The Rev. Barry Lynn, a national advocate of abortion and the separation of church and state, is retiring this week.
Lynn is best known as the leader of the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, a position he has held since 1992, the Washington Post reports.
A United Church of Christ pastor and a lawyer, Lynn has been a vocal opponent of the Little Sisters of the Poor and Christian-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby that do not think the government should force them to pay for drugs that may cause abortions in their employee health plans.
Despite the fact that he is a pastor, Lynn believes that “the mixing of religion and government is toxic and unconstitutional,” according to the report.
Lynn said he grew up in a conservative small town in Pennsylvania but eventually became disillusioned with conservative leaders. He said the abortion issue was one of the key things that prompted him to become an advocate for the separation of church and state.
He told the Post:
It was the abortion question [When Lynn was in college, the girlfriend of a roommate of his became pregnant but could not obtain an abortion in the years before Roe v. Wade. Religious leaders and groups, particularly Catholic ones at the time, were the leading voices against abortion – as they are now.] I found it staggering that somebody had to go to England to get a safe abortion. How could I not know this? And what other powers did these powerful, wealthy churches have? That’s when I started to look seriously at this issue.
And though the Trump administration is working hard to protect religious freedom and conscience rights, Lynn said he does not think it will prevail. He said the public is more liberal and “tolerant” than it used to be – meaning more people are ok with the government forcing religious people to violate their consciences by referring someone for an abortion or baking a cake for a gay wedding.
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“Their hearts and minds are far, far moved from where they were 25 years ago…I think there is an enormous growth in tolerance…Once you make a certain amount of progress, you never get back to the same starting point,” Lynn said.
Of course, Lynn believes he holds the moral high ground by advocating for abortion and the suppression of religious freedom.
“I do try and measure my actions based on: ‘What is the pain this might cause someone else?’ If there is real pain there, this doesn’t feel like something I ought to do. I wish others would look at their Christianity through that same frame,” he said.
Later, he continued, “… super-conservativism is just inconsistent with moral principles. Because you can’t live a life that doesn’t touch everybody else’s.”
These are interesting statements for someone who advocates for abortion, a procedure that causes pain and death to millions of Americans every year. Nearly 1 million unborn babies are killed in abortions every year in the U.S., and many of their mothers carry physical or psychological scars for the rest of their lives.
Lynn’s advocacy goes against what most Americans believe to be right. Americans think abortion is morally wrong, and many do not think the government should force people to violate their religious beliefs. The Little Sisters of the Poor, Hobby Lobby and other religious groups have strong public support because Americans recognize that religious individuals should have the “right to choose” to live according to their beliefs.