Thursday, February 16, 2012

President Matthew C. Harrison to President Obama: "Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government."

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod President Matt Harrison spoke before the House Committee on Government and Oversight today, strongly objecting to the Obama administration's plan to force religious institutions to provide health insurance coverage for such things as contraceptives and abortifacients. He did an absolutely great job. A couple of quotes:
I’d rather not be here, frankly. Our task is to proclaim, in the words of the blessed apostle St. John, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sin. And we care for the needy. We haven’t the slightest intent to Christianize the government. Martin Luther famously quipped one time, “I’d rather have a smart Turk than a stupid Christian governing me.”

We confess that there are two realms, the church and the state. They shouldn’t be mixed – the church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution.

…Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. The conscience is a sacred thing. Our church exists because overzealous governments in northern Europe made decisions which trampled the religious convictions of our forebearers. I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. I have ancestors who were on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I have ancestors who served in the War of 1812, who fought for the North in the Civil War – my 88-year-old father-in-law has recounted to me, in tears many times, the horrors of the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, Bud Day, the most highly decorated veteran alive, is a member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. “

We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we won’t give it up without a fight. To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government. The bed is too narrow, the blanket is too short. We must obey God rather than men, and we will. Please get the federal government, Mr. Chairman, out of our consciences. Thank you.

You can download the entire transcript of President Harrison's statement here.


Anonymous said...

As I watched both sessions of this committee's hearings, it finally dawned on me that there is a hidden agenda at work here. The rhetoric of the Democrat congresspersons was focused almost entirely on "women's health" and "birth control." Finally in the afternoon, one of the witnesses said, "This mandate is open-ended. What's to stop the administration from mandating that abortion should be included for free?"
That cinched it--abortion is the real issue--the hidden agenda. It's all about abortion. If you listen to/read Obama's speech at Notre Dame, and his subsequent actions, you'll see the connection: It's all about abortion.
You read it here first.

Joe Strieter

Dennis Peskey said...

A witness well-done.

Norman Teigen said...

I've said elsewhere that I think that Harrison and the others, fine Christian men and true, were inadvertent dupes for the Republicans. No personal abuse, please, about being pro-abortion [we are ELS, pro-life, and adoptive parents] but that is what I think. I have been urging people to read Sasse's 1930 essay on the Two Kingdoms.

Norman Teigen said...

Whoops, Scott, that didn't quite come out right. I know that you wouldn't get personal. I had a recent bad experience on the internet with a prominent Lutheran blogger and I should not have expressed my myself on your site as I have. Please forgive me.

Anonymous said...

Norm--I beg to disagree. This issue is rule by government fiat, and one small step toward what Rep. James Lankford so well identified in part 2 of the hearings.
The administration's re-definition of "religion" as "worship" is evidence of deliberate attempt to erode of the First Amendment, by marginalizing the Church.
President Harrison did well by testifying. I've read Sasse's essay, that Harrison knows so well. He made that clear in his opening remarks. There is a place for the Church to speak in the public square--rare perhaps, but absolutely necessary. No dupes, these people, but articulate defenders of freedom.

Joe Strieter

Scott Diekmann said...

You're forgiven Norm! Whether they were duped or not, I think the nation got a whole lot more than they were expecting out of Matt Harrison, Republican or Democrat. If you didn't see it, Pastor Wilken had a great post on BJS about what President Harrison said:

Norman Teigen said...

Thank you, Scott and Joe Strieter, for your civil responses. I am grateful for your comments. Here in Minnesota over the weekend the ELCA got a big spread in the local paper with the Minneapolis Synod voting against the proposed marriage amendment to the State constitution. We've had our fill here of politics and religion. I am particularly interested in the how of the arguments which these various side employ to persuade the audience to adopt their views. It would be worthy, I think, of a PhD dissertation.