The authorities had Peter and John because they were teaching, on the authority of Jesus, that there is a resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees didn’t like it, because they had rejected the truth taught by both Jesus and their own Scripture. They threw the two in jail overnight and the next morning commanded them to never again speak or teach about Jesus.
But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him?” So the Council then threatened them again and let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. (Acts 4:1-21) The next time the authorities arrested Peter and John, they had them flogged.
Today, Christians are being threatened by authorities (not with flogging, thankfully) for following the teachings of the Scripture, rather than submitting to the opinions of the government. The federal government’s Health and Human Services bureaucracy has ordered all businesses, hospitals, universities, and other organizations to pay for employee insurance that covers drugs which prevent pregnancy by causing a chemical abortion. So far, more than 110 plaintiffs have gone to court, seeking relief from the order because abortion violates their religious convictions. Government lawyers say religious people have no freedom of religion rights once they step into the “secular” public square.
The very first words in the Bill of Rights are “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If those words have any meaning at all, the HHS contraception mandate, and the related parts of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) are unconstitutional.
One danger of liberalism is that it tells a person to believe their own opinions over the truth of Scripture. Selfish people want to believe an unborn child is merely a lump of tissue because the truth is inconvenient for sexual promiscuity. We have a President and Congress that believe their own opinions about abortion, in spite of the scientific evidence that shows those opinions to be false, in spite of the clear teaching of Scripture about the sanctity of human life.
We know the country’s courts do not respect the truth of Scripture. In the weeks ahead, we will learn whether they value liberal opinion about abortion over the plain language of the US Constitution, the supposed authority for governing this country.
If opinion is the greater source of authority, the great majority of Americans — as much as 75% in some polls — believe abortion should not be allowed except in cases of rape or incest. Most Americans believe abortion is morally wrong and oppose abortion on demand. Most Americans support 24-hour waiting periods, parental consent for minors, and notification of husbands. Most Americans are repulsed by late-term abortions and reject using public funds to pay for any abortion.
Majority public opinion doesn’t matter to liberal elected officials, because liberalism tells them to trust their own enlightened opinions over the ignorance of the uneducated masses. In the weeks ahead, we will learn whether rank and file Americans truly hold the convictions about abortion that they say they hold. We also will learn whether American Christians have the courage to take a public stand for the religious freedom rights guaranteed by the Constitution and actively oppose the unjust HHS contraception mandate.
When the authorities tell Christians and other conscientious people of faith to shut up about their convictions and do what they are told, we will find out who is willing to resist. We will learn who takes Scripture seriously as God’s word — and who takes Jesus seriously when he says that if we deny him before men, he will deny us before the Father.
The authorities backed down from Peter and John because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. People were passionate about what they had seen God do and would not sit quietly by while the authorities punished people who were simply obeying the truth. What are you passionate about?
You can get involved by learning more from the ERLC or the Manhattan Declaration website, signing a petition, donating to a religious liberty organization like The Becket Fund, and contacting the White House, Health and Human Services, and your Congressman.