Should Christian-owned companies be forced by the federal government to violate their religious beliefs?
That’s the question facing Supreme Court justices as they hear arguments on whether Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties must provide insurance coverage for abortion inducing drugs.
It’s also the question I posed to Rick Warren – the pastor of Saddleback Church in California.
“This is going to be a landmark case,” Pastor Warren told me. “If it goes the wrong way, it’ll put a chill on a freedom that we’ve had since America was founded.”
Lawyers for the family-owned companies believe Americans don’t lose their religious rights when they go into business.
But the Obama administration disagrees. They say individual business owners have religious rights, but their companies do not.
“Whatever happened to live and let live?” Warren wondered. “”It’s just not there anymore. They not only want acceptance, they want approval and they want to force you to say what they’re doing is okay.”
The New York Times editorial board said people like Pastor Warren are “crying wolf on religious liberty.”
“These companies are not religious organizations, nor are they affiliated with religious organizations,” the newspaper wrote. “But the owners say they are victims of an assault on religious liberty because they personally disapprove of certain contraceptives.
They are wrong, and the Supreme Court’s task is to issue a decisive ruling saying so. The real threat to religious liberty comes from the owners trying to impose their religious beliefs on thousands of employees.”
In recent days the Obama administration has parsed words – arguing that Americans have the freedom of “worship.”
“The constitution doesn’t guarantee freedom of worship,” Warren told me. “It guarantees freedom of religion.”
If all the constitution guaranteed was for freedom of worship, then the only thing protected is your one hour a week in your synagogue, mosque, church.”
Cardinal Raymond Burke, the Vatican’s chief justice, said Obama “promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.”
“It is true that the policies of the president of the United States have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies,” Burke told the Polonia Christiana magazine.