What Martin Luther tore asunder, the Department of HHS has brought together

That title is the comment of a lawmaker to Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College, in a timely analysis by Kathryn Jean Lopez.  The Evangelical college has joined Catholic University of America in a lawsuit against the administration over the HHS mandate.  Perhaps we’re not quite yet at reunification, but the unity among Catholics and Evangelicals against this aggressive attack on religious liberty is remarkable. As Ryken noted,

…it does speak to the significance of the “co-belligerent” band that has formed in response to the need to protect conscience rights from coercion by the federal government.


Ryken also noted,

By providing an exemption for churches, the federal government has created two classes of religious institutions in America: those that have full protection for their religious freedom and those that don’t.

Ryken was most disturbed by

…the government’s provision of a ‘safe harbor’ that would defer for one year the implementation of the mandate — and presenting that as somehow being a reasonable accommodation of religious liberty. I found that offensive — the hope that we would change our religious convictions over the course of the intervening year, or that religious convictions had somehow been honored if you violated them later rather than sooner.

Ryken’s comments were quite similar to those of Cardinal Dolan of New York.

Many Evangelicals do not agree with Catholic teaching on contraception, but they clearly understand the threat to religious liberty posed by the HHS mandate.  For Evangelicals, the directive in the HHS mandate to provide abortion-inducing drugs violates their conscience.  This is not a fight about contraception.  As Ryken noted,

The secretary of Health and Human Services has been on record publicly as saying these are drugs that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. For us that means they are over a moral line that we are committed not to cross.

Ryken understands the threat to religious liberty posed by the mandate.

…even if the HHS mandate had no effect on evangelical institutions, it would still be important to me to be supportive of Roman Catholic institutions if there were invitations and opportunities to be supportive.

Unlike some other religious institutions, Wheaton College does not qualify for the one-year safe harbor.  The mandate goes into effect for them on the 1st of August. 

As Ryken stated,

Everything else flows from religious liberty, or is built around it.  Therefore you adjust and accommodate other things around that freedom. You don’t adjust and accommodate that freedom around other things that are more fundamental, because nothing else is.


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