A Hobby Lobby in Mansfield, Ohio is one of 588 stores owned by Christian owner David Green. - Image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart (http://www.flickr.com/photos/fanofretail/8779331898/sizes/l/)

A Hobby Lobby in Mansfield, Ohio is one of 588 stores owned by Christian owner David Green. – Image courtesy of Nicholas Eckhart (http://www.flickr.com/photos/fanofretail/8779331898/sizes/l/)

A group of influential Christian theologians and pastors announced on Wednesday their support of businesses like Hobby Lobby who are fighting against  the HHS contraception mandate. In a 46-page amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), they argued that the mandate violates the First Amendment rights of Christians who believe that all work is sacred.

The list of 38 signatories includes pastor Rick Warren, Bishop Harry Jackson, theologian Wayne Grudem, author Ravi Zacharias, and other Christian influencers. The convening organizations listed on the brief includes Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Coalition of African American Pastors, and Manhattan Declaration, a movement of conservative Christians fighting “for life, marriage, and religious liberty.”

The brief argues that Christian doctrine requires that faith govern every aspect of a believer’s life, including their God-ordained vocation. Because Christian doctrine prohibits “the enabling, authorizing, or aiding of another” in sinful activities, the document argues, Christian employers and employees should not be required to pay for or provide contraception that includes abortion-causing drugs.

Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, a school with five faculty members listed in support, is concerned that employers are going to be forced by the government to provide medical services “that they have good reason to find morally unconscionable.” Akin told me he believes that the contraception mandate is just another flaw in Obamacare, but he thinks the stakes are much higher than that.

“I am convinced this is a critical issue that if Hobby Lobby loses, a door is open for further infringements on religious liberty and freedom of conscience,” Akin said. “That this is even on the table signals a new day, and not a better one, in matters of religious liberty and matters of faith.”

In a statement provided to Religion News Service on Thursday, bestselling author and apologist Ravi Zacharias echoed Akin’s sentiments:

“Sadly, over the years, the Christian faith has been targeted by a rabid secularization and evicted from any or all public expression. The encroachment upon our civil liberties is frightening and we ought to take a stand.”

He added, “That this threat is happening in America, whose very values were emergent from a Judeo-Christian backdrop and the sacredness of belief in the transcendent, is lamentable.”

Eric Teetsel, director of Manhattan Declaration and a signatory to the brief, added that he believes the hundreds of thousands of Christians who’ve signed in support of his organization’s work are also concerned about the moral implications of the HHS mandate.

“This diverse array of groups holds in common one conviction: that the religious principles that guide every aspect of their lives – including their work – prohibit them from complying with the rule,” Teetsel said. “We hope [the brief] provides the justices an understanding of the essential religious nature of work for many faiths, including Christianity.”

When asked if he thought the brief would influence the Supreme Court on the matter, he told me he was optimistic.

“In some recent rulings the Court has deferred to faith-based claims,” Teetsel said.

Religion News Service reached out to pastor Rick Warren, who rarely gets involved in overtly political activism, regarding his involvement. Requests for comment were not immediately returned.

These Christians aren’t the only ones trying to influence the Supreme Court on the matter. On Tuesday, 19 Democratic Senators announced they were filing an amicus brief in support of the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. The legislators argued that religious liberty exemptions shouldn’t apply to for-profit companies and called Hobby Lobby’s lawsuit a “gross misapplication” of the law.

The brief filed by Democratic lawmakers in opposition to Hobby Lobby included five female signatories; the brief filed by Christian leaders in support of Hobby Lobby consisted of all male signers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in June 2013, shielding the organization and its openly Christian founder from providing insurance plans that include the contraception provision as mandated by the law. The question now is whether the Supreme Court will be similarly swayed when it hears the craft store’s case on March 25.

No matter how the high court rules, you can bet this won’t be the last public skirmish over what religious liberty means and to whom it should apply.

>>RELATED: “U.S. asks Supreme Court to review Hobby Lobby’s birth control mandate challenge”<<

65 Comments

  1. Rick Warren is like a bizzaro “ringer”. Guaranteed to ensure failure for anyone he works with. Pretty much every time he makes statements in public, its something ridiculous.

    The brief is no different. It is pretty much guaranteed to be laughed away by the Court. The arguments employed are appallingly bad, overtly sectarian and have only the barest relation to anything rational or legally supportable.

    With supporters like these, Hobby Lobby is sunk.

      • Such a well reasoned response. /s
        The equivalent of a “raspberry” being blown and about as relevant.

        If you think a rational legal argument was made in that brief, you either didn’t read it or have a nasty case of confirmation bias. It reads like a train wreck.

    • But it’s OK to deny Christians their human rights under natural law to a free moral conscience and their religious liberty that’s supposed to be Constitutionally protected and discriminate against them unless they condone and facilitate immorality and murder as you do. Got it. Obviously not but you do it anyways.

  2. What is wrong with these people? Don’t they realize they live in a country with people who don’t believe exactly as they do? What if your boss doesn’t believe in pain medication — should he be allowed to opt out of covering pain meds? Because he believes “suffering is good for us.”

    I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t lobby the government not to put meat in school lunches.

    And Hobby Lobby gets to claim some sort of moral sanctimony while they import stuff from China. Apparently forcing people to work at low wages and breathe bad air doesn’t bother them.

  3. Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    And where does government power to coerce stop??? It was supposed to be stopped by the Bill of Rights–the first right of which is to be protected from government coercion of religious believers. Considering that virtually any American can easily and freely obtain the pills in question–the issue is not availability, but state coercion.

    • LauraEllen Ashcraft

      Deacon Bresnahan:

      I want to correct your statement that “virtually any American can easily and freely obtain the pills in question.” As a masters-educated female, I can tell you I had a lot of trouble finding affordable birth control (preparing for married life) because my health insurance did not cover it. I spend hours on the phone with doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and the insurance company. My husband and I want to be responsible and the lack of access to affordable birth control made this extremely difficult.

      I hope that you continue to educate yourself on the actual struggle women face in responsible family planning and not the propaganda put forth by men.

      • LauraEllen Ashcroft,

        I agree completely.

        But not only is America a male dominated society which has little regard for women’s needs – it subverts women’s interest in themselves by foisting upon them a religion which is also MALE-MADE, and it shows!

        God considers women second class citizens. I say, do away with God completely…by educating women that they are victims of a male- centered philosophy called religion.

        The emancipation of women is the only sliver bullet that has helped societies climb out of poverty. Wherever Christianity is strong, you will find more poverty than anyone should be expected to handle!

        • The thing is to expose religious beliefs in gods as unfounded remnants of ancient mythology. Exposure to the realities of history and science will do the job–if people are honest with themselves and if they do the real work of studying, learning, and thinking. But as long as people continue to hang onto their security blankets and the easy answers of “old time religion” because they are afraid of life and death, we must stand against their unconstitutional efforts to force their religious beliefs into our politics and mix their religion with our government.

          Church and secular government is a deadly mixture for both elements. That is precisely why the framers of our Constitution forbade that deadly mixture as our very first right. And it provides just as much security for religion as it does for secular government.

          • gilhan,

            You said, “we must stand against their unconstitutional efforts to force their religious beliefs into our politics”

            EXACTLY!
            Just another reason why I despise religion.

            God may exist. But I see no reason to believe in it.

        • Absolute rubbish from someone who has never read the Bible probably. Did you know that the church made marriage a sacrament as early as Roman times so women couldn’t easily be divorced? There are 30% more women in the worldwide church than men. Why is this? Ask them why they would become Christians if their religion makes them second class and is male-centered. The Bible does not make women second class at all. In fact, there is no male nor female in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:28

    • There is no right to force your employees to adhere to your religious dogma. Your right to religious expression ends where it begins to harm the rights of others.

      • And it’s “harming others” to let them find other ways to find their birth control?

        You liberals can be so dramatic. That is beyond ridiculous. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with “religious dogma”. It’s about conscience. Which, I know, is difficult for a liberal to comprehend.

        • When they would by right have access through their health insurance, cutting off that access is doing a tangible harm to them. It is not something an employer has any right to countermand.

          Personal healthcare choices are not subject to employer approval ever. They are private and subject to mandatory statutory minimum levels of coverage regardless of the wishes of an employer.

    • No, Deacon, you are guilty of prejudice. The very first of our “rights” stated clearly in the Bill of Rights is equal protection for both church and state. It is in no way one-sided for religion, as you imply. The Framers knew their history. They knew how deadly would be the inclusion of religion into our secular government. The blending of religion and government is destructive of both elements.

      And there is the third stage of non-belief which was gaining broadly during the Enlightenment. Everyone must have protection to believe or not believe. And secular government, which applies to all members of society, must be protected against any constrictions of any religious belief.

      Individuals have a right to choose their religious beliefs. That includes the right to reject all religious belief. Because religion is personal and must be protected against infringement by others, including the whole body politic, the state should not control religion.

      Likewise, because secular government is altogether different than religious belief, and history clearly shows the evil of mixing religion and secular government, the Framers of our Constitution stated our very first right was against such a mingling of church and state.

      Pursuing your line of thinking, another religious believer would have the right to force you to submit, honestly or not, to her/his beliefs. That was the awful history of religion and government before the “experiment” in democracy constituted in Philadelphia in 1887.

  4. NOW we’re getting somewhere. Enough is enough, Mr. Obama.

    Mr. Obama, you have betrayed American Christianity for 30 pieces of silver (or the political equivalent thereof), and you think you’re going to get away with it. Of course, you probably might get away with it, because too many Christians foolishly voted for you and by implication, voted for a de facto repeal of constitutional freedoms of religion and conscience.

    But NOW American Christian leaders (some of them anyway) have sent you a real message that they’re at least going to fight your no-good mess at the Supreme Court, whether they win or lose. You’re not getting a free pass anymore, Mr. Obama!

    • DOC ANTHONY,

      You said, “Mr. Obama, you have betrayed American Christianity…”

      No. Sarah Palin betrayed American Christianity. Every time she opens her mouth 100 people join the Atheist Association of America.

      • They should be joining by the thousands. Politicians who peddle religion are corrupt as well as unconstitutional. Their religion is corrupt. You will find that politicians who peddle religion mingle right in with those who represent K St. for other deceitful political reasons. Religion has a dirty history. Politics is patently dirty. Look at our Congress. Look at our Catholic Supreme Court.

        The poisonous mixture of religion and politics is deadly for both elements. That is the reason the framers of our Constitution forbade the mingling of our government with churches as our very first right. Our constitutional right to prevent the mixing of religion and politics, church and government, is our only protection against the killer concoction their blending becomes..

      • Please Mr. Atheist: Let’s debate but please do not make statements that you cannot backup! This whole argument is amazing. Why not allow the public to choose what they want to include/exclude in their personal healthcare plan? Mr. Obama needs to be a little more flexible being we are trying to stomach his deceptive words when he said over and over and over and over–“you can keep your health plan and doctors.”

        • Because we have workplace based health insurance as the norm in this country. It is really between employer and government dealing with insurance on behalf of employees. “Asking the public” in your sense would merely be asking employers. They are hardly people who one can expect to look out for the best interests of employees.

          If we had single payer, public supported healthcare, then debate as to what constitutes minimum allowable coverage would be a fair question for public debate.

        • Rick,

          You said, “Please do not make statements you cannot back up”

          As in religious assertions? like Transubstantiation? The Trinity? Hell? Hades? Resurrections?

          If you are so into ‘choice’ why are you forcing others to only accept ‘your choice’?

          It was the Religious Right that destroyed the possibility of a Public Option in the Affordable Care Act and now we are paying the price for that short-sighted Republican shenanigans.

  5. RAVI ZACHARIAS said,

    “the Christian faith has been targeted by a rabid secularization and evicted from any or all public expression”

    NONSENSE!!

    And If ‘Faith’ can’t hold up to scrutiny it should disappear as a part of our culture.
    Religion is ridiculous.

    …Despite that, you always have the right in the USA to go to your church, pray and smoke a goat for your Lord who loves the smell of burning goat flesh (Exodus 29:18).

    • “smoke a goat for your Lord.” -Best quote of the day.

      I’m not sure I can agree with the all encompassing quote, “Religion is ridiculous.” From a purely secular POV there is “good” that is often done through people who are following a religious lifestyle. Although, I understand what you mean. There is far too much of it that is ridiculous! There is a growing number of people in some religious circles who are addressing those things.

      If there is a God, conversation around what that means could well be the most important conversation we could have. If there’s not, then the conversation doesn’t matter either way. Regardless, those who are following a religious lifestyle (ok, everyone) should be challenged about their obsession with justifying judgment, oppression, prejudice, and tyranny over living a lifestyle of gifting grace, championing liberty, practicing peace and doing whatever is most loving.

      • Jonn McDaniel,

        You said, “those who are following a religious lifestyle (ok, everyone) should be challenged about their obsession with justifying judgment, oppression, prejudice, and tyranny over living a lifestyle of gifting grace, championing liberty, practicing peace and doing whatever is most loving.”

        Unfortunately religion obliterates the possibility peace and love (most of the time) because KILLING comes with the package. There are no checks and balances on invisible dictatorship and nobody can tell you the ‘correct interpretation’ of something like this:

        “find those enemies of mine, and EXECUTE them in front of me.” – Jesus Christ (Luke 19:27)

        The most peace-loving, compassionate, tolerant people I ever met were some Atheist doctors who work with “Doctors Without Borders”.
        I do not think it is an accident that Atheists are extremely loving and compassionate people.

        Atheists have freed themselves of baseless hatreds dictated by Gods and most of us face reality very clear-headed.

        • Max, Unfortunately, comments like your that seem to be filled with extreme examples, generalizations and quotes from Jesus out of context don’t give the impression that atheists are in fact, tolerant, compassionate people.
          I lived in central Africa for five years. I met atheists from Medecines Sans Frontiers (Doctors without borders) and they weren’t all atheists by any means. And they went to serve there short term, 6 months. I also met Catholic nuns (I’m not Catholic) who had given their lives to help the poor and were the epitome of Christ’s love. Read Mathew Paris (an atheist debater in the UK) and the piece he wrote, “As an atheist, I believe Africa needs God.”

          • Those that have ears to hear will hear. This parable is exactly what it is supposed to be. Those that do not come to the Father will face judgment. Every person will be Judged not just Christians that is the point. Christians don’t hate anyone and we certainly don’t hate you Max. Hate the sin but not the sinner.

          • bANSAW,

            “I also met Catholic nuns (I’m not Catholic) who had given their lives to help the poor and were the epitome of Christ’s love”

            I HAVE NO DOUBT that religion brings people out to do good. Please say the same thing about HAMAS and HEZBOLLAH and THE MORMONS and LOUIS FARRAKHAN’S NATION OF ISLAM which is openly hostile to Jews and whites.

            Please be assured that for every person who does Good in the name of God, that ‘good’ is corrupted by that ‘faith’.

            The Catholic policy in Africa for 20 years was, “AIDS is bad but condoms are WORSE!”

            As a result 30 Million people died for no reason – women came in to get condoms for their husband and were refused service by the Catholic Charities in Africa!

            Think about that!

            PS. _ I never said ALL Doctors who volunteer for Doctors without Borders are Atheists. Only that the ones I mentioned happened to be.

          • bANSAW,

            You said, “You don’t give the impression that atheists are in fact, tolerant, compassionate people.”

            Sorry but….
            There is no polite, or gentle way to say to someone, “Your strong beliefs in your religion are completely wrong.”

            I have tried every soft-step approach. But the truth is hard. God is very unlikely to exist.

            I don’t rule it out – maybe a God does exist – But it is so unlikely and so evidently dangerous to believe in it, that we are better off without it.

    • It is because of Christianity that we have medicine and hospitals and orphanages. You are clueless. It is atheism that has destroyed multiple millions of people. If it was up to people like you, “doctors” would still be draining peoples’ blood in an effort to “heal” them. Read some real history.

      • LouiseCA,

        You said, “It is because of Christianity that we have medicine and hospitals and orphanages.”

        NO. Absolutely NOT!
        All of these scientific and medical related theories are rejected by Christianity because none of them require a God, much less Jesus:

        1. The Atomic Theory
        2. The Theory of Matter and Energy: Conservation of Matter and Energy
        3. The Cell Theory
        4. The Germ Theory
        5. The Theory of Plate Tectonics
        6. The Theory of Evolution
        7. The Big Bang Theory
        8. Chaos Theory
        9. The Theory of a Sustainable Earth/Spaceship Earth
        10. The Theory of Quantum Mechanics
        11. The Theory of Special Relativity which subsumes The Theory of General Relativity which subsumes Newtonian theories of motion
        12. The Photon Theory of Light Energy and its speed of light
        13. The Theory of Electromagnetism as begun by Maxwell and continued with the work of others
        14. The Theory of Radioactivity or Nuclear Theory
        15. The Theory of Molecular Bonds
        16. The Theory of States of Matter—or is this part of the Atomic Theory and the Molecular Bond Theory?
        17. The Theory of Thermodynamics—hey, I guess this theory takes care of the States of Matter and the Molecular Bond theories.
        18. The Theory of Homeostasis within Living Organisms
        19. The Constructivist Theory of Learning
        20. The theories of self and development of mental processes in the brain.
        21. Theory of Gravity

        “Every great scientific truth goes through three phases.
        First, people deny it.
        Second, they say it conflicts with the Bible.
        Third, they say they’ve known it all along.”
        —Neil Degrasse Tyson

  6. Courts have upheld similar laws regarding contraceptive coverage in about 2 dozen states. Challenges on religious grounds lost. “[T]he organizations were not being placed in the position of approving birth control, any more than any other employer that provides health coverage is deemed to express ‘approval of every medication or treatment used by the employees.'”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/02/washington/02scotus.html?_r=0

  7. Earold Gunter

    This is ridiculous.

    Hob Lob pays these people for their labor. If they took that pay and made contributions to satanic causes, would that infringe upon Hob Lob’s religious freedom? They essentially played the same part in that action as they are in paying for health care, it is a part of the compensation for these employees labor.

    Although I tend to agree with Larry that this has more to do with the right wing assault on the ACA than it does on religious persecution. I do see another angle here.

    Their are certain factions within the christians religion that would impose upon this country laws that are based on their version of biblical law, and they are quite aware that this is their agenda. They demonstrate they know it by passing laws outlawing islamic sharia law, as they fear the same tactic will be applied to them.

    This could be just another example of the death throws of christian religion. More and more humans are learning that although it does teach some things beneficial to humans like charity and kindness, the rest of it is just either pure hateful garbage, or rules used to control humans, They are realizing it should be put on the shelf like so many other past religions.

    They will loose this case, and Doc is right, a message will be sent, but it will be to these zealots, and the message is “Your reign of power is coming to an end”.

    Religion is poison!!

    • The ACA is self-destroying all on its own. It needs no help from these horrid Christians that are doing their durndest to destroy the country with all of of terrible “laws” that we are forcing onto the American public.

      Are you for real? Because you have got to be kidding.

      I would be willing to bet that not one of you liberals railing against the ACA has signed up for it yourself.

  8. The reason Warren will join any movement that in any way happens to connect with his claimed, very profitable religious endeavors is to increase those profits. That is the same reason Hobby Lobby and any non-religious businesses are pursuing the lead proposed by Cardinal Dolan of New York and his bishops when he was president of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops until last fall. Religious “leaders” are trying to force others to follow their religious beliefs. That is ugly and unconstitutional.

    Hobby Lobby owners are doing it to reduce employee benefits and thereby increase their bottom line. Rich Warren does it to get more attention for his single mega-church. Warren’s boisterous ministry is all about money. “Mega-” means money! Everything Warren does is for money, not for religion. Religion is a front for Warren’s actual business. For Warren, as with so many big churches and their big-mouthed ministers, religion is a front for what is really a financial enterprise.

    • Gee, if Rick Warren is “only about money”, you’d think he’d at least take a salary from that church of his, wouldn’t you?

      If you want to play, pay for it yourself. Period. My tax dollars should not pay for your sex life.

      And read some real history, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You don’t know what you are talking about.

  9. “Diverse array of these groups…” Diverse array? That is part of the self-deception of the evangelical church. All of the signatories are evangelical Christians. And men. The only way this is a diverse array is if the evangelical male population is representative of the entire planet. Which it isn’t.

  10. Susan B. Anthony List and 50 women legislators filed amicus brief in support of Hobby Lobby Case:
    http://www.sba-list.org/sites/default/files/content/shared/01.28.14_womens_policy_groups_and_coaltion_of_female_state_legislative_and_executive_branch_officials_13-354_356_bsac.pdf

  11. Dear Liberals,

    If you want to play, pay for it yourself. Neither my tax dollars or any company’s funds, should be forced to pay for your sex life.

    Period.

  12. I side with Hobby Lobby in standing against Obamacare. But how ironic it is that Rick Warren blessed Obama into his Presidency at the Inaugural and now opposes Obama?

    But based on the following news, I should Hobby Lobby and the 37 Signatories to the Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court, to be extremely careful regarding Rick Warren, because the following news story,

    Rick Warren claims that his Purpose Driven Life is:

    “the best selling non-fiction hardback book in history”.

    Now as a journalist, you would investigate whether or not this statement is really true, as the Apostle Paul commands. But even without doing so, you would instinctively know how absurd and farcical and far-fetched such a boast is. But here is the document proof of this fraud:

    Therefore it is critical that you be alerted to the news story about Rick Warren :

    http://www.perfectpeaceplan.com/post/is-rick-warrens-claim-that-his-book-is-the-best-selling-non-fiction-hardback-book-in-history-true/

  13. Until Christian men begin to understand that the reason they have been losing ground over the last 45 years is because they are in a battle with lesbian- led, radical, second-wave feminists who despise Christian men, not only for what they stand for, but won’t they won’t stand for, including homosexuality. These women have insinuated themselves into government, politics, business, military, organized religion and academia. Through their numbers, millions, and their radical influence, Christianity is being undermined and slowly pushed into public irrelevancy. It’s no coincidence that the 5 Democrats who petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to defeat the Hobby Lobby case were ALL women. They are the enemy, and until Christian men recognizes them as the enemy, Christians are going to continue to watch Christian America disappear. Glad to see there are still a few brave Christian leaders willing to stand up and fight back! It’s about time! Need more proof of radical feminists efforts and agenda to consciously and unconsciously undermine Christianity? See Short Essays and Current EVEntS at kqduane.com

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