Pastor Brent Brooks’ speech at the Reno Rally for Religious Liberty, 23rd of March 2012.
My name is Brent Brooks. I am a Protestant pastor. I deeply agree with my Catholic brothers and sisters that abortion is the intentional taking of human life. I do not share the same theological reservations with contraception as my Catholic brothers and sisters. But I will defend with all that is within me their right to those beliefs and their right to be free from governmental restraint on those beliefs. To the extent that the beliefs of any of my Christian brothers and sisters are impeded, to that same extent the beliefs of each and every one of us are threatened!
I find it impossible to stay silent at a time like this! I come today appalled at the fact that we need to be standing here in front of this building protesting the wrong-headed and belligerent acts of our own government, the very government that is tasked with protecting our Constitution. How and why does our government think it has a greater and higher role in the protection of women and children than the Christian church? The church has stood on behalf of women and children, the poor and the downtrodden for 2000 years. Why does our government now think it has the right and duty to replace us in this task?
Do not for a moment believe the public relations machine from Washington that is seeking to gloss over what is being done here! We are being fed lies, slander, and diversionary tactics! This IS NOT about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive. Any woman in America can obtain contraception for free or at a nominal cost. This IS NOT about women’s rights, when women and their churches are being forced to violate their consciences and their religious beliefs, and EVEN celibate religious women are being forced to pay for this mandate. This IS NOT about “preventive care” for American health, as if allowing for greater promiscuity and the further spread of sexually transmitted diseases will benefit our nation’s health! Where is the care for the lives of children yet to be born? This IS NOT about the supposed compromise of having insurers pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs rather than churches and religious institutions. We have the longest, deepest, and richest intellectual, philosophical, and logical tradition in the world. Do not think for a moment that we are so naïve, ignorant, or stupid as to think the payments of our insurers will come from any source other than our insurance premiums.
This IS about a small group of ideological zealots abusing our governmental processes and forcing people of faith and their churches and institutions to violate their freedom of conscience and religious beliefs. This IS about forcing us to pay by premium or penalty for abortion-inducing drugs and the consequent loss of human life. This we cannot and will not do!
As a former attorney schooled in Constitutional law, as a pastor and seminary professor trained in theology and the religious beliefs of myself and others, and as an American citizen raised from an early age to respect religious freedom, I am totally unable to comprehend this latest mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services. In Constitutional law the First Amendment free exercise of religion may only be abridged where a “compelling state interest” can be shown. I know of no compelling state interest that would allow for such an invasion of freedom of conscience, religious liberties and private contractual rights. There is NO such compelling interest!
Since when did children become a disease requiring “preventive” care? Have we become China where it is state policy to control family size? Why are religious institutions and their insurers being mandated and forced by their own government to practice federally enforced birth control (including sterilization and abortion- inducing drugs) in violation of their conscience and religious beliefs? Where do we draw the line after this? Is government mandated insurance funding of abortion and euthanasia next? Where is the proper place for freedom of conscience and religious liberties?
I stand today with all of you to demand the immediate repeal of this unjust, unrighteous, and unconstitutional power grab by the Health and Human Services mandate. And I want our government to know that Christian brothers and sisters, Catholic and Protestant, will stand together in this matter until this outrageous mandate is repealed, removed, and forever forgotten! We are Americans! We are believers in Jesus Christ! There are millions of us! We will not be silent! We are loud, we are vocal, we are here, we will keep coming back here, we are outraged, we will vote, and we will not be bullied into betraying our fundamental beliefs!