First, the mayor of Houston flagrantly violated clergy's First Amendment rights, when she subpoenaed sermons, and she still refuses to rescind her mandate. And now California government officials are forcing churches and other faith-based organizations to fund abortions. What's next?
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the California Department of Managed Health Care has required that all insurance plans in the Golden State cover abortions immediately. The kicker is that California churches are no longer exempt from providing such coverage for their employees — despite the fact that earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare cannot force its abortion-prompting contraceptives down the throats of faith-based nonprofits.
Casey Mattox, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, explained the bizarre nature of this new California law to The Blaze. Churches "don't have to provide contraception, but they have to provide abortion." He explained in The Federalist that the origin for the decree was the American Civil Liberties Union's pushing California officials to reclassify elective abortion as "basic health services."
The DMHC actually notified the following insurance companies back on Aug. 22 "regarding limitations or exclusions of abortion services": Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, GEMCare, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealthcare. They, in turn, notified carriers, including churches.
As a result, The Washington Post reported, "seven churches in California (already) received notifications from their insurers that elective surgical abortion coverage would be required as part of their employee health plans, according to Casey Mattox." The Blaze secured a copy of one of those church letters from Kaiser Permanente, a California health care company:
"I want to formally share with you that on August 22, 2014, the Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) notified Kaiser Permanente and other affected health plans in writing regarding group contracts that exclude 'voluntary termination of pregnancy.'
"This letter made clear that the DMHC considered health care services related to the termination of pregnancies — whether or not a voluntary termination — a medically necessary basic health care service for which all health care services plans must provide coverage under the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act. You may recall that at the request of some employer groups with religious affiliations, Kaiser Permanente submitted a regulatory filing in May 2012 properly notifying the DMHC of a benefit plan option that excluded coverage of voluntary terminations of pregnancies. The DMHC did not object to this filing, permitting Kaiser Permanente to offer such a coverage contract to large group purchasers that requested it. The DMHC acknowledged that it previously permitted these contract exclusions, but now is requiring health care service plans to provide coverage of all terminations of pregnancies, effective immediately. To that end, the DMHC requires Kaiser Permanente and similar health care service plans to initiate steps to modify their plan contracts accordingly.
"Effective August 22, Kaiser Permanente will comply with this regulatory mandate."
Of course, federal and state assaults on religious liberty are not new. As with the case of Hobby Lobby and others, however, this aggressive assault against churches on the issue of abortion funding is proof that there is no sacred stone that will be left unturned by Obamacare and secular progressives. This new health care law attacks and overthrows not just churches but every last Christian who financially supports them.
Mattox was exactly correct when he said, "Forcing a church to be party to elective abortion is one of the utmost-imaginable assaults on our most fundamental American freedoms." He added that California officials are "flagrantly violating the federal law that protects employers from being forced into having abortion in their health insurance plans."
It seems as if religiously rogue state officials are in vogue from Texas to California. One thing is certain: They have learned well from their White House counterpart how to completely disregard the U.S. Constitution and any lawmakers or citizens who interfere with their progressive agenda.
Citizens throughout our union need to understand something: This assault on our religious liberties is just the beginning. It will not stop until we stop it.
That is why I continue to challenge faith-loving patriots everywhere to join me in standing up against these attacks on our fundamental American rights and freedom, because sooner or later — mark my words — they will come knocking at the front doors of your home and church. If it can happen in Houston, it can happen in your hometown.
Californians, churches and other faith-based organizations need to contact their insurers, check their status on these new health care regulations and then let them know how they oppose those new moral edicts. You can also file a complaint with the DMHC by calling 888-466-2219 or going to http://www.dmhc.ca.gov/fileacomplaint.aspx#.VEuaAovF-RM.
Second, please make sure to get out to vote on Nov. 4 and ensure that only candidates who respect and revere religious liberties get into office. With half of the 80 million self-identified evangelicals not even registered to vote, it's high time they got out of the bleachers and onto the battlefield. You can register to vote by going to http://www.eac.gov/assets/1/Documents/Federal%20Voter%20Registration_6-25-14_ENG.pdf.
And regarding the subpoenaing of sermons in Houston, I encourage local citizens to show up Nov. 2 at the "I Stand Sunday" event at Grace Community Church in Houston and stand up for their faith and our First Amendment. Those outside the area can watch the nationwide 90-minute webcast at 6 p.m. Central time via the "I Stand Sunday" website (http://istandsunday.com). My friend Mike Huckabee and Phil Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" will address the audience there, among other Christian and conservative advocates. I wonder whether the mayor will subpoena their speeches, too.
Speaking of great speeches, maybe it's time that every government official and state across our union heed the admonition of the "Father of Our Country," George Washington, who, concerned with the perpetuity and legacy of our republic, warned our nation with these words as he exited his presidency: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."
Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook's "Official Chuck Norris Page." He blogs at http://chucknorrisnews.blogspot.com. To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.