Hobby Lobby and Shrill Responses

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Hobby Lobby and other “Christian owned” for-profit businesses did not have to pay for certain kinds of contraception that violated the owners basic religious belief that those were “potential abortifacients due to the way they can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in a mother’s womb.”

There are shrill responses. We’re now headed back to “back alley abortions” according to the most shrill of responses. We’re headed back to the dark ages.

That’s what happens when you poke the beasts that are strongholds in a culture. It’s just going to happen.

Lost in the shrill response, of course, are some key facts. By when it comes to any shrill response (conservative or liberal), when do we let fact get in the way?

The companies were objecting to four specific types of contraception they were being ordered to pay for in their new insurance policies. Four out of TWENTY contraceptive methods. So, because these companies are willing to pay for SIXTEEN of the TWENTY mandated methods… we are headed back to the dark ages. The beast has been poked and it roars.

Liberal friends of mine point out this is not about religious liberty at all. I point out this is not about “women’s rights” at all. We both laugh as we disagree with each other. By the way, that’s when it’s a couple of us chatting. In a bigger space like this, I’m sure I’ll get much more vehement responses.

My point that this is about religious liberty is really not this particular case. It was when Health and Human Services first put out all the rules concerning the new healthcare laws and did something very slight, but significant. They separated out “religious non-profits” like never before. Churches and other “houses of worship” would be exempt in some parts of the new healthcare laws because of normal religious exemptions that have been held up in this country for centuries. However, the new rules sliced off all other religious organizations (schools, hospitals, charities) and said THEY must follow ALL the directives.

THIS is why I see this as an attack on religious liberty. I’m not shrill about it. I’m not decrying the moral decay of America or “America has left God.” I’m just pointing out the government from time to time does something like that to see exactly how far they can push religious liberty and the views of the public regarding that First Amendment right.

If a government can nibble on the edges and find a place to wedge in and begin to erode a long-standing practice… they will do it. It’s not about political party. It’s about power. (That’s another beast that gets poked.)

While lower courts have now decided it’s just silly to separate out the kinds of religious institutions that are exempt from the HHS rules, the Supreme Court still has to hear those cases. Yesterday’s Hobby Lobby ruling sends a signal that HHS will need to back it off this time.

Again, let me point out that this ruling is incredibly narrow in scope and it does not mean that ALL contraceptive methods are being taken away. I would ALSO like to point out that HHS did not need to go down this road in the first place. They chose to nibble at this edge when there was an easy fix already in place. Hawaii gives exemptions to all religious organizations (non-profits) and then allows riders to be attached to insurance policies for free allowing contraceptives to be provided to women. Hawaii has done this for years (as a LIBERAL on NPR pointed out when this HHS rule came out).

So, it’s not ALL contraceptive methods and it has an EASY fix. But you can’t tell that by the shrill responses on one end.

On the other end of shrill responses, I would say my own response to the ruling is tempered. It is actually sober. I’m not dancing in the streets as I watch a lot of people do (figuratively).

I personally think this is a watershed moment. This may be one of the last times religious organizations or people who own businesses and try to run them with deeply held religious beliefs will get this kind of ruling.

The decision was split. It was a narrow “victory.”

Public opinion is not favorable. In 1993, when the  Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed, public opinion was vastly upset with the Supreme Court infringing on religious freedoms. This time around, it’s hard and fast the other way.

This is why I sense this shift. There is a clash of definitions. There are “human rights” and “religious liberties.” It is perceived that “human rights” get infringed on by “religion” so there is a clash. The narrowing in the past few years is seen in terminology. We have gone from “freedom of religion” to “freedom to worship.” Big difference.

When “human rights” and “religious liberty” clash, and the god of a culture dictates “human rights” are infringed on by “religious bigotry,” religious liberty goes out the window.

Now, for me, it’s simply saying, “That’s the way it is.” When this country was founded it added in religious liberty because they knew where they didn’t want to return. We don’t have that knowledge any longer. So, we’ve made “human rights” to be something “religion” somehow infringes upon. It’s an unnecessary dichotomy, but that is the language and argument.

Religious liberty is a freedom given. It is also a freedom that can be taken away. We can whine and cry, but that’s the fact. We need to understand our true allegiances and realize when those liberties are ultimately taken away, we will then be in harmony with the majority of Christians around the world.

It doesn’t mean we don’t make the case for continuing religious liberty. Far from it.

I’m just noting that the tide is shifting, has been shifting, and in my lifetime will probably totally shift. And in that moment, I must be prepared. I also need to prepare others that I serve.

I won’t “whoop it up” over the Hobby Lobby decision. I won’t whine about America leaving God.

I will simply try to keep pointing the way to a magnificent Savior and a King. That King has a kingdom greater than the country where I live. That King has graced me with the luxury of living in a great country that has afforded me tremendous freedoms. But those freedoms are fickle in human hands. The freedom I have in Christ is greater, and THAT is what I want people to know.

Women have tremendous freedom in the Kingdom of God. As do the unborn. All humans have tremendous freedom when they have been truly set free. And in this country, without Christ, we STILL don’t understand what “freedom” really is about.


How to spot a cultural stronghold

1. Pick a hot button topic: Abortion, gay rights, gun control.

2. Make a position on it concerning funding, backing, etc.

3. Watch for vitriolic responses.

CAUTION: If the vitriolic response seems to come too easily in your own case… you may need to check inside as well.


A Pro-Life Ethic Revisited

I want to return to my theme of a pro-life ethic. By this I don’t an ethic only anchored in abortion or right to life. It’s an ethic I want to build for ALL of life.

But I return to it because of the horrifying case of Kermit Gosnell. He was convicted of killing three babies after they were born. He performed many late term abortions.

For “pro-lifers” this is a rallying case.

Already pro-abortion people are couching this case in these terms:

Supporters of legalized abortion said the case offered a preview of what poor, desperate young women could face if abortion is driven underground with more restrictive laws.

I’m sorry. You may be trying to sell that, but I’m not buying. 

It’s just not plausible. Abortion is legal and these poor women were still exploited by this man. It was all “above ground” and babies who could have easily lived died.

This is a case where we truly need to walk through more of a true “pro-life” ethic. Not just a narrow view of limiting abortions. It’s helping the poor. It’s doing better in our education. It’s churches not abandoning the urban core so we can try and reach and teach young women.

It’s about having a pro-life ethic that will treat women well, so they will not be sexually exploited by men who abandon them. A pro-life ethic will need to address the SYSTEM. All the way through. Regardless if the original idea of some part of the system was “Republican” or “Democrat.”

Do not excuse Gosnell’s actions. Do NOT put this off as something that will further strengthen abortion laws. I am one “pro-lifer” who truly wants a conversation about later-term abortions ONLY. I have yet to meet a “pro-choice” person willing to concede. They are like NRA members foaming at the mouth if they are threatened with giving up 15 bullet magazines. THAT needs to stop.

I know there will not be any honest conversation out of this. Only excuses from the left. Only rants from the right. I know that.

But I pray for something more. And, if anyone is listening, I am willing (as one) to work for more. To work for BETTER. Because I know this: We can talk about poor women being on the margins, but those babies Gosnell killed were ALSO on the margins and they ALL deserve a voice.

One of these days my pleas may be heard. Until then, I pray. I ask. I plead.

The Gosnell Debacle

While the media has been incredibly late to the story, at least the New York Times broke the headline just now that Kermit Gosnell has been found guilty of first degree murder.

He is the abortion doctor accused of killing babies after they have been taken from the womb.

How “pro-abortion” people have kept silent on this and have not been horrified with this man and his actions is beyond me. Actually, it’s not beyond me. I understand. I just don’t like it.

Today marks a day when it is possible we could finally see the horrifying cases of “late term” abortions exposed. Possible. Not likely. But… possible.


Abortion, Gun Rights, and Zealousness

This article has as its title that abortion rights “has become” the NRA of the left. I think it’s been that way for a very long time.

The issue with Kermit Gosnell is despicable and the silence from any part of any Christian community other than “pro lifers” has been appalling.

We have a rabid allegiance on the left to abortion rights and on the right to “gun rights.” Both have a “take no prisoners” mentality that is beyond disappointing. It is disgusting.

There. Said it.

Blast away.





The Ugliness That Gets “Lightly” Reported

Finally, after FIVE WEEKS of trial, the grisly story of an abortion doctor performing late term abortions and murders makes it to the main stream media.

And they don’t hold back any details. This is not light reading, folks. But it MUST be read.

We can talk of the violence in our schools, in Boston, in Iraq… but the violence committed in the name of “choice” can turn horrific… and we stand by silently…

This will kick at the allegiances of our culture, but my allegiance is not to this culture. Not in this matter.


Today is the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. A decision that came on the end of over a decade of intense upheaval in our nation as we battled over civil rights, the Vietnam War, and crooked politicians. It has been an ongoing symbol of division that in many ways was a capstone of a deeply divided era. And it has managed to keep us deeply divided.

It is a passionate subject no matter what. To bring it up here is a huge risk for me personally, since I really like to be liked.

But I have a pro-life ethic I am trying to build in my own life, so this is kind of the tap root of what people think of when I use those words “pro-life.” I choose that phrase carefully because I want people to realize what I am trying to develop is something more, but when we hear certain words or phrases, we stop hearing and start yelling. That’s precisely why I chose “pro-life ethic.” Because I want us to STOP doing that. We need to start hearing each other once again. We need to start thinking again. I have high hopes. There are days I think it’s more fantasy than hope, actually.

I still dream. I still hope. I still want to develop a Kingdom ethic that is not driven by political agendas of the day.

So, I remember Roe v. Wade today.

And I pray for those who never got the chance to see life. I pray for those unborn now who risk that possibility.

I pray for those who have been victims.

I pray for better adoption laws.

I pray for better teaching in our schools.

I pray for better care for humanity all the way around.

I pray against the culture of individualism that has given rise to incredibly selfish living and attitudes.

I pray for the Holy Spirit to pour through us in compassion to engage those who are hurting. I pray for those who face incredibly painful decisions concerning pregnancy.

I pray for the Church to be more prophetic and less political. More prophetic and less pathetic. We need the prophetic voice of the Kingdom rising up to cut through the mistake of taking “sides” in political parties and acting in a way that brings LIFE and BLESSING to our culture.

For the selfish, for the confused, for the abused, for the abandoned, I pray for grace and mercy.

Lord, hear my prayer.