“Please get the federal government out of our consciences”

Mr. Chairman, it’s a pleasure to be here. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a body of some 6,200 congregations and 2.3 million members across the U.S. We don’t distribute voters’ lists. We don’t have a Washington office. We are studiously non-partisan, so much so that we’re often criticized for being quietistic.

“I’d rather not be here, frankly. Our task is to proclaim, in the words of the blessed apostle St. John, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sin. And we care for the needy. We haven’t the slightest intent to Christianize the government. Martin Luther famously quipped one time, ‘I’d rather have a smart Turk than a stupid Christian governing me.’

“We confess that there are two realms, the church and the state. They shouldn’t be mixed – the church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution. We have 1,000 grade schools and high schools, 1,300 early childhood centers, 10 colleges and universities. We are a machine which produces good citizens for this country, and at tremendous personal cost.

“We have the nation’s only historic black Lutheran college in Concordia, Selma. Many of our people [who are alive today] walked with Dr. King 50 years ago on the march from Selma to Montgomery. We put up the first million dollars and have continued to provide finance for the Nehemiah Project in New York as it has continued over the years, to provide home ownership for thousands of families, many of them headed by single women. Our agency in New Orleans, Camp Restore, rebuilt over 4,000 homes after Katrina, through the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteers. Our Lutheran Malaria Initiative, barely begun, has touched the lives of 1.6 million people in East Africa, especially those affected by disease, women and children. And this is just the tip, the very tip, of the charitable iceberg.

“I’m here to express our deepest distress over the HHS provisions. We are religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs. That is, in part, why we maintain our own health plan. While we are grandfathered under the very narrow provisions of the HHS policy, we are deeply concerned that our consciences may soon be martyred by a few strokes on the keyboard as this administration moves us all into a single-payer … system. Our direct experience in the Hosanna-Tabor case with one of our congregations gives us no comfort that this administration will be concerned to guard our free-exercise rights.

“We self-insure 50,000 people. We do it well. Our workers make an average of $43,000 a year, 17,000 teachers make much less, on average. Our health plan was preparing to take significant cost-saving measures, to be passed on to our workers, just as this health-care legislation was passed. We elected not to make those changes, incur great cost, lest we fall out of the narrow provisions required under the grandfather clause. While we are opposed in principle, not to all forms of birth control, but only abortion-causing drugs, we stand with our friends in the Catholic Church and all others, Christians and non-Christians, under the free exercise and conscience provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

“Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. The conscience is a sacred thing. Our church exists because overzealous governments in northern Europe made decisions which trampled the religious convictions of our forebearers. I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. I have ancestors who were on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I have ancestors who served in the War of 1812, who fought for the North in the Civil War – my 88-year-old father-in-law has recounted to me, in tears many times, the horrors of the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, Bud Day, the most highly decorated veteran alive, is a member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

“We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we won’t give it up without a fight. To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government. The bed is too narrow, the blanket is too short. We must obey God rather than men, and we will. Please get the federal government, Mr. Chairman, out of our consciences. Thank you.”

via Missouri Synod President tells House Committee: LCMS ‘religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs’ – The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

More bullying from Planned Parenthood

Now Planned Parenthood has released its minions on a Wisconsin food pantry for the poor:

One thing we learned from the Komen/Planned Parenthood fiasco is that it may be easier to say no to the mob than Planned Parenthood. We saw it again recently in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This one didn’t make much news, but created a local social network bully fest.

Planned Parenthood called Paul’s Pantry, part of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the biggest food pantry in Wisconsin, and asked them to come and pick up donations, which may have been noble, but wasn’t something the Catholic organization felt comfortable doing — sending a truck over and perhaps giving the abortion provider a photo opportunity. The American Life League reports what the worker at the pantry said:

“All I told the young lady from Planned Parenthood was that I couldn’t send a truck to pick up, and gave her a list of other food pantries that might want to pick up, I gave her no reason at all and she didn’t ask why. Soon after, I started receiving the hate e-mail and phone calls. I politely explained to callers that although we are non-denominational in regards to those we serve, we are a Catholic organization who shares a board of directors with our sister organization, St. Vincent de Paul. We adhere to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and to the Rule of St. Vincent de Paul. I also explained our Gift Acceptance Policy and how acceptance of the donation would compromise our core values and possibly damage the reputation of Paul’s Pantry.”

As with Komen, choice wasn’t okay with Planned Parenthood, and within a short amount of time, verbal abuse rolled in. Jill Stanek reports that a worker at Paul’s Pantry explained:

“Within 20 minutes I was getting phone calls and emails calling us [names]. The calls that day came from the Milwaukee area, where Planned Parenthood is headquartered. We have caller ID.”

[He] said he did tell one of the callers they could simply drop off their donation, “which happens about 100 times a day – in that case we don’t know where the food comes from. But if an organization wants a receipt, Paul’s Pantry has a gift acceptance policy. “If the donation is going to hurt us, we don’t accept it.”

Craig said it never got to that point with Planned Parenthood, though. PP invented the rest of the story. “What was their purpose?” asked Paul. “If they really intended to feed the poor they should have just dropped the food off and left it at that. But was it for their own self-promotion?”

The abuse didn’t stop there, though. First, Planned Parenthood broadcast it to their Facebook page on February 2:

Then Daily Kos got in on the action and bashed the pantry, then listed the phone number and the employee names and told people to call in protest.

Which resulted in a massive deluge of verbal abuse.  (Follow the link for examples and more details.)

via Now Planned Parenthood bullies Catholic food bank for saying no to them | LifeSiteNews.com.

HT:  Mary

Matt Harrison to testify to Congressional committee today

I have it on good authority that Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, will testify before a Congressional committee investigating the religious liberty issues in the Obamacare abortion pill/contraception mandate.  Testimony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. ET.  I’m told that you can watch it here:  Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

I’m glad he is doing this.  It’s important to demonstrate that this is not just a Roman Catholic issue.

Do you think this is good for him to do?  Or is this a violation of the Lutheran doctrine of the Two Kingdoms?  Or is it an example of that doctrine?

Do 98% of Catholic women use contraceptives?

Apologists for the administration’s abortion pill & contraceptive mandate are pointing to statistics that say as many as 98% of Roman Catholic women use contraceptives in defiance of the teaching of their church.  This is then used to encourage Democrats to not back down from the mandate, despite what the bishops say, as if rank and file Catholics will support the Obama administration anyway.

It turns out, though, that the 98% numbers are yet another way to lie with statistics, as Mark Misulia explains, quoting an analysis linked in the post:

The study excludes women who are not sexually active, where this is defined as “sexual intercourse in the past three months,” postpartum, pregnant, or women trying to get pregnant. The study was designed to “include only women for whom a pregnancy would be unintended and who are ‘at risk’ of becoming pregnant.” It is not clear whether the study includes women who are neither trying nor not trying to become pregnant. . . .

“The deliberate design of the study to cover only women who, at the time of the study, were having sexual intercourse while regarding a pregnancy as unintended would be likely to make it unrepresentative of Catholics and particularly unrepresentative of devout Catholics. Yet the study is now being cited to show the percentage of Catholic women generally who are not following the teaching of the Catholic Church in this area…a statistic based on a study that explicitly excluded those who have no use for contraception is obviously irrelevant to a question about the percentage of Catholic women who have a use for contraception!”

The fact that women who are celibate, postpartum, and those not trying to avoid pregnancy are excluded is enough. That such a misrepresentation is being used as leverage in serious political discourse is truly unfortunate, regardless of the content of the study, and says as much about contemporary American politics as the mandate itself.

via The Bogus 98 Percent » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Here is how Mollie Hemingway puts it, analyzing in more detail the original study from the Guttmacher Institute (which happens to be an organization affiliated with Planned Parenthood):

So I guess we could say that among women aged 15-44 who had sex in the last three months but aren’t pregnant, post-partum or trying to get pregnant, 87 percent of women who identify as Catholic used contraception. It’s worth pondering just who is left out of this 87 percent, other than, you know, everyone who doesn’t use contraception.

Certainly lots of Roman Catholics don’t follow their church’s teaching in this matter, but that doesn’t change the right of the church to set those teachings, as they themselves for the most part surely realize.

Obama, Henry VIII, and tooth-level surveillance

Mark Steyn compares President Obama’s religion policies to those of Henry VIII, whose “Act of Supremacy” gave him sole authority over his subjects’ faith and practice.  You need to read what he says.

But I draw your attention to just two parts of that essay.  The first, where he quotes a provision of Obamacare that gives Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sibelius authority over our teeth:

“The Secretary shall develop oral healthcare components that shall include tooth-level surveillance.”

The second is his conclusion, which is a strikingly-phrased statement of the dangers of big government:

The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else: First, other pillars of civil society are crowded out of the public space; then, the individual gets crowded out, even in his most private, tooth-level space. President Obama, Commissar Sebelius, and many others believe in one-size-fits-all national government — uniformity, conformity, supremacy from Maine to Hawaii, for all but favored cronies. It is a doomed experiment — and on the morning after it will take a lot more than a morning-after pill to make it all go away.

via The Church of Obama – Mark Steyn – National Review Online.

Compromise on insurance birth control mandate?

President Obama has announced a compromise he is willing to enact on his mandatory abortion pill and contraceptive mandate.  Employees of religious institutions that don’t believe in that sort of thing will have to ask the organization’s insurance company for the coverage, whereupon the insurance company will have to provide it free of charge without raising the institution’s rates.  Thus the insurance company, not the faith-based employer, will be paying for the morning after pills and contraceptives.  And the faith-based employer would not be directly providing for them.  Rather, the employee would get them off the books.

See White House compromise still guarantees contraceptive coverage for women – The Washington Post.

Does this really solve the problem?

Aren’t all of the expenses of an insurance company ultimately and necessarily passed on to the customers?

And isn’t the result exactly the same apart from the moral casuistry of trying to shuffle around the responsibility?

And the administration isn’t saying  how this would work with institutions, such as many non-profits, that are self-insured, in which employers collect premiums but then pay for employee health expenses themselves.

The Roman Catholic bishops note other problems:  The government’s apparent dispensations apply only to non-profit organizations.  A Catholic or other pro-life business owner would still have to directly provide free abortion pills and contraceptives, which would mean for the Catholic, being forced by law to be complicit in a grave sin.

Also church-related insurance companies (like Concordia Health Plan and its numerous Catholic equivalents) are not exempt from having to provide this kind of coverage.

Because of earlier H.H.S. machinations, the Morning After pill is now available over the counter.  What insurance plans cover non-prescription medication?  Your health insurance won’t pay for a bottle of aspirin or Nyquil.  And yet the Obama administration is insisting that this over-the-counter medication be covered free of charge, without even a deductible.  The agenda here is clearly that of pro-abortion fanaticism.


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