Tag Archives: First Amendment

Christ calls Christians to Behave Consistent with Christian Teaching


Last week, this blog featured the story of Dr. Vesni Roi who chose not to accept a patient whose legal caregivers were two lesbian women. In that case, the doctor referred the patient to a different pediatrician who was not troubled by the fact that treating the newborn baby involve working professionally with a lesbian couple as if this trio of people were a family. In Michigan, the doctor’s right to accept or reject patients because of her Christian principles was not challenged, because Michigan has no law that gives legal standing to such a complaint. The story has, however, inspired a great deal of public controversy about the lack of a law to prevent her choice.

This week’s post features a story with a very different ending, although the fundamental issue for Christians is identical. Barronelle Stutzman operates a florist shop in the state of Washington. When a long-time customer asked her to provide flowers for his same-sex wedding, Barronelle refused. She told him that her relationship with Christ prevented her from any participation in a same-sex wedding. She referred him to other florists, and more than one florist offered to do the wedding at no charge. After the partner of Barronelle’s customer engaged in a Facebook rant, the attorney general of the state of Washington took Barronelle to court, alleging she had broken a state law against discrimination. Her defense was her commitment to live according to the teachings of her religion. A few weeks ago, a judge ruled that Barronelle had a right to hold personal principles based in her faith, but she has no right to act on them. Read here and here for more details

This ruling directly contradicts the Christian principle of living the faith. The Bible teaches in very clear language that Christians are not really Christians when they only mouth the words of the faith. In the book of James, the author speaks at great length about the importance of living the faith. He says, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22 ESV). More importantly, Jesus himself says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21 ESV). Jesus said that mental assent is not sufficient. Action in accord with faith is expected. The apostle Paul was more graphic. He explains the importance of the actions of a Christian by comparing actions to the components of a building.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. –1 Corinthians 3:10-15 ESV

Paul teaches that the deeds of a Christian must build up the church, the way construction materials contribute to a physical building, and God will judge those deeds. Trash will be burned up in the fire of God’s judgment and only deeds that survive that fire will be valued in God’s eyes. It is clear that the words and deeds of Christians count for something. It is not enough to claim to be a Christian. Even knowing all the books of the Bible is not enough. Memorizing part or even the entire Bible is irrelevant if it makes no impact on a person’s words and deeds.

The ultimate test is what happens at the final judgment, the end of time. What will survive the cataclysm that burns up the old heaven and the old earth? The book of Revelation speaks of the tests Christians face daily to deny the faith and do things inconsistent with Christ’s teaching. In the letter to the church at Ephesus, Jesus says, “I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2:4-5 ESV bolding mine). To the church at Thyatira, Jesus writes, “I know your works,” (Revelation 2:19 ESV) after which he proceeds to describe the evil deeds, and then he says that his rewards are for “the one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end” (Revelation2:26 ESV bolding mine). Repeatedly Jesus says, “I know your works,” and then he holds the people who make up the churches accountable for living up to his teachings.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects the right of every citizen to do the things required in order to be faithful to whatever religion he or she chooses. Numerous court decisions have expanded the meaning of that amendment to make it clear that “free exercise” of religion does not extend to a right to harm other persons or property. Barronelle Stutzman harmed nobody. She did no harm to anyone’s property. She simply stated her conviction about marriage and declined to be a party to behavior that conflicts with her relationship with Christ.

Christ calls Christians to speak and act consistent with their professed faith. Dr. Roi and Barronelle Stutzman have done that. Pray for these two Christians to be vindicated for living their faith. Pray for Christians around the country to have the same courage and grace these women have shown in the face of cultural and legal threats to people of faith. What would you do in these situations?

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Original image

Free Speech? Of Course. Suppress Only Wrong-Headed Speech


People have freedom of expression, blah blah blah, but until we make those people pay for their wrongheaded beliefs, they’ll continue to hold them. Tony Woodlief at Patheos

It has not always been the case that someone expressing a viewpoint with roots in Christian teaching was accused of discrimination. It has not always been the case that someone expressing a viewpoint different from the majority was accused of discrimination. The new wrinkle in the culture is that someone expressing the majority viewpoint, Christian or not, is accused of discrimination. The really new wrinkle is that someone who supports a viewpoint validated in millennia of human history is accused of discrimination.

This is what is happening to people who support the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

 Something more mind-boggling could hardly be imagined.

The concept of marriage as the union of a man and a woman has never been questioned throughout human history till now. In fact, except for dictionary devotees, the specification that the parties to a marriage will be a man and a woman has not needed to be discussed. It has not been a uniquely Christian idea that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Archeology and paleontology alike demonstrate that humans have always viewed marriage as the union of a man and a woman, and humans have always considered marriage to be the foundation for a family. Only recently has it become necessary to argue about what constitutes a marriage or a family.

What happened to the culture?

Human society has many ongoing arguments. Who ought to be in charge, and how ought a group of people figure out who should be in charge? What is worth fighting about? What is a fair fight? There are a lot of arguments that are not yet settled. But the definition of marriage and family were settled so far back that except for the revelation of the creation story in Genesis, nobody would know how marriage began. The record of human life on earth shows that marriage has been the normal basis for family in all human groups, almost as if it were written on the human heart.

That fact meant that until very recently, anyone who used the word marriage did not need to define it or qualify it. The word itself was sufficient to convey the intended meaning. It also meant that until very recently, nobody would have had any reason to write laws about the language used for marriage or sexual orientation or gender identity. The issue of sexual orientation was settled by the recognition that normal human beings are attracted to the opposite gender, and the gender of a normal human being is the gender of the DNA (of which there are only two options – male or female). All other expressions of gender, sexual orientation or sexual union were abnormal simply because they were not normal. It wasn’t discrimination to recognize that fact; it was plain common sense. It still is. Unfortunately, plain common sense does not seem to be valued very much in the language of marriage, family, gender identity or sexual orientation.

The fact that a marriage was expressed as a union of a man and a woman throughout human society meant that when religions used this definition, it was not regarded as privilege, oppression or discrimination. It was considered normal. Any other definition would have been regarded as bizarre and would have resulted in ostracism of its practitioners for engaging in behavior equivalent to wearing aluminum foil hats.

Where do Christians get their definition of marriage?

Christians use this definition of marriage for the same reason as humankind at large; it is normal. However, when the definition is challenged, as is common in contemporary cultural disputes, Christians actually have a basis for defending their contention that it is normal. They don’t rely on the fact that people have used this definition for thousands, perhaps millions, of years. They rely on the revelation of the Creator, God Himself. The Bible records that God created humans male and female and ordained marriage as their proper relationship. God further ordained that they produce children within that relationship and nurture them to adulthood, each generation teaching the next the things they needed to know in order to have good lives – God’s truths, skills for daily living, and so forth. Human failing and wicked acts have not changed God’s truth: marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

What justifies suppression of anybody’s speech?

Which brings the subject back to freedom of speech. The culture is busily attempting to suppress the freedom to speak of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Someone recently said that the culture war is necessary in order to make speaking of heterosexual marriage as unacceptable as suggesting that slavery is good. To that end, the army of LGBT activism persuaded Mozilla to fire a man whose only crime was to express his legitimate view on the definition of marriage. To that end, JP Morgan quizzed its employees to determine who is and who isn’t an ally of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. To that end, the Department of Justice demanded that employees not only tolerate homosexual colleagues but also express their delight at the opportunity to support their lifestyle choices. Freedom of speech necessarily requires the culture to permit people of all viewpoints to express their viewpoints. There must not be penalties for expressing minority viewpoints. There must not be penalties for expressing majority viewpoints.

Yes, the majority must be free to speak of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Because most American citizens, the majority of the population, holds the traditional view of marriage, those citizens must be just as free to express and act on their definition of marriage as the minority, a very tiny minority, who want marriage to include homosexual union, polyamory and bestiality. The US Constitution protects the right of a man to donate money to a political action group that promotes traditional marriage. Marriage. The only marriage that is marriage. The Constitution says that people have a right to their opinions and a right to express their opinions and a right to advocate for legislation in keeping with their opinions.

To have an opinion at odds with the latest Twitter hashtag campaign ought not to be grounds for dismissal from a job or for exclusion from the cultural conversation. Tony Woodlief points out that the culture wants the dissenting opinions on the subject of marriage, or any other subject in fashion at the moment, to be gone. Snuffed out. Squashed. Shut down. The only real way to defeat that objective is to be tireless in support of one’s viewpoint and be willing to pay the price the opponents will impose. Woodlief is right. Those who never give up their unwanted opinions will be made to pay, because the opposition will continue to exact the price. Those who support normality and common sense must be willing to pay in order to continue to hold their views.

What should we do?

The opposition says, “People have freedom of expression, blah blah blah, but until we make those people pay for their wrongheaded beliefs, they’ll continue to hold them.” We who love the Lord and trust the Bible for guidance in faith and life say, “People have freedom of expression, because God gave people this right, and we will advocate for the preservation of that right for as long as it takes.”

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2014/08/the-new-truth-squashes-dissent/#ixzz3AN3PIF4h








Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/goodletters/2014/08/the-new-truth-squashes-dissent/#ixzz3AN3PIF4h

What is a Christian to Do?

Statistics show that religious liberty around the world is a precious and endangered human right. Statistics further show that in the set of all acts of religious persecution, the majority of such acts are directed against Christians. Saddest of all, statistics for recent years in the US show a rising number of events which may not meet the legal standard to be called persecution, but they are the sort of events that can easily escalate to that level. It is clear that Christians must be alert and attentive to cultural pressures that influence governmental pressures on human liberty. In fact, it is possible for pressure to restrict a right not specifically limited to religious liberty to seriously infringe on religious liberty.

In a recent blog post, Matthew Clark provided some important perspective on an IRS plan to monitor speech in churches. The IRS has announced that it will collaborate with the Freedom From Religion Foundation in a manner not yet publicly disclosed. The purpose will be to determine if a church is advocating a position on a political issue, whether it be in the realm of social morality such as abortion or in the realm of elections such as support for a candidate who stands for traditional marriage.

The US Constitution specifically prohibits the federal government from engaging in such a practice, because the Constitution protects both free speech and religious liberty. Every citizen, whether or not he is a member of a church, whether or not he is a pastor of a church, has the fundamental human right to hold and express his views on all matters. However, as Ronald Reagan pointed out years ago, we are never more than one generation from tyranny, because each generation must defend liberty as if the battle had never been won before. The IRS proposal to monitor what is said in churches specifically intrudes on freedom of speech, but by imposing such monitoring on churches, it also intrudes on religious liberty, because such monitoring makes it clear that the IRS believes it can and must prevent churches from promoting their views by teaching members to act on positions that are being discussed in political circles. It is as if the IRS is saying that churches have no right to speak on any moral issue if the public is talking about it. Since the people who founded the USA have always regarded the churches as integral to the moral fiber of the nation, it is hard to imagine how the IRS concluded that churches should be prevented from speaking on any issue.

What is a Christian to do about this information? How does God want us to live and behave when our deeply held convictions are threatened in this manner?

Paul wrote to the church in Rome, the seat of government for the Roman Empire, a government that was corrupt and tyrannical in many ways. He told them, “The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Rom 13:2 Many people in the USA certainly believe that this country was founded by people who trusted God and followed his guidance. The Constitution of the USA sets a standard for government that has been copied all over the world, and many people believe that God inspired the design of government in the Constitution. It builds in structures that impede tyranny as long as the citizens and the elected officials live by God’s moral code. The authors of the Constitution conceded from the beginning that only people with personal integrity could make this government work. It was always understood that the integrity of the voters and the integrity of elected officials was crucial to the success of the designed government. When the integrity was missing, the liberties would die. Yet, even though Paul knew how corrupt and tyrannical Roman government was, he taught early Christians to be good citizens. He modelled that citizenship in his own life, taking his case to the emperor, his right as a Roman citizen, in order to obey his higher calling to take the name of Christ to Gentiles.

Peter likewise admonished Christians to be good citizens, saying that governors “are sent by [God] to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.” 1 Peter 2:14 Peter, too, advocated good citizenship as a testimony to Christ. He taught that “doing good” would “silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:15 However, this is the same Peter who, ordered to stop preaching in the name of Christ, replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:19-20 In Peter’s life there is a model for obedience to authority, right up to the point where that obedience conflicts with obedience to God.

This is the conflict being addressed in the book of Revelation, written to churches under serious threat because of the unwillingness of Christians to worship the emperor. They were viewed as traitors for this attitude, because while Peter taught that Christians should pray for the emperor, he never tried to tell Christians they should pray to the emperor. Roman citizens who were not ignorant of the depravity of Roman emperors often worshiped tongue in cheek in order to be politically correct. They thought Christians were silly for balking at a public ritual. Christians were ridiculed then for their conviction that they must worship and obey God, just as they are ridiculed now for the same reason. In Revelation, Christians are encouraged to hold fast to their testimony, no matter the price, and the book is full of promised rewards for “him who overcomes.” To overcome in Revelation is to overcome the temptation to go along to get along.

What is a Christian in the USA to do when government intrudes into the words and deeds of churches? The Bible teaches good citizenship and faithful testimony to Christ.

As good citizens, Christians have both the right and the responsibility to use the powers of citizenship, speech and the vote, to push back against tyranny. To act as a responsible citizen in advocacy for the God-given rights protected by the Constitution is not a benefit solely for Christians; it benefits every citizen. Christians may be the target today, but tomorrow it could be some other group. Therefore, when Christians recognize that the government is trying to diminish or destroy rights protected in the design of the government, they have the obligation as citizens to prevent that overreach of government.

In faithful testimony to Christ, Christians must not accede to government overreach and go silent on matters of public morality and good government. They must speak on the subjects of God’s plan for families, God’s sovereignty in the gift of life, and God’s insistence on truth and integrity in human words and deeds. Inside churches or outside of churches, Christians must stand on biblical principles and speak God’s truth.

At the same time, both as a duty of good citizenship and as a duty of faithful testimony, Christians must uphold the government and all the officials of government in prayer. Christians must ask for God’s guidance in their own words and deeds as parties to conflicts between the government and the citizens.

It is not always easy to know the right thing to do. Some of the social problems facing the culture are so complex that human wisdom is inadequate to the task of solving them, but none of those problems is beyond God’s understanding or concern.

The fact that the IRS even explores the notion of monitoring the speech of churches with a view to suppressing speech deemed as political is an affront to the First Amendment. The fact that the IRS even explores the notion of monitoring any speech whatsoever is an affront to the First Amendment. God-fearing men wrote that amendment because they believed that the freedom to hold and express opinions is God-given, not something for government to dole out.

What do you suggest Christians do?

The IRS Wants to Remove Freedom of Speech from Churches

In 1789, when the US Constitution took effect, the First Congress already had been assigned a job. During ratification, the states took cognizance of human nature and insisted on a Bill of Rights. The Framers of the Constitution all assumed that powers not given to the federal government in the Constitution remained with the states and with the people, but across the country, people recognized that some things needed to be more clearly stated. Many could envision a situation in which a rogue president or judiciary or even a rogue Congress might assume powers that were not intended. The first job of the new Congress was to pass a series of amendments which had been demanded by various states as conditions for ratification.

People who love liberty easily recognize the First Amendment to the Constitution as the most important of all. A nation in which people cannot speak freely, a nation that forbid citizens to choose, change or reject religion at will or a nation where the press is compelled to print the government line is not a free nation. History shows that even with written guarantees of these freedoms, the natural human desire to control other people makes it essential for the people to have recourse to a limit on government power to control speech, religion and the press.

Today, right now, this minute, these freedoms are under assault by a federal government that has lost its way. Almost anyone could name some incidents that represent threats to these freedoms, but recent news makes it obvious that a truly potent and dangerous threat to both freedom of speech and free exercise of religion is underway. In recent news it has been made known that the IRS is being encouraged to pay more attention to what pastors say from the pulpits of churches.

Pastors who feel that their call is to serve Christ, not the IRS, will respond to such scrutiny by saying that Christ compels a pastor, or any other Christian, to teach people what the Bible says. If the Bible teaches something in conflict with popular ethical trends, the pastor who obeys God, not people, will speak of this problem. If an election is imminent, and pastor wants to help his parishioners know which candidates have committed to biblical teaching and which have not, that pastor will speak.

Astonished Christians who always thought that freedom of speech and freedom of religion were fundamental truths of life in the USA will find it quite disconcerting to discover that the IRS is even contemplating any infringement on those freedoms. It all came about because of a lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. In 2012 the FFRF sued the IRS for alleged failure to monitor speech in churches. The lawsuit revealed that no process existed for such monitoring, even though according to the FFRF, such monitoring is required by the Johnson Amendment (1954) to the tax code. That amendment made it an infraction of federal law for a 501(C) 3 organization to endorse a candidate during an election. The FFRF alleged that when pastors encouraged their members in churches to vote for specific candidates or to support specific political issues such as right-to-life, the churches were in violation of the law. The lawsuit was settled out of court, and the IRS subsequently teamed up with FFRF to devise a plan to monitor political speech in churches.

The title of this post properly should be “The FFRF Wants to Remove Freedom of Speech from Churches.” Over the years since 1954, the IRS chose not to attempt to find out what was said from the pulpits of churches. This policy assumed that unless someone complained, there was nothing to find out. Only under pressure that arose because of the FFRF lawsuit did the IRS even contemplate monitoring the speech of pastors in churches. It should be noted that churches are not required to apply for 501(C) 3 status in order to be tax exempt. The very fact that a church is a church makes it tax exempt according to the federal tax code. However, some churches do apply for that classification for a variety of reasons not relevant to this post. The Johnson Amendment does not affect those that do not apply for 501(C) 3 classification.

The crux of the matter is whether the Johnson Amendment truly prevents a pastor from endorsing a political candidate. The real question is whether any law can trump the First Amendment right to free speech. Maybe a better way to ask the question is to ask, what compelling government interest is so compelling that the government could muzzle a citizen who wanted to participate in the public discussion of candidates or political/ethical issues? Why would it make any difference whether the citizen spoke from the pulpit or on a television show or on a street corner?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation contends that when a pastor endorses a political candidate or endorses a view on a political issue while speaking from the pulpit of a tax-exempt church, he is engaging in prohibited speech. The 1954 Johnson amendment says that a 501C3 organization is “prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”(quoted at Wikipedia from Irs.gov. 2012-08-14) A thinking person must ask how Congress even presumed to pass such a law. Citizens do not lose their citizenship by joining a non-profit organization. The First Amendment is a guarantee of freedom for citizens, and it actually prohibits Congress from prohibiting free speech. How did anyone persuade any member of Congress to vote for the Johnson amendment?

Some voices say that churches should be safe from scrutiny if they choose not to file for 501C3 status. Nothing really guarantees that safety, of course, and nothing actually prevents Congress from passing a broader law in the same spirit as the Johnson Amendment. Citizens who contend that the intent of the First Amendment is to protect the freedom of every citizen at all times to engage in public discussion of candidates and issues find the Johnson Amendment to be an unconstitutional limitation on free speech. The amendment has never been challenged in court, but perhaps it should be. On what basis? On the basis that a citizen does not abdicate his right to free speech by speaking from a pulpit or within the confines of any other non-profit corporation.

Some Christians will find it troubling to think that they might hear a sermon on Sunday advocating that they vote for a particular candidate. They might feel that sermons about political candidates are inconsistent with their definition of preaching and worship. This is an entirely different question. If members of a church hire a pastor to preach and they are not satisfied with his work, they are free to hire someone else. It is no business of the IRS to tell them whether to keep their pastors or not. How they choose pastors, retain pastors, and dismiss pastors is completely within the domain of church rule and processes. This author does not advocate that churches require or forbid their pastors to preach on politics. This author believes each church must manage that decision according to its own policies.

However, this author does read the First Amendment as declaring that the government has no right to forbid pastors to preach about politics. This is because the First Amendment gives every citizen the right to speak on politics, religion, personal values, and misconceptions about what science has proved, among other things. If the church members want the pastor to help them understand how biblical teaching is to be applied in their understanding of contemporary political issues, then the government needs to leave the church and the pastor alone. The application of biblical teaching is a legitimate function of Christian preaching. The discussion of political candidates and issues is a legitimate activity of a citizen. The First Amendment clearly states that people have the right to have opinions on these matters and to express their opinions to whoever will listen.

This author believes that no citizen should be denied free speech just because he or she is speaking in the context of any tax-exempt organization. This author believes that the First Amendment forbids the federal government from controlling speech anywhere, including within the boundaries, physical or organizational, of non-profit organization of any kind. If the First Amendment means that citizens have the right to speak, then the Johnson amendment is actually unconstitutional.

The freedom to speak truth everywhere at all times is precious. The freedom to vote requires the freedom to speak of candidates and issues that are subject to the vote. Suppression of such speech is completely inconsistent with a free society.

Freedom to speak, to have opinions, and to make choices is precious. People have died for the lack of it. The government has no legitimate reason to stifle free speech anywhere, especially not in churches where truth is an honored and treasured commodity. Especially not anywhere. The bar for justification of the suppression of free speech should be higher than any normal person’s head. It ought to take extraordinary effort to justify such a thing.

What do you think?

Without Citizen Vigilance Religious Liberty Will Be Lost

The owners of Hobby Lobby, a private corporation, went all the way to the Supreme Court in the name of religious liberty. The Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to be exempt from paying for services which conflict with the religious convictions of the owners. The ruling applied a section of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as the mechanism for resolving the conflict between the interests of government and the values of free citizens. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act provided an easy way out of the conflict between private convictions and public agendas.

This resolution of the matter is not acceptable to some people, because there are actually citizens in the USA who do not want Christians to be free to live according their consciences. A law is being proposed in the US Senate which says that and employer ‘shall not deny coverage of a specific health care item or service’ such as abortifacient drugs mislabeled as contraceptives. The bill S2578 includes a statement intended to prevent an outcome in the Supreme Court such as the Hobby Lobby decision. It says that this provision “shall apply to employers notwithstanding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” The title of the bill, “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014,” cloaks the subversion of religious liberty in a political agenda that demonizes corporations and pretends to respond to a threat not in existence, all in order to move forward an agenda designed ultimately to shut all reference to religion or its moral and ethical teachings out of public life.

In the body of the bill S 2578, the Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case is referenced, and the accusation is made that “some for-profit corporations can take away the birth control coverage guaranteed to their employees and the covered dependents of such employees through their group health plan.” The reader will immediately notice that the language says, “take away” birth control coverage, a statement that is ridiculous in view of the fact that the employer in question provided 16 different methods of birth control.

S 2578 further states that the Hobby Lobby decision allows Hobby Lobby “to treat a critical women’s health service differently than other comparable services.” The “critical health service” is birth control, and the decision only addresses 4 of the 20 FDA-approved methods of birth control. With regard to the 4 pertinent items, the Supreme Court decision assures the employees that those 4 items will be available to the employees without cost-sharing, just as federal law requires. The change that takes place as a consequence of the decision is completely administrative and not visible in the experience of the employees. They suffer no loss. If they want abortifacient drugs at no charge to themselves, the Hobby Lobby decision in no way impedes their ability to obtain them and in no way costs them any money. The Hobby Lobby owners might actually wish that nobody used abortifacient drugs instead of birth control, but the decision rendered does not have that result. The Supreme Court protected the owners of Hobby Lobby without creating any intereference for someone who prefers to abort an existing baby rather than prevent conception in the first place.

The real consequence of the Hobby Lobby decision is that government is required to respect the religious conviction of the owners of Hobby Lobby, a conviction rooted in moral values upheld in their faith for thousands of years, a moral standard that says it is a sin for believers to participate in the murder of unborn human beings. Senator Murray’s bill fails to state that it is all about authorizing the murder of unborn babies, because the politicians do not want to say that the drugs in question are abortifacient, and they most emphatically do not want to say that abortion is the murder of unborn human beings. That sounds terrible. Barbaric. Completely uncivilized. It sounds like something the most primitive tribe along the Amazon would know was evil, so politicians do not want to say in public that they think the murder of unborn human beings is something every woman ought to be able to do, even if she must compel her employer to participate in the murder by paying for the drug that does the deed.

It is not possible to read the bill S 2578 without concluding that religious liberty is not respected by the supporters of this bill. The First Amendment to the US Constitution was passed by the very First Congress of the USA, and it was speedily ratified by all thirteen original states. Citizens in those states valued freedom from a state-sponsored religion and the freedom to exercise their own faith. They all felt that their faith was the proper source of guidance in matters of right and wrong, and when the state chose a course that conflicted with a person’s faith-guided conscience, the first citizens of our nation believed that the state should step back. The citizens who founded the USA did not want the government to decree moral standards; they felt that morality was best expressed in the consciences of voters who would, in their votes and in their voices to elected representatives, make their moral standards heard. It was expected that the moral voice of the people would be reflected in the actions of their elected representatives and senators. When the people’s representatives and senators overstepped their bounds, the first citizens of the USA looked to the Supreme Court to reign in the inappropriate actions of the Congress. Just as citizens today continue to do. It was the most natural thing conceivable that Hobby Lobby’s case should come to the Supreme Court, because it is an instance of conflict between a political agenda enacted into law and a citizen’s religious conviction which defines what is morally right and wrong. The First Amendment was intended to resolve those instances where such conflicts arose with a bias toward preserving personal religious liberty.

In the early 90’s a series of events led Congress to decide that the First Amendment protections were in danger, and Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to bolster the protections provided by the First Amendment. Harry Reid and many others who are still in the Senate today voted for that law. It was viewed as a good and necessary enhancement to protect religious liberty in the US.

Now, the Senate is considering a law that pulls the teeth of the very protections the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was designed to strengthen. This proposed law would override the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and force employers to do exactly what the Hobby Lobby decision exempted them from doing. This proposed bill is a malicious and vindictive assault on the freedom of people of any faith whatsoever to live according to the teachings of their faith.
This law is not only bad for the employers who are encumbered by the Affordable Care Act. It is an omen of future events. If the Congress of the United States of America passes such a law, it is a clear indicator that the Congress does not want citizens to have religious liberty. If this law passes, the next time Congress considers a law that requires people to do the opposite of what their faith teaches them is right, the precedent set by this law would be to include the same statement in the new law: “shall apply to employers notwithstanding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” If Patty Murry’s bill to force employers to pay for abortifacient drugs despite their religious convictions to the contrary, it will mean that the Congress has the desire and the will to end religious liberty in the USA.

Time for prayer. Time to write your Senator and say “Vote No on S 2578” . Time to tell your neighbor to do the same thing.