Obama Mandate awakens appreciation of the importance of religious liberty


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ABSTRACTObama Mandate awakens appreciation of the importance of religious liberty | NRL News Today Home About Contact Us July 24, 2012   Religious Obama Mandate awakens appreciation of the importance of religious liberty By Dave Andrusko Wheaton College President Philip Ryken When it comes to public policy issues, sometimes still waters run deep. Or, put another way, an issue can burn red-hot–in the sense of getting enormous attention–and then seem to retreat. But, in fact, if people are seriously upset, public visibility has little to do with whether resistance is more quietly mounting. That’s by way of preface to an issue we’ve talked about many times at NRL News Today: the Obama mandate that religious institutions pay for health insurance plans that cover medical procedures and drugs contrary to their religious beliefs and consciences. Most recently we discussed a much under-rated decision by Wheaton College, a very prominent evangelical institution of higher learning, to file a lawsuit of its own, challenging the mandate. When he sent an email to Wheaton College faculty and staff, President Philip Ryken announced that “the Board of Trustees filed a lawsuit in the Washington, D.C. District Court opposing the mandate, which, if enacted, would force the College to violate its religious beliefs or pay severe fines.” He explained, “We are joining with Catholic University of America in order to demonstrate that a deep concern for the sanctity of human life and a strong belief in the importance of religious freedom are areas of commonality that transcend our theological differences.” Yesterday Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor-at-large of National Review Online and a graduate of the Catholic University of America, published an interview with President Ryken–“The HHS Mandate: Not an Academic Debate Evangelicals and Catholics are suing the government together for their religious liberty” ( www.nationalreview.com/articles/310086/hhs-mandate-not-academic-debate-kathryn-jean-lopez ). Going forward the importance of this joint venture between Evangelicals and Catholics—“co-belligerents”—would be hard to exaggerate. Ryken tells Lopez that this problem “was on Wheaton’s radar screen” since last August. You see voiced two of the same objections for this Chicago-area college that so many opponents of the mandate have articulated. First, that Obama’s HHS carved out an exception for churches, which “created two classes of religious institutions in America: those that have full protection for their religious freedom and those that don’t.” And second “The most disturbing thing to me,” explains Ryken, who was a Presbyterian pastor in Philadelphia before he became president of Wheaton, “was the government’s provision of a ‘safe harbor’ that would defer for one year the implementation of the mandate — and presenting that as somehow being a reasonable accommodation of religious liberty. I found that offensive — the hope that we would change our religious convictions over the course of the .......