Grace College and Seminary and Biola University Join Lawsuit
ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM (FORMERLY ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND)
NEWS RELEASE – August 23, 2012 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS: (480) 444-0020 or www.adfmedia.org/home/contact
Christian opposition to abortion pill mandate grows,
two more colleges sue
Grace College and Seminary, Biola University join other evangelical, Catholic lawsuits
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration on August 23, 2012, on behalf of two evangelical Christian colleges: Grace College and Seminary in Indiana and Biola University in California. The lawsuit is the latest to challenge the administration’s unconstitutional 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.”
“The Obama administration’s mandate forces us to act against our own doctrinal statement, which upholds the sanctity of human life,” said Biola University President Barry H. Corey. “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.”
“Government officials do not have the right to require religious organizations to act in a way contrary to deeply-held religious beliefs, nor do they have the right to define what constitutes the free exercise of religion,” added Grace College and Seminary President Ronald E. Manahan. “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, in which a federal judge issued an order preventing the mandate from being enforced against the family-run business. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate.
The new lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Grace College and Seminary 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, Ind., 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.
Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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Grace College and Theological Seminary Response and Lawsuit: HHS Regulation
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
1. What was Grace College’s motivation for filing this lawsuit?
The lawsuit was filed in response to President Obama’s federal mandate that religious employers provide abortion-inducing drugs at no cost to employees as part of their healthcare coverage. We believe the government does not have the right to require religious organizations to act in a way contrary to deeply-held religious beliefs, nor to take to itself the right to define what constitutes the free exercise of religion. A further reason for filing is to challenge the unprecedented narrow definition of a “religious organization” and the extremely restrictive religious exemption in the rules imposed by an administrative agency of the government. This sets a dangerous precedent for future restrictions on religious freedom of all religious organizations.
2. Why now?
The decision was made to await filing until after the Supreme Court decision about the overall constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Since the regulation dealing with abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception is still in effect under the ruling, we felt it necessary to file at this time to protect our religious freedom. The rules will apply to employee plans beginning in the next plan year (for Grace College that is Jan, 2013) and all student health plans beginning August, 2012.
3. What was the process that led Grace College to file?
The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to file in the March 2012 meeting after months and much consultation with the administration and external legal counsel. President Manahan announced the intention to file suit on August 23, 2012, and feedback support from the campus leadership and community was positive.
4. What is this costing Grace College?
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) based in Scottsdale, Arizona is our legal representation. ADF provides its services at no cost to us. Only such costs such as staff time, document preparation, and necessary travel for Grace College staff will be expended by the university directly. These items are minimal and well worth the defense of our religious freedom. Thus, the legal action is not a financial burden to Grace College. If we succeed in protecting our religious and constitutional freedom through this case, Grace College will avoid having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in government fines each year.
5. Does this mean Grace College will not provide contraceptive drugs as part of its healthcare coverage? What about coverage for contraceptive drugs prescribed to treat specific health conditions other than pregnancy?
No. Grace College has and intends to continue to provide coverage for birth control drugs that act before conception. The lawsuit is directed toward abortifacient drugs that, although classified by the FDA as “contraceptives,” act to induce abortions after life has begun. These include the drugs Plan B and ella, sometimes referred to as “morning-after” or “week-after” pills. Drugs prescribed to treat diagnosed medical conditions, not as “contraceptives” or abortifacients, are covered, and the college plans for them to be covered in the future. The purpose of the prescription is relevant.
6. What about the “accommodation” to religious organizations proposed by HHS?
We view this proposed “accommodation” essentially as a sham. We have also submitted formal comments to the HHS on the proposed “accommodation.” The mandate creates an unprecedented “two-tier” approach to defining religious organizations that sets a very dangerous precedent if left unchallenged, and the administration’s suggested possible accommodations do nothing to address that concern. To regard some organizations as “religious enough” and others as not so, creates an affront to religious freedom of dedicated Christian organizations such as Grace College. Also the proposition that insurance companies will provide services for free is indeed an illusion and does not eliminate the fact that the objectionable services will still be made available through the college’s health plan.