When Little Government Foxes Spoil the Vines of Business and Ministry
Religion & Liberty Online

When Little Government Foxes Spoil the Vines of Business and Ministry

Joe Carter has done a marvelous job of outlining the details surrounding the Obama administration’s abortion/contraceptive mandate. In a recent cover story for WORLD Magazine, these details are brought to life through a series of snapshots of real businesses and non-profits facing a real choice to either violate their Christian consciences or become economic martyrs.

Thus far, Hobby Lobby has received much of the national spotlight—due in part to their visibility in the marketplace and corresponding outspokenness. In the WORLD article, we begin to see the bigger picture, beginning with Chris and Paul Griesedieck, brothers and owners of American Pulverizer, a small, 105-year-old, family-owned manufacturing company, which could face fines of up to $5 million per year if the owners choose to be guided by Christian principles above economic penalties:

Like Hobby Lobby and other plaintiffs, the Griesediecks filed a lawsuit against HHS. They say the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (a law designed to protect against government infringement of religious freedom) and their First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion. The brothers made a simple argument based on Christian principles: “It would be sinful for us to pay for services that have a significant risk of causing the death of embryonic lives.”

…Frank Manion—an attorney at the American Center for Law and Justice—represents the Griesediecks, and says the federal government is imposing a stark choice on his clients and all Christian employers who oppose the mandate: “Abandon their beliefs in order to stay in business, or abandon their business in order to stay true to their beliefs.”

Abraham Kuyper famously wrote that “there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” This view may seem uncontroversial to some, yet it is increasingly seen by our scrupulous government overlords to be irrelevant to First Amendment protections:

Matt Bowman of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF)—a group representing several plaintiffs—says the issue is likely headed to the Supreme Court, and the outcome could affect religious freedoms for all Christians who believe their faith extends to every area of life: “The question becomes: Is Jesus Christ the Lord of all human life or not? And the federal government is saying He isn’t allowed to be.”

For the owners of Christian companies embroiled in one of the country’s most important religious liberty issues of the new century, faith isn’t an activity the government can sequester to Sundays. “You have to practice what you preach,” says Paul Griesedieck. “And you have to live your belief seven days a week.”

For Charles Sharpe, the 85-year-old CEO of the Sharpe Holdings community and founder of Heartland Ministries, a Christian rehabilitation program, the millions of dollars in fines he could face from rejecting the mandate would likely end both his business and ministry. “That would be a catastrophe for the people we help,” Sharpe says.

Among those people is Judi Schaefer, a 40-year-old single mother who relies on her job at the community’s lodge to support her children. Even employees like Schaefer support Sharpe’s decision to put Christian principles above profits. “Someone has to stand up and say there is something wrong with being a little bit involved,” she says. “The Bible says it’s the little foxes that spoil the vines.”

Sharpe hopes that he will be able to continue operating his business and ministry, whether without economic persecution or in spite of it. “A lot of people say you go to church on Sunday, and on Monday it’s business as usual,” he says. “But our business as usual on Monday is exactly the same as it is on Sunday.”

Read the full article here.

For more on retaining a proper perspective of common grace, see Wisdom & Wonder: Common Grace in Science & Art.

To join the On Call in Culture community, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Joseph Sunde

Joseph Sunde's work has appeared in venues such as the Foundation for Economic Education, First Things, The Christian Post, The Stream, Intellectual Takeout, Patheos, LifeSiteNews, The City, Charisma News, The Green Room, Juicy Ecumenism, Ethika Politika, Made to Flourish, and the Center for Faith and Work, as well as on PowerBlog. He resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and four children.