Last Saturday 18 Feb 2012, during our Lutherans for Life (http://www NULL.lutheransforlife NULL.org/) Board of Directors meeting at Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO, the Executive Director asked me to prepare a statement concerning the recent Health & Human Services directive requiring religious organizations to provide contraception for their employees. I drafted the statement, and with a few modifications it was unanimously adopted.
I drafted it in this form with the following in mind:
(1) The Obama Administration seems to have assumed that only Roman Catholics would object to this directive. I wanted to demonstrate that the opposition is broad-based, because regardless of what we believe about contraception, government has no business dictating to religious organizations.
(2) The Obama Administration seems to have assumed that Catholics would complain about this directive, but when it is implemented they will reluctantly comply. I wanted to demonstrate that we will not only complain, we will refuse to comply. I don’t believe Obama is prepared to take on this kind of massive resistance.
(3) I wanted to take another opportunity to dispel the myth that Luther and Lutheranism stands for absolute obedience to civil authority. Anyone who reads the Augsburg Confession knows otherwise, but I have undertaken a thorough refutation of this myth in the chapter on the Lutheran Reformation in my forthcoming book Historical & Theological Foundtions of Law.
Here, then, is the Statement of Lutherans for Life in the form it was adopted:
LFL STATEMENT ON THE MANDATE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Lutherans For Life stands firmly with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, the Roman Catholic Bishops, the Southern Baptist Convention, other Evangelical leaders, and other religious organizations in strongly opposing the recently-promulgated Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rules requiring that religious organizations provide contraception and abortifacients to their employees.
The morality of contraception is not the issue. The issue is religious freedom as given by God and secured by the First Amendment to the Constitution. The proposed HHS rules directly infringe free exercise of religion by requiring religious groups to do what many believe God forbids them to do. Not only Roman Catholics, but many others as well, oppose contraception; and many Lutherans oppose on religious grounds any so called “contraceptive” that in reality is an abortifacient in nature and could destroy a developing human being. These religious groups, and the many individuals who support them, should not be compelled to subsidize a practice they believe to be immoral and, in some instances, murder.
The Obama Administration’s “compromise,” by which religious organizations’ insurance companies will pay for contraception, is no compromise at all and is totally unacceptable. This is a matter of religious conviction, and that which we must not pay for directly, we must not subsidize indirectly.
The Administration’s offer of additional time for compliance reflects a gross misunderstanding of our objection. This is not a matter of time; it is a matter of conscience and obedience to God. We cannot and will not disobey God, neither now nor later.
No one is compelled to work for a religious organization. Those who choose to do so are fully aware of the religious nature of the organization. Those who find the compensation package unacceptable are free to work elsewhere.
We urge the Obama Administration to repeal these proposed regulations; we urge Congress to enact legislation requiring the repeal of these proposed regulations; and we will join with religious organizations who refuse to follow these regulations if they become law. Like the Hebrew midwives of Exodus 1 who refused to obey the Pharaoh’s command to slay Hebrew babies, as stated in Acts 5:29 and the Augsburg Confession, “We must obey God rather than men.”