Recently an open letter to the American people was prepared by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in response to the incursion of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) into the realm of religious freedom with its controversial contraceptive mandate issued earlier this year. I was offered the opportunity to add my signature to that letter, as was President John Moldstad of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Along with 24 leaders of other religious organizations, we have signed the letter, entitled, “Free Exercise of Religion: Putting Beliefs into Practice,” an open letter to all Americans.
While representing a wide range of religious beliefs, the signers of the letter have one thing in common: the recognition that the blessing of religious liberty is threatened when the government mandates that religious organizations comply with government regulations that violate their teachings and religious beliefs.
This letter has been released even as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The HHS contraceptive mandate represents one of the reforms included in the law. The ramifications of the anticipated ruling are, of course, as yet unknown.
It should be noted that this letter is not a response to the entire health care legislation. Rather, it is specifically a response to one effect of the contraceptive mandate—one that would require religious organizations, with only narrowly defined exceptions, to include coverage for contraceptives, including those that could cause the death of unborn babies, in their employee health plans. This is in direct opposition to a core teaching of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod that only God gives and takes life. More broadly, we believe that any action of the government that would infringe on our right to practice our religion according to the clear teachings of Scripture and our conscience must be opposed.
I encourage you to read the letter and to share it widely.
Serving in Christ,