Two more evangelical schools are challenging the Obama Administration’s anti-conscience mandate, filing a joint lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing Grace College and Seminary, an evangelical institution in Winona Lake, Indiana, and Biola University, a prominent Christian college in Mirada, California.
The lawsuit comes just a few weeks after the official implementation of the HHS mandate on August 1 and joins the lawsuits of some 60 organizations, including four other Protestant institutions.
Under the mandate, at the start of their next health plan year, both colleges will be forced to provide and pay for insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of their deeply held religious and moral objections to such drugs.
Both schools have fallen victim to the Obama Administration’s offensively constricted view of faith in public life. The mandate affords only the narrowest religious exemption in federal law that effectively only applies to formal houses of worship. Like many other religious employers, Grace College and Seminary and Biola University are left completely unprotected by the exemption simply because they serve individuals without regard to their creeds or backgrounds.
As Biola University President Barry H. Corey explained in a press release:
The Obama administration’s mandate forces us to act against our own doctrinal statement, which upholds the sanctity of human life. It unjustly intrudes on our religious liberty as protected under the U.S. Constitution and makes a mockery of our attempts to live our lives according to our faith convictions, time-honored and long protected.
Grace College and Seminary President Ronald E. Manahan likewise pointed out the narrow religious exemption’s insulting insinuation that faith should be left behind church doors, not motivating or influencing service of others. “To determine that Grace College and Seminary is not ‘religious enough’ to qualify for an exemption from this mandate is an affront to the religious freedom and free conscience of dedicated Christian organizations across America.”
The HHS anti-conscience mandate will force employers into an untenable choice: violate their deeply held beliefs or forfeit the provision of health insurance altogether and risk steep fines after 2014.
“Christian colleges should remain free to operate according to their deeply-held beliefs. Punishing religious people and organizations for freely exercising their faith is an assault on our most fundamental American freedoms,” explained ADF senior counsel Greg Baylor.
Grace College and Seminary and Biola University join an ever-growing list of religious organizations and for-profit businesses, including Hercules Industries. The Colorado business, also represented by ADF, recently won a preliminary injunction against the mandate, halting the government’s ability to enforce the mandate against the company while its lawsuit continues.
The HHS mandate is only an early warning sign of how one-size-fits-all health care requirements will trample on religious liberty as well as individual liberty. It should be a warning sign to Americans that one of the first parts of Obamacare to be implemented will force employers with religious and moral convictions to violate their consciences.
As Baylor stated, “Every American should know that a government with the power to do this to anyone can do this—and worse—to everyone.”
Heritage’s Jennifer Marshall recently spoke about the threat to religious liberty posed by the HHS mandate on the Colson Center’s Two-Minute Warning. Listen to that segment here.