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June 29, 2012

My Weekend Note

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Taken from our weekly Saint Matthew’s Matters announcement section:

This coming Wednesday is July 4, our national Day of Independence. It is a day in which we remember the strength of our Founders who stood in opposition to tyranny of our British colonial master and King George. The document declaring our independence from tyranny centers on the belief that as God’s people, we had an alienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our Founders stood as one in opposition to a tyrannical government that forced its people to pay taxes they had to say in their imposition, among other issues. They stood up for a belief that as a people, our loyalty was not to be to a King and a government, but rather our loyalty was to be to ourselves and as our neighbors as a free people. That document, and the Constitution that followed some years later, are testaments to the deep rooted independence of the American spirit that truly adheres to the loving understanding of what it means to love our neighbor and our God.

As we come closer to our national Day of Independence, it saddens me that we are losing this Founding spirit. In the years since the Great Depression, our government has grown in stature and importance over the lives of Americans. From cradle to grave, the government has crafted ways to involve itself in every aspect of our lives. It regulates nearly every part of our day—from waking up (regulations govern how our coffee is grown, how our coffee pots are made, and how the water comes from our tap) to going to work (traffic laws regulate our movement; OSHA regulates our work environment; even the ingredients in our lunches must pass rigorous government regulations), to even going to the amusement park (government regulates the speed and structure of roller coasters and even regulates the fryers that make our zeppole).

But there has been one area in which government regulation has refrained from entering: the church and its ministries. As our Founders envisioned, our government respects and allows a free exercise of our religious faith. And not just our own, anyone’s religion is deemed to be personal. However, the Obama Administration has ordered that church ministries like hospitals and schools that are not governmentally characterized as “churches” are to adhere to new government regulations on birth control mandates. The government says these church ministries MUST provide access to birth control even though it may conflict with their beliefs and faith.

For LCMS congregations and ministries, this regulation does not impact us since our church body does not oppose birth control. But for our brethren in the Roman Catholic Church, their theology stands in opposition to the use of birth control. Now, under a new government mandate, they are being forced to provide this coverage.

Where did our Founders belief of a free exercise of religion go?

A photograph of Rev. Matthew C. Harrison, Pres...

Our Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has led the way in fighting this government regulation over the free exercise of religion and a free exercise of religious thought. LCMS President Rev. Matthew Harrison has worked with leaders from throughout the country to oppose the mandate of the Obama Administration. Recently, the LCMS set up a website that outlines our Synodical position on the free exercise of religion. President Harrison has also led an effort along with other religious leaders to oppose the government mandate and support religious freedom.  The internet website where you can read and watch President Harrison’s videos is: http://www.lcms.org/hhsmandate

Government tyranny over religious freedom cannot stand. This is not a political statement; this is a faith statement couched in our Founders’ belief that religious freedom is paramount to our nation and to our Republic.

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