‘Insuring’ Religious Liberty: Obama Care, Ronald Reagan, and the Crisis of Conscience in America Today

We were told this would not happen. We were told to just let the bill pass and read it later. Well, we are reading it now. And the fine print doesn’t look good for religious freedom.
Perhaps you have heard about last Sunday’s “pulpit protest” by Roman Catholic priests around the nation over the administration’s mandated health care program which will require Catholic institutions — universities, hospitals and seminaries to “tow the line” regarding national health care mandates; notably, the requirement to provide insurance that will promote contraception and ultimately abortion.
The protest is unprecedented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. But make no mistake. This is not a Catholic issue only. It is not a contraception issue. It is a religious liberty issue. It is an American issue.
Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted was spot-on when he preached, “we cannot, we will not, comply with this unjust law. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build (America) … Or to have the posterity stripped of their God given rights…” This Presbyterian says, “Amen,” to that Catholic bishop.
As the next chancellor and CEO of one of America’s largest protestant seminaries, I can tell you that the Obama health care mandate is already having an enormous impact on our ministry. Yet until this latest revelation, the impact has mostly been financial. In a word, this thing is going to be extraordinarily expensive.
Now, unless there is a wholesale repeal of this Act or unless there is dramatic and immediate steps taken to curb the government’s prying into the consciences of religious institutions like our seminary, or other similar religious organizations that appeal to a Higher Law than Man’s, we will have a constitutional crisis on our hands. I realize that those are heavy words. But we must all realize that this is a weighty matter.
It is interesting that Ronald Reagan’s 101st birthday (February 6th, 1911) is going to be celebrated as this crisis unfolds before us. He had something to say about how government mandated medicine steals liberty. Back in 1961 then actor and General Electric spokesman, Ronald Reagan, warned America:
“One of the traditional ways of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine…”
Reagan went on to describe how a secularist government would use national health care to advance other leftist agendas. He also went on to quote a founder who warned against the loss of liberty through gradual intrusion of a meddling government:
James Madison warned, “Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachment by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” (James Madison, speech in the Virginia ratifying convention on control of the military, June 16, 1788 in: History of the Virginia Federal Convention of 1788, Vol. 1, p. 130 [H.B. Grigsby, ed. 1890]).
If liberty and freedom were a government-issued right then it would have the prerogative to take it back. But liberty and freedom, as our founders declared, come from God. To meddle with those rights of conscience is to return to the crisis of human rights that gave rise to this nation. Unless these violations of religious rights are expelled, now, they will bring ruin to this nation.
It is time for Americans to speak up for religious freedom while there is still time. Thank God for the Catholic Bishops and priests who did. We all must. For you can’t lose just a little liberty. You lose — we lose — all of it when we lose any of it.
Michael Anthony Milton (Ph.D., University of Wales) serves as the chancellor/CEO elect of Reformed Theological Seminary (one of the largest accredited seminaries in the country), a U.S. Army chaplain (instructing at the Armed Forces Chaplain School) and the James M. Baird Jr. chair of pastoral theology at RTS/Charlotte. He is an author, songwriter, singer, ordained minister, former pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., and he previously served as the president of RTS/Charlotte. Dr. Milton also hosts a national Bible teaching television program, Faith For Living, broadcast on the NRB Television Network, and a radio program broadcast on several stations in the southeast. For 16 years he served in the business world and has also served as a top-secret Navy linguist.
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