GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN, June 22, 2012, ( – If he were alive today, Dietrich Bonhoeffer would tell Americans to oppose the HHS mandate and regard the measure as an infringement on religious freedom, according to his biographer.

Bestselling author Eric Metaxas said the ObamaCare mandate stood as “a horrific example” of state overreach. 

Metaxas, the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, made his remarks last Thursday before a crowd of more than 800 attendees of Acton University, a four-day seminar held near the Acton Institute‘s headquarters in Grand Rapids.

A student with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students asked Metaxas, “What advice do you think Bonhoeffer would say to us, specifically thinking about the U.S. situation?”

“Read and sign the Manhattan Declaration, and be aware what is happening,” Metaxas began.

After an hour-long talk featuring the details of the Nazi-era Lutheran pastor’s life, Metaxas said Bonhoeffer’s message is that Christians “have to be able to read the times.”

“You have to know when to merely pray for your leaders or when to take action,” he said.

The requirement that religious institutions violate their consciences proves “the government, with all its power, can bully people,” he said. “This is the end of America.”

“Every Protestant needs to know and every American needs to know, that this is a threat to the United States of America,” Metaxas, who is an evangelical Christian, told the crowd. “It has nothing to do with your view of contraception… It’s the principle of religious freedom. This is the very heart of who we are as a people.”

The task of fighting for religious liberty will fall to clergy and concerned activists, because it “is difficult in this media to talk about this, even on Fox News,” he stated, adding that most Fox News commentators don’t “get” the issue.

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However, Metaxas addresses the issue in a new video released by the Acton Institute, with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of The Ruth Institute, who also taught at Acton University.

“This is an absolutely vital principle,” Metaxas said following his speech. “We’ve got to fight.”

Although he said emphatically that the violation of the First Amendment represented by the HHS mandate in no way compares with Adolf Hitler’s anti-Christian actions, the decision to subordinate the church’s role to the state “is exactly what happened with Bonhoeffer.”

Bonhoeffer’s message to modern American Christians is that “we must see what’s happening, and together we can fight, and we can win.”

His remarks came following a well-received speech sprinkled liberally with humor, including a brief autobiographical remark about his role as narrator in the Veggie Tales video Esther, the Girl Who Became Queen. “I’m a non-pictured vegetable,” he joked.

A copy of his speech may be purchased here