NASHVILLE (BP) — Twitter was a preferred format for many Southern Baptist leaders and others to express their reactions in the hours following the landmark Supreme Court decision June 30 to protect the owners of Hobby Lobby and other corporations who, based on sincerely held religious beliefs, refuse to provide abortion-causing drugs to employees.
Columns written and tweeted by Russell D. Moore of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and R. Albert Mohler Jr. of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary were among the most popular reactions, with several leaders retweeting their words.
O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, tweeted, "We applaud the Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case." He also linked to a GuideStone statement that said the decision "left unanswered whether the so-called accommodation to the contraceptive mandate provided to religious non-profit employers is constitutional." GuideStone has filed a legal challenge to the accommodation, which still imposes objectionable requirements on certain religious non-profit organizations. An Oklahoma federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in December that protects ministries using GuideStone's health plan from the mandate's penalties.
Hawkins said in the GuideStone statement, "Our litigation continues because, while similar to the Hobby Lobby case in its focus on sanctity of life, the court must decide issues that the Hobby Lobby case does not address. So even as we join in giving thanks for the favorable decision, we recognize our case must continue. We ask our participants and our broader evangelical family to join us in prayer as we persevere in our fight for religious liberty."
Among Moore's tweets: "From the great Cloud of Witnesses, revolutionary-era Baptist preacher John Leland no doubt smiling" and "Praise God. Thank you Supreme Court."
In his column, Moore said the ruling "isn't just a win for evangelicals, like the Southern Baptist Greens. It's a win for everyone.
"A government that can pave over the consciences of the Greens can steamroll over any dissent anywhere," Moore wrote. "Whether you agree or disagree with us about abortion, every American should want to see a government that is not powerful enough to set itself up as a god over the conscience."
Mohler said in his column that the decision both protected religious liberty and revealed a deep divide among the Supreme Court's nine justices.
"Today's decision is yet another repudiation of the heavy-handed and blatantly unconstitutional overreach of President Barack Obama and his administration," Mohler wrote. "The President could have covered contraception and birth control under any number of other means which would not have specifically targeted religious liberty. Instead, the Obama Administration appeared to take the route most likely to trample upon religious liberty and offend Christian conscience."
Mohler added, "The deeply divided court also revealed in startling clarity its own internal debates over religious liberty — and that division of understanding at the nation's highest court is very disturbing indeed."
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, wrote and tweeted a blog post about the decision that Christianity Today used as its lead article Monday morning. In the post Stetzer presented four ways Christians should respond to the Hobby Lobby decision, including "Pray for rulers and those in authority" and "Engage in mission."
Among Stetzer's tweets: "The government cannot require people of faith to violate sincerely-held beliefs," "Hoping progressive Christians who downplayed #HobbyLobby will hear Supremes even if they didn't stand w/ fellow Xians," and "Most Americans are NOT w/ evangelicals, Catholics, & Hobby Lobby, but the Supreme Court was."
SBC President Ronnie Floyd tweeted, "A great day for Religious Liberty! #hobbylobby." Floyd retweeted Mohler's statement, "The #HobbyLobby decision is a HUGE affirmation of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), almost unanimously passed by Congress." Floyd also retweeted Moore's statement, "#HobbyLobby wins. This is a great day for religious liberty. Government is not lord of the conscience."
Jason Allen, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted, "So thankful for the HL ruling. Thankful for the Supremes, but more thankful for King Jesus."
Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, retweeted a breaking news alert about the decision and added, "PTL" (praise the Lord). He also retweeted Moore's statement, "#HobbyLobby refused to render to Caesar what belongs to God: their consciences. The Supreme Court agreed."
Bryant Wright, a former SBC president and pastor of the Atlanta-area Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, tweeted a link to Moore's column with the comment, "Thankful religious liberty upheld. Reminded by vote, Pres. Elections HUGE."
Denny Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Seminary, tweeted, "I don't care whether this was a 'big blow' to the Obama admin. This decision is much bigger than the politics of the moment."
Trevin Wax, managing editor of LifeWay Christian Resources' The Gospel Project curriculum, tweeted, "As evangelicals, we can't rely on the courts; we have to be in conversations." He linked to a Gospel Coalition article in which he argued that a growing number of Americans downplay the importance of religious liberty. Christians must engage in winsome conversations to explain why religious liberty is essential, Wax wrote.
Eric Metaxas, co-host of BreakPoint Radio, tweeted, "To thank the Green Family — who are true American heroes — everyone should visit Hobby Lobby today and buy as much as they can afford." He also tweeted, "The only big downer in today's SCOTUS decision is that 4 of the 9 justices voted for King George III instead of the Founding Fathers."
The National Religious Broadcasters, in a statement on its website, praised the Supreme Court for "upholding religious freedom for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties in their 'David-and-Goliath' struggle for freedom against the Executive Branch." NRB President Jerry Johnson called the ruling "a significant victory honoring Americans' First Amendment freedom to live their faith in everyday life."
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.)