Day 10: The Vileness of Politics
The lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society also opposed the Blunt amendment, saying it would allow employers to deny coverage of life-saving preventive services like mammograms and smoking cessation programs, based on “undefined religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
This is the closing paragraph to a story in this morning’s New York Times detailing the U.S. Senate’s rejection of an amendment that would re-codify religious freedom by forcing the Federal government to adhere to the centuries old Constitutional understanding that government cannot mandate religious institutions to reject their own theological beliefs. I write “re-codify” since the First Amendment is clear (though some would swing this door in either direction making the Amendment quite flexible) in terms of government – religious institution separation.
When the Obama Administration ordered religious institutions (i.e., church-run hospitals or universities) in their health insurance plans to cover a range of contraception, churches that oppose contraception (i.e., the Roman Catholic Church) said it infringed on their free exercise of their faith. By mandating that church institutions go against its theology on contraception, the Federal government is over-stepping its Constitutional bounds. Our Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, which supports the use of certain contraceptive methods and would not be forced to change its policy because of the new Federal mandate, stood up on the side of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the R.C. C. and agreed that the government’s mandate violated the Constitutional separation of government and church.
Sadly, our politicians started to spin this story — Democrats started to cry that religious groups who opposed this coverage were threatening women’s health. They ramped up the political rhetoric to a sickening level whereby the issue of religious freedom was co-opted by the notion that women’s lives were being put at risk because of the church. Hence, the legal disagreement between government and the church was changed into a “feelings” debate — no one wants to see women getting hurt because their employer is preventing them from getting mammograms or vaccines or programs to help them stop smoking or, my favorite, stopping them from going into drug treatment programs.
As The Lutheran Witness’ Managing Editor Adriane Dorr wrote earlier this week and as Rush Limbaugh has said time and time again, words mean things.
But I add this — except when it comes to politics. In this world of poisoned, juvenile rhetoric and fan-into-flame hatred, where the bottom line is never public policy but personal ego, words mean little. With a lazy media willing to take sides instead of acting like the Fourth Estate, the poisoned rhetoric becomes the narrative. Lost in this sea of rhetorical political vomit is the underlying issue — the Federal government is forcing the church to go against its beliefs. And Democrats in the U.S. Senate, by a tally of 51-48, they voted against protecting this Constitutional right because they were able to spin a story better than their Republican colleagues.
I would never tell you how to vote. That’s not my job.
But it is my job as a Pastor to reject the Democrat’s talking points because they are so nonsensical. No one within the church would prevent a woman from getting a mammogram. No one would stop them from receiving help to end a drug addiction. We don’t have theologic thought on mammograms or drug addiction coverage. We do have Godly writing on issues like abortion and death and showing mercy and care; and from the beginning of the church, it has been the one place where mercy, care, and love for others is paramount. From hospitals and clinics, from food pantries to providing emergency shelter, from being the strong shoulder for the hurting to cry on – the church has always been at the forefront of care in this insipidly sinful world. Therefore, faithful believers do not have stand up and defend ourselves on the grounds being laid out by the political herds in Washington D.C.
We just have to stand up and call out the leaders of falsehood and the vile spewers of hatred and call them to repentance.