By Adriane Heins
LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison wrote in a March 24 “op-ed” that he understands that many are tired of hearing in the news about Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts retailer and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a wood-cabinet manufacturer.
Representatives from both organizations appeared before the United States Supreme Court Tuesday, March 25, after filing a case against the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act and its accompanying Health and Human Services’ mandate. (To read a related Religion News Service story, click here.)
The owners of both companies believe that the act, as well as the mandate, violates their religious beliefs by requiring them to include contraception and abortifacients in the “preventative services” section of their companies’ health-care plans.
And Harrison wrote that he believes that, too.
Titled “Tired of Hobby Lobby?,” the March 24 op-ed encourages LCMS members specifically and Americans in general not to grow weary from discussing these issues.
“They [Hobby Lobby, the HHS mandate, etc.] matter because your country — the United States of America — was founded on the principle that you were born with certain rights: the rights to seek and follow truth, to live according to your beliefs, to worship freely,” Harrison wrote. “And no one, not even the government, gets to tell you how to do that.”
Harrison has been deliberate in voicing his concern with the HHS mandate and its infringement on the rights of Americans. On Feb. 16, 2012, he appeared on a panel with other clergy before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, discussing those issues as well as Americans’ rights to religious freedom.
And his views haven’t changed.
“The government’s distinctions under the mandate don’t make sense. The government does not get to reduce God and the way in which He works down to what happens only in church or worship,” Harrison wrote. “By its definition, religious liberty stipulates that a church — not the government — must be permitted to form its own definition and its own boundaries.”
Encouraging the church and all Americans to stand firm in the support of freedom, Harrison concluded, “Friends, we may be weary. We may be tired. But we must stand together to protect our God-given right to religious liberty. This mandate threatens not only those whose religions specifically compel them to oppose it, but all Americans. We cannot allow our government to define the content of our beliefs or the degree of their significance.”
The “Tired of Hobby Lobby?” op-ed in its entirety also is available at lcms.org/freetobefaithful.
Adriane Heins is executive editor of The Lutheran Witness.
Updated March 27, 2014