Posted by: Johnold Strey | February 15, 2012

WELS President’s Statement on HHS Ruling

The recent ruling from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has caused a great deal of concern among religious institutions that will now be required by the federal government to provide forms of contraception, through their insurance providers, that violate Christian beliefs and values about the beginning and sanctity of human life.  Several fine statements have been issued by other confessional Lutherans, including the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS, the “sister synod” of the WELS; see text) and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS; see text, video).  Today the following statement was released by Pastor Mark Schroeder, president of my national church body, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS):

Recently the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that it will require all health care plans, including those provided by religious organizations, to include coverage for contraceptives, abortive drugs, and medical procedures that are contrary to the doctrinal positions of many Christian churches and denominations. This action is a clear and unprecedented threat to the religious liberty guaranteed to all citizens by the First Amendment. No religious organization should be required by the government to support or facilitate activities which are in clear violation of its principles and beliefs.

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod holds to the biblical teaching that human life begins at conception and that the unborn are fully human beings, created by God. We are deeply distressed that the government of the United States would require the health care plans of our church-affiliated organizations to provide abortion-inducing drugs or other procedures that would end the life of an unborn child and would require coverage for any other medical treatment that violates our teachings and conscience. 

More recently, President Obama has announced an ‘accommodation,’ saying that religious organizations will not be required to pay directly for such coverage. Instead, insurance providers serving religious organizations will be required to make these services available free of charge. As one congressman has correctly said, this is a ‘distinction without a difference,’ since such costs would still be provided indirectly by the religious organizations through the insurance premiums they pay.

The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod clearly understands and teaches that Jesus has directed his followers to ‘give to Caesar what is Caesar’s’ (Mark 12:17) and that secular government is used by God for the good of all society. Christian citizens recognize their responsibility to pay taxes, support the government, obey its laws, and pray for its leaders. While it is not normally within the sphere of the church to become involved in secular politics, we do recognize that individual Christians have a responsibility to exercise their rights as citizens, to express their beliefs, and to encourage the government to act in the best interest of society.

Therefore, we encourage all of our members, as Christian citizens, to express their convictions boldly and to urge the government to be faithful in carrying out its primary responsibility to protect and preserve life. We also encourage our members, as many others in various denominations and church bodies have done, to recognize and speak out against this clear threat to the blessing of religious liberty American citizens have enjoyed since the founding of the nation.

We also confess and affirm that if the government directs us to do something in clear violation of the will of God, “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

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Responses

  1. Here is a follow-up news story from the LCMS:

    http://reporter.lcms.org/pages/rpage.asp?NavID=19656

  2. Truly sad! It seams to me that more and more of our so called leaders act like goats. I know and believe that God is in control.
    However this decision by ‘goats’ makes me mad and I do not like it. I don’t like it at all!

  3. Another LCMS update: Video and text of Pres. Harrison’s remarks earlier today before the House Committee on Government and Oversight.

    http://www.lcms.org/hhsmandate


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