If I asked you to rank your major life priorities – you know, things like faith, family, work, hobbies, friends, and so on, what would your list look like? With only slight variation, I’m sure most Christians would have a list in similar order: God, family, work, friends, hobbies, then everything else. That is, if you had to choose between family and hobbies, you would probably choose family first.
Now, if I asked you to define your identity, what would that look like? For me, my identity – my “being” – is defined as Christian, Husband, Father, Son, American, Caucasian, Male, and so on. While the list may not be in perfect order, one aspect is certain. Because my first priority is loving and serving God, my identity is first and foremost decidedly Christian. And for those who want even more definition, my identity as a Christian is Protestant, Evangelical, and Pentecostal.
Our nation frequently enters into the whole “Separation of Church and State” debate. Although I disagree with the mainstream thought that seeks to keep faith out of every public or governmental venue, I understand the construct behind their ideas. Where most people become confused, however, is in the differentiation between being and doing. Our nation’s laws, with employment laws included (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin), are premised upon preventing discrimination based upon a person’s being. The only argument related to the homosexual agenda that allows entrance into this discussion is the argument that a person “is” homosexual by birth, and that without choice. The “Separation” argument, for most, primarily centers on the regulation of a person’s “doing” or actions in a public/government setting. That is, for example, public schools cannot refuse to hire me because I am a Christian, but they can limit the act or practice of my faith in the classroom. These days it seems that some would even consider discrimination against and infringement upon the rights of Christians to be acceptable.
But this article is about neither the homosexual agenda nor the “Separation” debate. It is about Hobby Lobby, and the implication for all of us who identify as Christians.
During August and September of last year, several organizations filed for exemptions from the Affordable Healthcare Reform Act (AKA “Obamacare”). Most notably, the Catholic Church and Hobby Lobby filed lawsuits against a mandate that would “require nearly all health insurance policies in the U.S. to provide free coverage of sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives to all women of ‘reproductive capacity'” (Source article). The owners of Hobby Lobby, who identify themselves as Evangelical Christians, stated that they operate their privately owned business according to the tenets of their faith, and that the mandate would violate their religious convictions.
The Obama administration has responded with smoke and mirrors, stating that although the business is private, as a corporation it is secular. The government has said discrimination cannot occur based upon one’s identity as a Christian, but it seems that rule only applies when the identity is one acceptable to the current administration. Therefore, the administration, which was supported by the recent Supreme Court decision to deny Hobby Lobby’s claims, is going to force Hobby Lobby’s owner David Green to violate his faith or go out of business as a result of hefty daily fines.
Let’s take the Obama administration’s thought to its natural conclusion. If Hobby Lobby is secular and must operate according to the government’s terms, can the government then dictate that they must stop playing religious music in its stores? What if people want to shop on Sunday? Could the government decide that Hobby Lobby and Chik-Fil-A must open on Sunday in violation of their convictions concerning the Sabbath? Moreover, could they or would they force a Muslim or Jewish owned restaurant chain to offer a menu including pork? One may think my statements are extreme, but at what point do your “rights” to choice and the pursuit of happiness supersede my “rights” to choice, expression, and service to God?
A person can choose, based upon no particular conviction or preference, to use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. That same person could choose abstinence as a means of avoiding pregnancy. Or, that person can choose little or no precautions and become pregnant. But if Mr. Green chooses, based upon his identity as a Christian in service to his God, in the operation of his business not to provide coverage for these certain drugs then he is wrong.
If it seems I am rambling, I am not. In effect, the Obama administration is saying that Mr Green can be a Christian so long as he does not live out his faith and convictions in a way that might interfere with anyone else’s life. A person can choose to shop at Hobby Lobby. A person can choose whether to work at Hobby Lobby. But Mr Green cannot choose to be a Christian in his ownership of Hobby Lobby.
If you agree with my list of priorities and identity above, then you agree that we are Christians before anything else. Being a Christian necessarily affects and informs the way we live in this world. We don’t “turn off” being a Christian when we go to school, work, shopping, or the fitness center. I could argue, and have taught from Scripture, that because of our identity as Christians – holy, called out ones – nothing we do is secular (the very definition of which is “not holy, spiritual, or religious”). And the government cannot and should not be able to control our “Christian-ness.” In fact, being a Christian should make us that much more compassionate, ethical, honorable, loving, forgiving, and excellent in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). We should be the best employees, employers, and coworkers. We are not forcing any of those traits, or our faith, upon anyone simply because we live as the Christians we are. But if we are not careful, and vigilant, we will soon lose all ability to identify as Christians in anything other than private settings. But wait, a private business doesn’t count. Maybe a private school, church, or our own private homes won’t count soon either.
Let me offer one final illustration of my point, and how this topic affects us as Christian cops. Over the holidays, a woman from Washington State found the Covered Law Enforcement Facebook page. There she found pictures from the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (FCPO) conference that was held in Florida during September 2012. Concerning a picture of MC Williams and another officer who performed a skit, she made these comments:
“So much for separation of church and state, hmmm? I have to say this is alarming and definitely not a police officer’s role. Tax dollars shouldn’t pay for cops converting, but instead protecting and serving.”
“Scary. tax dollars paying for this type of thing? I wonder how the people feel about this gross lack of separation between church and state. our constitution continues to not matter. stop converting and stick to protecting and serving.”
I responded to her in a loving, but matter of fact way that let her know she was making several incorrect assumptions. In the same way she exercised her right to speech and expression, she asserted that our expression of faith violates the Constitution. She asserted that we were wasting tax dollars, and in so doing, denied the fact that we too are tax payers and have as much say in how those dollars should be spent. She was insisting that in doing our jobs we should remove all evidence of our being Christians, which would be for the purpose of accommodating her beliefs. If certain people in this country, and apparently the Obama administration as well, have their way, then we could soon be very limited in the expression of our Christian faith during the performance of our duties and daily lives.
I pray that God will honor Mr. Green and Hobby Lobby for his stand. I also pray for God’s deliverance and direction during this and other trials that he will face. I pray finally for each of us should the day come that we will have the strength, confidence, and anointing to stand and declare as did Peter and the Apostles in Acts 5:29, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”*Disclaimer for those who may be concerned about this article – We do not support or oppose any candidate, President Obama included, and are therefore perfectly in line with our status as a tax exempt organization. We are addressing an issue of faith, and fulfilling our mission of promoting faith among those serving in law enforcement.
- Letter from Hobby Lobby CEO (mattmcmains82.wordpress.com)
- Some of the People Obamacare Hurts – Hobby Lobby in a Lost America (gregoryccochran.com)
- Sorry, Hobby Lobby, You’re No Religious Organization (newser.com)
- Court rules Hobby Lobby must pay for “morning after pill” (kfor.com)