Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration Thursday on behalf of two evangelical Christian colleges: Grace College and Seminary in Indiana and Biola University in California.
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 lawsuit is the latest to challenge the administration’s mandate that faith-based employers provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs at no cost to employees regardless of religious or moral objections.
“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,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “This mandate leaves religious employers with no real choice: you must either comply and abandon your religious freedom and conscience, or resist and be taxed for your faith. Every American should know that a government with the power to do this to anyone can do this–and worse–to everyone.”
Biola University President Barry H. Corey weighed in on the mandate and lawsuit, saying: “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 added: “Government officials do not have the right to require religious organizations to act in a way contrary to Grace College and Seminaryo deeply-held religious beliefs, nor do they have the right to define what constitutes the free exercise of religion. 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.”
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys have already filed three other lawsuits against the mandate: one on behalf of Geneva College and The Seneca Hardwood Lumber Company in Pennsylvania, one on behalf of Louisiana College in Louisiana, and one on behalf of Hercules Industries in Colorado.
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In the latter lawsuit, a federal court issued an order in July that halts enforcement of the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate against the Colorado family-owned business. The decision only applies to the company, and the court emphasized the ruling did not apply nationwide.
The new lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Grace Schools v. Sebelius, argues that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as well as the First and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Attorney Jane Dall Wilson of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in Indianapolis is local counsel in the case. Biola University Legal Counsel Jerry Mackey is also participating in the case.
Grace College and Seminary is a private, Christian institution in Winona Lake, Indiana, offering baccalaureate, master, and doctor degrees and drawing students from more than 20 countries. Biola University is a private, Christian university in La Mirada, Calif., with six schools that offer 145 academic programs, ranging from the B.A. to Ph.D, and is the first university in California to file suit against the mandate.