2020 has been a very unusual year for the church as we face attacks on every side. We have states such as California determined to stop churches from reopening. The state is imposing massive fines if churches do and court cases are being launched over the constitutional right of believers to practise their faith.
And recently a different battle has emerged in the state of Washington.
With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Cedar Park Assembly of God in Kirkland, Washington is taking the state of Washington to court because of a law the state assembly passed in 2018 requiring churches to provide abortion coverage if it also provided maternity benefits to its workers.
According to ADF, what is particularly disturbing is that failure to comply could not only result in fines but as well imprisonment. ADF noted that the law as it stands does not provide a religious exemption.
As a result of the law’s passing, insurance companies began to insert abortion coverage in the Cedar Park’s plan.
In its brief to the court, ADF stated:
This extreme abortion-coverage mandate had its desired effect: insurance providers began inserting abortion coverage into ministries’ health plans in direct violation of their religious teachings…. State officials thus deliberately targeted houses of worship for mandatory abortion coverage and, in so doing, intentionally violated their religious beliefs about the sanctity of human life.”
Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal nonprofit dedicated to preserving religious liberties, believes that Washington State’s law is unconstitutional because it violates the church’s long-standing religious belief that all life begins at conception and that human life is sacred.
By not providing a religious exemption, ADF alleges that state politicians are bullying Christians by forcing them to violate their beliefs.
ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves stated that the US Constitution allows churches to practice their faith freely without such hindrances noting:
“The 9th Circuit recently said that a district court was wrong to dismiss a similar ADF case in California, and the 9th Circuit should allow this case to proceed for the same reasons.
“Furthermore, the Supreme Court has consistently held that government hostility toward people of faith is unconstitutional and has no place in our society. And Washington state’s policy is indeed hostile: It crushes dissent and violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause by targeting the church’s legitimate internal policies and religious beliefs.”
It is good to see US churches challenging the constitutionality of these laws against left-leaning governments.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus told Peter:
18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18 ESV)
For years, I have interpreted the verse as meaning the church would be under attack, but the enemy would not prevail. And though it’s true that the church is under attack, this is not what the verse actually says.
The verse states that the gates of hell would not prevail. Gates represent the most vulnerable part of a fortified city and what Jesus was actually saying is that Hell’s gates would not prevail when attacked by the church.
In other words, the church needs to be the aggressor in these battles.