Mitchell opposes mandate before congress
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Ethicist Craig Mitchell testified before a congressional committee, Feb. 16, describing the Obama administration’s mandate that all health insurance plans must fully cover contraceptives, even those that cause abortion, as un-American.
“I do not object to this mandate upon health care only because it is not consistent with my faith,” Mitchell, associate professor of ethics at Southwestern Seminary, said during a hearing of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives. “No, I object to this mandate because it is not good for America.”
Mitchell joined nine other witnesses during the four-and-a-half-hour hearing, including representatives from various Protestant, Catholic and Jewish institutions. This panel also included Southwestern Seminary graduate C. Ben Mitchell, who currently serves as a professor at Union University in Tennessee.
With these other panel members, Mitchell objected to the Obama administration’s health care mandate because it would force religious institutions, including the Southern Baptist Convention’s GuideStone Financial Resources, to provide full coverage of contraceptives, despite religious objections to their use. Such contraceptives would include “ella,” Plan B and the intrauterine device (IUD), which terminate pregnancy after conception.
“This rule is wrong not just for religious conservatives,” Mitchell told the committee. “It is wrong for all Americans, because it takes away the freedom of the citizens while emboldening the federal government to do whatever it wants. It is wrong because it violates the constitution. It is wrong because it violates religious liberty. It is wrong because it forces people to violate their consciences. … This is just plain wrong for America.”
“To be an American means that we stand for religious liberty,” said Mitchell, who commended Baptists for promoting this cause throughout history of the nation. He also noted that churches have played an important role in the “creation of hospitals” and “development of healthcare.”
“With this kind of history,” he said, “it is ironic that the religious organizations should have their rights crushed in the name of health care. If this is allowed to stand then there is nothing that the U.S. government cannot compel its citizens to do. Explain to me how all of this is consistent with the American ideal.”
Southwestern graduate C. Ben Mitchell agreed, saying, “All people of faith—and even those who claim no faith—have a stake in whether or not the government can violate the consciences of its citizenry. Religious liberty and the freedom to obey one’s conscience is also not just a Baptist issue. It’s an American issue enshrined in our founding documents.”
During the hearing, Rep. James Lankford, another Southwestern Seminary graduate and republican committee member, also insisted that the Obama administration’s mandate is a violation of religious liberty. Quoting James 1:27, which describes true religion as caring for orphans and widows and keeping oneself pure, the Oklahoma congressman pointed out that religion involves much more than what occurs in a church building. Religion affects every area of life, including healthcare.
“Today,” Lankford said, “this hearing is about: Can this administration, or any administration, say, ‘I know your doctrine, but I have a different doctrine, and you will change your doctrine to my doctrine or I will fine you?’”