Fight to Protect Religious Liberty Continues
By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
BELMONT — The dismissal of Belmont Abbey College’s lawsuit against the Obamacare mandate that would require the Catholic school to offer insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraception is not the end of the legal challenge, according to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Belmont Abbey.
Within a week after District of Columbia Federal Court Judge James E. Boasberg dismissed the lawsuit for technical reasons, the Fund filed a motion asking for the court to reconsider the matter and also vowed to continue the legal fight.
“We are reviewing the decision and considering our options, but one thing is clear: Belmont Abbey College and the Becket Fund will continue the fight for religious liberty, even if this case is delayed for a few months,” Hannah Smith, senior legal counsel, announced on July 18, emphasizing that the decision was based on technical grounds and says nothing about “the merits of Belmont Abbey’s religious freedom claims, and has no effect on any of the 22 other cases currently pending in federal court.”
She said the judge ruled as he did because he believes the case filed last November should be delayed to allow the Department of Health and Human Services time to “fix the mandate.”
“… The court made clear we have the right to re-file the case if HHS does not fix the problem,” she added.
In fact, the ruling said that the case was not “ripe for decision,” and that the court was offering no opinion “on the merits of the current contraception-coverage regulations or any proposed future ones.”
Belmont Abbey’s suit contended that the mandate, part of President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act, violates its rights under the “First Amendment, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
Although very specific religious organizations such as churches and other houses of worship appear to be exempt from the mandate, faith-based hospitals, colleges and other service organizations are not.
In other Obamacare news, Wheaton College announced July 26 that it has filed suit against the “preventive services” mandate.
“Wheaton College and other distinctively Christian institutions are faced with a clear and present threat to our religious liberty,” said Wheaton President Dr. Philip Ryken.
According to Religion Today, the school’s filing suit alongside the Catholic University of America marks the “first-ever partnership between Catholic and evangelical institutions to oppose the same regulation in the same court.” Both suits are filed in the District of Columbia. Wheaton officials were most troubled by the requirement to provide coverage for abortifacients.
“We’re glad to see these colleges stand firmly for religious freedom,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, who earlier this year called the healthcare initiative “an unprecedented attack on the individual conscience and a man’s fundamental right to exercise his religion.”
“The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with its mandatory requirements to support sterilization and contraceptives, actually usurps the authority of God in the life of the church,” Dr. Creech said.
In more positive healthcare news, a Colorado-based company owned by a Catholic family won an injunction against the Obamacare insurance mandate.
Colorado District Judge John Kane ruled that the government’s arguments “are countered, and indeed outweighed, by the public interest in the free exercise of religion,” in the case of Hercules Industries in Denver, a heat and air conditioning manufacturer that employs almost 300.
“Every American, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith. For the time being, Hercules Industries will be able to do just that,” Matt Bowman, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, told Fox News. “The bottom line is that Congress and the Constitution explicitly protect all religious freedom. They don’t exclude family businesses.”