Archive for the tag “Becket Fund”

It’s your freedom at stake here

Mark Kelly writes at kainos:

If you have not been paying attention to the lawsuits being filed by Christian-owned-and-operated universities, hospitals, and businesses against the HHS abortion mandate, you need to start now. Your right to publicly practice your faith — whatever faith you practice — is on the line. Eventually your right to free religious speech will be denied as well.

I’ll be writing more about this in the days to come. For now, I’ll start with what Denny Burk wrote on his blog yesterday:

Here’s the bad news from The Beckett Fund website:

Today, a federal court denied a request to halt enforcement of the abortion pill mandate which forces the Christian-owned-and-operated Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., to provide the “morning after pill” and “week after pill” in their health insurance plan, or face crippling fines up to $1.3 million dollars per day…

Hobby Lobby is the largest and first non-Catholic-owned business to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate. The Green family has no moral objection to the use of preventive contraceptives and will continue covering preventive contraceptives for its employees. However, the Green family’s religious convictions prohibit them from providing or paying for the abortion-inducing drugs, the “morning after” and “week after” pills, which would violate their most deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception.

You read that right. The United States Government is forcing these Christian business owners to pay for abortion-inducing drugs in their employees’ insurance plans. It doesn’t matter that the law violates their religious liberty to conduct business in a way that is consistent with their conscience. Obamacare mandates that these Christians comply or face fines that would put them out of business.

When the controversy over the abortion mandate erupted earlier this year, the American public by and large got the impression that this was about conservatives who wanted to ban contraception. Nothing could be further from the truth. No one wants to outlaw contraception. This controversy is about the fact that the government is forcing pro-life business owners to pay for chemical abortions. It is perhaps the most egregious violation of religious liberty in the history of the United States, yet I’m wondering if anyone is paying attention. Wisdom is crying in the streets. Can anyone hear her?

This cannot stand. This must not stand. This fight is not over. Not by a longshot.

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You can take a stand for your faith freedom by learning more from the ERLC or the Manhattan Declaration websitesigning a petition, donating to a religious liberty organization like The Becket Fund, and contacting the White HouseHealth and Human Services, and your Congressman.

‘Do you think God wants us to obey HHS rather than him?’

Mark Kelly writes at kainos:

The authorities had Peter and John because they were teaching, on the authority of Jesus, that there is a resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees didn’t like it, because they had rejected the truth taught by both Jesus and their own Scripture. They threw the two in jail overnight and the next morning commanded them to never again speak or teach about Jesus.

But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him?” So the Council then threatened them again and let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. (Acts 4:1-21) The next time the authorities arrested Peter and John, they had them flogged.

Today, Christians are being threatened by authorities (not with flogging, thankfully) for following the teachings of the Scripture, rather than submitting to the opinions of the government. The federal government’s Health and Human Services bureaucracy has ordered all businesses, hospitals, universities, and other organizations to pay for employee insurance that covers drugs which prevent pregnancy by causing a chemical abortion. So far, more than 110 plaintiffs have gone to court, seeking relief from the order because abortion violates their religious convictions. Government lawyers say religious people have no freedom of religion rights once they step into the “secular” public square.

The very first words in the Bill of Rights are “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If those words have any meaning at all, the HHS contraception mandate, and the related parts of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are unconstitutional.

One danger of liberalism is that it tells a person to believe their own opinions over the truth of Scripture. Selfish people want to believe an unborn child is merely a lump of tissue because the truth is inconvenient for sexual promiscuity. We have a President and Congress that believe their own opinions about abortion, in spite of the scientific evidence that shows those opinions to be false, in spite of the clear teaching of Scripture about the sanctity of human life.

We know the country’s courts do not respect the truth of Scripture. In the weeks ahead, we will learn whether they value liberal opinion about abortion over the plain language of the US Constitution, the supposed authority for governing this country.

If opinion is the greater source of authority, the great majority of Americans — as much as 75% in some polls — believe abortion should not be allowed except in cases of rape or incest. Most Americans believe abortion is morally wrong and oppose abortion on demand. Most Americans support 24-hour waiting periods, parental consent for minors, and notification of husbands. Most Americans are repulsed by late-term abortions and reject using public funds to pay for any abortion.

Majority public opinion doesn’t matter to liberal elected officials, because liberalism tells them to trust their own enlightened opinions over the ignorance of the uneducated masses. In the weeks ahead, we will learn whether rank and file Americans truly hold the convictions about abortion that they say they hold. We also will learn whether American Christians have the courage to take a public stand for the religious freedom rights guaranteed by the Constitution and actively oppose the unjust HHS contraception mandate.

When the authorities tell Christians and other conscientious people of faith to shut up about their convictions and do what they are told, we will find out who is willing to resist. We will learn who takes Scripture seriously as God’s word — and who takes Jesus seriously when he says that if we deny him before men, he will deny us before the Father.

The authorities backed down from Peter and John because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. People were passionate about what they had seen God do and would not sit quietly by while the authorities punished people who were simply obeying the truth. What are you passionate about?

You can get involved by learning more from the ERLC or the Manhattan Declaration websitesigning a petition, donating to a religious liberty organization like The Becket Fund, and contacting the White HouseHealth and Human Services, and your Congressman.

U.N. report: The most troubling violation of human rights

Recent rhetoric at the United Nations condemns criticism of Islam, but a new report from a UN task force on religious freedom — released, ironically, when Christians worldwide were observing the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church — says the far greater human rights concern is prejudice against certain religions and restrictions on the right to believe and worship as a person wishes.

Melissa Steffan reports for Christianity Today:

Nov. 9, 2012 — Restrictions on religious conversion have “become a human rights problem of great concern,” according to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly last week, Heiner Bielefeldt said those violations need to stop. He urged states to “consistently respect, protect and promote the human right to freedom of religion or belief in the area of conversion.”

Bielefeldt relayed the findings of his comprehensive report, which was distributed in August. The report analyzes “patterns of abuses that are perpetrated in the name of religious or ideological truth claims.”

In his address, Bielefeldt said some religious freedom abuses were perpetrated by state agencies, but many more were the result of widespread societal prejudices against certain religions. In addition, he said the violations against women were of particular concern.

… This is a particular problem in countries like India, where Hindu nationalists initiated attacks on Christians, 20 of whom were arrested for celebrating baptisms, in Orissa in October. A similar attempt to force Christians to convert back to Hinduism occurred in September.

CT has previously noted the case of Ethiopian Christians who were detained and pressured to convert to Islam in Saudi Arabia. In 2011, CT noted the arrests of 12 people in India for converting to Christianity without notifying government officials first.

You can read the UN press release about the report by clicking here. The full text of the report can be found by clicking here.

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It is true that some people who claim to be Christians behave hatefully toward those who do not share their religion, but anyone who reads the teachings of Jesus knows that is not authentic Christianity and that the vast majority of Christian teachers tell followers Jesus requires them to love their enemies and bless those who persecute them.

By the same token, extreme strains of Hinduism and even Buddhism restrict anyone who teaches other beliefs and punish anyone who leaves those religions to follow another path. In the world of Islam, however, ordinary Muslims discriminate against and persecute followers of other faiths and Islamic teachers in unnumbered villages tell their adherents that anyone who leaves Islam for another way deserves to die. By far, the greatest discrimination and persecution is experienced by people who choose to follow Jesus.

You don’t have to look far to find evidence that followers of Jesus, by the hundreds of thousands, suffer every day at the hands of dark-hearted individuals. Christian girls are abducted, raped, and “permitted” to “convert” to the religion of their rapist. Young men who “disgrace” their families by deciding to follow Jesus are beheaded in front of the entire village. In many places, Christians are not allowed to own land or hold jobs, except as slave labor to wealthy men of the dominant religion. So-called “blasphemy” laws, instead of protecting a vulnerable religious tradition, most often are used as a club to steal the property of Christians or settle grudges against them.

None of this is surprising. Ignorance and false teaching are widespread, and prejudice is actively promoted in many houses of “worship.” Jesus told his followers they would be hated by everyone. But even the thin gruel of a statement like the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes every person has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to change his religion or belief and to practice it.

Religious discrimination and atrocities of persecution must be vigorously opposed, and followers of Jesus have an obligation to protect and assist brothers and sisters in distress. You can make a difference through organizations like International Justice Mission, International Christian Concern, and Christian Solidarity International.

The US government is actively undermining religious liberty in the United States. You can learn more about that from our friends at The Becket Fund and The Manhattan Declaration.

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