Posted by: gmscan | February 9, 2012

The PCUSA Does It Again!

The PCUSA has come down on the wrong side of what is the most important religious liberty test of the new century so far. Through its affiliation with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC)  it is supporting the Obama Administration’s efforts to force the Catholic Church (and others) to pay for services the church is scripturally opposed to. Indeed, the RCRC argues that the decision doesn’t go far enough –

“We recognize this is a victory for many women, but (Secretary Sebelius’) decision not to extend this coverage to all Americans, no matter the religious perspective of their employer, is disappointing.”

So, now in addition to its long-standing disregard for Scripture, the PCUSA adds complete disregard of the Constitution of the United States. It believes the church, as an employer, should be forced to do whatever the government tells it to do.

Just last month the Supreme Court ruled unanimously – unanimously – against this viewpoint in its Hosanna-Tabor v. Smith decision.   It found that churches are not required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it comes to it’s own “ministerial” employees.  Ministerial was defined very broadly to include teachers in religious schools if those teachers have any responsibility for teaching church doctrine.

The Obama administration argued in this case there should be no “ministerial exception” whatsoever, so this contempt for religious freedom is not new for them. But it is pretty alarming that the PCUSA should share in this contempt.

Indeed, this administration avoids any discussion of “freedom of religion” in favor of the much narrower “freedom of worship.” Apparently it believes that churches should confine themselves to communal prayer on Sunday and leave any mission work to the mercies of the government. Christ’s Great Commandment and Great Commission do not carry much weight in the Obama White House.

But the Christian churches, and the Catholic Church especially, believe that serving the poor and the sick is every much a part of their faith as Sunday services. They do not, and must not, leave their Christianity in the pews on Sunday.

The idea that a single bureaucrat can mandate that churches pay for contraception and sterilization services for those employees not involved in Sunday services is beyond reason. The only thing now protecting them from being required to also pay for abortions is the political calculation of the man in the Oval Office.

This political calculation is exactly what is behind this decision. The Los Angeles Times reports that,

“Democratic strategists think voters who oppose President Obama because of the birth-control rule wouldn’t have voted for him anyway. The strategists think most Catholic women — like most other American women — believe that birth control should be affordable and available.”

There is broad support for contraceptives, so people are willing to ignore religious freedom – or so they thought.

It must be pointed out that the Catholic Church brought this on themselves. They largely supported ObamaCare and the Catholic Health Association was one of the most passionate advocates of this law. But now –

“Sister Carol Keehan, head of the Catholic Health Assn. of the United States, argued that the rule potentially establishes a new test for what is and isn’t a religious institution — one separate from the Internal Revenue Service definition and one that could have implications for other policies, on issues such as covering abortion.”

The backlash has been ferocious. Even liberal Catholics who are strong political supporters of the president are appalled at the overreach.

But the overreach continues. Catholic chaplains in the military were forbidden by the Administration from reading a letter from the Archbishop for Military Services at Sunday Mass last week. Have priests ever before been told by the government what they can and cannot say during Mass?

This Administration has declared war on Christianity, and the PCUSA is helping them do it.

If you are interested in weighing in, the Manhattan Declaration is collecting signatures on a petition of protest.



  1. I guess the PC in PCUSA stands for “politically correct.” over the 40 years I have been a Christian and a member of a denomination I have learned that the horrible disease of institutionalization affects churches as much as any other institution. It isn’t long before all that matters is preserving the existence of the institution. That becomes the only mission.

    Greg, don’t become discouraged! Original sin pollutes the church too.

  2. “This Administration has declared war on Christianity, and the PCUSA is helping them do it.”

    Really. War on Christianity. With the help of the PCUSA. Even as rhetorical hyperbole, this one stretches the limits of reasoned argument.

    Greg, you have a credible platform, but it’s not limitless. Don’t waste it.

  3. Thank you for the response, Greg,

    I wonder if what you are perceiving is really a reflection of living in an increasingly pluralistic society in the global village. It used to be that everyone in America was Christian. At least everyone who was anyone. It was shocking in the 60s when African-Americans started becoming Muslims, and a Roman Catholic became president.

    But in the last 40 or 50 years we can no longer assume our neighbor is Christian and no longer assume that what makes sense in a Christian culture is right for everyone.

    It can feel like an attack even if it’s just making allowances for our neighbors.

    (I was in Tanzania the summer before last and I was amazed at the harmony that exists there between the Christians and the Muslims.)

    However, if you are right, and we do come under attack, we are well educated and taught by our Lord as to the proper way to respond: “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. ” Luke 6:27-28

    (kinda makes you wonder what more is left for loving your friends…)

  4. Greg,
    I don’t think “complicit” is a fitting description of the PCUSA’s response to, what I would describe as, the marginilization of the church by our current culture.
    I think Jodie put his finger on the the proper response though. The early church found itself in much the same situation as we find ourelves now, and the “People of the Way” attracted the culture to the church through their missional/incarnational living. In my opinion, the church needs to recapture the early church’s methodology if it intends to regain the central status it once had. It requires stuff like Luke 6, and associating with those whom we may not really like or agree with. I’m seeing some folks in the PCUSA moving in that direction, and am personally involved in some of it.

  5. Check out the Medical Coverage Plan provided by the Board of Pensions that the PC(USA) requires its’ member churches to cover their ordained clergy with, it contains the right to an ABORTION at any time during pregnancy (where legal by state law), since 1992. So the PC(USA) is out in front of Obama. No wonder there is no voice from the PC(USA) supporting our Catholic Brothers. I’m very glad to be out from under the PC(USA) and into the EPC.

  6. Congratulations on the PCUSA for loking forward instead of keeping its head buried in the dreams and visions of the distant past. Religious extremism is the old school and exactly what the US is fighting in the middle east. Rationality and logic are the arguments – nothing so petty as rules and laws meant to control a society long dead. Welcome to the 21st century.

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