A California church is standing up against a state law that forces churches to fund the killing of unborn babies in abortions.
On Monday, lawyers for Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa urged the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold religious freedom and stop the government from forcing the church to cover abortions in its employee health insurance plans, City News Service reports.
The court battle between the church and state has been going on for years.
“On August 22, 2014, some nameless, faceless bureaucrat at the Department of Managed Health Care in Sacramento made a decision by fiat: that every insurance provider in the state of California had to include elective abortion in our plans,” Pastor Jim Garlow told Bound4Life in 2016.
Garlow said they did not find out about the change until 60 days later when a lawyer for the church brought it to his attention.
“An attorney who assists us at Skyline Church said, ‘You’re now covering abortions in your insurance,’” the pastor remembered. “I said, ‘There’s no way.’ ‘No, you are.’ ‘Surely not—we would’ve been notified or something! We would’ve seen this in the media?’ I asked our team to follow-up about it and that attorney was right. We were being forced to pay for abortions, and in fact everyone in California is.”
The church filed a lawsuit against the state that same year. Recently, Skyline Church lost at a lower court level, so it appealed to the Ninth Circuit, according to the local news.
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Jeremiah Galus, an attorney from the pro-life legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom, is representing the church.
He said the California Department of Managed Health Care “is misguided in its attempts to force a church to pay for elective abortions.”
“The agency has unconstitutionally targeted religious organizations, repeatedly collaborated with pro-abortion advocates, and failed to follow the appropriate administrative procedures to institute this unprecedented mandate,” Galus said, the local news reports.
The church employs about 100 people, all of whom share its beliefs about the sanctity of human life.
Garlow told Bound4Life that the people in his church are actively involved in supporting mothers and children in need. He said they run adoption ministries, pray outside abortion facilities and offer compassion to struggling families.
“I have a cautious optimism, built on whether this nation has a critical mass of people who are willing to repent of sin, hold leaders accountable and refuse to tolerate the kind of actions we’ve seen going on,” he said. “We have tough battles here, but they are winnable to the extent that we will follow the Word of God.”
It is not clear when the Ninth Circuit will rule on the case.