By Bob Allen
Southern Baptists will honor the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby next week in Baltimore for refusing to pay for employee insurance coverage for birth control methods as required by Obamacare.
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, will present the 2014 John Leland Religious Liberty Award during his report to the SBC June 11 to Steve and Jackie Green, according to an announcement on the ERLC website.
Moore said the Greens, who attend Council Road Baptist Church in Bethany, Okla., will be honored for demonstrating a commitment to religious freedom “against a federal government demanding that they, along with countless other for-profit businesses, provide insurance for services that violate their core religious convictions.”
Lawyers for Hobby Lobby argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in March against a portion of the Affordable Care Act that allows women free access to 20 forms of birth control approved by the FDA.
The Greens, well-known for arranging their business around religious values including not opening stores on Sunday, contend that some of those methods, such as IUDs and “morning-after” birth-control pills, are not truly contraceptives but cause an early abortion by preventing a fertilized ovum from attaching to the womb.
“The Greens are, in such a time as this, standing for the religious freedom of all of us,” Moore said in a memo to ERLC trustees quoted in the news release. “They rightly recognize that the government is not lord of the conscience. Their allegiance, they’ve rightly understood, belongs first and foremost to God, not government.”
Another ERLC Award, the Richard Land Distinguished Service Award, will go to Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor from Idaho imprisoned in Iran for compromising national security through the establishment of so-called “underground” churches. Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh, is scheduled to receive the award on his behalf.
“Through his story, and through Naghmeh’s advocacy, millions of Americans have heard a gospel-focused plea for religious freedom,” Moore said.