|Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life.
In response to the incursion of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) into the realm of religious freedom with its controversial contraceptive mandate issued earlier this year, we are compelled to offer “Free Exercise of Religion: Putting Beliefs into Practice,” an open letter to our members and, indeed, all Americans.
Twenty-four leaders of religious organizations across the country have joined with us in signing the letter. Together, these signatories represent more than 10 million American men, women and children. They represent religious organizations that stand with us in opposition to the contraceptive mandate on the grounds that it is an infringement of our God-given right to act according to the tenets of our faith.
We are preparing to issue this letter even as we await a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a historic piece of legislation meant to extend health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. The HHS contraceptive mandate represents one of the reforms included in the law. The ramifications of the anticipated ruling are, of course, as yet unknown.
That said, our action in authoring this letter is not a statement on the global design of PPACA. As Christians living out our calling to serve our brothers and sisters with the mercy and love of Jesus Christ, we support and engage in wide-ranging efforts to restore health and well-being to the sick and suffering.
Thus, this letter specifically is in response to one effect of the contraceptive mandate—one that would require religious organizations, with only narrowly defined exceptions, to include coverage for contraceptives, including those that could cause the death of unborn babies, in their employee health plans. This is in direct opposition to a core teaching of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod—that only God gives and takes life.
I encourage you to read the letter and to share it widely.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod