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Obama Admin Gives Up Forcing Bible Publisher to Obey HHS Mandate

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 5/6/13 12:04 PM

National

In a huge victory for pro-life advocates taking on the controversial HHS mandate, the Obama administration is giving up its effort to force a Bible publisher to obey it.

The mandate has generated massive opposition from pro-life groups because it forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.

The Obama administration opposed an order a judge gave temporarily stopping enforcement, arguing that Tyndale House Publishers isn’t religious enough for an exemption from the mandate, a component of ObamaCare that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.

Now, at the Obama administration’s request, a federal appellate court Friday dismissed the Obama administration’s appeal of an order that stopped President Barack Obama from enforcing his abortion pill mandate against a Bible publisher. The administration’s retreat marks the first total appellate victory on a preliminary injunction in any abortion pill mandate case.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Tyndale House Publishers say the administration is apparently nervous about trying to defend its position that a Bible publisher is not religious enough for a religious exemption to the mandate.

“Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The government dismissed its appeal because it knows how ridiculous it sounds arguing that a Bible publisher isn’t religious enough to qualify as a religious employer. For the government to say that a Bible publisher isn’t religious is outrageous, and now the Obama administration has had to retreat in court.”

“We will continue to argue that the administration cannot disregard the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom for all family business owners and must offer a comprehensive exemption to the mandate,” Bowman added.

The abortion pill mandate is a component of ObamaCare that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.

Tyndale House Publishers, based in Carol Stream, Illinois, specifically objects to covering abortifacients. It is the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media and directs 96.5 percent of its profits to religious non-profit causes worldwide.

Friday’s order from U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit means the preliminary injunction issued by a district court in November of last year will stand while the case, Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, moves forward.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating nine other lawsuits against the mandate. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate. More than 100 lawsuits have been filed in total.

The court’s order was the third nationwide against the mandate and the second obtained by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys.

In its opinion accompanying a preliminary injunction order in Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, the court wrote that “the beliefs of Tyndale and its owners are indistinguishable…. Christian principles, prayer, and activities are pervasive at Tyndale, and the company’s ownership structure is designed to ensure that it never strays from its faith-oriented mission.

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The opinion continued: “The Court has no reason to doubt, moreover, that Tyndale’s religious objection to providing insurance coverage for certain contraceptives reflects the beliefs of Tyndale’s owners. Nor is there any dispute that Tyndale’s primary owner, the Foundation, can ‘exercise religion’ in its own right, given that it is a non-profit religious organization; indeed, the case law is replete with examples of such organizations asserting cognizable free exercise and RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] challenges.”

Tyndale is subject to the mandate because Obama administration rules say for-profit corporations are categorically non-religious, even though Tyndale House is strictly a publisher of Bibles and other Christian materials and is primarily owned by the non-profit Tyndale House Foundation. The foundation provides grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world.

A diverse coalition of over 300 scholars and religious leaders have called the mandate “unacceptable,” because it still forces many religious organizations to violate their core religious beliefs. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has also denounced it.

The panel that put together the mandate has been condemned for only having pro-abortion members even though polling shows Americans are opposed to the mandate.