Contraceptives, Casinos & Christian Citizenship

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What do contraceptives and casinos have to do with Christian citizenship? Maybe more than we have realized until now.

On the issue of contraceptives, an Obama administration policy will soon require private insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives, including those causing an abortion. Since many religious organizations provide insurance to their employees this policy would require them to, at the very least, pay for insurance that is providing abortion-causing drugs to their employees.

In Southern Baptist life, GuideStone Financial Resources, owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, is in the business of providing health insurance (among other services) for those who serve our churches and affiliated agencies. O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone, remarked about Obama’s policy: “It is a fundamental matter of religious liberty that threatens the very coverage of those dedicated persons who serve our churches…. GuideStone will never depart from the core convictions it has held dear for decades regarding the sanctity of life.”

What will that mean for GuideStone? If Obama’s policies do not change, Guidestone can choose to go out of business or deal with whatever consequences that may result from civil disobedience. Efforts, including legal measures, have been launched to defend the rights of churches and citizens on this issue.

On another issue, our Christian values required us to stand for the poor and vulnerable, exhibiting our love for others by using our influence to turn back efforts to bring casinos to Kentucky. Some fell prey to the mantra, “Let the people decide!” But most of our Baptist leaders and churches understand both how difficult it is to mount a political campaign against a multi-billion dollar industry and how easily voters are swayed by the false predictions of an economic boom that casinos never bring.

Efforts included a rally at the capitol the day before the vote and countless phone calls and visits Kentucky Baptists made to their legislators. Leaders like Hershael York, pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, challenged the faulty arguments and exaggerated promises of casino supporters to help the politicians themselves understand the mistake of supporting the bill. The result of Kentucky Baptists and others engaging this issue was that the casino bill never made it out of the state senate.

These are but two issues illustrating how we can and must be engaged as Christian citizens. The Baptist Faith and Message states, “All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society…. Every Christian should seek to bring industry, government, and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth, and brotherly love.” Might we, as Kentucky Baptists, continue to meet our obligations.

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