Pastor Rick Warren: I’d Rather Go to Jail Than Obey Mandate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 9, 2012   |   2:37PM   |   Washington, DC

Evangelical pastor Rick Warren sent a message on Twitter today that is resonating with pro-life advocates opposed to the new Obama mandate forcing religious employers to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs.

Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church who delivered the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration, put his pro-life views against the mandate front and center.

“I’m not a Catholic but I stand in 100% solidarity with my brothers & sisters to practice their belief against govt pressure,” Warren said. “I’d go to jail rather than cave in to a govement mandate that violates what God commands us to do. Would you? Acts 5:29.”

Richard Land, a pro-life leader who is a top official with the South Baptist Church, said the same thing the day prior.

“When it comes to abortifacients, and many birth-control methods are abortifacients,” Land said, this mandate is “reprehensible in its demands for people to violate their conscience.” “We are not going to do this. We have a First Amendment right to freedom of conscience, and we’re going to defend it. If we have to defend it by going to jail, so be it.”

Rev. Matthew Harrison is another Protestant leader who is opposed to the mandate.

“We have a full-tilt assault on religion, especially full creedal Christians, right now,” he said. “This is a fundamental attack on the Roman Catholic Church’s ability to be in the public square, being in partnership with the government providing for the needy.”

He says the “ultimate goal is to drive religious people out of public life in this nation and out of the reception of any kind of funding or partnership with government for good in society.”

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America had 65 Orthodox Christian bishops uniting against the mandate as well.

“We … call upon HHS Secretary Sebelius and the Obama administration to rescind this unjust ruling and to respect the religious freedom guaranteed all Americans by the First Amendment,” they said. “The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion.”

The Obama administration is reportedly considering a compromise on its new mandate that has caused national outrage because it forces religious employers to cover birth control and drugs that may cause abortions. However, the leading pro-life spokesman for the Catholic bishops says the compromise may be worse.

Congressman Steve Scalise has led a bipartisan letter with 154 co-signers calling on the Obama Administration to reverse its unconstitutional mandate forcing religious organizations to include drugs that can cause abortion and birth control in the health care plans of their employees.

Bishops across the country have spoken out against the mandate and are considering a lawsuit against it — with bishops in more than 164 locations across the United States issuing public statements against it or having letters opposing it printed in diocesan newspaper or read from the pulpit.

“We cannot — we will not comply with this unjust law,” said the letter from Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix. “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.”

Responding to the announcement, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

“To force Americans to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. . . It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom,” he added.

The mandate is so egregious that even the normally reliably liberal and pro-abortion USA Today condemned it in an editorial titled, “Contraception mandate violates religious freedom.”

The administration initially approved a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine suggesting that it force insurance companies to pay for birth control and drugs that can cause abortions under the Obamacare government-run health care program.

The IOM recommendation, opposed by pro-life groups, called for the Obama administration to require insurance programs to include birth control — such as the morning after pill or the ella drug that causes an abortion days after conception — in the section of drugs and services insurance plans must cover under “preventative care.” The companies will likely pass the added costs on to consumers, requiring them to pay for birth control and, in some instances, drug-induced abortions of unborn children in their earliest days.

The HHS accepted the IOM guidelines that “require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services” and those services include “FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling” — which include birth control drugs like Plan B and ella that can cause abortions. The Health and Human Services Department commissioned the report from the Institute, which advises the federal government and shut out pro-life groups in meetings leading up to the recommendations.