The gloves are off, and the Christian church has finally begun speaking up against government bullying on the most sacred right of man and the formative principle of the United States: religious freedom.
On this week's edition of BreakPoint This Week, Chuck Colson and John Stonestreet interview Alan Sears, President and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian non-profit "legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and direct litigation."
Sears, who has followed the case of the Obama Administration's Health and Human Services mandate on contraception coverage closely since it began, expresses his disappointment about the so-called "compromise" which HHS Secretary Kethleen Sebelius announced last week.
"The bottom line," he says in this interview, "is that there was no change in what the Administration did the other day. Basically, they told us we had to submit to their view of religious liberty, that we had to submit our consciences... A so-called 'accommodation' was announced by the President, and the accommodation was no change at all, and said you will still pay for [contraception], but we're going to shuffle the way it's constructed. So bottom line, Chuck: liberty out, Health and Human Services dictate in, no change."
"Don't you think this totally undercuts religious freedom?" asks Chuck.
"Well, as you said earlier, this is totally unprecedented in American history. We've had many, many attacks, and sadly this is one of a series of attacks by this Administration trying to dictate what our faith means, what the internal dictates of our church can be, and then what the church has to do about those beliefs."
"The Administration has moved from talking about freedom of religion to freedom of worship...," says John Stonestreet. "We heard that on Friday there was a comprise [on the HHS contraception mandate]... Now, rather than the employer needing to provide this coverage, now the mandate was going to go to the insurance company. You call this a 'false compromise' and a 'shuffling of the deck,' Alan. Why is that?"
"All insurance companies collect money to pay for the services they fund -- the doctors, hospitals and providers. Ultimately, the same people are going to be paying the same premiums that they'd be paying otherwise. It's just a shuffle of the deck as to who gets the bill."
According to Sears, this affronts freedom of religious and expression and conscience on two levels.
"If they can get away with this mandate, can they mandate that abortion -- direct abortion -- be provided? One of the things we know from talking to insurance companies here in Arizona is that under this guideline, they will already be funding certain types of abortions under certain circumstances as part of how they would follow the current HHS mandate, and that those who oppose abortion across the board would be required to pay for that so-called 'health service.'"
Secondly, Sears explains, "We know that pregnancy is not a disease, children are not an affliction. So basically, we have two different worldviews colliding: one who believes that life is precious, that it's a gift from God, a worldview that believes that our religious liberty is an inalienable right granted by God that our Constitution and First Amendment were written to protect. And we have a clashing worldview that says these things are under my control, they're under the control of the administration, and we can do what we want from Washington."
"Alan, tell me," says Chuck, "if the Administration doesn't back down on this...what do we do in the Congress, what do we do in the courts?
"The simple bottom line is that we've got to litigate the protect our rights under the First Amendment, and we need Congress to provide conscience protections not only for churches and religious organizations, but also for private employers."
Sears also expresses Alliance Defense Fund's commitment to participate in the mounting legal challenges to the Obama Administration's policy, and emphasizes the need for his organization to find the right plaintiffs before it brings suit. He encourages listeners and readers who may have grievances against the mandate to apply for representation with ADF, or to file amicus briefs.
"This administration has been walking over our liberty," says Sears, "and for too long, we've been silent."
"If we lose this battle, we would lose our freedom," agrees Chuck. "We would no longer be a free nation. I think it's that fundamental."
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