The Supreme Court’s decision to grant religious groups a “ministerial exception” in hiring, while important, does nothing to halt the Obama Administration’s relentless crusade to restrict religious freedom.
Now the Administration has announced it will not expand exemptions for religiously affiliated organizations when it comes to insurance. So a Catholic hospital, for instance, will be forced to purchase insurance for its employees that would provide free contraception and sterilization services.
Now, in case you didn’t know, the Catholic Church teaches that using artificial contraception or undergoing sterilization are grave sins. The government has now said, “Tough.”
Even the liberal Washington Post sees this for what it is: a restriction of religious freedom. Its lead editorial called the Administration’s decision “wrong.”
Perhaps the Administration was feeling benevolent because it delayed the implementation of the insurance mandate for a year.
Catholic Archbishop Timothy Dolan wasn’t feeling the love. He rightly fumed: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.” Dolan said that “to force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. . . Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.”
Folks, I’ve been warning for more than a year now that the Administration is constricting religious liberty bit by bit. It has abandoned any defense of traditional marriage. It is promoting gay rights abroad at the expense of religious rights. And I’ve documented that the Administration, beginning with Secretary of State Clinton, has intentionally used the phrase “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion,” implying that one’s faith is a private matter — and that exercising that faith in public is not a protected right.
Well, if the Administration’s latest move isn’t proof of that, I don’t know what will be.
Now, to all my evangelical brethren who may be wondering why I’m making so much of this — after all, the vast majority of evangelicals don’t have a problem with contraception — I will say this: Which of our religious convictions will we be forced to abandon one day? Will our religiously affiliated groups be forced to hire people who oppose our faith? Will the government force a curriculum upon our schools and homeschoolers? Just a few years ago these possibilities seemed crazy. Now, they seem very real.
I’m reminded of the famous saying of German pastor Martin Niemoeller, referring to the horrors of Nazi Germany:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I
did not speak out —
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did
not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was
no one left to speak for me.”
Folks, all Christians speak out against this latest attack — and every attack — on religious liberty. Please, I plead with you, sign — and get your friends to sign — the Manhattan Declaration in support of religious liberty. Do it today at ManhattanDeclaration.org.
Because pretty soon no one will be left to speak out for us.