Christianity has been a unique force for good in the world, for both its adherents and non-believers. It is a great horror to lie about and/or to mutilate our bodies. Hopefully more Christians will, like the Christian Employers Alliance, refuse to live by lies. A world where living out Christian faith is suppressed or illegal is a worse world, more corrupt, more exploitative, and more dangerous for everyone. Fighting for religious liberty isn’t selfish. It’s a way to love God, and our neighbors.
A year ago, Biden administration officials standardized a radically new interpretation of the word gender. In a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services, officials mandated all employers must cover the cost of so-called “transgender medicine” in their health insurance plans. In response, the Christian Employers Alliance sued HHS on behalf of a coalition of Christian-owned businesses. A few weeks ago, a federal district court ruled for CEA and halted the Biden mandate.
Many media outlets, in their coverage of this story, referred to the CEA as a “religious liberty group,” identifying them not by what they do but by their legal argument. To be sure, forcing an employer to pay for harmful hormones and violent surgeries on healthy bodies, against their deeply held beliefs, is to violate their religious freedom. All citizens of the United States have an unambiguous right, thanks to the First Amendment, to not just worship inside a church or synagogue or mosque but to order their lives outside of those buildings according to their deeply held beliefs. Whether the belief comes from religion, conscience, or some mix of the two, the ideas that men and women are real and distinct things and that their bodies shouldn’t be experimented upon is widely held across cultures, religions, scientific disciplines, and human history.
Legally speaking, then, it was perfectly sound for the Christian Employers Alliance to argue that forcing employers to subsidize those experiments violates their religious freedom. And, by doing so, the CEA wasn’t arguing to protect their own rights, only. They are fighting for the common good.
Often, the term religious liberty is cynically thrown around in cultural discourse by those critical of the legal or social arguments for religious liberty. Religious people are accused of being ignorant or selfish, of only caring about their own rights, or of “clinging to their guns and religion.”