Resolution and Statement on Liberty

The International General Council of the Evangelical Methodist Church has issued the following Resolution and Statement:

The International General Council, which includes national lay leadership, Bishops, General Superintendents, and Conference Superintendents, has serious objections to the “preventive services” regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011 and February 2012.

Last August, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a list of “preventive services for women” to be mandated in almost all private health plans under the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The mandated services include sterilization, all FDA-approved birth control (such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, ‘morning-after’ pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella), and “education and counseling” to promote these among all “women of reproductive capacity.” HHS’s rule allowed only a very narrow exemption for a “religious employer.” Catholic and other religious organizations providing education, health care and charitable services to all in need could not qualify for the exemption.

On February 10, despite a storm of protest, President Obama adopted this policy as a final rule “without change” (Federal Register, 2/15/12, 8725). Religious organizations that cannot qualify for the exemption will have an extra year to comply; but before the end of that period, an additional rule will be issued to make sure that their employees receive the mandated coverage despite the employer’s objection.

First, we object to the rule forcing private health plans, nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion. All the other mandated “preventive services” prevent disease, but pregnancy is not a disease. Moreover, forcing plans to cover acts against the unborn violates existing federal conscience laws. Therefore, we are calling for the reversal and the rescinding of the mandate altogether.

Second, the mandate would impose a burden of unprecedented reach and severity on the consciences of those who consider such “services” immoral: insurers forced to write policies including this coverage; employers and schools forced to sponsor and subsidize the coverage; and individual employees and students forced to pay premiums for the coverage. The Catholic Church in particular urged HHS, if it insisted on keeping the mandate, to provide a conscience exemption for all of these stakeholders—not just the extremely small subset of “religious employers” that HHS proposed to exempt initially.

Third, we object to the President’s violating the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States concerning our religious liberties secured by our founding fathers through Presidential Executive orders and the bypassing of the legislative domain of Congress. In addition, we object to the passivity of Congress in allowing Presidential violations of the Constitution.

Therefore be it resolved, that USA Evangelical Methodist Congregations join with fellow likeminded members of Catholic, Protestant, and Greek Orthodox faiths in their local communities in protest to the President and Congress concerning the religious liberty issues,

Furthermore be it resolved, we will not surrender to the actions or policies of our government which places conception, pregnancy and birth under the ‘center for disease control,’ when chemically blocking conception or aborting the baby in the womb is considered a ‘right’ to be subsidized by others who abhor it,

Furthermore be it resolved, that the survival of a cornerstone constitutionally protected freedom that ensures respect for conscience and ensures religious liberty is for the first time in our USA history being forced upon the citizens by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. This requires a voice of opposition and the possibility of civil disobedience,

Furthermore be it resolved, for a call to courage to encounter a secularism that would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public life and debate for those who defend human life and for the defense of our religious liberty.

Finally be it resolved, that all members of our congregations be encouraged to submit their personal views to their appropriate Congressional representatives and President Obama.

STATEMENT: The Evangelical Methodist Church reaffirms the First Amendment rights granted under the United States Constitution for religious liberty in the face of imposed government policies that violate our consciences and our historic understanding of the Holy Scriptures that affirms endowed rights by the Creator to every person.

Approved by The General Council of the Evangelical Methodist Church, February of 2012.