The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the globally renowned evangelist Billy Graham, warned Tuesday that the Obama administration is on the brink of requiring faith-based organizations to hire atheists and others “opposed to everything we believe” — a situation that he says would force him to violate the law rather than compromise his religious convictions.
Graham’s concern about the religious freedom of faith-based organizations comes in the context of the president’s Obamacare-related decree. It requires all insurance companies to provide free contraception services, including the morning-after pill and sterilizations — even to employees of religious-affiliated organizations that have a moral objection to them.
“I am very concerned,” Graham told Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview on Tuesday morning. “Because what they tried to do to the Catholic Church in mandating contraception, I don’t believe the compromise is a true compromise. You’re still paying for it, but it’s going to be paid for now through the insurance carrier, who is then going to charge you.
“But what I’m concerned about as a faith-based organization,” Graham went on to say, “is that I’m going to be forced to hire people that are not of my faith, or don’t have the same values that I have, and that I am going to be forced to hire them and will not be allowed to discriminate.
“And that’s my concern, and I think that’s where we’re heading. And frankly, I think every Christian out there should be concerned that we will be forced to bring people into our organizations, and put them on our payrolls, when we know that they are opposed to everything that we believe,” he said.
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If the president did issue such a decree, Graham told Newsmax, he probably would have to practice civil disobedience. “I guess at that point, I would just have to break the law,” he said.
President Barack Obama has come under pressure from atheist groups to rescind the executive order, which exempts some faith-based organizations from certain nondiscrimination statutes. To do otherwise would force religious organizations to hire staff members whose professed beliefs are antithetical to the organizations themselves. Some religious-freedom advocates have suggested that the law could even be used to force churches to hire atheist ministers.
In July, Obama stated: “If you have set up a nonprofit that is disassociated from your core religious functions and is out there in the public doing all kinds of work, you have to abide generally with the nondiscrimination hiring practices.”
It is not the first time the administration has suggested that churches, synagogues, and mosques should receive one level of First Amendment protection, while their religiously affiliated schools, hospitals, and nonprofit ministries receive reduced protection.
In terms of the contraception mandate, for example, a Christian Science Monitor editorial warned that the administration’s effort to distinguish between the churches that teach religious principles, and the nonprofit groups that put those teachings into action, could adversely affect faith-based organizations.
“Obama’s attempt to draw a distinction between the teaching of faith and its outward conduct puts government in the business of defining religion,” stated the editorial. "Government can easily end up discriminating against a faith or affecting it.”
But Graham, the president and chairman of the Samaritan’s Purse global relief ministry that helps millions in impoverished, war-torn hotspots around the globe, indicated that he would risk going to jail rather than comply with any such mandate from the federal government.
“Even though we’re privately funded, I believe that the government is going to mandate,” he told Newsmax. “We’re heading that direction, where we will not be able to discriminate in our hiring practices. And we’re not a church, we’re a para-church organization.
“And so I’m afraid that para-church groups like myself, Samaritan’s Purse, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are going to be forced to hire people not of our faith, and this would be, this would be terrible,” he said. “And of course, I guess at that point I would just have to break the law, and take it all the way to Supreme Court and fight it if I had to.”
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