USA (MNN) — The 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in the United States allows Christians and people of faith to claim exemption from government mandates that conflict with their religious beliefs.
“This new act, which is the Do No Harm Act, would unleash even greater federal control over our freedom to believe and act according to our biblical beliefs. So the act basically says if it’s a government mandate or a government law, then you cannot come under the umbrella of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for protection because that no longer applies. Basically it would strip that law of any meaning whatsoever.”
The bill was introduced by Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) as an amendment to RFRA. The Do No Harm Act is currently at a standstill in Congress and has yet to be passed.
An example of RFRA in action was the Supreme Court case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that Christian-owned Hobby Lobby was exempt from providing abortifacient drugs in their employee healthcare coverage.
Lothamer says, “Now this new [Do No Harm Act], as an example if it were passed, could undo that and Hobby Lobby would be required to have abortifacients or pay for abortions within their medical care.”
You can see where this is going. Employers opting out of abortifacients coverage, doctors refusing abortion procedures, pastors declining from marrying homosexual couples, and more would be in jeopardy.
Christians simply want the freedom to live out our faith according to what God has ordained through His Word — not have to ‘check our beliefs at the door’.
“We recognize all people are made in God’s image,” says Lothamer, “whether they’re people that believe as we do or they believe the opposite of what we believe, they’re still image-bearers and because of that, we show respect as human beings and we pray for them. However, in interacting with them or discussing these issues, we do that in the context of compassion and mercy and respect, but we stand firm on what we believe.
“Now let’s say, for instance if the act takes place, then there’s going to be some choices we may have to make as believers. Do I participate in that, even though it violates my deeply-held biblical beliefs, or do I take a stand? We’re not there yet, but we could get there, and especially as those of us who believe in the sanctity of human life in respect of life and abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide, and some of these other areas, we may be forced to take a stand that might put us in direct confrontation with the federal government.”
The players currently taking the stage in the U.S. government will be key influencers of where we as a nation will land on the issues of religious freedom.
“Whoever is elected this next election to the presidency, and also we remember that all of the House seats are up for grabs this election, and a number of Senate seats, if by some way, what I would classify as the more liberal element would take control, this act would pass very quickly and be imposed upon all of America.”
There are a few things you can do. First of all, Lothamer encourages political engagement.
“It’s imperative for us to prayerfully consider who we should vote for, and voting for those people who uphold the constitution, who stand for the sanctity of human life in all places, not just the presidency, but the congress and the state level and even the local level. So we participate in that election by voting especially, not sitting back and saying, ‘Well, I don’t like who’s running, so I won’t vote.’ That’s not a proper way to think about it.”
Lothamer says you can also call your government representatives. “I would encourage [readers] to call their congressmen or women and ask them questions about [the Do No Harm Act], what do they think, and encourage them first of all in finding out what really the whole law entails. Then talk intelligently with them in how they can encourage them to vote against such a law.”
But really, in the midst of political involvement and raising awareness, Christians cannot allow defensiveness to overrule mindfulness of God’s commission to make disciples, have compassion on those who are lost, and reach out to those who need Christ’s transformation and love.
“It’s going to require that we as Christians, regardless of what happens, are going to continue to have to seek out and reach out to people with needs and sharing the Gospel and ministering to people in need. That’s not going to change.”
The most imperative thing to remember is our God is still in control, and He has a plan that is playing out the way He intends for the achievement of His sovereign purposes.
And that should give us the greatest confidence and hope.
“No matter what happens, God is still sovereign, and we are okay. Like my pastor said, ‘It’s going to be rough, but for us who believe in Christ and who actually are waiting for His return, it’s not terminal.’”