ERLC Comments on HHS Mandate and its Threat to Religious Freedom
The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission comments on the HHS Contraception Mandate and its threat to religious freedom.
“The administration’s so-called “contraceptive mandate” requiring health plans to provide contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs and devices is a blatant assault on faith. By requiring faith-based organizations and individuals to pay for these services, the administration has declared that it has the authority to determine when faith is entitled to protection from governmental interference. This is the very kind of raw exercise of power our Founding Fathers intended to prevent when they passed the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom.
“The administration’s proposed narrow exemption from this requirement fails to protect thousands of faith-based organizations that serve the public. These organizations will be forced to choose between their faith convictions and their ministries in our neighborhoods, towns, and cities. Millions of Americans, most of them in need of assistance, will be affected.
“No one should misunderstand what this issue is really about. While the offense to us is abortion, and to others it is contraception, the real issue is governmental trampling of faith. The Bible is clear about the sanctity of human life. Those of us who take its teachings seriously understand that God expects His people to protect life whenever possible. This applies most of all to innocent, vulnerable humans. To be required by government to participate in the destruction of life that God calls on us to protect is a direct attack on our faith.
“Government cannot be allowed to tell people of faith when they can live out the values of their faith and when they cannot. We must not render to government what is God’s. We must not allow government to take from us what is God’s.
“We will serve the Lord Jesus first. We will keep our consciences clear before Him despite any threats or punishments. To do anything less would be to declare government God. This we will not do!
“For the sake of the church, and for every person of faith, we must stop this soul-crushing power-grab now. If government can require this today, they can, and likely will, require more tomorrow. We will not bow to government or any other power that seeks to insert itself between us and our God.
“We refuse to comply with this mandate, and we stand with all those whose consciences will not allow them to comply as well. We call on everyone who believes that God, and God alone, is the Lord of the conscience to join us in stopping the administration from pillaging the soul with this God-defying, unconstitutional assault on religious freedom.”
The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.2 million members in over 44,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.