Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Government that Fails to Respect Religion Fails to Respect its People

More than 60 lawsuits have been filed against the Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare requires most employers to provide contraception at no cost to employees, even if it violates their religious convictions and also the Free Exercise of Religion Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. According to the Religion News Service, the administration is making few concessions:

  • The Obama administration on Friday (June 28) issued final rules for religious groups for its controversial contraception mandate, maintaining its position on who qualifies for religious exemption and allowing no carve-outs for [religious] private business owners.
According to Gregory S. Baylor, a lawyer with the Alliance Defending Freedom:

  • “The Obama administration insists on waging war on religious freedom, and the final rule issued today confirms that…On multiple levels, the president is articulating what is arguably the most narrow view of religious freedom ever expressed by an administration in this nation’s history.”
It would be one thing if the administration could demonstrate that it has a prevailing interest in limiting religious freedom in this regard. Certainly, if any religion required the sexual molestation or the sacrifice of their children to the gods, the administration would have a prevailing interest to step in.

However, the refusal of a religious employer to bankroll their employees’ sexual behavior does not seem to represent a prevailing state interest. At least, no one has tried to make such a case. Nevertheless, this deficiency did not prevent Sarah Lipton-Lubet, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, to applaud this administration’s continuing pressure on religious employers to provide insurance for procedures they regard as religiously offensive:

  • “With this rule, the administration continues to stand by women and our families and refuses to let employers use religion to discriminate.”
What does it mean to “use religion to discriminate?” This saying is no more than a mindless mantra used to deaden thinking. After all, doesn’t every law discriminate? Doesn’t the 60 mph speed limit discriminate against those who wish to drive beyond this limit? Isn’t every judgment predicated upon values/religious judgments? Cannot this charge – using “religion to discriminate” - also be brought against the secularist? Aren’t the religion, worldview, philosophy and values of this administration being used to discriminate against those who believe it is immoral to be coerced into providing services that violate their conscience? If Christianity is vilified because it makes religious value judgments, why can’t this administration also be vilified for the same reason? Requiring the provision of birth control pills is no less religious that resisting this provision.

Isn’t it therefore hypocritical to charge Christians for “discriminating,” when it is this administration that is discriminating against Christians, especially in light of the protections granted by the Constitution? How can the ACLU charge that Christians are discriminating by simply refusing to pay for someone else’s birth control pills? Who is discriminating against whom? It is like putting a gun to the head of Christian employers and threatening to shoot if they don’t provide them with birth control pills.

This is not a difficult issue to resolve, as one attorney observed:

  • “The easy way to resolve this would have been to exempt sincere religious employers completely, as the Constitution requires…Instead, this issue will have to be decided in court.”
Interestingly, our government has never been so coercive. Traditionally, the nation has respected diversity. The Supreme Court approved the classification of “conscientious objector” for those who could demonstrate a sincere religious conviction against warfare, even though this ruling negatively impacted the others who would then have to fill the gap. The Court allowed Jehovah’s Witnesses the right to not Pledge Allegiance. However, this historical respect for religious diversity is quickly disappearing in this administration’s mad quest for moral uniformity.

Meanwhile, Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, claims that people of faith must conform to the times:

  • “The government has already bent over backwards to accommodate these groups…These churches are out of step with the times, and it’s time for the government to stop bending.”
Why must the church fall into “step with the times?” Must everyone jump on the bandwagon of today’s social fashions? According to Lynn, religion must be no more than an advocate of the status quo, a mindless, blind mirror of the times. Consequently, in the thinking of many, it is illegitimate for religion to claim a transcendent inspiration that can possibly trump the prevailing moral order.

Has Lynn considered the implications of his reasoning? If there is nothing transcendent to trump our social whims, then there is no way to contest Hitler’s program. He too argued that Germans had to be in “step with the times.”

It is ironic to find liberals, who had understandably been mistrustful of power and police states, now advocating “for the government to stop bending,” but instead for everyone else to bend in the direction of power. Why?  Simply because the churches will not conform to “the times!” And why should we?

The requirement that religious employers bankroll the sexual behaviors of their employees is frivolous. If our rights can so easily be trampled by such frivolity, this sets a dangerous precedent that whenever the interest of the government clashes for the free exercise of religion, the government wins! Lynn should not be so myopic. He should instead be concerned that the next administration might trample down his rights!

Perhaps even more troubling, if the administration succeeds in coercing Christian employers to compromise their faith, the slippery slope becomes an unavoidable reality:

  • Well, I compromised on this mandate. No big deal! I can also compromise on paying taxes, lying, or satisfying my own sexual, extra-marital needs.
To capitulate is to harden our conscience. Once we capitulate and fail to repent, we open the door for further compromises. If we then see what has happened to us and repent, we will either be forced out of business by these mandates or go to jail. It’s that serious!

As the Fed grows bigger, we grow smaller. Conformity becomes compulsory! We become an empty shell, too small to resist the indoctrinating voices swirling around us and too shamed by our compromises to exercise our own voice.

No comments:

Post a Comment