Catholic Belmont Abbey College Would Close Before Giving in to Obama Admin

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 17, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Belmont Abbey College Would Close Before Giving in to Obama Admin

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 17
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The president of Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic school, says he will close the college before it gives in to an Obama administration ruling forcing it to provide contraception coverage in its insurance plans for employees. The EEOC ruled the school must provide the coverage, even though it violates Catholic teachings.

As first reported last week, Belmont Abbey College removed coverage for abortion, contraception and voluntary sterilization in 2007 after learning that its plan had accidentally included them.

Responding to the decision, eight faculty members filed complaints with the EEOC and the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

The EEOC determined that Belmont Abbey discriminated against women by denying coverage of contraception.

Now, BAC president William K. Thierfelder tells The Washington Times he would rather see the school shut down than violate its moral precepts.

"I hope it would never get this far but if it came down to it we would close the college before we ever provided that," he said.

"Belmont Abbey College rejects the notion that by following the moral teachings of the Catholic Church we are discriminating against anyone," he added. "We are simply and honestly exercising the freedom of religion that is protected by the Constitution."

The next step in the case is for the college and the people who filed the complaint with the EEOC to resolve their differences, but that appears unlikely unless the six men and two women agree to withdraw their complaint.

Should an agreement not be reached, the EEOC could file a lawsuit against the college.

The highest profile case involving a similar situation occurred when California forced Catholic Charities to cover contraception as part of its employee health-insurance plan. The California Supreme Court eventually ruled in 2004 that the group was not a religious institution and couldn’t obtain an exemption under state law.

The Cardinal Newman Society informed of the letter and said it is concerned that other Catholic colleges will be forced to cover contraception or abortion.

CNS sent a letter sent a letter to EEOC acting chairman Stuart Ishimaru saying "it is ironic that the federal agency responsible for protecting against discrimination has so blatantly engaged in an inexcusable violation of religious liberty in its Belmont Abbey ruling.”

CNS also is sending a letter to all Catholic bishops in the United States, informing them of the EEOC action against Belmont Abbey College.

The letter highlights the dangerous precedent this ruling sets to force Catholic employers to included contraceptive coverage in employee health plans.

“No Catholic college or other institution should be required by government to violate the Catholic Church’s clear moral teachings,” Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, told “The apparently increasing insensitivity to religious beliefs should frighten all employers and employees. We urge religious leaders to stand in defense of Belmont Abbey College.”

Related web sites:
Cardinal Newman Society –

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