We usually listen to Christian radio while cooking breakfast. That’s what I was doing on sabbatical one day last July, frying some bacon and listening to Moody Radio in Chicago. The news was unprecedented: Wheaton College (near Chicago), one of the oldest and most respected Evangelical institutions in America, the college Billy Graham attended, had partnered with The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in a lawsuit opposing the Health and Human Services Preventative Services mandate .
What would cause these two institutions, which represent two branches of Christianity that have been separated for over five hundred years, to lock arms in a lawsuit against the U.S. government? And why am I reporting on it to you today?
Here’s why: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare, is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent of religious freedom in America. Once it fully takes effect, religious freedom in America as we have known it will cease to exist. The HHS mandate is step one of that process.
I know how sensationalist that may sound to some of you. And I know that you know that I am politically conservative and it is very close to election time. But I ask that you read on and consider a few things before reaching a conclusion. I carry no torch for our current healthcare system. My family and my employer, Faith Community Church, were defrauded out of over $100,000 of coverage by Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield when my daughter was sick in 2007-2008. If had had the resources of a Bill Gates I would have sued them. She is completely recovered now and has a statement to that effect from her doctor. But she will have difficulty getting health insurance for the rest of her life under the old system because of pre-existing condition clauses. Therefore I too believe that our healthcare system needs overhaul in the worst way. But loss of religious freedom and freedom of conscience is too high a price to pay.
That’s the other reason I’m writing: I’ve found that many people, including people who watch a lot of television news, are unaware of the threat to religious liberty posed by Obamacare.
Any government policy covering something as diverse as healthcare, has multiple ramifications. Here is how the Wheaton College press release characterizes the issue.
Wheaton College press release:
The mandate, which is a regulation under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, forces both institutions to violate their deeply held religious beliefs by providing access to abortion-causing drugs or paying severe fines…
“This mandate is not just a Catholic issue—it threatens people of all faiths,” says Kyle Duncan, General Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represents the College in its suit. “Wheaton’s historic decision to join the fight alongside a Catholic institution shows the broad consensus that the mandate endangers everyone's religious liberty.”
Wheaton’s religious convictions, as described in its Community Covenant, prevent it from providing its employees with access to abortifacient drugs. Through this lawsuit, the College acts to preserve its religious liberty and the right to carry out its mission free from government coercion.
“Wheaton College and other distinctively Christian institutions are faced with a clear and present threat to our religious liberty,” says Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Ryken. “Our first president, the abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, believed it was imperative to act in defense of freedom. In bringing this suit, we act in defense of freedom again.”
“As the president of the national university of the Catholic Church, I am happy to express solidarity with our evangelical brothers and sisters from Wheaton College as they challenge the HHS mandate. Wheaton's lawsuit is another sign of how troubling many people of faith find the government's efforts to chip away at our first freedom,” added Catholic University President John Garvey.
There are now 24 separate lawsuits challenging the HHS mandate. Catholic University filed suit on May 21, 2012. These HHS challenges were not affected by the Supreme Court’s June 28th ruling on the constitutionality of the individual mandate."
Religious institutions like churches, colleges, schools and other ministries aren’t the only ones whose liberty is challenged by Obamacare, businesses of every kind owned and operated by people of faith are also at risk. I’ll report more on those next week.