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The Hobby Lobby Decision: Are You “Rendering?” by Ed Fry

Ed_FryAs the leading national retained firm for faith-based organizations, FaithSearch Partners paid special attention to the June 30 US Supreme Court ruling that the owners of closely held, private corporations cannot be forced under the Affordable Care Act to provide their employees with certain kinds of contraceptives that are counter to their own religious beliefs.

The decision arose from litigation filed by the owners of the national chain of craft stores called Hobby Lobby, and other companies. Family members who control these businesses believe that life begins at conception and that any birth control method that may result in the destruction of a fertilized egg is a form of abortion that is forbidden by their faith.

I understand there are those who hold an alternative view, even among those of sincere faith. However, the larger issue of the federal government attempting to impose its beliefs on faith-based organizations is not likely to go away soon.

Ironically, that same government has established rights that protect religious freedoms:
• The First Amendment prohibits government from establishing a religion and protects each person’s right to practice (or not practice) any faith without government interference.
• The Religious Freedom Restoration Act that passed Congress in 1993 requires federal laws to accommodate individuals’ religious beliefs unless there is a compelling interest at stake that can’t be attained through other means.

So how do faith-based organizations balance the need to stay true to an organization’s mission and values – standing for principle against an ever-increasing anti-faith culture – while at the same time treating their employees in a fair and Christ-like way?

Here’s one piece of advice from Christ himself found in Matthew 22:21: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

What are your views? How should leaders of faith-based organizations thread their way through this and similar issues that will arise in the future when standing for principles may be contrary to upcoming rulings or changes in law? Share your views with me at:

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