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Religious freedom protects all persuasions

By Jonathan Imbody | May 21, 2015

Excerpted from "Lethal injections: a prescription for state religious freedom laws," April 22, 2015, commentary by Jordan Lorence in The Hill - The American Pharmacists Association recently adopted a policy discouraging its pharmacists from participating in lethal injections to executed murderers. It reasoned that such actions are “fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care.”

This resolution demonstrates that customers (in this case, the government) sometimes will ask business owners to sell them something or participate in an activity that violates the owners’ beliefs. As much as possible, the law should accommodate the owners’ choice to decline the customers’ request, rather than allow big government to punish people for living according to their beliefs.

The issue pertinent here is not whether the death penalty for convicted murderers is moral or not. The issue is whether the state should be able to force people to help facilitate an execution against their will. And it raises the greater question of when the government, in general, can compel people to act against their beliefs.

That is why we need state laws like the religious freedom law that the federal government and 20 other states have approved, and that the North Carolina Legislature is currently considering. Government exercises its actions through coercion, and sometimes, the government can achieve its end without compelling those with a moral objection to participate in something that violates their conscience.


Jonathan ImbodyCMA VP for Government Relations Jonathan Imbody: “My friend and colleague Jordan Lorence in this commentary is helping readers to understand that religious freedom is neither a conservative nor a liberal principle; it enables anyone to exercise convictions of conscience.

“Consider that religious freedom in American history has meant the freedom to conscientiously object to serving as a soldier, to refuse to participate in the death penalty or to decline to send their children to school.

“We need to winsomely drive home this truth with our friends who may disagree with us on matters of Christian convictions. That's one reason why I've written a new book, Faith Steps—to encourage Christians to engage others in making good choices that help lead them toward God.

“A key to communicating effectively, the book explains, is to present choices in terms of self-interest: harms and benefits. This is what you do as a healthcare professional with patients every day; you explain how pursuing a certain course will harm or benefit the patient. This works not only in personal communications, but also in advocating for pro-life, pro-family positions in the public policy arena.

“So next time a colleague opines that you should have to perform or refer for abortions, you might ask if he or she should have to perform lethal injections on death row prisoners. Hopefully the universal value of religious freedom for all will begin to sink in.”


  1. Protect freedom of faith and conscience related to abortion - S 50
    No health professionals should be forced to choose between their careers and following the principles of ethical medicine.
  2. Protect conscience freedom in healthcare - HR 940
    Preserve patient choice and protect pro-life professionals from discrimination for moral and ethical views.


  • Visit CMDA's website for the latest news, resources and action items related to freedom of faith, conscience and speech.
  • Read Faith Steps, the new book by CMA's VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody to learn how to engage colleagues and our nation on vital issues, from a Christian perspective yet in secular terms: Kindle e-book or Amazon paperback.



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