Our Separatist and Puritan forefathers came to America from England to practice religious freedom separate from church, which had been taken over by the King of England, who formed an Anglican state run church. Our Pilgrim / Congregational forefathers came to this land for religious liberty, wanting to follow God alone, according to His Holy Word without interference and corruption by the king. The authority of the state run church was at odds with the authority of God in Scripture. Christians found themselves asking, “Do we violate our consciences and obey the political authority or do we disobey those God has put over us?” By physically separating themselves geographically from the reaches of the state run church, they would be able to worship God and practice the Christian religion without governmental corruption.
Today, because of a recent executive branch mandate, many Christians in this country will be faced with either violating their religious conscience or disobeying governmental authority. President Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services has ordered religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for employees that must include contraceptives, including those that may induce an abortion. It also includes plan funded sterilization. The only exemption is offered to churches and religious bodies that neither employ nor serve any significant number of people who do not share their faith. Many Catholic and Christian schools, colleges, hospitals and social agencies would be directly affected.
Why is this a problem? Because those Christian organizations affected will have to pay for and provide services and procedures that are, in many cases, in opposition to Scripture. They will be forced to either comply and violate their consciences or disobey the law and face the penalty imposed by the government.
Oh yes, the President did offer on Friday, in response to opposition primarily from the Roman Catholic church, a slight modification to the regulation. Christian organizations and their employees will no longer have to directly pay for these benefits, although health plans will still have to offer the benefits to employees of the organization. The cost of these benefits, will now need to be spread by the health plan providers to all other plan subscribers, thereby raising everyone else’s premiums. Yes, even those of other Christians who consciously object to provide abortion services via their health plan. Apparently the administration doesn’t understand the underlying issue. Certainly, President Thomas Jefferson “got it” when he said, in 1808: “I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.”
We find ourselves in a moral dilemma not unlike those faced by our Pilgrim forefathers before they set sail on the Mayflower. And in a situation in direct opposition to the founding principles of this country. The one huge difference, however, is that we now live in a republic and not a monarchy. A republic where the voices of its citizens and those of the nations’s founding fathers are often heard and heeded. Thankfully, we as Christians have an even greater hope, no matter what the outcome, as we know the One whose voice is always heard. Please join me in praying that God would be glorified in this matter and in our actions as His people.