Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Non-news. . . but newsworthy. . . February 23, 2018, a district court ruled that the federal government cannot force a Christian college to provide reproductive services (including the morning-after pill) in its healthcare plans because it violates the college's religious beliefs.  It took a five year battle between Wheaton College and the Department of Health and Human Services to settle this challenge to Obamacare’s birth control mandate. It comes as President Trump is scaling back the mandate and trying to find ways to effectively end Obamacare even if the law itself is not changed.  The judge in the case, Bush appointee Robert M. Dow Jr. of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued the ruling. Filed in 2012, it finally protects Wheaton from any future application of the HHS’ mandate, and provides precedent for other institutions not given standing under the original Obamacare exemptions.

It is a significant victory, late, to be sure, but still timely.  Yet there was virtually no news coverage about it.  In fact, there was a flurry of news activity when Wheaton had a dust up over a faculty member who claimed Christians and Muslims worshiped the same God.  This was rather small potatoes politically, at least compared to the legal challenge to the Obamacare reproductive mandate that had previously only given exemption to churches.  But that is how it goes in the media.  The sins of Christians are well reported but little else.

This is a small victory in one sense but it is a big victory in another.  Yet it is clear that this legal advance has come at the same time as many other defeats for religious liberty in a land which enshrined such freedom in the Bill of Rights.  It is not a freedom of worship but a freedom of religion, not simply to churches but to agencies of churches and to individuals who exercise this right by living in accordance with the tenets of their faith at home and at work.  We will wait to see what happens next.


Carl Vehse said...

Here's the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division Permanent Injunction and Declaratory Relief by Judge Robert M. Dow in the case of Wheaton College v. HHS.

ErnestO said...

Pastor Peters:
May you find the following supportive - ErnestO

Saint Aelred of Rielvaux (1110-1167), Cistercian monk
The prayer of a pastor, 1.7

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me"

O Jesus, Good Shepherd, a shepherd who is truly good, shepherd full of lovingkindness and gentleness, the cry of a poor and wretched shepherd rises up to you: a weak and clumsy shepherd, an unprofitable shepherd (cf. Lk 17:10) and yet, in spite of all, a shepherd of your flock. Yes, Good Shepherd, the cry of this shepherd who is far from being good rises up to you. He cries to you, uneasy for himself, uneasy for your flock… You know my heart, Lord, you know my wish is to spend entirely for those you have entrusted to me all you have given to your servant …, and more than anything, to spend myself for them without counting the cost (2Cor 12:15)…

Even you yourself did not disdain to spend yourself for them. Therefore teach me, Lord, even me your servant, teach me through your Holy Spirit how to expend myself for them… By your inexpressible grace grant me, Lord, to bear their weaknesses with patience, to sympathize with kindness, to help them with discretion. May your Spirit’s instruction teach me to console the afflicted, strengthen the fearful, raise up those who fall, to be weak with the weak, to share the shame of those who stumble, to make myself all things to all to gain them all (2Cor 11:29; 1Cor 9:19.22). Put true words on my lips, words that are upright and just so that they may grow in faith, hope and love, in chastity and humility, in patience and obedience, fervor of spirit and purity of heart. Since it is you who have given them this blind guide (Mt 15:14), this ignorant teacher, this incapable leader, teach him whom you have installed as their professor, guide the one you have commanded to guide others.