21 June 2012

President Harrison on "Open Letter on Religious Freedom"

FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION: Putting Beliefs into Practice

Putting Beliefs into Practice

An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans

Dear Friends,

Religious institutions are established because of religious beliefs and convictions. Such institutions include not only churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship, but also schools and colleges, shelters and community kitchens, adoption agencies and hospitals, organizations that provide care and services during natural disasters, and countless other organizations that exist to put specific religious beliefs into practice. Many such organizations have provided services and care to both members and non-members of their religious communities since before the Revolutionary War, saving and improving the lives of countless American citizens.

As religious leaders from a variety of perspectives and communities, we are compelled to make known our protest against the incursion of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) into the realm of religious liberty. HHS has mandated that religious institutions, with only a narrow religious exception, must provide access to certain contraceptive benefits, even if the covered medications or procedures are contradictory to their beliefs. We who oppose the application of this mandate to religious institutions include not only the leaders of religious groups morally opposed to contraception, but also leaders of other religious groups that do not share that particular moral conviction.

That we share an opposition to the mandate to religious institutions while disagreeing about specific moral teachings is a crucial fact. Religious freedom is the principle on which we stand. Because of differing understandings of moral and religious authority, people of good will can and often do come to different conclusions about moral questions. Yet, even we who hold differing convictions on specific moral issues are united in the conviction that no religious institution should be penalized for refusing to go against its beliefs. The issue is the First Amendment, not specific moral teachings or specific products or services.

The HHS mandate implicitly acknowledged that an incursion into religion is involved in the mandate. However, the narrowness of the proposed exemption is revealing for it applies only to religious organizations that serve or support their own members. In so doing, the government is establishing favored and disfavored religious organizations: a privatized religious organization that serves only itself is exempted from regulation, while one that believes it should also serve the public beyond its membership is denied a religious exemption. The so-called accommodation and the subsequent Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) do little or nothing to alleviate the problem.

No government should tell religious organizations either what to believe or how to put their beliefs into practice. We indeed hold this to be an unalienable, constitutional right. If freedom of religion is a constitutional value to be protected, then institutions developed by religious groups to implement their core beliefs in education, in care for the sick or suffering, and in other tasks must also be protected. Only by doing so can the free exercise of religion have any meaning. The HHS mandate prevents this free exercise. For the well-being of our country, we oppose the application of the contraceptive mandate to religious institutions and plead for its retraction.

Sincerley yours,

Leith Anderson
National Association of Evangelicals

The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, l.s.p.
Provincial Superior, Baltimore Province
Little Sisters of the Poor

Gary M. Benedict
The Christian and Missionary Alliance U.S.

Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.
Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church
Bishop, Fellowship of International Churches

The Rev. John A. Moldstad
Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Bishop John F. Bradosky
North American Lutheran Church

The Very Rev. Dr. John A. Jillions
Orthodox Church in America

Deaconess Cheryl D. Naumann
Concordia Deaconess Conference
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

The Most Rev. Robert J. Carlson
Archbishop of St. Louis

The Most Blessed Jonah
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All American and Canada
Orthodox Church in America

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez
Hispanic Evangelical Association

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Imam Faizul R. Khan
Founder and Leader
Islamic Society of Washington Area

Sister Joseph Marie Ruessmann,
R.S.M., J.D., J.C.D., M.B.A.
Generalate Secretary
Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan

Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V.
Superior General of the Sisters of Life

The Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky
Director of External Affairs
and Interchurch Relations
Orthodox Church in America

The Rev. Mark Schroeder
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Sister Barbara Anne Gooding,
Director, Department of Religion
Saint Francis Health System

The Most Rev. William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore
USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty

L. Roy Taylor
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church in America

Sister Margaret Regina Halloran,
Provincial Superior, Brooklyn Province
Little Sisters of the Poor

Sister Maria Christine Lynch, l.s.p.
Provincial Superior, Chicago Province
Little Sisters of the Poor

Sister Constance Carolyn Veit, l.s.p.
Communications Director
Little Sisters of the Poor

Dr. George O. Wood
General Superintendent
The General Council of the Assemblies of God

14 June 2012

My Recent Interview with Mr. Timothy Goeglein

On Wednesday, 13 June, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Timothy Goeglein on my radio program, "The Morning Show," on KFUO Radio. Mr. Goeglein served for nearly eight years as Deputy Director of the Office of Public Liaison for President George W. Bush and now serves as Vice President of External Relations for Focus on the Family.

Goeglein's book, The Man in the Middle, is a memoir of his years in public service, especially his years in the Bush White House.  He makes the case that 1) George W. Bush was a president driven by strong Christian conviction and integrity, and 2) Christians, with their Christian worldview, are very much needed in the restoration of culture and government.

It was a high honor to interview Mr. Goeglein, and I hope that it's but the first of more to come!

Here's a link to the audio of the interview at the KFUO website.

10 June 2012

Be sure to listen...

...to "The Morning Show" on KFUO Radio this week!

Two very special guests will join us.

On Monday, 11 June, a very important guest will join us in the second half of the 8:00 hour.

On Wednesday, 13 June (first half of the 8:00 hour), we will interview Mr. Timothy Goeglein.

Goeglein now serves as Vice President with Focus on the Family, but formerly he served in the George W. Bush Administration in the Office of Public Liaison for almost eight years.

We'll talk with Tim about his book, The Man in the Middle, in which he gives insights into the Bush White House, the character of our 43rd President, as well as some stunning and self-less forgiveness that President Bush showed to Goeglein and his family.

"The Morning Show"
7:00-9:00 a.m., Central Time
AM 850, in greater St. Louis
www.kfuoam.org, online and worldwide