Defending Religious Liberty

Posted by Tiger Pride in Faculty/Staff, Spiritual Life

Recently, my mother has been on this ancestry kick, and after tons of research, she has traced our family back to the 1300’s in France.  My ancestors traveled from France to England to Ireland and finally to America.  Cherie became Cherry, and Cherry married into the Murphy clan, and since my ancestors stepped foot on American soil in the early 1800’s, our family tree has grown more branches than a sycamore. My family grew very diverse from that moment on.

Diversity is very American.  Our country has been called the melting pot.  Normally it is pretty easy to spot someone from Nigeria or Sweden or China, simply by their strong traits.  That game is a little tougher in the US. We are a diverse, mufti-cultural people.

And really, diversity can be a good thing.  It allows us to interact with people from different backgrounds and life experiences; different cultures, and yes, even different viewpoints. Simply put, diversity makes us unique. And oftentimes those differing viewpoints spill over into other areas of life, like religion and morality. Even politics.

“As part of the recently passed universal health insurance reform passed in 2010, all group health plans must provide – at no cost to the recipient – certain “preventive services.”  Nine of the services are not morally troublesome, but one of the government-mandated services requires: “[a]ll Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity” be provided. The serious issue here is the fact that at least one of the approved contraceptives can cause an abortion.The government has publically stated the HHS mandate does “not include abortifacient drugs,” but the text of the regulation itself contains no such guarantee.

The “FDA-approved contraceptives” covered by the mandate include “emergency contraception” drugs. One of them is “ella” (ulipristal) – which is a close analogue to the abortion drug RU-486 (mifepristone) – and can cause an abortion to avoid pregnancy. ETBU believes that providing coverage for abortifacient drugs would be a serious violation of our faith.”

Simply stated, the government has mandated that group health plans provide services like birth control and emergency contraceptives to its employees.  Whether you agree with this or not is a prime example of the diversity I was talking about earlier.  Some see these as being perfectly fine.  Our Roman Catholic friends have a massive moral objection to this mandate.  While we may disagree on the issue of birth control, we are in perfect harmony on the issue of emergency contraceptives since we believe that life begins at conception.  This argument has truly uncovered the diversity of opinions on the matter.

Diversity may be what makes us unique, but it’s freedom that makes us Americans. And freedom is most certainly the issue.

This issue is not so much about women’s rights, or the availability of birth control and various EC’s like Plan B and Ella.  It is about a government mandating that employers provide these services or face a fine.  What is essentially happening is that this government is mandating that we must abide by their legal ruing, even though, as a Christian organization, it violates our moral conscience and tramples on our faith and freedom of religion. This is unconscionable when viewed through the lens of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Since this mandate so strenuously offends our freedom, faith, and moral conscience, ETBU has decided to join other faith institutions around the nation to stand against it.

On February 16, 2012, our own president, Dr. Dub Oliver appeared before the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform at a hearing entitled, “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” to testify on behalf of the University and the millions of Americans with a clear moral and faith objection to this mandate.  From the Marshall News Messenger to World Magazine to CNN, Dr. Dub’s testimony and remarks have been quoted around the globe.

“The deeper idea for us is the idea of religious liberty and government has crossed a boundary to require them to do something that violates their conscience,” Oliver said in an interview with CNN. This quote sums it up. The government mandate violates our guaranteed freedoms.

The moment my forefathers stepped foot on American soil, they were guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  They were guaranteed inalienable rights, among those rights, the Freedom of Religion.

It is in the defense of these rights and freedoms that ETBU takes a stand, along with our ETBU President, and people of faith all over this nation.

We are proud to be Americans.  We are proud to be Tigers.  Way to go Dr. Dub! GO RED, GO WHITE, GO BLUE!

Click here to see how ETBU is involved in this debate.  You can also read Dr. Dub’s testimony and news stories from around the nation, as well guides and editorials.