What’s a Christian business owner supposed to do?

Religion | Mark D. Taylor

What’s a Christian business owner supposed to do?

Mark D. Taylor, president of Tyndale House Publishers
Associated Press/Photo by Scott Sanders (Daily Herald)

My parents founded Tyndale House Publishers 50 years ago as a Christian publishing company. From the very beginning we have published Bibles, and we also publish a wide range of other Christian books. Our corporate purpose is “to minister to the spiritual needs of people, primarily through literature consistent with biblical principles.”

I’ve always thought—in a theoretical way—that I might someday face a situation where the government was asking or telling me to do something that was counter to God’s law as I understood it. If such a situation arose, I hoped I would have the backbone to stand tall and disobey the government mandate. Well, that day seems to have come.

The Obama administration’s new healthcare legislation is exceedingly complex. One aspect of the complexity is that hundreds of details have to be worked out by one or more departments of the executive branch.

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As is now widely known, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has ruled that health insurance plans must provide contraceptives free of charge to all plan beneficiaries. As a Protestant, I don’t have a moral objection to contraceptives per se. But HHS defines contraception to include abortifacients such as Plan B (the morning-after pill), Ella (the week-after pill), and intrauterine devices. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admits that one purpose of these drugs and devices is to keep the fertilized egg from “implantation” onto the wall of the uterus. In other words, their purpose is to cause an early abortion of a human being that is made in the image of God. That’s where I draw the line.

After an initial outcry from the Roman Catholic Church and others, HHS said that certain religious nonprofit organizations could sidestep the requirement for an extra year—but not religious companies like Tyndale. And after that year, even the nonprofit groups would have to provide insurance that covers these services free of charge. But even this “solution” doesn’t provide any relief for companies who (1) object on religious or moral grounds to some elements of this mandate, (2) are organized as for-profit companies, or (3) are self-insured. So what are Christian owners of such companies to do?

The HHS mandate became effective for Tyndale House on Oct. 1. If we did not comply, we would be subject to fines of up to $100 per day per employee. We have 260 employees, so the fines could be $26,000 per day. That’s $780,000 per month, and $9.36 million per year—all because our moral and religious compass says that it is wrong for us to provide abortifacient substances or devices under our employee health plan. The federal government is telling us to violate our conscience or pay fines that would put us out of business.

So we have joined a growing list of Christian organizations—both nonprofit and for-profit—who have filed lawsuits against the HHS mandate. Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit law firm that specializes in religious freedom issues, represents us. We hope and pray we will get relief from the judicial system.

The day after we filed the lawsuit, the daily reading from The One Year Bible included the first chapter of Jeremiah and these verses:

“The LORD gave me this message: ‘I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations’” (Jeremiah 1:4-5, NLT).

How’s that for biblical confirmation that the unborn baby is important in the eyes of God! After reading that passage, I felt confirmed in my responsibility to stand up against a government that is trampling on my religious liberty. May God be merciful to all of us.

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