The Health and Human Services Department’s Attack on Faith-Based Organizations

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The United States Department of Health and Human Services mandated that employers offer health care insurance to employees that includes payments not only for standard birth control, but also for abortificants. Faith-based organizations are not exempt from this mandate. The Roman Catholic Church is resisting this mandate, as well they should, and since abortificants are also paid for, all faith-based groups who oppose abortion are being forced to violate their beliefs. I have no doubt that the social democrats and socialists who read this post will disagree, which is their right. What about the right of a faith-based organization to establish employment benefits in line with its beliefs? H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., a bioethicist and physician at the Baylor College of Medicine, has argued for ideological pluralism in health care choices. That is, if someone accepts abortion, she can buy insurance through a company that accepts abortion. Roman Catholic groups could have what Engelhardt calls “Vaticare” or something like that. Now Engelhardt is a Classical Liberal who is consistent that pluralism be respected. What the government is doing is the equivalent of telling “Vaticare” or similar organizations that their beliefs be damned. The government will now tell you what to do, and if you don’t like it, suck it up. The result, if this rule is not overturned, will be a mass closing of faith-based organizations that help a significant number of people.

Although Mr. Obama has tended to be a friend of Wall Street and warmongers, his ideological roots are strongly Marxist, and, I would claim, totalitarian. The fact that he is no more totalitarian than Dubya does not change the fact that Obama desires as much power as did Mr. Bush. Regulatory agencies have been one way that government can gain power without legislative approval. Congress should establish a conscience clause in the health care bill in order to allow for faith-based organizations to offer insurance to their employees consistent with their own beliefs. To do otherwise would be another step toward a “social democratic benevolent” dictatorship that the most radical on the left wing desire. Although this is by now a tired cliche, it remains true that freedom of religion was never construed by the founding fathers to mean freedom from religion. I am pleased that Eastern Orthodox Bishops (The Council of Canonical Orthodox Bishops) as well as conservative Protestants have joined the effort to reverse this rule change. I hope they succeed.

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Should Christians Pray as Christians?

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A Baptist pastor, Ron Baity, was told that his services were no longer needed at the North Carolina House of Representatives after he led a prayer in the name of Jesus. This brings up an interesting point about those who scream “intolerance” at Pastor Baity and other Christians who insist praying in the name of Jesus. They are intolerant and offensive themselves. There is no such thing as a “nonsectarian prayer.” Prayer by its very nature is bound to a tradition. Traditional Christians are more tolerant than liberal Christians or atheists since they generally do not protest if a Jewish Rabbi does not pray in the name of Jesus. Christians recognize that Jews have a different understanding of the nature of Jesus than Christians, and the vast majority are not offended if a Jew leads a prayer without using Jesus’ name in a public forum. There are Orthodox Jews who understand that if a Christian is praying in the name of Jesus, that Christian is only following his own religious tradition. What is so intolerant about allowing all who lead prayers to pray according to their tradition–this is fair to all religious groups and does not perpetuate the fiction of a “nonsectarian prayer.” It is usually liberal Protestants, liberal Catholics, or liberal Jews, some of whom are de facto atheists, who protest the loudest against Jesus’ name being spoken in prayers. Only people who do not believe in the distinctive claims of their religious tradition could claim that prayers could be nonsectarian.

A friend of mine, The Rev. Ervin Crain, led a prayer about fifteen years ago at the University of Texas at Austin commencement. He finished the prayer in the name of Jesus. When a liberal rabbi protested, The Rev. Crain quite sensibly replied that as a Christian he felt duty bound to pray according to the beliefs of his tradition. He said that if a Jewish rabbi led the prayer, he would not be offended at his not using Jesus’ name, since he realized that the rabbi would pray in accordance with his tradition. Liberals are infected with selective tolerance–they tolerate every expression of religious faith except the traditional Christianity that they hate. They are the truly intolerant ones.