Current Events – Christian Institutions Stand up for Religious Liberty

New healthcare policy requires institutions to provide coverage for abortion. A flurry of lawsuits (now up to 45) have been filed against the rule in the Affordable Care Act. These lawsuits claim that forcing employers to pay for abortion-causing drugs violates their freedom and practice of religion, a Constitutional right.

The banner of truth and religious liberty held aloft by the founders of the gospel church and by God’s witnesses during the centuries that have passed since then, has, in this last conflict, been committed to our hands. The responsibility for this great gift rests with those whom God has blessed with a knowledge of His word. We are to receive this word as supreme authority. We are to recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. God’s word must be recognized as above all human legislation. A ‘Thus saith the Lord’ is not to be set aside for a ‘Thus saith the church’ or a ‘Thus saith the state.’ The crown of Christ is to be lifted above the diadems of earthly potentates.” The Acts of the Apostles, 68.

On January 20, 2012 the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, unveiled a new policy which has come to be known as the “HHS Mandate.”

The new Mandate would require nearly all private health insurance plans to include coverage for all FDA-approved prescription contraceptive drugs and devices, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs—drugs that interfere with implantation in the womb and therefore destroy the life of a human being in the earliest stage of development.

The United States Supreme Court has denied a request by a national arts and crafts chain with 500 stores in 42 states, to shield the company from the so-called contraceptive mandate, a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, while its legal battle plays out, after a federal court similarly ruled against the Christian-owned company. Its CEO argued that his family would have to either “violate their faith by covering abortion-causing drugs or be exposed to severe penalties.”

The American Center for Law and Justice, a pro-life legal organization that focuses on constitutional law, achieved a significant victory in the legal battle against the mandate when a federal appeals court granted an emergency motion for an injunction putting the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate on hold—preventing it from being enforced against an Illinois business and its owners.

In December 2012, a federal district court in Missouri granted an ACLJ request for an injunction—blocking the mandate from being enforced against a Missouri company. And, in November, a federal appeals court also stepped in and put a halt to the enforcement of the mandate against a St. Louis company.

Following a decision by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor denying the arts and crafts chain’s request for an exemption from the administration’s HHS mandate, the Christian retail company said it will defy the mandate.

An extremely narrow exemption effectively only protects houses of worship. Business owners’ ability to run their businesses consistent with their religious and moral convictions is not protected. Accepting the Administration’s logic would limit the application of religious freedom to individuals acting within their houses of worship on weekends. It would further erode the free exercise of religion, restricting religious believers’ ability to live out their faiths in their day-to-day lives.

The freedom that has been enjoyed in the United States and protected by the Constitution in the past is being eroded away.
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Wendell Phillips (1811–1884).