By: Neil Jones, intern at Alliance Defending Freedom
Most people know the expression stuck between a rock and a hard place.
This phrase is infamous for a reason. No one enjoys being in that situation, forced to make a difficult decision that will have negative outcomes no matter what the final choice is. But this is the exact situation that Jay and Sandy Smith find themselves in.
The Smiths are pastors for the openly pro-life Cedar Park Church near Seattle, Washington.
However, due to a new state law, the Smiths are now forced to either provide health insurance that covers abortions to their church employees or face punishment from the State.
This bill requires all insurance plans that include maternity care also cover elective abortions. There is no negotiation here; either the insurance plan covers abortions, or those who fail to comply will face a steep punishment, including a hefty fine or jail time.
The Smiths go above and beyond as pastors. They partner with a local pro-life pregnancy center host an annual camp for foster care children, run a K-12 school, and operate a licensed funeral home on the church campus.
Jay and Sandy do a lot for their community, but they can’t do it alone. The Cedar Park Church employs over 180 individuals eligible for health insurance. The Smiths believe each of their employees and subsequent families deserve access to quality health insurance, and maternity care is a vital part of that insurance.
Now the Smiths find themselves backed into a corner. Do Jay and Sandy follow their convictions and risk jail time, or do they betray their core beliefs to appease the state?
That’s quite the rock and hard place, but this scenario that the Smiths find themselves in should not even be an issue — at least not in the United States.
Washington State is directly violating the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause, which prohibits any restraint of religious freedom by the state or federal government. Therefore, by coercing churches like Cedar Park to pay for abortions, the State of Washington is violating the First Amendment.
Cedar Park is not alone either; other states like California also have laws restricting the freedom of churches.
This government overreach cannot continue.
To stand up for their beliefs, Jay and Sandy turned to ADF for help and have filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington. This legal action is just the beginning for the Smiths, but until their church, and many others like it, can freely live out their core beliefs, our fight for freedom will continue.
Stay up to date on this case and more like it.
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