Matthew Bowman

The fact that Tyndale House Publishers, based in Carol Stream, IL has needed to take a stand in court against ObamaCare’s abortion pill mandate should itself shock most Americans. The publisher simply believes that devout Christians in America are exercising religion when they publish the Bible and give the proceeds to religious charity. But even this idea is now disputed.

The president’s agencies have written rules that render evangelistic publishing of the Bible to be, well, not really religious. To the people who drafted the ObamaCare rule, and its defenders, religion is little more than a target of derision and marginalization.

Tyndale House is a Bible publisher, but the administration believes it shouldn’t qualify for an exemption because it initially earns a profit on its published materials…before directing 97 percent of that profit to non-profit religious charities and causes.

Some advocates for the abortion pill mandate erroneously contend that Tyndale House, instead of the Obama administration, wants the government to pick and choose what is and isn’t truly “religious,” and even to interpret what biblical authors really meant.

This is the opposite of the truth. In America, the burden of proof to violate religious freedom is not on citizens, but on the government. The government needs to stay out of religious gerrymandering and respect free exercise of religion, period.

In the First Amendment, the Founders took for granted that religion exists, and far from ridiculing it, they set up a barrier to protect it. President Bill Clinton and a broad bipartisan majority followed suit when they passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993.

The administration and Tyndale House’s critics are the ones asking for government to decide what the Bible means. The Obama administration has drawn a tiny circle around what it calls “religious employers,” and has left most religious Americans out in the cold. But the government shouldn’t be drawing that line in the first place.

Secularists seem to believe that since courts shouldn’t decide what the Bible means, Christians aren’t allowed to decide either. Instead, the administration forces believers to follow the theological decisions of President Obama and Planned Parenthood.

Nothing could be further from America’s tradition of religious freedom. Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish.

When defenders of the ObamaCare abortion pill mandate wring their hands about the impossibility of respecting varying religions and biblical interpretations, their rhetoric is actually intended to take away from what’s really at stake—the freedom of Americans to live, do business, and serve the community without the government forcing them to violate their conscience.

This is partly what led a Denver federal court to put the mandate on hold for the Newland family, which runs Hercules Industries. The court declared that ObamaCare’s arbitrary rules about who must comply and who gets exceptions “completely undermine” the government’s alleged interest in forcing Christians to violate the biblical respect for life. The mandate forces a wide range of Christians to violate basic, shared tenets of their faith or denomination.

Supporters of the abortion pill mandate are the ones trampling on the First Amendment and religious freedom. They support a scenario where the state simply “defines” most religious believers out of existence. And when a Bible publisher is no longer religious enough to have convictions the law will respect, then the government’s usurpation of religious freedom is well underway.


Matthew Bowman

Matt Bowman is senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, an alliance-building legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.