BLOG“Sue the State” Shouldn’t be Part of Any Pastor’s Job Description

By John Harding Posted on: | August 17, 2018

Chris Lewis, pastor of Foothill Church in California, takes shepherding God’s people very seriously.

Right now, that role includes legal action against the state of California. Even though Lewis started his career as an attorney before enrolling in seminary, bearing the church’s legal burden is not something he thought he would ever need to do. And quite frankly, it’s not something that church leaders should have to do.

“I think I knew there was going to be things I had to deal with,” Lewis said, after considering what he originally thought his pastoral role would include. “I had to deal with issues in the congregation. I had to deal with the brokenness of humanity. I had to deal with issues that the Gospel confronts.”

Lewis’s expectations were largely in line with what most pastors in America today consider when entering the ministry. Pastoring a church is a difficult task with eternal implications. Funerals. Weddings. Administration. Counseling sessions. Sermon preparations. Staff meetings. Board meetings. Crises. Teaching. Reproving. Disciplining. Discipling. Repeat.

Even as a former attorney, Lewis didn’t see the legal threats to his church’s religious liberty coming: “I don’t think in my wildest dreams, I thought the day would come in my ministry where I would have to fight the state,” he said.

When the California Department of Managed Health Care started forcing churches to pay for elective abortions in their employee health insurance plans, however, it affected the staff and congregants at Foothill Church. Given the church’s beliefs about the sanctity of human life, they knew they could not stand by while the government imposed its beliefs on them.

The church, just outside of Los Angeles, couldn’t fathom teaching about the gift of human life on Sunday all while providing elective abortion coverage to its employees week after week.

That’s where Alliance Defending Freedom comes in. By God’s grace, we have had the privilege of representing Foothill Church in this case since 2015.

We’re asking specifically that the state would provide a religious exemption for churches, so that they no longer must choose between offering health insurance to employees that covers elective abortions and offering no health insurance coverage to employees at all. The outcome of this case will have an impact on churches across the state. Please pray for victory for this courageous and faithful church as its case against California continues.

Foothill Church is one of many churches who receive legal help from ADF Church Alliance. Learn more about ADF Church Alliance and how we can help prepare and protect your church through a review of its bylaws and policies, regular legal consultation and advice to your church leadership, legal representation, and more.

Learn More

John Harding

Communications Specialist

John is a Grove City College graduate and serves as a communications specialist at Alliance Defending Freedom.

More from ADF View All

On Valentine’s Day, 2 Stories that Show the Sacrificial Love of Adoptive Parents

Religious Freedom

On Valentine’s Day, 2 Stories that Show the Sacrificial Love of Adoptive Parents

Love isn’t always easy. If anyone understands this, it’s adoptive parents.

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 02/14/2019 21:30:03 Read More

Read What Two Former Students Wrote to a Professor Punished for Refusing to Call a Man a Woman

Religious Freedom

Read What Two Former Students Wrote to a Professor Punished for Refusing to Call a Man a Woman

These former students get it. While they don’t agree with Dr. Meriwether on e...

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 02/13/2019 23:15:14 Read More

Abortion Lobby Shows Its Hand: How Far It’ll Go to Protect Roe

Sanctity of Life

Abortion Lobby Shows Its Hand: How Far It’ll Go to Protect Roe

The more desperate abortion activists get, the more they show their hand.

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 02/15/2019 17:57:50 Read More

News You Should Know: A Win for Religious Liberty, a Clarification on Title VII, and a Loss for Life

Culture

News You Should Know: A Win for Religious Liberty, a Clarification on Title VII, and a Loss for Life

Did you see these news stories from the past week?

Mr. Funny | Words | Author | I'm the icon | www | 02/15/2019 21:00:04 Read More