The first ten amendments of the Constitution of the United States are known as the Bill of Rights. The first one reads as such, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This is the Freedom of Religion, Press, and Expression Amendment ratified on December 15, 1791.
It’s easy to think that the HHS mandate on requiring religious organizations to provide birth control pills and abortificients free of charge on their health insurance plans is a women’s rights issue. It’s what the supporters of this bill would like you to believe but it’s not a women’s rights issue. It’s a religious freedom issue. The HHS mandate would suppose that they could legislate the against a doctrine of the church, in this case, that life begins at conception and force the church to follow this law or face penalties. This directly goes against the freedom to exercise religion as spelled out in the First Amendment. For centuries the Christian church has maintained the stance that life is precious and should be maintained and supported in all stages of its existence. This is how Christian charities, health care facilities, schools, adoption agencies, and crisis centers get started. These are all done out of love for one’s neighbor and have been able to exist relatively free of harassment under the First amendment for the first two centuries of our country’s existence.
Suddenly, the climate has changed in the political landscape and the leaders are thinking that they are able to take away certain liberties from others for the benefit of “us all”. It doesn’t work that way and never has. Once you chip away at one liberty, others will soon follow as we have already seen in our recent past. There is no way to take away rights of some to benefit others and state that it is still a free country. Either the country is free for all or it is free for none. This is why the government was limited, small, and had a series of checks and balances put into place when it was established. This way no one had too much power, everyone had their rights addressed, and there were ways to address those who were forgotten or mistreated when the Constitution was originally written.
The rights of the church to freely worship as they chose uninhibited by government mandates should not be subject to “grandfather clauses”. They are the rights spelled out in the Constitution, the rights I was given upon my birth in this country as a citizen of the United States of America, and the rights that my Synodical President, Matthew Harrison, represented for me and the men and women of the LCMS today in Congress.