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New York State Prevents Churches from Making Employment Decisions Based on Pro-Life Commitments: Answering God’s Call to Courage

Imagine a day when your church cannot refuse to hire a person to lead your congregation’s ministry for expectant mothers on the basis of that person’s pro-choice agenda. 

Or a day when a staff member at your church cannot be disciplined for encouraging others to have an abortion.

If your church is in New York State, that day has come. 

Why Senate Bill 660 is so important 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Senate Bill 660 recently. It specifies that an employer shall not “discriminate nor take any retaliatory personnel action” against employees with respect to their beliefs and choices regarding abortion. The bill makes no exceptions for religious organizations. 

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) states that the bill “requires all employers—including churches, religious schools, faith-based pregnancy care centers, and religious nonprofits—to disavow their beliefs about abortion, contraception, and sexual morality by forcing them to hire and employ those who refuse to abide by the organizations’ statements of faith.” 

As a result, faith-based hospitals in New York State cannot require future or existing employees to abide by their pro-life commitments. Nor can faith-based schools or businesses. Nor can churches.

Two versions of “discrimination” 

What do we do when two versions of “discrimination” collide? 

Pro-choice advocates believe that pro-life employers discriminate against them by refusing to hire pro-choice employees. They ask you to imagine being told by a pro-life CEO that you cannot work at his engineering firm because you believe abortion should be the decision of the mother rather than the government. 

By contrast, pro-life advocates believe that the State of New York discriminates against pro-life employers by forcing them to consider candidates who reject the employer’s commitment to life. They ask you to imagine being the CEO of a Baptist hospital who must hire a pro-choice advocate to lead your pregnancy center. 

The logic of the pro-choice position 

Each side in this culture war is convinced that its logic should prevail. 

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court declared that it “need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins,” claiming that “the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.” The Court therefore chose to give the mother whose body supports the fetus the right to decide whether or not to abort that fetus. 

Such logic extends to the claim that pro-choice advocates are not forcing anyone to choose an abortion. Rather, they say they are working to preserve the mother’s “reproductive rights.” They believe that she, not the government, is in the best position to make such a determination. 

Over the years, I’ve heard from people who say they are personally opposed to abortion but do not believe it is the government’s right to make this decision for others. They would say they are “pro-choice” but not “pro-abortion.” 

The logic of the pro-life position 

By contrast, pro-life advocates are convinced that life begins at conception. We cite clear biblical teachings as well as strong scientific evidence for the humanity of the so-called fetusin his or her mother’s womb. 

We agree with the American Declaration of Independence that every person possesses “unalienable rights” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We therefore believe that the mother’s right to choose should not take precedence over her child’s right to live. 

While pro-choice advocates claim that such a position discriminates against the mother, we counter that their position discriminates against the child. The mother may be required to bring a child to term, enduring several months of significant challenges in the process, but her child will then have an entire life to live. If she aborts her child, ending the challenges posed by her temporary pregnancy, her decision is obviously permanent for her child. 

And we note that when a child is born, it simply moves from inside his or her mother’s body to outside of it. In New York State, that child can be aborted just moments before his or her birth. By what logic is the intrinsic nature of a baby different when it shifts location?

“Be strong and courageous” 

I have taken us down this road today to make a point: Despite the logic of the pro-life position, which I consider to be far superior to that of pro-choice advocates, our society is reaching a tipping point with regard to religious freedom on this issue. If current trends continue, Christians will pay an escalatingly high price for affirming biblical morality on abortion. We are facing similar pressure on LGBTQ issues and euthanasia. 

I plan to focus tomorrow on practical ways we can respond biblically to such pressure. For today, let’s decide that we want to. 

As Joshua prepared to lead God’s people into an uncharted land and future, the Lord said to him: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lordyour God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). 

Note that this word came to Joshua before he began facing Canaanite enemies. The Lord called him to choose courage before he needed courage. 

This is because courage does not earn the provision of God—it positions us to receive it. If we will not go into battle, we cannot experience the presence and power of God in the battle. 

Is there any price you won’t pay to follow Jesus?

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Publication Date: November 21, 2019

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Vadimguzhva

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