Religious freedom in the United States has taken a wrong turn with the current health-care reform legislation.
The legislation allows the Department of Health and Human Services to mandate its own idea of fundamental health care without an exception for those of different opinion based on the clear word of scripture and the practice of Christian faith. This is a very dangerous road for our country, with many perils for those who are faithful to their religious practice.
This incursion of government activism in the realm of traditional and biblical Christian beliefs is not just a Roman Catholic problem, Lutheran problem or evangelical Christian problem, nor is it solely a Christian problem. It is a problem that is facing all Americans, but especially those who hold fast to religious and moral beliefs that are inviolate.
This means in practice that the government should not force all people to approve of birth control or the morning-after pill. Yet this is exactly what is being mandated and put into practice in our country. Since Aug. 1, most health care plans have been required to provide birth control without charging co-pays or a deductible.
Is this the only thing that will be asked of people of faith to give up? Or will there be yet more mandates that support man-made suppositions and determinations rather than the truth of God’s Word?
History has shown us that when religious morality is undercut by human reason, horrific miscarriages of justice can and do occur.
Will we, the free people of the United States, defend an assault on religious liberty and morality? Will we allow the government to define what is good and what is evil without any input from the people of faith? Anytime the government pushes an absolute edict, we as free people should examine and make certain this absolute is something that is best for all people and that it does not single out and punish unjustly a segment of our population.
The call of our government to have people of faith go against their religious beliefs and consciences is an overstepping of power and an infringement on the free exercise of religion. This is never a wise step for a government. Because of this action, Christians and many different groups of faith are starting to work together as one against this intrusion of the free exercise of religion.
When was the last time Roman Catholics and Lutherans were side by side on an issue? A recent open letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to all Americans is titled “Free Exercise of Religion: Putting Beliefs into Practice” and is signed by more than 20 leaders of faith. All people of religious practice should take heed and make their voices heard, as have these leaders of the religious community.
THE REV. ROGER A. SCHWARTZ IS THE PASTOR OF OUR REDEEMER LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AUGUSTA.