The Mandate Upheld

What the Decision Means for Christians

A lot of legal pundits didn’t see this coming. So what does the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare mean for Christians? Find out, next on BreakPoint.


John Stonestreet

You’ve no doubt heard that the Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, upheld the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and the ACA itself.

The ACA will now, of course, be a major campaign issue in this fall’s election. The GOP has vowed to repeal the ACA if they’re elected. The Court’s decision will be scrutinized, and there will be no shortage of analyses about what this says about the Roberts Court.

What I want to do is start a discussion with BreakPoint listeners about the decision’s impact on Christians. While we can disagree about whether the ACA is good policy — and personally, I think it’s deeply flawed in very important ways — the health care issues addressed in the ACA cannot be ignored.

So while many of us may have been disappointed by the outcome of the case, the Court’s decision provides us with an opportunity to say what we are for and not just what we are against.

The first thing we can agree we are for is that the health care and insurance situation in this country is just not acceptable.  Millions in our country do not have adequate or any health insurance, and while some avoid this by choice, many, including many with children, simply can’t afford it. The current system is broken, and Christians need to care about those who suffer. The Affordable Care Act is not the best answer for the problem, but it’s still a problem that Christians shouldn’t, in good conscience, ignore. Morally, the status quo is unacceptable.

The same thing can be said about the rising costs of health care. When you hear about the tens of trillions in “unfunded liabilities,” the largest and fastest-growing part of that is related to health-care costs. These costs are by far the greatest threat to our fiscal future, a fact on which both parties already agree. So we should insist that this “agreement” translate into actual action.

Justice Roberts’ majority opinion, which upheld the individual mandate by justifying it under Congress’ taxing powers, invited Congress to revisit some of the ACA’s provisions. And we should urge Congress to do this, and provide better protection for the sanctity of human life.

I’m not only referring to taxpayer funding of abortion, although current provisions against that are woefully inadequate. I also have in mind what might be called the “monetizing of human life,” the cost-benefit calculations that prompt people to talk about “death panels.”

Also, it should go without saying that we must insist on better guarantees for the freedom of conscience. The ongoing struggles over the HHS mandate have made clear the administration’s intent to define freedom of conscience and religious freedom as narrowly as possible. Given this intention, they should not be allowed the kind of carte-blanche discretion the ACA currently affords them to change these definitions about religious freedom as much as they’ve already done.

This struggle over the HHS mandate underlines the need for courage. The first attempt to apply the ACA was a complete broadside against religious freedom. While I’m gratified at the loud and strong response from many Christians, I am certain that there are more threats to our freedom still to come.

Now that the ACA has been upheld, we need to be prepared to fight for something better than the status quo. We need to insist on something that addresses all of our concerns.

As Chuck Colson might have put it, this battle has just begun.

There will be a lot of discussion about the Supreme Court ruling at our blog at I hope you’ll come and join this conversation. Go to and click on the “BreakPoint Blog” tab. Or click on this commentary to leave a comment.

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