I loathe politics. I especially hate it when objectively moral issues are politicized.
I feel incredibly blessed to be a Christian pastor in the United States. It does come with some baggage related to the idea of America being a Christian nation, etc., but overall the freedoms we enjoy here free me from much pressure and persecution that my brothers in the ministry in other places face daily.
The current political debate over the Health and Humans Services contraception mandate grieves me deeply. Both Republicans and Democrats have politicized this issue to the detriment, and what I believe will be the impending persecution, of Christians and other religious people in this country. The issue at hand has absolutely nothing to do with women’s health, or oppression of women, or any other cockamamie stuff being tossed around by the politicians and the media. In fact, shame on all of them for their lack of civility, care, reasonableness, and fair-minded discourse on this matter.
The core issue here is, plainly stated, a violation of our rights guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution. We’re not asking that contraceptives be outlawed in this country. In this particular issue, we’re not even arguing that no one should be allowed access to abortifacients (although we will argue this elsewhere and at other times). No, we’re merely asking that the federal government respect the beliefs taught by religions practiced by millions of people in this country.
As a pastor, I can unequivocally state that the use of an abortifacient is sinful, because it can cause the murder of a living pre-born child. But that is a matter of pastoral care between me and souls entrusted to my care by God. This belief is practiced and applied individually. Yet it is not “private”. It is not a belief that does not affect how I conduct my life. In fact, anyone’s religious beliefs demand that they conduct their lives in a certain way. As long as they do not deprive someone else of their rights, they must be tolerated. This is the whole point of freedom, religious or otherwise.
So when it comes to abortifacients or even plain old contraceptives, I and my fellow believers should not be forced to provide these to anyone. Any person should be able to answer, “No, because I am taught by my religion that this would be providing to someone drugs that have no other purpose than sin, according to my beliefs. Therefore, I will not provide those.” That person working for me is free to get them from another vendor who freely chooses to provide them. The vendor has the right to sell them, and the person has the right to buy them. That person even has the right to no longer work for me and find another employer who will provide them. Again, this is the whole point of freedom, religious or otherwise.
What grieves me, and what I plead everyone to advocate against, is the snatching away of the right of the Christian, or Jew, or anyone else who thinks it morally wrong because of their religious beliefs, to not provide these things to anyone. That is the right guaranteed to us in the First Amendment. As the President of my church body put it, “[P]lease get the Federal Government out of our consciences.” I ask the same, and I ask every other citizen of this country – and certainly my friends and neighbors – to support this as well.
For more information or reasonable discussion, please see the following:
Archbishop Chaput: Obama HHS Mandate “Insulting, Dangerous”
Resource documents on the HHS mandate violating religious liberty in America
How our government thinks of religion