Think whatever you want about Rick Santorum as a presidential candidate, but like any good lawyer he asks the right question at the most critical point in time. America has reached such a moment because our president is perpetrating – through his health care plan – one of the most egregious attacks on religious freedom our nation has seen. Thus Santorum’s question for the moment: “When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God-given rights, then what’s left?“
Why the government, of course, one that embraces a secular worldview, triggering an inevitable lurch toward a godless socialism and all that comes with it – squalor and tyranny. Economist F.A. Hayek warned Britain and America about such calamity in his 1944 classic, The Road to Serfdom. Hayek’s basic argument was that government control of our economic lives amounts to totalitarianism.
Hayek came to mind as I listened to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tell private insurance companies, “We will be watching” you. This chilling pronouncement by Sebelius came as President Obama announced a so-called “compromise” of his birth control/abortion-causing drug mandate. Nowhere in the Constitution does it give some bureaucrat the authority to “watch” – much less dictate to – a private business like insurance companies. The Founders left that to the states, but “Big Brother” has other ideas as we’re discovering with the Affordable Health Care Act, known as ObamaCare. It was former U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who told Congress to pass the bill so they can find out what is in it. Now we’re finding out and we don’t like it.
Under ObamaCare, the president was originally going to force religious employers (churches exempted) to pay for health insurance that includes drugs like Plan B, known as the morning-after pill, and ella, both of which can cause abortions. His action ignited a firestorm among religious organizations which rightly see it as an attack on religious liberty because it requires them – against the penalty of heavy fines – to go against their conscience by providing insurance coverage so women employees have access to free abortion pills. Obama then revised the mandate, having religious employers refer women to their insurance company for coverage, giving the appearance that religious organizations would no longer have to pay for the abortion pill coverage. But it did not take long for religious leaders to see through Obama’s gimmick.
Nothing is free and the insurance companies will raise their premiums to cover the cost of providing the abortion pills. So the religious employers will still be paying for them – indirectly – in violation of their deepest held convictions. In addition, the revised mandate does not address self-insuring organizations, like Guidestone (see page 9). Obama’s sophistry was simply a political decision, that by appearing to “compromise” he can win back some lost support, particularly among Catholic women. Even liberals and Democrats criticized the president for the mandate. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchen of West Virginia called it “unconstitutional.”
Southern Baptist and Roman Catholic leaders rejected Obama’s revised mandate in the strongest of terms. Some already declared they will go to jail rather than violate their conscience by submitting to Obama’s unjust law. We are not to that point, but with no one backing down and the new mandate to go into effect next year, for the first time in a long time Christians may have to consider civil disobedience.
Obama’s mandate mess came just days after his Justice Department was handed a defeat by the U.S. Supreme Court. On a 9-0 ruling the High Court said the federal government cannot tell churches (in this case a Lutheran) who they can hire. The case served as another example of the growing perception of a president who does not like religion – and especially Christianity – unless it is under government control.
A pattern of behavior by the president is developing. He resorted to rhetorical gymnastics in his announcement of the mandate revision, using terms like “cynical” to describe millions of people of faith who expressed their concern over the contraceptive mandate. One of the first actions Obama took as president was to revoke the Mexico City Declaration, which forces Americans – against their conscious – to pay for abortions overseas. He continues to be one of the biggest supporters of taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood, America’s largest provider of abortions.
There are many other problems with Obama’s power grab and they are provided in great detail on other pages of this issue. I urge you to read them carefully. Pray and think about the implications. Southern Baptists – and all Americans of faith – can no longer afford to say, “We don’t mix religion and politics.” The stakes are too high.
DON HINKLE / editor