The HHS Mandate and the Cultural Divide

The religious freedom rallies all around the country this past week have reminded us all, once again, how our country is divided between “cultural conservatives” and “cultural liberals.”  For excellent reviews of those rallies and their news coverage, see Mollie Ziegler-Hemingway here: Here’s your religious freedom rally round-up   and here: What a religious freedom rally looks like

Since terms can get in the way of fruitful discussion, I had best define them up-front.  “Cultural conservatives” are people who have distinct views on the issues of abortiongun politicsseparation of church and stateprivacy,recreational drug use, homosexuality, and censorship.  They base their views of these particular issues upon general loyalties to their faith community (i.e., congregation, church, temple, mosque, or synagogue), the traditional family, cultural traditions, and over two thousand years of morals, norms, and values common to the societies of Western civilization.

“Cultural liberals” have opposite views on all or most of these particular issues, basing their views upon a general loyalty to their supreme moral principle, which is that individuals should be free from cultural norms and expectations of faith communities.  “Social liberals” believe that liberalism should include social justice, and it differs from classical liberalism in believing that the proper role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues, such as unemployment, health care, education, and the expansion of civil rights.  “Social liberals” are usually opposed by “fiscal conservatives,” who oppose the expansion of government because of the tax consequences.  The term “social conservative” is usually used as a synonym for “cultural conservative” (on these definitions, see Wikipedia at:Culture Wars ; Cultural LiberalismCultural Conservatism ; Social Liberalism ;Social Conservatism).

I have addressed some of the issues pertaining to the US Department of Health and Human Services (hereafter HHS) mandate in previous posts (see The Least of These My Brothers ; The HHS Regulations on Contraceptives and Abortifacients: We’ve Been Here Before! ;The Conflict over the HHS Regulations — It Is Theological).

How is the HHS mandate an expression of the cultural divide?  “Cultural conservatives” oppose the HHS mandate, because it promotes and pays for abortion and because it violates the separation between church and state, most specifically the First Amendment’s clause regarding the “free exercise of religion.” “Cultural liberals” support the HHS mandate, because they believe that the employees of faith communities should be liberated from cultural norms and the expectations of faith communities.  “Social liberals” support the HHS mandate, because they believe that contraception and abortion are part of “health care” and because they want to expand the rights of women in these areas.  “Fiscal conservatives” oppose the HHS mandate because they oppose all of the “Affordable Care Act” due to its tax burden.

The position of the “cultural liberal” is the most exposed to criticism and certainly deserves it.  What business does the “cultural liberal” have in trying to “liberate” employees of faith communities?  Employees of faith communities serve in the private sector and serve voluntarily, not under duress.  If those employees don’t like a particular policy of the employing faith community, there are plenty of other faith communities that will welcome their talents and energy.  Starting with the example of Roger Williams in 1635, this is the perennial pattern of religion in America.  If you don’t like the doctrine or policy of a church, leave it and start your own church next door! (Matthew 10:14; Acts 18:5-8).

“Cultural liberals” in the HHS administration have tried to fool the public by making a distinction between certain types of “ministers of religion” who are exempt from the HHS mandate and other employees of faith communities who are not exempt, such as university professors, university staff, hospital staff, and employees of charitable organizations.   But the people have not been fooled by Washington bureaucrats!  Members of faith communities know that agencies that they support, such as universities, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and social service centers, are part of their faith community, or they wouldn’t support them.  Again, the point is, if you are an employee of a faith community and you disagree with its policy, you are always free to leave and use your talents elsewhere.  To demand that a faith community comply with all of the conflicting opinions of its employees is sheer insanity!  To require by law that a faith community comply with the dissenting values of some of its employees is to impose the supreme moral principle of the “cultural liberal” upon that faith community.

I believe that the HHS mandate, which has the public and vocal support of “cultural liberals” (e.g., see ReligiousInstitute.org: Major Mainstream Religious Leaders Support White House on Contraceptive Coverage In Health Care Reform), demonstrates that “cultural liberals” not only oppose the “faith” aspect of faith communities, they also are antagonistic to the “community” aspect of faith communities.  If shared values are replaced by individual values, then there is no “community” in the traditional sense. “Community” depends on shared values, not just shared goods.  There is even evidence that “cultural liberals” take perverse pleasure in breaking-up, or chiseling-away-at, the membership of American faith communities (e.g., see GetReligion.org: Pod people: Time for liberal Catholics to quit?).

Unlike the “cultural liberal,” the position of the “social liberal” is not antithetical to Lutheran theology, at least in principle.  Lutherans are not opposed to government policies that address and improve the welfare of the people.  In the American Edition of Luther’s Works, volumes 44-47, there are thirty treatises of Luther in which he addressed various social issues that were the responsibility of government.  These issues included marriage, monasticism, rebellion, protest movements, support of the poor, regulation of the economy, support of the churches, education, class conflict, the military and war, and ethnic strife.  Lutheran theologians and pastors know this, although they rarely preach about it.  Social welfare is part of the Lutheran tradition, starting with Luther, so we cannot glibly ignore it.

My response to the “social liberal” who supports the HHS mandate is in three parts.  First, with respect to abortion and abortifacients, from a Jewish, Christian, or Islamic perspective these behaviors are clearly sinful and contrary to the commandment “You shall not kill.”  These Mosaic faith traditions view the accidental killing of a child-in-utero as a crime, but not as a capital offense (Exodus 21:13 & 22).  Any Christian who supports abortion-on-demand in principle reveals their true loyalties and that is not to the Word of God!  Some Christian women in American society may obtain an abortion out of fear or social pressure; and they can be forgiven by God, if repentant, because they sin out of weakness.  On the other hand, a Christian who provides abortifacients to a woman with an unwanted pregnancy is comparable to the person who gave a loaded gun to a man who was angry with his neighbor.  The instrument provided is an accessory to a crime.  The only difference between the two is that abortion-on-demand is a crime only in God’s heavenly court, not in American courts.

Second, with respect to sterilization and contraception, from a Lutheran standpoint these behaviors are not sinful in and of themselves.  But I am not convinced that handing out free contraceptives to single people is for their own good.  Shouldn’t the government be encouraging the people to make rational choices, instead of impulsive and irrational choices?  I also recognize that the law cannot prevent people from doing things that are only harmful to themselves.  Providing goods or services that reduce the damage from harmful choices is in some cases prudential.  In other cases, it is not prudential.  For example, did filters on cigarettes lead people to a false security with respect to the dangerous effects of tar, nicotine, and other poisonous substances in tobacco?

Has the HHS administration really done its homework, i.e., explicated all possible results that might result from making contraception, sterilization, and abortion widely and freely available to everyone, both married and single, and has the HHS administration produced long-term synchronic peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate the outcomes of such policies?  Or are we just experimenting with our children’s future for no good reason?

Third, and finally, American Lutherans have a long tradition of not wanting to impose their particular religious values, norms, and morals on their non-Lutheran neighbors.  This comes from our history of being in a minority political position and being immigrant late-comers.  It also comes from the German Lutheran experience of religious pluralism, being ruled by Catholic emperors in the 16th to 18th centuries and Calvinist kings in the 19th century.  It also comes from Luther’s view that the church is not a law-making authority, but a Gospel-proclaiming authority (on this point, see John Witte, Jr., Law and Protestantism:  The Legal Teachings of the Lutheran Reformation [Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2002]).

American Lutherans seek to reason together with their non-Lutheran neighbors, not on the basis of religious laws, but on the basis of our common laws, natural law, and common sense.  This is how communities, both local and national, are established, built up, and protected against harm.  To paraphrase a former First Lady, it takes a community to raise a child–and to do many other important things to aid and protect those in need around us.  Faith communities do this work well and should not be hamstrung by the overweening and intrusive individualism of “cultural liberals.”


Comments

The HHS Mandate and the Cultural Divide — 22 Comments

  1. “with respect to sterilization and contraception, from a Lutheran standpoint these behaviors are not sinful in and of themselves.” That truism is false! I think Dr. Martin Luther, and virtually all Lutherans, up to about the late 1960s would disagree with that statement. Luther speaks things against contraception in his works. Dr. Paul Maier, of the Lutheran Hour, wrote strongly against it in his book on Marriage from the 30s/40s. I believe it was Dr. Rehwinkle that wrote the first publication in support of contraceptives in the LCMS, and at that limited use for married couples and medical reasons. We somehow just culturally adapted to the default Evangelical position somewhere in the second half of the 20th century. By the way, sterilization reeks of the eugenics of the early 20th century. There is a small but growing (ha!) movement against contraception in the LCMS, one example: http://lutheransandcontraception.blogspot.com/

    Also, there are fundamentalists and Evangelicals also revisiting their positions on birth control like the ‘quiverfulll movement’.

  2. “Second, with respect to sterilization and contraception, from a Lutheran standpoint these behaviors are not sinful in and of themselves.”

    That’s a startling claim. Upon what is it based?

    Robert C. Baker

  3. Interesting, as always, Pastor Noland. You have presented a series of arguments on some conditions of current social and cultural matters. There are, of course, other arguments on these same matters in which opposite conclusions are made. Some, for example, feel that the Affordable Care Act would provide health care benefits for the greater good. Some, also, feel that the issue is not as you have stated, but rather that the arguments come instead from a specifically Roman Catholic desire to impose its doctrine as a matter of social policy. Some would not accept your account of these divisions.

    What do you advise the careful reader? Are your arguments, and those of the others who would conclude other than you do, honest disagreements of opinion? Or, are the arguments which you make, to be considered as determinative for the faithful in faith and living [I think that the German phrase is “Im glauben und leben”]?

    Norman Teigen, Layman
    Evangelical Lutheran Synod

  4. Interesting. You seem to conceive of a “faith community” as a law-free zone that someone (a “church,” a “person,” a “community”?) can establish, seemingly by declaration, and then, by assertion of religious views and invocation of the First Amendment, preclude the government from requiring anyone within that zone from abiding by laws contrary to those views.

    I think you are mistaken in at least two respects. First, the law approaches this subject from a different angle than you do. Confronted by questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith, the courts have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, torts, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. (E.g., http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/494/872/case.html http://www.aafcp.org/cplm/files/12.pdf.)

    When the legislature anticipates that application of such laws may put some individuals in moral binds, the legislature may, as a matter of grace (not constitutional compulsion), add provisions to laws affording some relief to conscientious objectors.

    The real question here then is not so much whether the First Amendment precludes the government from enacting and enforcing the generally applicable laws regarding availability of health insurance (it does not), but rather whether there is any need to exempt some employers in order to avoid forcing them to act contrary to their consciences.

    Second, while some employers may well oppose the law’s policy of promoting the availability of medical services they find objectionable, the law does not put those employers in the moral bind you suppose. Many initially worked themselves into a lather with the false idea that the law forced employers to provide their employees with health care plans offering services the employers considered immoral. The fact is that employers have the option of not providing any such plans and instead simply paying assessments to the government. Unless one supposes that the employers’ religion forbids payments of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion), then the law’s requirement to pay assessments does not compel those employers to act contrary to their beliefs. Problem solved.

    Some nonetheless continued complaining that by paying assessments to the government they would indirectly be paying for the very things they opposed, seemingly missing that that is not a moral dilemma justifying an exemption to avoid being forced to act contrary to one’s beliefs, but rather is a gripe common to many taxpayers–who don’t much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action the government may take with the benefit of “their” tax dollars. Should each of us be exempted from paying our taxes so we aren’t thereby “forced” to pay for making war, providing health care, teaching evolution, or whatever else each of us may consider wrong or even immoral? If each of us could opt out of this or that law or tax with the excuse that our religion requires or allows it, the government and the rule of law could hardly operate.

    In any event, those complaining made enough of a stink that the government relented and announced that religious employers would be free to provide health plans with provisions to their liking (yay!) and not be required to pay the assessments otherwise required (yay!). Problem solved–again, even more.

    Nonetheless, some continue to complain, fretting that somehow the services they dislike will get paid for and somehow they will be complicit in that. They argue that if insurers (or, by the same logic, anyone, e.g., employees) pay for such services, those costs will somehow, someday be passed on to the employers in the form of demands for higher insurance premiums or higher wages. They evidently believe that when they spend a dollar and it thus becomes the property of others, they nonetheless should have some say in how others later spend that dollar. One can only wonder how it would work if all of us could tag “our” dollars this way and control their subsequent use.

  5. What? No mention of Anne Hutchinson? In honor of Women’s History month, she also was known for breaking away from a faith community she did not agree with, and founded Rhode Island.

  6. @Doug Indeap #4
    Confronted by questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith, the courts have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment),

    And you think that this HHS requirement isn’t aimed at Roman Catholics, the orthodox Lutherans (i.e., those in opposition to abortion) and some other denominations (not many) who are similarly opponents of Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby?
    This bit of legislation couldn’t be more “pro-Planned Parenthood” if it were written by their own lawyers… and it probably was. PP has just brought Komen to heel, and now it will take on the religious opposition.

    The truly “in your face” aspect is that abortifacients should be “free”. Nothing is “free”; somebody pays for it. But why should these recreational drugs be “free” (of co-pays) when drugs for diseases, (drugs necessary to life), often come at a very fancy price!?

  7. helen #6: “And you think that this HHS requirement isn’t aimed at Roman Catholics, the orthodox Lutherans (i.e., those in opposition to abortion) and some other denominations (not many) who are similarly opponents of Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby?”

    Is the HHS requirement to cover blood transfusions aimed at Jehovah Witnesses? Is the HHS requirement to cover snake bite/poison treatment aimed at the Pentecostal sects? Should JW/Pentecostal businesses be allowed to opt of blood transfusion and snake bite/poison coverage? Or, does “religious freedom” only apply to powerful, politically well-connected, denominations?

    The HHS requirement for contraception and abortion coverage isn’t anti-orthodox Lutheran or anti-Papist (most RC favor the requirement) or anti-other denominations in opposition to abortion. That is not say the HHS requirement does not reflect the religious values of its proponents (i.e., pro-contraceptive and pro-abortion). The true church’s only weapon against false religious values is the gospel (AC VII and XXVIII).

    If orthodox Lutherans, Papists, anti-abortion denominations, JW, and Pentecostals don’t like the mandate, they are free to preach against it (1st Amendment) and/or opt out and pay the fine. They do not have a right to invent a 1st Amendment right where none exists.

    If the LCMS wants to defend the First Amendment, it should start with the Tennessee mother who is being persecuted for baptizing her baby rather than involiving itself politically in the purely governmental function of regulating insurance.

  8. Religious freedom applies to truth. Vote out of office those who imposed this ‘opt out and pay a fine’ tyranny on the nation while electing those who will repeal ” Affordable Care Act”.

  9. Abortion and contraception aren’t healthcare. Neither is a benefit to mother or child’s health. Both disrupt the normal healthy bodily functions. They should never be covered, nor should elective cosmetic surgeries for fewer wrinkles or larger breasts or tattoo removal or piercing an infants ears. These are services provided by medical practitioners, but they aren’t health care per se.

  10. “If orthodox Lutherans, Papists, anti-abortion denominations, JW, and Pentecostals don’t like the mandate, they are free to preach against it (1st Amendment) and/or opt out and pay the fine. They do not have a right to invent a 1st Amendment right where none exists.”

    Actually the first Amendment isn’t just free speech. It is also the free exercise of religion. Free exercise is much more than free speech. Free exercise includes not being compelled to violate one’s conscience.

  11. @Mrs. Hume #9
    “They should never be covered, nor should elective cosmetic surgeries for fewer wrinkles or larger breasts or tattoo removal or piercing an infants ears. These are services provided by medical practitioners, but they aren’t health care per se.”

    Yes, these are not about health care — and neither is Viagra. I had no idea that “medication” was being provided at taxpayer expense to those on the public dole, until the pro-abortion, anti-religion lobby started painting their opponents as anti-women, because (they falsely claimed) we supported Viagra for men but not birth control for women. I for one don’t support providing either one of them with my taxes and was livid when I discovered some bureaucrat had been taking our money to pay for Viagra.
    http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jul/03/news/mn-504
    .

  12. Mrs. Hume #10: “Actually the first Amendment isn’t just free speech. It is also the free exercise of religion. Free exercise is much more than free speech. Free exercise includes not being compelled to violate one’s conscience.”

    As Doug Indeap #4 points out, The “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment does not include the right not to pay taxes for things violate one’s conscience. Paying taxes for not buying insurance may be contrary to certain Papist and Anabaptist religions that mingle the two kingdoms but it is not contrary to the teachings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Augsburg Confession, XVI).

    According to the teachings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the payment of taxes falls under Caesar’s realm: “The power of the Church has its own commission to teach the Gospel and to administer the Sacraments. Let it not break into the office of another; let it not transfer the kingdoms of this world; let it not abrogate the laws of civil rulers; let it not abolish lawful obedience; let it not interfere with judgments concerning civil ordinances or contracts; let it not prescribe laws to civil rulers concerning the form of the Commonwealth. AC XXVIII.

  13. @Daniel Gorman #12

    But there is a godly limit to obeying civil authorities:

    AC XVI: Of Civil Affairs.
    4] …Meanwhile, it [the Gospel] does not destroy the State or the family, but very much requires that they be preserved as ordinances of God, and that charity be practiced in such ordinances. Therefore, Christians are necessarily bound to obey their own magistrates and laws save only when commanded to sin; for then they ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29.

  14. The “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment does not include the right not to pay taxes for things violate one’s conscience”

    Paying tax is not buying insurance.

    Anyway, as Pr. Crandall points out, underwriting abortion is sin.

  15. @Rebecca #1
    @Robert #2

    Dear Rebecca and Robert,

    I will reply to your concerns first. You are correct to observe that individual theologians, including Dr. Walter A. Maier Sr., took a position against all use of contraceptives or sterilization. I have never seen the passage in Luther where he states that position, but he might have. He wrote an awful lot, and I am only familiar with his writings in English.

    The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in national convention, which is the highest governing authority in our church, has never taken a position against all use of contraceptives and sterilization, at least to my knowledge. The source for determining this is “The Doctrinal Resolutions of the National Conventions of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod 1847-2004.” It is available for a reasonable price of $15, on CD-ROM, here:
    http://www.lutheranhistory.org/doctresorder.htm

    The one official statement that has been adopted in this matter is the CTCR report, issued in September 1981, titled “Human Sexuality: A Theological Perspective.” Page 19 of that report states “In the absence of Scriptural prohibition, there need be no objection to contraception within a marital union which is, as a whole, fruitful. Moreover, once we grant the appropriateness of contraception, we will also recognize that sterilization may under som circumstances be an acceptable form of contraception.” Thus this report indicates that some uses of contraception and sterilization are acceptable. You should read the entire report to understand the context, but this is where I derived my statements in the above post.

    What sort of authority does this report have? August Suelflow, Heritage in Motion (St Louis: CPH, 1998), p. 302, quotes the 1983 Proceedings of the LCMS National Convention, Resolution 3-14, pp. 158-159. Res. 3-14 was adopted at that convention and stated that the 1981 report “be commended to the Synod for study and guidance.” The term “commended” is synonomous with “approval.” By category, Resolution 3-14 also falls within the sphere of what synod calls a “doctrinal resolution.”

    According to the Handbook of Synod (2010 ed), bylaw 1.6.2 (a), doctrinal resolutions are to be “honored and upheld until such time as the Synod amends or repeals them.” “Honored” means you don’t disparage the resolution or its position, or the people who authored it. “Upheld” means that you affirm and support it, especially in the face of a challenge.

    There is one very important condition that must be met, however, by such doctrinal resolutions. They must be “in harmony with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions” (bylaw 1.6.2, first parag.). If you, or anyone else, finds that such doctrinal resolutions are not “in harmony with Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions,” then they should be challenged with the procedures set forth in the Handbook of the synod. That means that you, or a dissenter, must show proof in a passage of Scripture or Confessions where the doctrinal resolution is in error.

    For more about the authority of LCMS doctrinal statement and resolutions, check the above-mentioned “Doctrinal Resolutions” CD for these resolutions: 1969, Res. 2-27; 1971, Res. 2-21; 1971, Res. 5-24; 1973, Res. 2-12. These resolutions make clear that doctrinal resolutions do not add doctrines to the Scripture and Confessions, nor delete doctrines from the same, but apply those doctrines to issues today. And that all such doctrinal resolutions must always be tested against Scripture and Confessions.

    You should be aware, I hope, that only a few CTCR reports have been adopted by the national convention. The CTCR report is the only practical way that a complex theological or moral issue can be addressed by the convention, outside of a long formal statement that is vetted by many agencies, such as the 1973 “Statement of Scriptural and Confesional Principles.” So we should not confuse all CTCR reports or studies. Only a few have been adopted by the synod, and “Human Sexuality” is one of them.

    I hope this helps answer your questions and addresses your comments.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  16. @Norman Teigen #3

    Dear Mr. Teigen,

    Thanks for giving me an opportunity to clarify some matters that you bring up.

    What I have tried to show is that our church’s disagreement with the HHS mandate does not mean that we necessarily disagree with “social liberals,” or that on the other hand, we agree with “fiscal conservatives.” I would not necessarily disagree with folks who characterize the political divisions in our country in other ways. I adopted this for discussion because it is a common view and available in detail for BJS readers, for free, at Wikipedia.

    What I want to assert clearly, however, is that this is strictly a disagreement, on the part of our church (i.e., the LCMS), with those “cultural liberals” who are trying to “dis-mantle” our educational and charitable agencies. They “dis-mantle” such agencies by taking away the “religious auspices” of those schools and charities, and then subject those agencies to their regulations. The HHS regulations “dis-mantle” by exempting from their mandate only organizations: 1) whose purpose is the inculcation of religious values; 2) primarily employs people who share its religious tenets; 3) primarily serves people who share its religious tenets; AND 4) is a non-profit organization described in section 6033, etc. etc. All four qualifications must be met for exemption from HHS mandated provisions.

    Since our LCMS charitable organizations serve anyone in our society, and Lutherans do not command a high percentage of the population, all of our charitable organizations will fail this test. Many of our schools will also fail this test. I don’t have current statistics, but I believe that at this time, only CU Seward has more than 50% Lutheran student body. I don’t know the stats for staff members of universities or charities, but that could also be lower than 50% Lutheran in many cases. Even our parochial schools are at risk, since many of them (again I don’t have stats), have less than a 50% Lutheran student body.

    The Affordable Care Act itself (i.e., apart from the HHS mandate) is not part of our concern. We will let politicians and the public debate that and weigh it, on the bases of their varying interests.

    Our concern is only with the HHS mandate providing abortifacients and abortion counseling as that applies to churches and church-related agencies. We are also concerned about the parallel problems faced by the Roman Catholic church, with its opposition to sterilization and contraception. Not that we support their position on those issues, but we have been forced into the same position of opposing the HHS mandate for similar reasons.

    With regard to the specific issues I mentioned: abortion, gun politics, separation of church and state, privacy, recreational drug use, homosexuality, and censorship — to my knowledge, the LCMS has only made official statements with regard to abortion and homosexuality. I “honor and uphold” those positions of the LCMS. On the other issues, there may be a greater range of opinion.

    I disagree that the problem is the Roman Catholic desire to make everyone comply with their social policy. The matter of contraception certainly is their unique policy and their problem. But the matter of abortion is universally Christian.

    Michael Gorman, in Abortion & the Early Church (Downers Grove: IVP, 1982), has demonstrated to my satisfaction (I am a professional church historian) that Christians were universally opposed to abortion in the period of the early church. He writes in summary “Early Christian opposition to abortion, then, did not arise because abortion was seen as a means of interrupting the natural course of sexual relations but because it was viewed as murder” (p. 81). Until the feminist movement of the 1970s, all Christians were opposed to abortion on demand.

    I think there can be a lot of honest disagreements on many of these subjects, but Christians who have any sort of loyalty to the Scripture or Christian tradition have to condemn abortion. The LCMS has passed resolutions at almost every convention since 1973 doing just that.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  17. Mrs. Hume: “Paying tax is not buying insurance.”

    Buying insurance is paying taxes when the government compels you to buy the insurance and/or pay the tax. For example, Medicare subsidies the purchase of the Plan B abortion drug. Everyone who is subject to Medicare tax withholding is underwriting abortion.

    Mrs. Hume: “Anyway, as Pr. Crandall points out, underwriting abortion is sin.”

    Should wage earners subject to Medicare quit their jobs in order to avoid the sin of underwriting abortion? Or, should they listen to voice of their true Shepherd, “Render unto Caesar the things that be Caesar’s.”

  18. @Doug Indeap #4
    @Daniel Gorman #7

    Dear Mr. Indeap and Mr. Gorman,

    I don’t recognize your names or pseudonyms, so I apologize in advance if I make some false assumptions. It does seem, though, like you are hostile to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. You quote us, but use our terms in ways we don’t.

    Though we disagree, I hope that you don’t perceive disagreement as hostility. If you are not Christian, we hope you would come to learn about your salvation through Jesus Christ. Our synod’s website (www.lcms.org) has lots of good materials to explain just that, as well as a Congregational Directory to vist a Lutheran congregation in your area.

    If you are a Christian, I hope that you will understand that LCMS people have an ultimate commitment to the authority of the canonical Scriptures, which we believe to be inspired by the Holy Ghost through the apostles and prophets. That is the basis of our unity as a church and is always the basis of our discussions together.

    I will not argue with you, since you apparently do not accept the foundations for discussion that BJS bloggers have. But I will try to address some of the legal issues you pose, since some of our readers might be interested in that part of the discussion.

    ————————————————————————–
    The rest of this comment is intended for all BJS Bloggers:

    As to the HHS mandate itself, you may find the link to it at Pastor Esget’s blog. Here is the link:
    http://cciio.cms.gov/resources/files/Files2/02102012/psrule_508.pdf

    This document includes results from 200,000 comments received by the HHS recently. As I understand it, this document is what is going to be adopted, barring some provisional adjustments.

    On page 10, it cites a study that found that businesses paid out 15-17% more for their employees when they did not have contraceptive/sterilization/abortifacient coverage, than when they did have covereage.

    I can confirm this from my years as CHI director. I believe we had two or three pregnancies in a six year period among our full-time employees. Costs associated with maternity leave are significant, but our attitude at CHI was that we were “pro-women, pro-mothers, and pro-children” so we accepted that cost willingly.

    This leads me to believe that BIG GOVERNMENT and BIG BUSINESS don’t like working women to have pregancies. Read it for yourself in the document. What else can you conclude? BIG BUSINESS doesn’t like pregnancies because of the bottom line. BIG GOVERNMENT doesn’t like pregnancies because of their current ideological stance. BIG GOVERNMENT tells BIG BUSINESS, “Look at your bottom line. You will save 17% if you have contraceptive/sterilization/abortifacient coverage.” Hard to argue with that when profit is your ultimate motive.

    But the church is a NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION! We don’t offer dividends, we don’t offer exorbitant salaries to our officers or staff; we have other values that are central to our mission. “Raising children in the fear and nurture of our Lord” is a big part of the mission of our churches and schools. How can we approve a mandate that inhibits that mission among those who carry out our mission on our behalf? This is an intrusion of capitalism run amuck upon the church.

    On page 11, the HHS document argues that access to contraception/sterilization/abortifacients improves the social and economic status of women. In other words, pregnancies get in the way of women’s careers. But the peculiar thing about most people who work in the church, and in non-profits, is that they put the mission of the organization above their “careers.” Most of us church-workers have accepted a lower social and economic status in order to serve the church and its people. So free contraceptive/sterilization/abortifacients access makes sense for many in the US, but not necessarily for us. Besides that, church-workers hardly ever campaign for benefits. The argument does not apply.

    On page 12, the document argues that if the HHS mandate is not allowed, then the employees who are not-related-religiously to their employer would be subject to the religious views of their employer. But this already happens. Any LCMS employee has to sign a rather lengthy contract in which they agree to live and act according to our church doctrines pertaining to morality. If the HHS mandate is accepted, then LCMS could not (by extension) mandate anything of its employees in the matter of morality. This argument does not make sense.

    On page 13, you can see how the adjustment was made, so that employers who object don’t have to purchase insurance coverage, but the insurance company has to offer the services to their employees. The cost will be carried by the insurance, since it is argued that it is less expensive for the insurers to offer free contraception and abortion counseling than to cover pregnancies. This is what some have called a “cheap accounting trick.”

    In summary, the whole purpose of this mandate is to prevent pregnancies. BIG GOVERNMENT doesn’t want children (hurts women’s careers), BIG BUSINESS doesn’t want children (maternity leave hurts bottom line by 17%), and BIG INSURANCE doesn’t want children (more expensive to cover pregnancies and children than to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients).

    If nobody wants children, where will we be in 80 years? We could easily be headed for a demographic tailspin.

    On issues of church and state, I recommend to all of our readers: Richard B. Couser, Ministry and the American Legal System (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993). On page 43-58 he deals specifically and thoroughly with the “Free Exercise” clause of the First Amendment. The test for a free exercise claim (Employment Division v. Smith, June 1990) is as follows:
    1) Does the claimant have a sincerely held religious belief that is at issue?
    2) Does the law at issue unduly burden the free exercise of the claimants’ religion?
    3) Is there a compelling government interest in the burden imposed by the law or regulation? As a corollary to this, if such a compelling interest is found, has it been implemented by the least restrictive means available with respect to the First Amendment interest at issue?

    Re. 1) – Abortion has been condemned by the Christian church in no uncertain terms, as murder, or the killing of human life, for two thousand years. Until recently, it was prosecuted. The belief was based on religious Scriptures of Old and New Testaments, as well as attendant traditions.

    Re. 2) As noted above, employers who provide counseling to encourage abortion and provide abortifacients, are accessory to a crime, according to 2000 year religious standards.

    Re. 3) The compelling government interest is what? Women’s career tracks? Corporate bottom lines? Insurance profits? At the expense of babies? I can’t figure out myself what the compelling government interest is in this one. But the least restrictive means would be to impose the HHS mandate re. contraception/sterlization/abortifacients on everyone except religious employers who have previously-publicly stated religious doctrines against any one or all of these practices.

    There is no guarantee that the courts or Congress will see things this way. If the HHS mandate stands, then we have a whole new chapter in Church and State relations, with the State deciding that it can intrude with the most restrictive means and without compelling cause. That would be a position of “entanglement” which the courts have always avoided. It moves us more in the direction of a State Church, where the government will decide many moral policies of the church, remove ministers it disagrees with, and confiscate properties of rebellious churches.

    Which is exactly why our forefathers came to the US in the early 19th century, in order to get away from the overweening and intrusive State church of Prussia, with its Iron Fist that crushed everything in its way.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  19. Pr. Noland: “If you are a Christian, I hope that you will understand that LCMS people have an ultimate commitment to the authority of the canonical Scriptures, which we believe to be inspired by the Holy Ghost through the apostles and prophets. That is the basis of our unity as a church and is always the basis of our discussions together.

    I will not argue with you, since you apparently do not accept the foundations for discussion that BJS bloggers have.”

    I hold a quia subscription to the Book of Concord. If I have posted anything contrary to the BOC, canonical scripture, or the Church Catholic, please tell where I have erred.

  20. Pastor Noland # 18
    “In summary, the whole purpose of this mandate is to prevent pregnancies. BIG GOVERNMENT doesn’t want children (hurts women’s careers), BIG BUSINESS doesn’t want children (maternity leave hurts bottom line by 17%), and BIG INSURANCE doesn’t want children (more expensive to cover pregnancies and children than to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients).
    If nobody wants children, where will we be in 80 years? We could easily be headed for a demographic tailspin.”

    Actually, the whole purpose of the mandate is to provide affordable medical care to as many people in the country as possible. There is no evil plan to prevent people from having children. People are free to decide how many they want or are able to provide for. Almost no one, male or female, wants to have 12 children, which is what would happen without contraception. If you believe, as a Lutheran, that God doesn’t want you to use contraception that is your choice, but most Lutherans do not agree that contraception is a

  21. Actually, the whole purpose of the mandate is to provide affordable medical care to as many people in the country as possible. There is no evil plan to prevent people from having children. People are free to decide how many they want or are able to provide for. Almost no one, male or female, wants to have 12 children, which is what would happen without contraception.

    It still doesn’t make contraception medical care. It is just something people choose to do. People choose to do all kinds of things, and they pay for those things. They are free to do so, as you note. Medical care is treatment for something that is wrong with you. Having small breasts or healthy normal fertility are not illnesses. So breast enlargement and contraception are services people should just pay for if they want those things.

  22. Pr. Noland #18: “In summary, the whole purpose of this mandate is to prevent pregnancies. BIG GOVERNMENT doesn’t want children (hurts women’s careers), BIG BUSINESS doesn’t want children (maternity leave hurts bottom line by 17%), and BIG INSURANCE doesn’t want children (more expensive to cover pregnancies and children than to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients).”

    If the purpose of the mandate is to benefit women who don’t want children, big business, and big insurance and not to oppress religious groups, the 1st Amendment does not apply.

    Pr. Noland #18: “If nobody wants children, where will we be in 80 years? We could easily be headed for a demographic tailspin.”

    Unsound demographic policy does not violate anyone’s religious freedom.

    Pr. Nolan d #18:”Re. 1) – Abortion has been condemned by the Christian church in no uncertain terms, as murder, or the killing of human life, for two thousand years. Until recently, it was prosecuted. The belief was based on religious Scriptures of Old and New Testaments, as well as attendant traditions.”

    The Jehovah Witnesses, Pentecostals, Papists, Native religionists, etc. all say their traditions go back thousands of years. Having a long standing tradition is not sufficient in and of itself to prove religious oppression.

    Pr. Noland #18: “Re. 2) As noted above, employers who provide counseling to encourage abortion and provide abortifacients, are accessory to a crime, according to 2000 year religious standards.”

    More importantly, it a sin to do such things. If the mandate did require employers to encourage abortion or provide abortifacients, it would be contrary to the First Amendment. However, my understanding is that the mandate is limited to insurance coverage. And, if an employer, for whatever reason, does object to the mandated coverage, that employer may pay a penalty in lieu of providing insurance.

    Pr. Noland #18: “Re. 3) The compelling government interest is what? Women’s career tracks? Corporate bottom lines? Insurance profits? At the expense of babies? I can’t figure out myself what the compelling government interest is in this one. But the least restrictive means would be to impose the HHS mandate re. contraception/sterlization/abortifacients on everyone except religious employers who have previously-publicly stated religious doctrines against any one or all of these practices.”

    In a republic, the people determine what the compelling government interest is. The people decided they wanted an insurance mandate, most probably for the reasons you have given. Until the people or the courts decide otherwise, all religious employers should cheerfully obey the mandate as obedience to God (Romans 13).

    I don’t see the logic of excluding religious employers on either moral or constitutional grounds. If it’s a sin for a church to provide the mandated coverage, it’s a sin for a non-church employer to provide the mandated coverage. Constitutionally, if a church goes into a non-religious business, why should that church be allowed to claim an exemption to a mandated law that its competitors may not?

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