By O.S. Hawkins
DALLAS — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear GuideStone’s Supreme Court case on Wednesday, March 23 — right before Easter.
The High Court will have to decide whether the government can force GuideStone to provide drugs that can be easily obtained through the government’s own health care exchanges.
How did we get to this place?
For nearly 100 years, GuideStone has provided generous, Christ-centered health and retirement benefits to Baptist ministries. Today those benefits include more than ten different contraceptive methods that are consistent with GuideStone’s commitment to pro-life principles.
But for the government, that is not enough. The government wants to force Baptist ministries to turn their values-driven GuideStone health care plan into a vehicle for delivering deadly, abortion-causing drugs like the “morning-after pill” and even the “week-after pill.”
The government won’t require ministries to pay for the drugs, and for that reason it claims it has given ministries an “opt-out.” But truthfully, it is an “opt-in,” because the government would still use GuideStone’s plan to deliver these drugs to the staff and families of Baptist ministries — including their daughters as young as 10.
Was all this as surprising to you as it was to me? Then here are ten more facts you may not know about GuideStone’s Supreme Court case:
- One in three Americans do not have a plan that is subject to the mandate the government is fighting so hard to force on Baptist ministries.
- Exxon, Chevron and Pepsi — as well as big cities like New York — are exempt from the mandate, because they never changed their plans and are grandfathered.
- The government is not even requiring our own U.S. military — the largest employer in the nation — to provide these services through its family insurance.
- This case does not affect the Affordable Care Act. It only deals with a regulation created by an agency — Health and Human Services — which would force Baptist ministries to provide services like the “week-after pill,” ella, to their employees.
- The government claims it has offered the ministries an “opt-out.” We at GuideStone wish that were true. The government’s plan is an “opt-in” in that it will use the GuideStone plan. This is why the government insists on getting every ministry’s signature.
- The government is arguing that since it has offered to reimburse the costs of the services it wants GuideStone to provide, GuideStone and the ministries it serves should have no moral objection to offering them. We at GuideStone say this is not about money, but conscience, and whether we should be forced to change our health care plan to offer services we have a moral objection to when those services could be provided more effectively through the government’s own health care exchange.
- If the SBC ministries and other evangelical Christian ministries served by GuideStone do not provide these services, the government is threatening to fine them more than $187 million per year.
- We at GuideStone are focused on taking care of the hundreds of ministries we serve. We exhausted every possible option before going to court.
- GuideStone is not trying to prevent the government from providing the disputed services, but object to the government’s insisting that GuideStone provide them (especially since the government has already refused to ensure that those free services are provided to one in three Americans).
- Giving all women access to contraception through the federal government’s own health care exchange is a simpler and fairer way for the government to provide these services to more women while protecting the religious freedom of GuideStone and the ministries it serves, who never wanted this fight and just want to continue to preach the gospel and serve those in need.
If you had told me when I entered ministry that our federal government would be dictating matters of conscience to churches and their ministries, I would have scarcely believed it. But it happened, and on Wednesday, March 23, GuideStone will have its day in the Supreme Court.
Our court date falls just before Easter, a time when our hearts are focused in a special way on the death and resurrection of Jesus. I do not believe this is a coincidence. These are times for prayer from the family of God. It is always good to seek His face, but especially now, it is good to ask for His wisdom, His guidance and His favor.
O.S. Hawkins is President — Chief Executive Officer of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.