The new Health and Human Services leadership has reversed a previous policy that cost some medical workers their jobs. When a doctor or nurse objected on religious grounds to participating in abortions or euthanasia, little protection was provided against discrimination.
The states were subject to federal pressure if they intervened to protect the worker's freedom of religion. Even when laws existed to protect the worker, lax enforcement left the worker in jeopardy.
In January, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department announced a new division tasked with ensuring religious freedom for medical personnel. Called the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, it provides a website (https://www.hhs.gov/conscience) where a complaint can be filed by anyone who is being forced to violate their conscience.
Mat Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel calls the new division "a 180 turn from the past administration, which used the federal government to violate religious freedom and conscience rather than protecting them."
HHS also announced increased enforcement of existing laws protecting people from being forced to participate in procedures that they found objectionable because of deeply held religious beliefs. These include abortion, sterilization or assisted suicide. "Conscience protection is a civil right guaranteed by laws that too often haven't been enforced," said one HHS official.
It is good to see that some of the attacks on religious freedom by past administrations are being rolled back. Hopefully these will also apply to witnessing and public ministry. As respect for the gospel has been decreasing in countries like Britain, Canada and Europe, soul winners working on the streets have even been arrested. The pattern of persecution was growing here. Now there is hope we have some more time to get the gospel out.
Soul winners, we need to saturate our communities with gospel tracts while we still have the freedom. That is still the best way to find out who in our neighborhoods might have hearts open to following Jesus.