Is “Obamacare” persecution of Christians?

Lots of hot traffic out there saying that the new health care law, upheld Thursday by the US Supreme Court, represents persecution of Christians because:

  • Everyone will have to buy health insurance, even though every  insurance plan will cover items which may violate their conscience such as abortion and contraception.
  • Every employer will have to provide health insurance that includes such items as abortion and contraception, even if those items violate their conscience.

Lawyer Hannah Becket, who is taking some of the many Christian legal cases, suggests that this is the first time in history that Americans have been forced to pay a tax for the privilege of violating their conscience.

Is this a first?

Not really.

  • Many times over the last two decades, Christian parents have objected to paying taxes to support public schools, where they felt the teaching violated their conscience.
  • Christian students have objected to paying student activity fees when their campus groups required to grant equal access to students who did not agree with Christian beliefs.
And stepping further back into our history, into the days of our Founding Fathers and the defining days of our Constitution:
  • Seven of the original states had “established,” tax-supported churches. If you were a Baptist or a Methodist in Massachusetts, you still paid a tax to fund the Congregational (Puritan) church. If you were a Baptist in Virginia, you paid a tax to support the Episcopal church.
 Was it persecution to tax the Baptists to support the Congregational pastor? They thought so. After all, they’d just fought a revolution over “taxation without representation” … and here they were again, paying taxes to support a church where they weren’t members and didn’t have a vote on the minister.
Personally, taken in a global perspective, I’m a little less sure.
  • I know that my brothers and sisters in Christ in Nigeria are being persecuted. They know that they may be shot to death any Sunday as they enter or leave church or even as they worship.
  • I know that my brothers and sisters in Christ in Indonesia are being persecuted. If more than one church exists in a governing district (think town or county), they are given a deadline by which to tear down the buildings themselves before vigilantes will do the work.
  • I know that my brothers and sisters in Christ are being persecuted through much of the middle East — their businesses burned, their churches destroyed, their pastors imprisoned.
When I hear American describe themself as persecuted due to their faith, I listen to God’s promises in the Bible: that those who endure through suffering will be rewarded. And I ask myself:
Are we ready to endure even the tiniest pinprick of pain for God’s sake? Or are we going to use that log that’s in our eye to start swinging?
Recommended Links: 
What is an Establishment of Religion? (William and Mary Law School)

About Carlene Byron

Writer, editor, publicist, communications project manager ... I've written technology and infrastructure; I used to edit New England Church Life and The New England Christian and I've freelanced to publications ranging from Commonweal to Christianity Today. I'm now living in my hometown in Maine and am speaking about global perspectives on suicide prevention.
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