God our Creator instituted government to be a means by which He preserves and orders life among fallen human beings. Government belongs to His kingdom of power. The governmental realm is to be distinguished from that of the church. Governments are instituted not to save souls, but to uphold order and provide justice. God’s Word teaches that government is to reward the one who does good and to punish the evildoer (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
In the United States, Christians as citizens have many opportunities to do good in the governmental realm. Not only do individual Christian citizens pay taxes; we can also seek elected office and vote. We may participate in voluntary associations such as service clubs, civic improvement organizations, and political parties. We can let our views be known to our neighbors, government officials and others.
By applying moral principle to public and political issues, we make a crucial contribution to maintaining justice and freedom in our communities and in our country. This stands out as an important responsibility, one for Christian citizens to take soberly and prayerfully.
We sing, “God bless our native land.” One of the ways for Him to do so is through His people, as we act in our capacity as citizens.
The rally preceding the 2023 Illinois March for Life will begin on March 21 at noon at the Lincoln statue on the front (east) lawn of the state capitol building in Springfield. The March itself, walking a perimeter around the capitol complex, will follow at about 1:00 p.m. Thereafter, March participants from Illinois are encouraged to visit the offices of their state legislators.
Preceding all these events, at 10:30 a.m. Trinity Lutheran Church will conduct a Matins service commemorating Joseph, Guardian of Jesus. Central Illinois District (CID) President Michael Mohr will preach. (He will also speak at the noon rally.) The church is across the street from the capitol building (on the northeast corner of 2nd and Monroe streets), about a block north of the Lincoln statue.
Please consider attending on March 21. You might find these notes helpful:
There are several parking garages downtown. In addition, parking will be available at the former campus of Lutheran High School, 3500 W Washington St., Springfield, IL, 62711-7923. If you plan to travel to the March in a private vehicle (not a commercial bus or school bus, for example), you can consider parking there. NOTE: The building there will NOT be accessible for restroom use, filling water bottles, etc.
CID strongly encourages people to share rides to the March 21 events. It will provide shuttle service downtown and back from the Lutheran High parking lot for DRIVERS ONLY. If, for instance, you drive from Quincy with two or three passengers in your car, please drop your passengers off downtown, then head out to Lutheran High. We have bus capacity to shuttle the drivers of vehicles, but not all of their passengers. Plan to pick up your party downtown at the end of the day’s activities.
Shuttles will begin leaving the Lutheran High parking lot at 9:30 a.m. Seven shuttle runs will leave between 9:30 and 10:10. If you live in or near Springfield and wish to park a vehicle at Lutheran High, please arrive early so your driver can be on one of the first shuttle runs of the day, allowing the later runs to transport drivers who are traveling from a greater distance.
At the end of the March, shuttle runs will depart from downtown starting at 1:45 through 3:05, with “straggler” runs at 3:50 and 4:00. If you are the driver who brought the two or three from Quincy, they can look up their legislators while you go and fetch your vehicle. Later in the afternoon, you can all rendezvous at a time and place of your choosing.
A light lunch will be available at Trinity Lutheran Church for those attending the Matins service. It will consist of: a 4-inch Subway sandwich (ham or turkey), a bag of potato chips, a chocolate chip cookie, and a bottle of water. Suggested donation: $5. Please use a $5 bill. It’s a fitting Illinois thing to do, since Lincoln is on the $5!
Issues, etc. will cover the Illinois March for Life, recording in-person interviews at Trinity starting at 11:30 and continuing to record through the early part of the afternoon. These will be broadcast on KFUO (850 AM, audible in southern and much of central Illinois) that same afternoon between 3:00 and 5:00. The entire program can be live-streamed or accessed on-demand at www.issuesetc.org
During its “lame duck” session last month, the Illinois General Assembly adopted legislation permitting advanced practice nurses and physician’s assistants in the state to perform abortions – not surgical procedures, but “suction” abortions. This and other measures adopted by the legislature will likely entice women who are seeking abortions to come to Illinois to undergo them. See our December 2022 update.
A major cause for concern during the General Assembly’s regular session, which will run into the spring, will likely be the introduction of a proposed amendment to the state constitution to define a fundamental right to abortion in Illinois. If proposed by a three-fifths majority in both houses of the legislature in 2023, the proposed amendment would go before voters statewide for ratification at the November, 2024 general election. Again, see our December 2022 update.
Citizens concerned about life issues should note the Illinois March for Life on Tuesday, March 21 at the state capitol in Springfield. Trinity Lutheran Church, which is located across the street from the capitol, will hold a Matins service at 10:30. Central Illinois District President Michael Mohr will preach.
At noon, a pro-life rally will begin at the Lincoln statue on the front lawn of the capitol. When the rally ends, about 1:00 p.m., the actual march (walking) will commence, as participants will walk around the capitol for several blocks, returning to the spot where they started. Thereafter, they will be able to visit the offices of their legislators and personally urge these lawmakers to defend the lives of the most defenseless among us.
Watch this webpage for additional details about the March 21 Illinois March for Life in Springfield.
Next month, January of 2023, the Illinois General Assembly will conduct a “lame duck” session, and it will begin its regular 2023 legislative session. Important and deeply concerning matters related to life will likely come to the floor in both of these sessions.
Even – and especially! – before these sessions begin, you as a Christian citizen can contact those who represent you in both houses of the legislature, the House of Representatives and the Senate, by email or telephone. A message could be as simple as to indicate that you and your family are pro-life citizens and voters in Illinois, and that you urge your representatives to protect the unborn and provide no support to any legislative measures that enable abortion, the killing of unborn babies. (At this point, you need not refer to particular bill numbers or titles; such information is unknown to this writer at present.) This information is valid and important for all members of the legislature, regardless of their party affiliations or their past voting record on these matters.
To identify your House and Senate members (for some seats, there may be a change from those leaving office, who will be involved in the lame duck session, to new incoming members for the 2023 legislative session), see the related item below. This item also provides help for filing a “witness slip” when the session starts and a specific bill on which you may want to comment comes under consideration by a House or Senate committee.
How to find your legislator and how to file a witness slip (pdf)
During the lame duck session (Jan. 4-7, 10, and possibly until noon on Jan. 11), consideration quite likely will be given to removing the current restriction which holds that all surgical abortions in Illinois must be performed by licensed physicians. Permitting advanced practice nurses, physicians’ assistants, and even midwives to perform surgical abortions is seen as desirable by those who want to enhance Illinois’ reputation as an “abortion destination.” Presently, the number of physicians is thought insufficient to meet the amount of demand from both Illinois women who seek abortions and others who travel to our state for abortions. Changing the present restriction would put the women at further risk by loosening the training and experience requirements for those who perform abortions on them, in addition of course to ending the lives of still more unborn babies here in Illinois.
Another measure that may come to the lame duck session, or perhaps the legislature’s new 2023 session, would be to increase the state budget to provide funding for travel, lodging and meals of women who journey to Illinois for abortions. Temporary Medicaid cards might also be funded from the state budget to pay for the abortions. Federal Medicaid will not pay for the vast majority of abortions, but Illinois taxpayers may end up doing so for abortions in this state.
The new legislative session will begin at noon on Wednesday, January 11. On the whole, the pro-life cause will likely face a steeper climb among the members of the 2023 General Assembly. The legislature will probably entertain a move to propose an amendment to the Illinois constitution that would define a fundamental right to abortion in this state. If proposed by a three-fifths majority in both houses of the legislature in 2023, the proposed amendment would go before voters statewide for ratification in November, 2024. If abortion were to be recognized as a fundamental right in the state constitution, it would prove difficult if not impossible ever to reinstate parental notification prior to an abortion on a minor, or to require licensing for abortion clinics. Such a constitutional amendment would stand out in importance. It would reduce the potential for any kind of protection of the unborn in this state still more.
The new legislative session may also see proposals for regulation of crisis pregnancy centers.
A relatively new specter on the horizon is the prospect that the 2023 General Assembly may consider making an allowance for assisted suicide in Illinois. Legislators long familiar with debates on abortion may not have so great a grasp of what their constituents think about this related life matter. Now could be a good time to inform them.
With respect to schools, a number of concerns may present themselves:
Illinois House bill 5779 would classify the creation and obliteration of human embryos as a fundamental right for residents of this state. This bill was introduced in August. It could come up for consideration at the Illinois legislature’s veto session which will be held Nov. 15-17 and Nov. 29-Dec. 1. It could also come to the floor at a “lame duck” session of the legislature, which will be attended by present lawmakers on Jan. 4-11, prior to the start of the new legislative session at noon on Jan. 11.
The bill would amend the state’s so-called Reproductive Health Act. This act currently assures Illinois residents on-demand abortions. The pending bill would add the classification of assisted reproductive technology as a fundamental right for adults in Illinois. Assisted reproductive technology includes in vitro fertilization and a number of other techniques that aim to create children outside of the normal biological way. The bill would also prohibit Illinois from regulating the storage and destruction of embryos. For additional information on the bill, see the article at https://thefederalist.com/2022/10/25/illinois-bill-would-allow-residents-to-manufacture-unlimited-embryos-and-destroy-them-all/
On Friday, June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its decision in the 1973 Roe vs. Wade case. In its new ruling, the court did not outlaw abortion nationwide, but it did hold that the Roe decision was wrong to assert a legal protection for abortion nationwide under the U.S. constitution. The effect of this ruling is to return lawmaking concerning abortion to the individual states.
We give thanks to God that lives of untold numbers of unborn babies will be saved in states that will now legislate against abortion. We also face the grim fact that Illinois has been positioning itself to become an “abortion destination,” particularly in the Midwest. Clearly, there is much to be done to defend the weak and defenseless here in our state.
We repent of our own carelessness over these matters, and we ask for the help as well as the forgiveness of our good and gracious God as we move into the future. Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!
For a statement by LCMS President Pastor Matthew Harrison concerning the Supreme Court decision, click here.
For a statement from LCMS Life Ministry upon the Supreme Court’s announcement of its decision, click here.
For a look at a joint letter from the presidents of the Missouri, Wisconsin, and Evangelical Lutheran (“Little Norwegian”) Synods to the U.S. Attorney General concerning threats and possible violence to pro-life organizations, click here.
House Bill 5162, scheduled for hearing in the House State Government Administration Committee on Feb. 16, would prohibit Illinois from expending or investing any “public funds in any organization, nonprofit organization, religious organization, or any other entity that performs conversion therapy.” “Conversion therapy” in Illinois is defined as “any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual's sexual orientation, including efforts to change behaviors or gender expressions or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic attractions or feelings towards individuals of the same sex.”
The wording on the face of it is serious enough. Broadly interpreted, it might mean be construed to include a pastor, teacher, counselor, etc. even telling someone – or a whole group such as a class or a congregation – that homosexual behavior is wrong.
Advocates for religious schools are concerned that this bill, if adopted, could affect Invest in Kids and other funding that religious schools receive in Illinois. It could conceivably have an effect on the tax-exempt status of churches and other religious organizations.
This bill bears close scrutiny. It might be disapproved at the committee level, or it could go to the House for a vote.
As the Illinois state legislature’s 2022 session begins, at least three issues bear watching.
One is an amendment to the state’s Health Education Act. This was proposed but not adopted in 2021. It might be reintroduced during 2022. This amendment would have required all Illinois schools to teach contraception and to offer instruction concerning two drugs for treatment and prevention of HIV. These drugs can be obtained by prescription, but without parental notification. Note that this legislation, as it was introduced in 2021, would have affected both public schools and Lutheran (and other nonpublic) schools.
Another area to watch has particular importance for nonpublic schools. This would be potential changes to the state’s school code, specifically regarding official Illinois recognition of nonpublic schools within the state. A change already made in 2021 effectively prevents these schools from prohibiting hairstyles that are associated with particular ethnicities. Going forward, the question arises: what other requirements could Illinois in effect force on nonpublic schools by threatening to refuse to recognize them? In 2021, for example, thought was given to removing such recognition if a nonpublic school had a policy that disallowed hairstyles associated with one gender or the other. That proposal may re-emerge in 2022. Others may restrict parochial schools from teaching and acting in accord with biblical teachings.
The most sweeping and fundamental changes could be proposed in the increasingly contested area of parental rights. The basic issue here is: who has the responsibility for the rearing of children? More and more in American society, the claim is being made that children belong not to their families but to the entire community, and that although parents are supposed to take care of their children, it is the role of the state – through professional educators in public schools – to shape them for the future. However, the Lutheran Confessions, recognizing the authority of parents as God’s own representatives, hold that “all authority flows and is born from the authority of parents. Where a father is unable alone to educate his child, he uses a schoolmaster to teach the child. If he is too weak, he gets the help of his friends and neighbors. If he departs this life, he delegates and confers his authority and government upon others who are appointed for this purpose” (Large Catechism I 141; Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions [second ed., CPH, 2006], 375).
Christian citizens have a responsibility to inform themselves concerning not only legislation but also legislators. Do you know how your state representative or senator voted with respect to past legislation, for example, the 2021 removal from Illinois law of the requirement to notify parents if an abortion was to be performed on their minor child? If you write your state representative or senator concerning one or more of the issues noted above, you may well get a response that tells you where this person stands on that particular subject.
For help in getting contact information on those who represent you in the Illinois legislature, the “Contact your Rep” feature of the Illinois Policy Institute can be a handy tool. (This is a recommendation only of the tool, not necessarily anything else on the Illinois Policy Institute website.) The tool can be found at https://www.illinoispolicy.org/maps/
Dr. Ken Schurb, Human Care Executive
LCMS Central Illinois District
1850 N. Grand Avenue West
Springfield, IL 62702-1626