Will California Church Employees Be Forced to Pay for Abortions?

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Church employees in California are next on the list of Christians facing attacks on their religious freedom here in the United States. AiG has written several blogs and articles recently on that very topic; we are noticing that the battle for religious liberty in America is only getting fiercer. In Texas the attack was on freedom of speech for pastors; in Kentucky the battle is about the Ark Encounter’s freedom of speech and its right to hire people who agree with our religious tenets or statement of faith; in Idaho the issue was a wedding chapel that refused to marry same-sex couples; and now in California the battle centers around the idea that churches should have to pay for abortions. All of these involve fundamental issues of religious freedom where Christians are not being allowed to live out their biblically-based beliefs and convictions.

The California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) is forcing all employers—including churches—“to pay for elective abortions in their health care plans.” According to the DMHC, elective abortion is a basic health care service, so churches are not exempt from paying for it. The Alliance Defending Freedom and the Life Legal Defense Foundation are both acting as co-counsels for several churches who have filed formal complaints against this requirement with the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Casey Mattox, the Senior Counsel at ADF said, “Forcing a church to be party to elective abortion is one of the utmost-imaginable assaults on our most fundamental American freedoms . . . California is flagrantly violating the federal law that protects employers from being forced into having abortion in their health insurance plans. No state can blatantly ignore federal law and think that it should continue to receive taxpayer money.”

All Life is Precious

According to the Bible, all human beings are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and therefore all life is precious. Psalm 139:13–14 says, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” And in Jeremiah 1:4–5 we read, “Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.’” Both of these passages refer to the individual as a life before that person was born.  Life is precious—right from the moment of conception—because each individual is lovingly crafted by God in His own image. This means that abortion is murder because it takes an innocent life and, clearly, murder is wrong (Exodus 20:13). So Christians have a very good reason for not wanting to pay for abortions!

Because abortion is murder and a sin against God, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in California (and a friend of mine) says he is willing to go to jail, if necessary, to protect his church’s right to religious freedom. Calvary Chapel Chino Hills is one of the churches listed formally as a complainant on the document filed with the Office of Civil Rights at the US HHS. According to Live Action News, Pastor Jack Hibbs said, “We will take this to the point of being jailed, if necessary, being arrested, if necessary—whatever it takes. I cannot violate my biblical worldview . . . Once I have to do that, I no longer live in the United States our founding fathers gave me.”

This is just another example of the ferocious battle raging across the nation as those who do not accept the Bible as their authority try to prohibit those who do from living out their convictions. Forcing churches to pay for elective abortions is a slap in the face to religious liberty and to acts (such as the Weldon Amendment) that promise to protect people on matters on conscience.

Christians need to be bold and publicly stand for what the Bible teaches. Sadly, as our culture continues to start its thinking based on man’s ideas, not on God’s Word, we will only see more of this. The culture is “doing what is right in its own eyes” (to slightly paraphrase Judges 21:25) and secularists are trying to force Christians to go along with this idea. But, as Christians, when culture goes against God’s laws, we are to continue to obey God, not man (Acts 5:29).

I encourage you to pray for the situation facing churches in California as well as the many other attacks facing Christians around the world today.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,


This blog was written with the assistance of AiG's research team.

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