The Medicare for All Act of 2019 Presents Grave Life, Conscience Protection, and Religious Liberty Concerns

By / Apr 30

The ERLC affirms that every human life is endowed by God with immeasurable dignity. Scripture illustrates the truth that every man, woman, and child is created in the image of God. We believe His knowledge of each person’s life precedes the creative act of conception.

Abortion is not healthcare. If human dignity is given to each person when created in the womb, then abortion is not only an assault on the image of God but also irreparable harm on a vulnerable life. We believe abortion denies precious human lives both personhood and protection, and therefore cannot be considered as healthcare.

The federal government should not use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. Americans are divided over the issue of abortion, and many strongly object to their taxpayer dollars being used for what they believe to be a great moral wrong. The Medicare for All Act of 2019 would remove critical Hyde Amendment protections. For over forty years, the Hyde Amendment passed each Congress and prevented taxpayer dollars from funding abortions.

Medical professionals with conscience objections to performing abortions must be protected. The Medicare for All Act of 2019 would eliminate these foundational Constitutional protections. If a medical professional refused to perform an abortion, their employment could be at risk with the only medical provider left in the country—the state.

The Medicare for All Act of 2019 would also codify sexual orientation and gender identity in federal law. This legislation would require medical professionals to provide puberty blockers, transitioning hormones, and gender reassignment surgery even against their best medical judgement. This is harmful and unethical, especially in pediatric care.

The ERLC urges Congress not to adopt the Medicare for All Act of 2019. The legislation presents a grave threat to decades of conscience protection laws that ensured equal protection for millions of Americans, especially the most vulnerable. As ERLC president Russell Moore often notes, “A government that can pave over the consciences of some can steamroll over dissent everywhere.”

ERLC Supports Hyde Amendment Protection

By / Jan 29

Southern Baptists affirm that every life is worthy of protection, beginning with the unborn. We believe life begins at conception, and that abortion denies precious human lives both personhood and protection. Scripture is clear that every person is made in the image of God – including the unborn – and his knowledge of the unborn even precedes the creative act of conception (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13).

In the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, the Hyde Amendment was introduced to prevent taxpayer dollars from being allocated for abortion. Americans are divided over the issue of abortion, and many Americans strongly object to their tax dollars being used for what they believe to be a great moral wrong. In 1976, the Illinois Congressman Henry Hyde proposed an amendment to the Departments of Labor and Health, Education, and Welfare, Appropriation Act that prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion.

For over forty years, the Hyde Amendment has been passed each Congress. The Hyde Amendment blocks federal funding for abortions, except in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother, because Congressman Hyde believed that no one should be required to pay for abortion. Since Medicaid is funded both by federal and state dollars, states can decide to use their own fundings to cover abortions. Currently, 17 states have decided to use state funding to provide abortions for Medicaid recipients.

There is deep concern that the abortion industry is working to remove any Hyde protection during the 116th Congressional appropriations process. For the first time, the 2016 Democratic platform declared “they would continue to oppose, and seek to overturn, federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.” Before the Hyde Amendment was introduced, approximately 300,000 abortions a year were performed using Medicaid dollars. It is estimated that the Hyde Amendment has saved over two million lives since it was enacted.

The ERLC strongly urges Congress to defend these protections against federal funds being used for abortion and to ensure that pro-life spending riders are approved in all spending legislation passed in the 116th Congress. The Hyde Amendment saves lives and protects American consciences by preventing taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions.

ERLC Supports Efforts to Combat the Opioid Crisis

By / Jun 25

The opioid epidemic affects families, churches, and communities from all walks of life. Opioids alone account for two-thirds of all drug related deaths. On average, 115 people die every day from opioid overdoses. Given the median church size in America is 75 people, we’re losing roughly the equivalent of one-and-a-half churches every day to death from opioid use. Like many Americans, pastors and members of local Southern Baptist churches witness the fall out of the opioid epidemic and desire to help.

Southern Baptists believe all people are created in the image of God and therefore maintain dignity in the midst of addiction. Those addicted deserve our respect and compassion, along with the devotion of our churches and community resources to provide solutions that best serve each individual. This work is important not just for those currently addicted, but also for preserving human dignity for future generations.

Combating the opioid crisis is consistent with a pro-life ethic. Southern Baptists believe a pro-life view of human dignity extends beyond the womb to all areas of life, families, and communities. Drug addiction wrecks human flourishing by tearing apart families and increasing unemployment. The opioid epidemic is already straining foster care and adoptions systems across the country. The ERLC supports policies that make foster participation easier for willing and qualified families.

Southern Baptists call for awareness and advocacy among the public, and reform among medical communities. Use of opioids should only be as directed by a licensed medical professional. Even then, doctors, pharmacists, drug companies, and insurance providers should only administer opioids when absolutely necessary. The medical community itself must reform to reduce the number opioids in circulation.

ERLC supports policy initiatives that engage churches and other local organizations. Successful confrontation of the opioid epidemic requires cooperation among both government authorities and local civil society organizations. The ERLC supports government policies, including potential grant opportunities, that recognize faith-based organizations as collaborators toward opioid addiction prevention and recovery. Faith-based providers must be equal participants in these efforts and competitive grants can, in part, help these organizations best equip their communities.

ERLC Supports Christian Colleges and Universities’ Right to Maintain Their Religious Character

By / Mar 6

Religious institutions play an essential role in contributing to the diversity of higher education options. A wide array of options adds crucial value for students considering educational opportunities. Faith-based institutions contribute to the diversity of academic options.

Christian institutions of higher education ought to have the same access to generally available benefits as secular institutions. As stated in the recent Supreme Court opinion in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, “This Court has repeatedly confirmed that denying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion that can be justified only by a state interest ‘of the highest order.’”

Accreditation processes should not be used to favor secular over religious. Religious schools that fulfill the accreditation requirements should be accredited, as is the case with secular schools. Accreditation agencies reach beyond their purpose when they seek to pressure—or coerce—religious institutions to act in a manner contrary to their religious mission.

Financial aid should adhere to its original purpose of helping students pursue academic goals. Student aid should not be wielded as a tool to change a religious institution’s core tenets and character. Students in need of financial assistance should not be used as pawns in disputes over social issues.

It is essential that institutions of higher education are able to educate according to their mission. Christian colleges and universities contribute to the common good of communities by educating students on the value of all persons as created in the image of God. These schools ought to be able to fully participate in the public square while maintaining policies that are consistent with their religious beliefs.

We call on Congress to protect faith-based institutions of education from accreditor and state and local government overreach. Southern Baptists support the right of religious institutions of higher education to maintain their religious character. This overreach hinders the ability of religious institutions to stay consistent with their religious character, and in doing so, prevents them from serving students. Legislation must ensure that accreditors and other federal, state, and local actors are required to respect the religious mission of an institution of higher education.

ERLC Supports the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

By / Jan 24

Southern Baptists affirm that every human is created in the image of God. As stated in a 2015 resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Bible “clearly and consistently affirms that human life is formed by God in His image and is therefore worthy of honor and dignity.” Further, the Convention’s Baptist Faith & Message affirms that “children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord” and calls us to “speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death.”

Legal protection for unborn humans is a justice issue. Medical science confirms that a new human life begins from the moment of fertilization, one that is genetically unique of both parents. Babies do not magically become human upon birth. The fetal development stage is most accurately understood as one among other stages of human development, like pre-adolescence and late adulthood. Medical research shows that an unborn child can feel intense pain at 20 weeks gestation, if not earlier. Yet, in many states it remains legal to kill babies at and beyond this stage of gestation.

It is a proper use of government authority to protect unique, vulnerable human beings who feel pain. The Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is an important step toward recognizing the dignity of every human life. Protecting the right to life should be a top priority of any just government. Eliminating elective abortion of human beings who feel pain is a necessary step in cultivating a culture of life in our nation. Government’s basic duty is to protect human life from bodily harm and provide justice for victims of violence. Such justice ought to extend to our unborn neighbors.

ERLC urges Congress to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill, currently introduced in both the House and the Senate, is a tested legislative vehicle with similar legislation already passed in at least 20 states. Co-sponsors include the majority of the Republican conference and its leadership in both chambers, one Independent member, and two Democrats in the House. The bill also maintains support from President Trump, from a commitment in 2016 to his 2020 State of the Union address. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) sent the bill directly to the floor to receive a full Senate vote.

ERLC Calls on Congress to Provide a Permanent Solution for Dreamers

By / Jan 24

ERLC is deeply concerned that 800,000 Dreamers are in a new stage of uncertainty and insecurity. The termination of the President’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), has proved that a durable solution for this special category of immigrants—those who were brought here by their—will require congressional action. As a country, we must provide a fair and just solution for these young men and women, not just because it is the “right thing to do,” but because it accords with biblical principles.

This is a justice issue because the Bible is clear that we do not hold children responsible for the actions of their parents. It is inappropriate to hold Dreamers accountable for violating the law because they were minors when their parents crossed the border and brought them to the United States. Many Dreamers are unaware of their undocumented status. Subjecting Dreamers to deportation, or lives of perpetual insecurity in the shadows of our communities, is an offense to the rule of law and to the purpose of government, which is for the good of people.

Immigration reform is a human dignity issue because every person, regardless of ethnicity or national origin, is an image-bearer of God. In 2011, the Southern Baptist Convention issued a resolution on immigration stating, “The Scriptures call us, in imitation of God Himself, to show compassion and justice for the sojourner and alien among us.” (Ex. 22:21; Deut. 10:18-19.) How we treat this category of immigrants – and all immigrants – reveals what we believe about them as divine image-bearers.

This is also a family policy matter because we believe American policy should promote the flourishing of families. God ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society, and children are a blessing from the Lord. Broken families, wherever they are found, put women and children at risk and increase likelihood of poverty and crime—as well as the likelihood of dependence on government programs. As one priority among others, we believe policymakers should uphold the role of the family when addressing immigration policy.

This unresolved area of immigration policy breeds religious liberty concerns because churches are uncertain of how they can lawfully care for their immigrant neighbor. If a church offers transportation to a Sunday worship service and a Dreamer steps into that church vehicle, is the church liable for transporting illegal aliens? Federal law and policy should clarify that churches may lawfully carry out their task of loving their neighbors.