A Call to Disobey the United States Government
As you may know, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued a mandate, backed by the Obama administration, requiring all insurance plans to cover the cost of contraceptives, including contraceptives that act as abortificients (i.e. drugs that kill unborn babies). The mandate applies to non-profit religious organizations like Catholic Charities as well as secular ones.
Moreover, while the mandate does not apply to employers that meet the legal definition of religious organizations (churches for example), the HHS will require even exempt employers to provide information to employees about where they can obtain contraceptive (including abortificient) coverage.
Last week Catholic leaders denounced the mandate from pulpits across the United States.
But this is not a “Catholic” issue. As Archbishop Duncan writes:
“The Anglican Church in North America stands by our Catholic brothers and sisters as followers of Christ in a nation whose Constitution guarantees ‘the free exercise’ of religion. As Christians, our faith and doctrine are at the very heart of our service to others in our community. Therefore, it is extremely troubling to see our government mandate services contrary to Catholic Church teaching. I call on all members of the Anglican Church to stand by our Catholic brothers and sisters, and pray for our elected officials to have the courage to stand up for religious freedom and overturn this mandate.”
If the mandate stands “free exercise” falls. The Archbishop is absolutely right. We must oppose this tyranny with every political fiber.
We must also flatly refuse to follow it.
The New Testament commands Christians to submit to and obey the authorities set over us.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.(Romans 13:1-3)
Paul wrote his letter to the Romans during Nero’s reign. God who inspired and superintended Romans 13 is blind neither to systemic injustice nor to the moral depravity of rulers. But government, even bad government, is a divine gift to fallen humanity, restraining the most vile and violent passions of human nature. To defy the laws of the state, then, is to defy the law of God.
There are only two exceptions to this rule of faith: 1. when a government commands Christians to do what God forbids (Daniel 3) or 2. when a government forbids Christians to do what God commands (Acts 4:18-20).
The HHS mandate requires Christian charities to directly contribute, not only to contraception, but to the killing of unborn babies. It also requires churches that employ staff to provide staff members with information about where to go to kill their babies cheaply.
Both requirements clearly fall within the first exception which means that there is only one faithful response: respectful but unyielding disobedience.
So long as I am rector of Good Shepherd we will never provide information about contraception or abortion to any employee. I pray that Anglican pastors, bishops, archbishops and Christian leaders across the country will make similar commitments.
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