing like persecution to bring the true believers to the front. Something that is taken for granted now will become treasured like it should be. Much like it did during WWII for people like Corrie ten Boom.

    • mel

      Everyone assumes that is only Catholic organizations that have a problem with providing the morning after pill. There are many Protestant organizations with employees that have a problem with that too.

  • Paul Thomas

    We actually were talking about this very thing last night at our church's college Bible study. On the one hand, Romans 13:1 tells us to submit to those who rule over us because all authority is from God. On the other hand, there is the example of the apostles rebelling against governmental officials when commanded not to preach because, "We are to obey God rather than men." There is a difference in saying that this health care program would be required to provide contraception and abortifacients and saying that all people must use those things or like China, limiting the number of children a family is allowed to have. There is a difference. I think our hearts as believers should be to submit to government, as evil as it may be, to the point where it hurts, without sinning. I think we should do whatever we can lawfully to change things but to submit to the laws of the land whenever they do not force us to sin. It is a really tough issue because I am a fighter and the kinda guy who wants to hold the line to death, but the Gospel advances under oppressive governments who misuse power. I guess all of that is to say, I go back and forth on stuff like this but one thing that I find helpful is to remember that our constitution and deceleration of independence are not inspired by God. We appeal first and foremost to the Word. The other thing I find helpful is to remember that we have brothers and sisters in North Korea, China, Iran, etc who are living under much worse governments and are seeking to be at peace with all men as much as possible. We as Americans might do well to learn from them. Those are my thoughts and I do not know how they would be worked out in a practical situation

  • John Gordon

    If you think this isn't so bad because no one is forced to participate, contraception isn't forbidden or whatever, and that makes it ok for the government to require it, then you are asking Catholic leaders to be lead by your conscience rather than by their own. The bottom line is that the gov is asking them to violate their consciences or face legal consequences--none of the other details matter.

  • Bruno Pinto

    Hello, I don't undestand why my american Brothers are appealing for civil desobedience in this case. If it's a american constitution problem, it's up to you, if it's a spiritual thing, it's up with every christian. I understand the problem with abortion pills, and that must be fought. But many americans already pay taxes that are used in dead penalty. What is the diference? This plan will help the poor to have medical assistence.

    PS: sorry for my bad english.

  • aklab

    Uh... guys... you do realize that Catholic and other religious organizations are no longer required to provide the coverage, right? (Other than those in the 28 states that already require it and the many Catholic institutions who have voluntarily provided contraceptive coverage for quite some time without it staining their consciences?) So... the argument about contraceptive coverage being an affront to religious liberty can no longer be made. Next please!

    • Jamie

      Well if an accounting slight of hand sedates your conscience then I guess you are right. It does not mine though.

    • Ryan

      Aklab, while *some* religious institutions are exempted (though many are pointing out that the exemption is a dubious one), Catholic hospitals, for instance, are not exempted. More importantly, individuals are not protected on any level- it is fundamentally an affront to religious liberty that a Catholic or Evangelical business owner, for instance, is required to purchase goods and services directly contrary to his or her religious beliefs. Protecting organizations does little good if individuals are still being coerced in this way.

      • mel

        I was wondering if anyone was ever going to bring that up.

        • Donb

          Oh there's exemptions alright. Muslims and the Amish are exempted from the whole Obamacare boondoggle.

    • Juan Alvarez

      I completely agree.

      NO RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION IS GOING TO PAY FOR BIRTH CONTROL/ABORTIONS/CONTRACEPTIVES.

      Healthcare providers are going to reach out to women to provide them with these services.

      Jehova's Witnesses oppose blood transfusions, is their religious liberty being violated when they pay for healthcare that provides other patients with blood transfusions? Of course NOT!

      • Jamie

        Juan,
        "NO RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION IS GOING TO PAY FOR BIRTH CONTROL/ABORTIONS/CONTRACEPTIVES."

        YOU COULD NOT BE MORE WRONG!

        Sorry for yelling, just wanted to make sure you could hear me.

      • Ryan

        I'm not sure that asserting "Of course NOT" makes it so; such a business owner may find it abhorrent to pay for such a medical procedure.

        Do you mean to assert, as well, that healthcare providers are going to provide these services out of charity, without the cost being passed on to the objecting business owner in any way? I find that hard to believe.

        • aklab

          Healthcare providers are going to provide these services out of their own economic interest: birth-control pills are much, much cheaper than pregnancies and deliveries.

          • Jamie

            Aklab,
            If that is true, why the need for the mandate? It would seem, if your assertion be true, they would already be providing this service. And many if not most in fact do. The issue though is those who object on religious grounds are now being forced to provide this. That the President is attempting a little slight of hand trick does not change the fact that the religious group will be paying for that which they object to and are protected from in the Constitution.

            • aklab

              Um, no, you've still got it backwards. Those who object on religious grounds are now _exempt_ from providing this.
              And, honestly, calling this an affront to religious liberty is an insult to people who have actually suffered REAL persecution.
              If your biggest problem religious-liberty-wise is that you will now have the _option_ of cost-free contraceptives if you work for a religious-affiliated organization in 22 states... well, consider yourself among the most religiously-free people who have ever lived ever.

        • Juan Alvarez

          I mean, how convenient, as a business owner I could claim to be part of some relugious organization that does not believe in healthcare, therefore I should be exempted?

          • mel

            Aklab I know this is pointless but you are really not understanding the situation.

  • Juan Alvarez

    Are the rights of Jehovah Witness' institutions being violated when they are required to offer healthcare to their employees that cover blood transfusions?? NO!

    • Jamie

      But I think that is one of the points being made. The JW's are not currently forced to provide insurance. But they will be.

    • aklab

      Yeah, good thing I don't work for a Christian Scientist organization, because they should legally be able to refuse me any medical benefits at all, right? :P

      • Ryan

        That's right. I'd be happy to see the healthcare insurance system dismantled and something more reasonable and conducive to personal liberty take its place. Failing that, avoiding serious attacks on religious liberty with the current scenario seems like a minimum requirement.

        • aklab

          Ohhhhh. I get it now! It's not really about religious liberty, it's about finding any possible angle to attack the ACA law and making sure only the Right People get access to health care. Thanks for the forthrightness.

          The religious basis for your position would be stronger if only Jesus had made sure his acts of healing were in accord with the religious ruling class of his day and only meted out to deserving people.

          • mel

            Where in the bible or the constitution does it say that you should be guaranteed health care? I haven't had health care for over five years. I get sick, I pay cash. If I can't afford it then I die and I go to be with my Saviour. I don't feel like I should benefit from innocent deaths to stay on this earth.

  • James

    The debate about contraception is really the wedge issue to forever bury the hatchet on Roe v. Wade. This is bigger than just contraception; this is an issue they want to use to take down liberty on many levels.

  • KBH

    Is contraception really on par with abortion among this coalition of bishops (and their conservative backers)? Is there NO distinction between preventing conception and cutting short an actual life?

    If there is a moral distinction, maybe we should encourage them to think clearly and realize that preventing women from receiving contraception coverage might directly lead to abortions.

    It's saddening how nonsensical and hypocritical this looks...doubtless some of the same bishops who covered up child abuse cases in the interest of the church's image are now railing publicly against contraceptive insurance coverage from the pulpit. Meanwhile, Catholic Charities in IL opted to shut down rather than use their own funding (and not government funding that was withdrawn) to operate.

    Which is it going to be? Must they be propped up by the government in order to proclaim the Gospel and act with love? Why the media coverup regarding child abuse, and now an orchestrated media campaign demonizing the president over contraception? Their religious rights are not violated, certainly not by the amended version of Pres. Obama's order. And fighting in the public sphere over "religious rights" is a concept so foreign to the New Testament...Paul speaks not of rights but of service, love, and gospel proclamation. We depart from that when we try to legislate our beliefs rather than share them in love.

    Perhaps bishops should step out of their holy huddle long enough to encounter the real persecution going on in other corners of the globe.

    • KBH

      A follow-up: Andrew Sullivan, who did not like the original Obama rule, has some great analysis of it here:

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/02/12/andrew-sullivan-how-obama-set-a-contraception-trap-for-the-right.html

      "To make the Republican rhetoric even more absurd, the precompromise version of the Obama insurance rule is already the law in two of the biggest states, New York and California, as Linda Greenhouse has noted in The New York Times. Moreover, as Nick Baumann has documented in Mother Jones, contraception has already been legally required in all health-insurance plans since the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in 2000 that omitting it was unconstitutional sex discrimination. (The Bush administration did nothing to oppose the ruling.) And yet Pastor Rick Warren said last week that he would be prepared to go to jail over the Obama rule (making one wonder why, as a resident of California, he isn’t sitting in a cell already). So with this new compromise, Obama has actually increased religious freedom, not restricted it. All of which makes one wonder exactly how genuine the current outrage is—or whether it is part and parcel of a political campaign against Obama rather than a defense of religious freedom."

    • Colin

      KBH - Severe persecution in other countries has nothing to do with this. Are you suggesting that Catholics are hypocrites to defend themselves against this problem until they have solved all of the worse problems in "other corners of the globe?"

      How can you say that "fighting in the public sphere over 'religious rights' is a concept so foreign to the New Testament..." The verses cited in this very article discuss it. What do you think Peter and the apostles were doing in Acts 5 when they were on trial and said they would obey God and not man? They didn't have religious rights from Rome to appeal to, but they fought nevertheless to be able to preach the gospel. Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship when he was unlawfully beaten in Acts 16. He utilized what few rights he had.

  • Ryan H.

    +1 KBH.

    I was waiting for someone to bring up the ruling from the EEOC into this discussion. Essentially, what Catholics and some Protestants are, today, up in arms about was already passed and put in place 12 years ago.

    Ya gotta love America. Where else can you get upset about rulings that were passed decades ago and turn them into freedom of religion issues?

  • Robert

    I guess I don't understand people's confusion. I appreciate Mel's analogy above. Regardless of whether or not people have the choice to take the abortifacients, it is wrong and an assault against 1st amendment rights to force anyone, individual or business, to spend their money on something they are theologically opposed to. A lot of these Catholic and Protestant organizations make money through charity and donation and they are now being made to spend their valuable resources on something they are against, instead of on their ministerial goals of helping and healing people.

    Its dramatic, but what if businesses were forced to sell poison designed soley for assisted suicide? They aren't forcing people take it, agreed. But does that really make a difference? If I have $10 as a ministery and I plan to use it all on healing someone, but now the government demands I spend $3 of it on this poison, not only do I have less resource for the good calling I'm pursuing, but I'm now being made to literally oppose my own Christ-like agenda.

    • KBH

      Under the compromise, insurers (and not Catholic hospitals or universities) would provide contraceptive coverage. I think the compromise was a good one--and president of an organization representing Catholic hospitals nationwide believes the same.

      Catholic hospitals and universities receive a lot of government funding, and employ people from all sorts of religious backgrounds. No one is arguing that they should fund abortions, or even (in light of the compromise) include contraception coverage directly in their plans. They are required to use insurers who will cover contraception they refuse to cover. This is already the case in multiple states.

      This makes total sense. I'm not fond of the slippery slope argument, but since others have invoked it here, it's worth asking....if a Muslim or Orthodox Jewish employer objected to medical care not segregated by gender (on theological grounds, no less), would he be free to deny coverage for integrated hospitals? If a Jehovah's Witness employer disagreed with blood transfusions, could he deny that coverage to employees?

      The solution might be to get insurance decisions out of the hands of employers, but that would require more government regulation of the industry....something most of the people currently crying foul are equally opposed to.

      • Robert

        I appreciate your contibution here. I looked into what you were commenting on and you're right, I think the compromise is fair.

        Good dialogue on this post. I've learned a lot.

  • Bruno Pinto

    Jesus did not paid taxes to the empire? The taxes were used only for good things? Some tax money in roman empire was used to make roads and other "good" things. But part of the money was for idolatry (emperor and idols), kill people and other bad things.

    So, part of state health care will be for bad things, most of them for good things, mainly for the poor people that could not pay.

    Nevertheless, christians must fight against abortion, dead penalty, etc.

    • Colin

      That's a good point Bruno. However, our constitution was designed to protect us from being forced by our government to support things that go against our religious beliefs. So I disagree that we should be resigned to paying health care in this instance. On the other hand, I can see your argument in regard to whether we should employ civil disobedience.

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  • Andrew

    Obama's "compromise" begs another question - why should the U.S. government force insurance companies to cover abortion services? While no longer a question of civil disobedience for church leaders, IMHO the law is still morally horrendous.

  • http://www.twitter.com/migueljohnson Mike Johnson

    Here is a well-articulated piece explaining that we have a unique opportunity here to tone down the rhetoric and refocus the debate on the role of religion in society.

    "A return to civility will be needed for us to fully seize the opportunities this newest development offers us. While the outrage to the HHS decision was understandable, in the long run threats and condemnations have a limited impact. Leaders especially have a responsibility in this regard. They should always be leery of letting a situation escalate to an undesirable degree, particularly if it has the potential of bringing lasting harm to both the church and the nation, and even worse, disproportionately impact the least among us."

    "while this controversy has been painful for the nation and the church, it has raised awareness of the important contribution that religion makes to the common good. In an era that has seen not only the erosion of the free exercise of religion through laws, regulations and court decisions, as well as the attempts to marginalize the voices of believers, commentators from various perspectives and politicians of different persuasions have had to grapple with the role of religion in society."

    Bishop Cupich, Spokane.

    http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=13263

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  • Steve

    I see most comments here want a theocracy, where the pope can dictate his religious views to all Americans, even if most Christians do not share his views on the subject of contraception. Under the law no one is required to use contraception, if it violates their conscience. Jesus told his followers to pay tax, to evil empires, where that tax funded immoral acts. I guess Jesus was wrong, according to Colson, and those who clearly appear more political than biblical on this issue.

    • Colin

      Please remember that when medical professionals use the term "contraceptives" they are speaking inclusively of the morning-after pill which destroys a fertilized egg. Most Protestant Christians I know (myself included) oppose that.

      Based on your comment about the Pope dictating American law, I take it that you don't think Catholic beliefs should restrict our laws. Is religious freedom in America only for the majority religion in your view? In that case, what is even the point?

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  • (Rev.) Gary Nicholson

    Until we live in a land populated only by Christians (and even then it will have to be only OUR KIND of Christians) it is simply not possible to assent to taxation with the reservation that the government can only spend the money in ways I approve of - any more than I can assent to democracy as long as the government does what I want. Mass society just doesn't work like that. While we live with sinners there will always have to be trade-offs.

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  • Tim Wang

    Twenty-eight US States, including New York and California, require all health insurance providers to cover birth control. These state laws have been in effect for years. Obama's change only extends these to cover the rest of the union. The fact that this issue has only now been raised is a clear sign that it's a political, not a moral issue. Why haven't Christians been up in arms about this since 2000? Is it just because the Church is being played by the Republican party (Yet again!) because it's an election year?

    • mel

      @Tim Wang probably because you are misrepresenting the facts.

      At least 26 states have laws requiring insurers that cover prescription drugs also provide coverage for any Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraceptive.

      These states include: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

      An additional two states—Michigan± and Montana—require insurance coverage of contraceptives as a result of administrative ruling or an Attorney General opinion.

      Two states—Texas and Virginia—require that employers be offered the option to include coverage of contraceptives within their health plans.

      Some laws prohibit insurance plans from excluding contraceptive services or supplies.

      Some states include an exemption for employers who object to such coverage for religious reasons.

      Twenty states offer exemptions from contraceptive coverage (usually for religion) for insurers or employers in their policies: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and West Virginia. (These states are indicated with an * in the table below.)

      Several states require employers to notify employees of their refusal to provide contraceptive coverage.

      2012 National Conference of State Legislatures

      • Tim Wang

        My point, is fairly straightforward - the laws you cited would compel any health insurance (include that provided by churches and religious organizations) to provide coverage for contraceptives, correct? I'd like to know exactly how Obama's new regulation goes further than state law in these states already does. I pose two questions:
        1) Why isn't the church up in arms in these states already, if this is such a huge moral issue (My suspicion: It's about Obama, not the regulation itself)
        2) What effect would it have in these states if Obama were to backpedal on the regulation? (Again, I believe that it would have no effect, as existing state law already causes the same outcome).

        • Colin

          Even if this federal law doesn't go further than many states already do, it does compel the rest of the states to comply which were previously unrestrained. It may be more of the same, but it's more of something that we never wanted . . . a lot more! It is still a big deal for half of the nation.

          Furthermore, if we were asleep when it was happening quietly in various states, do we just have to take it or else be hypocrites? Regardless of whether and when the issue was raised before, it is no less an issue now. Obama is still wrong in this case whether or not he's being targeted by some merely for political purposes.

        • mel

          Oh good grief, did you not read it? They can opt out. There is no such option in the federal law. That would be why several states have filed suit. You have a blind spot that makes further conversation pointless. You have made up your mind, you repeat yourself and you do not look at any evidence to the contrary.

  • Warriorgal

    All it takes for WICKED men to win, is for the RIGHTEOUS TO SIT BACK AND DO NOTHING. ENOUGH WITH OLIGARCHY AND TYRANNICAL POLITICIANS THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES CALLS FOR, WE THE PEOPLE TO KICK THEM OUT! WE DO NOT WORK FOR THEM, THEY WORK FOR US!!!!!

  • Grant

    Did you know that most, if not all of you who carry private health insurance have access to coverage for abortion. Do you want to boycott your health insurance coverage too?

    • mel

      I don't have health insurance but if I understand things correctly that will soon be forced on me also.

  • Bryan

    How is this different than requiring that an employer pay the employee their wages for their work which they then use to purchase contraception? Can the employer fire the employee or refuse to pay their salary because they use the employer's money for purposes which the employer finds unethical? If not, then why should it be any different with insurance benefits? It's just a non-cash form of wages. What an employee does with their wages is not the concern of the employer.
    Let's stop straining gnats out of our soup (or other people's soup in this case).

  • JeromeFJ

    Interesting. False leaders like Rick Warren are part of the reason that God's people are under assault by this disgusting heathen Obama.

    How easily are we led astray.

  • Rhys Laverty

    It doesn't MATTER how available contraception/abortion/sterilisation are at the end of the day. What matters is changing people's hearts to see the problems with those things, not enforcing laws upon them which they'll repeatedly shrug off, and which will compromise the witness of real evangelical Christians in America.

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