By Bob Allen
Southern Baptists’ top public policy spokesman compared current threats to religious liberty to those faced by America’s founders Sunday morning on Fox & Friends.
“This is just one fiery rafter in a burning house,” Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said of threats posed by Obamacare. “Religious liberty is under assault all over the place in this country, and in ways that I think are probably more pronounced than we have seen since the founding era.”
Moore told host Tucker Carlson that an Affordable Care Act requirement that employers provide contraceptive coverage for female employees could cause faith-based charities that do needed work to close their doors.
“That’s exactly what’s happening,” he said. “People who are doing good things in their communities, motivated by religious convictions, are simply being driven out of the public square because they won’t sing out of the hymn book of the church of the sexual revolution. I just don’t think we can live this way as Americans.”
Moore went on the program to discuss a new lawsuit by GuideStone Financial Services, the SBC entity that provides insurance for church and denominational workers, claiming the contraceptive mandate violates the religious liberty of faith-based employers.
“Obamacare is requiring groups and organizations to pay for contraceptive devices, abortifacient drugs, in ways that violate our consciences,” Moore said. “We simply can’t participate in these things.”
“What the administration is attempting to do is a number of things,” Moore said. “One of those things is to define religion very narrowly, as though our religious liberty has simply to do with what happens between the time we get from the foyer to the pew and out the front doors again on Sunday mornings.”
“In fact our religion, it compels us to live our lives in a certain way,” he said. “It has to do with the way our consciences are being formed, and these rules simply to not reflect the way that we have lived as Americans in the past, respecting one another’s conscience.”
The contraceptive mandate exempts houses of worship and their integrated auxiliaries. Religious institutions like colleges and hospitals that employ workers from outside the faith and serve the general public are not required to contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage, but they must enroll plan participants and beneficiaries in separate third-party policies that cover contraceptive services without cost.
“They provide a very narrow category of what a religious organization is in ways that simply don’t reflect the way that religious people live out our lives,” Moore said of the policy rules.
“They are saying if you are a house of worship we’re going to exempt you from these things but not from other organizations that are doing all sorts of things from religious motivations, not to mention people who are doing business who are motivated by their religious consciences, in a way that is very damaging to our fabric, I think, as a country.”