Christianity,  Politics

It’s not just a Catholic thing

Even though the media are trying to sell the new healthcare law as a Catholic issue, it is not. The new law requires all employers to pay for birth control methods that include surgical sterilization and abortion inducing drugs. The only groups who get an exemption are churches. Every other employer must provide this coverage. So this is more than a Catholic issue, it is a Protestant issue, a Jewish issue, an Orthodox issue, and an issue for every other religious group you can think of.

But there is one facet of this dispute that has been largely overlooked. This is not just a religious liberty issue for groups, but also for individuals. How many Christian business owners are there in the United States who have a conscientious objection to using their company’s revenues to fund abortions? I would imagine there are many. But a broader exemption for religious hospitals and universities wouldn’t help Christian business owners at all. They would still be forced to violate their consciences or face steep fines that could destroy their businesses. Why should a Christian who owns a car dealership, for instance, be forced to purchase something that is abhorrent to his most deeply held religious beliefs?

The rumors are that the President will soon back down from his draconian policy and offer some kind of compromise with broader exemptions. Everyone needs to realize, however, that the exemptions won’t be extensive enough until they cover every American with a conscientious objection to paying for contraceptives, surgical sterilization, and abortions. I have not seen or heard any party to this dispute contemplating an exemption of that scope. Why not?

If the President’s proposed compromise falls short of an exemption for all religious groups and individuals, then this dispute will be far from over.

President Obama said in his campaign that he wanted to unite America. In the last week, he has done just that. Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, liberals, conservatives, and almost every other ideological subgroup have united in their opposition to President Obama’s new healthcare regulation. In some ways, the country is looking more united than ever.


    • Ken

      Where did Denny say that they were? He wrote that there is a growing coalition of persons in distinct groups uniting in opposition to the president’s new healthcare regulation and that Catholics were included in that coalition. This is not the same thing as stating that Catholics have united against the president himself.

  • Alex

    Am I wrong in saying that insurance isn’t a right? An employer has every right not to provide insurance. Maybe I’m just not understanding this situation completely. Isn’t this more about the patient and less about the provider?

  • NonCatholicBizOwner

    Denny’s point is well taken — by requiring American citizens to participate in abortions (through forcing funding for abortion), it pits the law against every citizen who for reasons of conscience is repulsed by this. I am a small business owner (non-Catholic) who joins with the Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Evangelical and other life honoring citizens in unity on this point.

  • Lori

    Denny, I can appreciate our standing with Catholics on this issue, but I think we have to be really careful how we do that. (Not that this is ONLY a Catholic issue!) I am sure you know the old controversy on the Manhattan Declaration and before that Evangelicals and Catholics together.

    I thought that Challies had really wise counsel for us as we navigate this issue. We cannot allow religious liberty to be trampled on, however, we do not believe the same gospel – you know what I mean? Anyway, the link to Challies is – if you haven’t already seen it.

    I find it interesting that women’s access to birth control and abortions seems to be thought of as an inalienable right, ahead of religious freedom which is guaranteed by the first amendment. Our world is upside down.

    • Denny Burk

      Dear Lori,

      Yes, I read Challies’ piece earlier today. And I share his concerns. I think, however, it reflects the fact that when the Manhattan Declaration (MD) came out in 2009, reformed evangelicals were divided over what the MD did and did not say. Even members of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals were divided on the issue (read the statement from Lig Duncan here).

      On the one hand, there were many who read the declaration to be a statement of theological solidarity with Roman Catholics. On the other hand, there were many others who saw it merely as a statement of co-belligerency. I fell in the latter camp and signed the statement. I have profound disagreements about the gospel with some of the other signers, and I don’t think MD implies that signers agree with each other about the gospel.

      Albert Mohler wrote an explanation for his support of MD that you might find interesting.

      That’s my take on MD. Thanks!


  • Lori

    Denny, Thank you for responding. I have read all of the various “apologies” that you mentioned. I have great respect for both of those men – I just disagree with their conclusion about this matter. (I agree with R. C. Sproul and John MacArthur’s take on it.) Thank you for pointing them out though. I actually looked into this quite extensively when the MD first came out.

    As I said, I don’t have a problem standing together for moral issues. I worry about muddying the truth of the gospel as the document is written. I do understand the argument on the other side and believe that all decisions to sign or not to sign were made with careful consideration of the implications.

    I really do appreciate your blog. I am a believer that cares deeply about doctrine, but I am also quite interested in current events and sometimes have a hard time knowing how to process it all from a biblical perspective. You have great links.

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