A response to my column, “Catholics Defy ObamaCare! What About Fundamentalist Churches and Universities?” reveals a lack of understanding many people have as to the responsibility of Christians in the face of government intrusion into their ministries.
Most people obviously do not understand what all historians have known for two thousand years. The second century church leader, Tertullian observed, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Pagans (all non-Christians) observed that Christians who willingly went to their deaths influenced numerous unbelievers to trust Christ who then themselves became martyrs.
My critic sarcastically asked, “And how much stronger would the church have been made had all Christians refused and been killed?” Evidently, he did not know how persecution happened in the Roman Empire. The persecution was not constant, but took place in “fits and starts.” Moreover, the worst part of persecution took place in selected localized areas, depending upon the local rulers, urban or rural areas, etc. Furthermore, many Christians did not “go public” and, therefore, did not face persecution. Believers who refused to obey Caesar and made much to do about it were given an opportunity to recant and deny Christ and some did so. And later recanted their recantation.
My critic said that case law amends the Constitution but he is wrong. If that were true, it would mean that the Constitution would be constantly changing. Case law is a constantly developing body of law which has made new interpretations of law which can be used as a precedent in similar cases. He has it backwards: case law does not amend the Constitution but case law is determined by the Constitution. The Constitution must go through the amending process before it can be changed.
Radicals want the Constitution to be “flexible” so that anything can be read into it to justify things like ObamaCare, abortion, homosexuality, etc. My critic declared, “So all it would take to silence the churches in this country would be for them to all commit hairy kerry (sic) as soon as they have less then (sic) 100% religious liberty.” I assume he meant to write “hara-kiri,” not hairy kerry, but then I often presume too much.
But back to his previous mistake about the martyrs. No, the church would not be silenced, at least not true churches. It might be one of the best things to happen in America if a thousand preachers went to jail for refusing to obey an oppressive government order. During 1662, over 2,000 preachers in England lost their pulpits or went to jail for refusing to obey the king’s order to strictly adhere to the Book of Common Prayer.
In the 1600s, the government of England started losing control of religion in Wales when hundreds of independent churches and chapels were established by nonconformist Independents, Baptists, Quakers, and others. The Nonconformists were gaining too much influence in England and Wales so the King and Parliament decided to bring them under control. The Act of Uniformity of 1662 required all ministers to assent to the rites and liturgy of the Established Church. In fact, all clergy, college professors, and schoolmasters had to agree with everything in the Book of Common Prayer! All clerics who refused to follow the common prayer book were ejected from the Church. Out of approximately 10,000 preachers throughout the country, about 2,000 were ejected (and some went to jail) but 20% to 25% of the country continued to worship illegally, holding secret services in barns and other unapproved locations. That could happen here.
My critic wrote, “I understand those who have drawn the line here, and wish them success. But souls are still being saved that won’t be if everyone gives up and goes home at the first sign of trouble.” He made a gargantuan leap in logic when he suggested that people won’t become Christians if individuals, churches, and businesses refuse to obey ObamaCare in obedience to the Bible and their conscience. I suggest that such courageous action would prove to the cynical world that there are still people who will do what is right if it costs them everything–that was everything: reputation, job, home, business, retirement plan, and personal freedom.
He accused Christians of going “home at the first sign of trouble.” Principled people are not running home; they are fighting in court; they are going on record that they will not obey the law even if they lose in court. Whatever happens in court, they know the end result: they will not obey the law! Wow, that takes courage, character, and commitment to biblical principles. Government officials, judges, media, and politicians have not met many people like that. They will be shocked when businesses, churches, hospitals, orphanages, schools and other entities are closed by the government and the leaders are marched off to jail!
Some potential compromisers have begun to set the stage (and self-justification) for their eventual compliance by stating that ObamaCare may force them “to violate their consciences,” which is not a biblical response. The principled response is, “I won’t comply whatever the threats or consequences. Period.” No room for negotiation (read: compromise).
Others have said, “Americans have no choice in this matter.” But of course we do. We have the choice to say, “Yes” or “No.” That is a choice.
I have made my decision.