Russell Moore Blasts Obama Administration's 'Shocking Audacity' Towards Religious Freedom

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By Morgan Lee , Christian Post Reporter
June 30, 2014|3:55 pm

Following the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to allow Hobby Lobby to not cover certain types of birth control on religious grounds, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Commission, blasted President Barack Obama's treatment of religious liberty issues.

russell moore steve green naghmeh abedini (Photo: The Christian Post/Sonny Hong)

Russell Moore awards the Green Family of Hobby Lobby the John Leland Religious Liberty Award for demonstrating a commitment to religious freedom and he awards Saeed Abedini, who is imprisoned in Iran for his faith, the Richard Land Distinguished Service Award. Saeed's wife, Naghmeh accepted the award on his behalf on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland at the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention's Annual Meeting.

"This administration has shown a shocking audacity when it comes to restricting religious liberty," Moore told reporters on Monday afternoon.

"Not only in terms of the HHS mandate, but also, remember the Hosanna Tabor decision which was decided 9-0 in the Supreme Court, but in which the administration argued against a ministerial exemption, [which] would have put the government in direct supervision of religious entities when it comes to hiring," he continued. "I think there's a general attitude on the part of the administration that's very troubling when it comes to religious liberties."

Despite the fact that the highly-anticipated Hobby Lobby decision has been rendered, Moore said he does not see religious freedom controversies going away.

"We cannot see this case as settling the issue once and for all. We have to remain diligent to articulate why religious liberty is in the common good of all people," he said, adding that he didn't "think of any of us would have imagined just a few years ago that the government would be seeking to coerce Southern Baptist arts and craft store owners and Mennonite wood workers to pay for abortion-causing drugs — but here we are."

"We have to be concerned at all times, to be advocating for freedom of conscience and religious liberty for all people."

According to Moore, religious freedom and the sexual revolution are "coming into conflict constantly."

Why? Moore blamed those on the sexual revolution for "not allowing any dissent, it seems, in the public square."

"It's lamentable that this a constant issue when religious liberty ought to be relatively non-controversial in American life. Religious freedom was purchased at great cost in this country and ought to be guarded. But for many, sexual liberation is the highest good and everything else must fall away before it. I think we must be very diligent for it," he said.

Moore argued that it was up to him and his allies on the religious freedom front to remind the country that "without religious liberty, we have no other rights or freedoms. This is the first freedom and we have to guard it."

The Southern Baptist leader also shot down ideas that the Supreme Court's recognition of a corporation (Hobby Lobby) as a person should trouble Christians.

"I think Justice (Samuel) Alito is exactly right: a corporation is a gathering of persons to carry out a task and I think we all see and recognize that. We expect for businesses to act in ways that are moral, rather than in ways that are immoral. We expect that, when it comes to, for instance, pollution and involvement with the community ... it would have been absurd, I think, for the Supreme Court to rule that this family operating their business, they have to check their religious convictions into a blind trust when they walk out of church on a Sunday morning.

"I don't think there's anything to be worried about here. I think there's much to celebrate."

In a landmark religious freedom case the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties, stating that corporations can refuse to provide certain drugs that may abort a fetus on the basis of religious objection.

In a five to four decision, the highest court in the land ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to privately owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties.

The decision was narrowed to only the contraceptive mandate and is not necessarily applicable to all insurance mandates, like blood transfusions or vaccinations.

In September 2012 Hobby Lobby owners the Green family filed a lawsuit against HHS in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma regarding the mandate.

While the Greens were willing to provide most of the mandated contraceptives, they opposed the provision that they must provide "morning after" and "week after" pills, which they considered abortion-inducing and thus in opposition to the Greens' pro-life views.

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga were two of dozens of entities that had sued the federal government over the HHS mandate.

Several similar lawsuits arguing that the mandate violates religious conscience remain in the lower courts and will likely be affected by the decision.

 

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