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The Resistance Prays

October 19, 2018
By Daniel Williams

Today's Top Story

Citing his Catholic religious beliefs, a male pharmacist in Michigan lost his job after refusing to fill a prescription needed for his patient to complete a miscarriage safely, the New York Times reports.

  • When Rachel Peterson of Ionia, Michigan, learned that the fetus she was carrying no longer had a heartbeat, she was prescribed misoprostol to help her body complete the miscarriage safely, without the need for surgery.
  • But the pharmacist she went to see refused not only to fill her prescription, but to follow company policy and Michigan Pharmacists Association guidelines and help Peterson find a pharmacist who would meet her medical needs.
  • After getting nowhere contacting the pharmacy chain, Peterson worked with the ACLU to file a complaint this week.

Then the ruler will say to those on the left, "Out of my sight, you accursed ones! Into that everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and the fallen angels!  I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you gave me no welcome; naked and you gave me no clothing. I was ill and in prison and you did not come to visit me." Then they in turn will ask, "When did we see you hungry or thirsty, or homeless or naked, or ill or in prison, and not take care of you?" The answer will come, "The truth is, as often as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me." They will go off to eternal punishment, and the just will go off to eternal life. - Matthew 25:41-46

I Was Miscarrying and You Refused to Treat Me
  • If you’re like me, you might have been given to understand that religious freedom meant that another person’s religious beliefs couldn’t be forced upon you. That is, after all, the narrative that most of us were taught in our early civic educations. Amidst all the settler colonial sentiment, isn’t there something about religious freedom in the story of the Pilgrims that we’ll be teaching to impressionable school kids next month?
  • That understanding, though, is being reversed by an increasingly vocal conservative flank of American Christianity. This tactic seeks to transform religious freedom from a time-honored value of protecting diversity and justice into an attack on hard-won progress and individual liberties in the name of religion.

  • To be clear, the religious values that are ostensibly being protected under this distorted paradigm of religious liberty are not the justice and loving kindness of Jesus’ Good News. Refusing to fulfill a prescription for a patient undergoing a miscarriage, like any use of religion to discriminate, does exactly what Jesus warns us against doing in Matthew 25: it neglects the humanity of someone in the greatest need and, in so doing, neglects the humanity of our Savior.

  • This wasn’t the only story about religious freedom in the news this week. Yesterday, NPR covered the case of Scott Warren, a volunteer with the border humanitarian group No More Deaths who is claiming religious freedom as his defense against prosecution for harboring undocumented immigrants. The Trump Justice Department, which has argued that religious freedom should protect conservatives’ attempts to discriminate against queer people and women, opposes Warren’s claims on the grounds that his beliefs do not include protecting migrants from persecution.

  • When the Human One comes in glory to judge the quick and the dead, what use of religious freedom will meet with Christ’s approval? Do we want to hear from our Risen Savior, “I was miscarrying and you refused to treat me”?

  • Reproductive health care is getting harder and harder to access for the people who need it most. An increasingly restrictive legislative climate, unjust economic realities, and the weaponization of conservative medical professionals mean that too many people, especially people who are intersectionally oppressed, face massive barriers to getting the reproductive health care they need.


Abortion funds work to remove financial and logistical access to necessary reproductive health care. Check out the National Network of Abortion Funds to get involved with an abortion fund in your area or to give to the national network.


Holy Mystery,
In you we find freedom to live with radical compassion and loving kindness.
Make your face visible to us in every person we meet,
So that we might join you in your holy work of tending to the wounds of the world.
In the name of the Source, Wellspring, and Living Water we pray,

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