A class action suit was filed Tuesday against the Obama administration’s HHS insurance mandate on behalf of Catholic employers, including The Cardinal Newman Society, that provide their employees morally appropriate health insurance through the Christian Brothers Employee Benefits Trust.
“The Christian Brothers Trust is a last wall of defense for faithful Catholic organizations like The Cardinal Newman Society, determined to preserve their most basic human right to obey and serve God without interference by federal and state governments,” said Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly. “We are grateful to the Trust for this lawsuit and stand firmly in solidarity with our bishops and the Trust’s many clients in defense of our religious freedom.”
The suit was filed by the Trust, Christians Brothers Services and the Little Sisters of the Poor on behalf of the Trust’s clients, which include The Cardinal Newman Society and many other Catholic organizations determined to uphold Catholic teachings despite federal and state laws seeking to violate their religious freedom.
“These employers are forbidden by their religion from participating in the federal government’s regulatory scheme to promote, encourage and subsidize the use of sterilization, contraceptives and drugs that cause abortions,” wrote Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, together with other attorneys in the complaint filed Tuesday in a federal District Court in Denver.
“The result is that the class members have been offered a stark choice: they must either abandon their Catholic beliefs and participate in the Final Mandate, or they will be punished by the government with an array of fines and penalties unless and until they comply. The threat of such penalties imposes a substantial burden on the class members’ religious exercise, because it ‘requires participation in an activity prohibited by a sincerely held religious belief,’ prevents participation in conduct motivated by a sincerely held religious belief, and ‘places substantial pressure on’ the class members ‘to engage in conduct contrary to a sincerely held religious belief.’”
If Christian Brothers clients do not violate their beliefs to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including abortifacients, they could face crippling IRS fines as soon as January 1st of next year.
That includes The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic organization which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education. The Society has been outspoken in opposition to the HHS mandate on behalf of faithful Catholic schools and colleges. It consults regularly with legal experts for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and the Becket Fund and has joined with Catholic educators to file complaints with the Obama administration and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as well as an amicus brief in the lawsuit filed by Belmont Abbey College and Wheaton College. In July, the Newman Society joined the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention—together with 20 faithful Catholic colleges—in a public statement urging “full religious freedom” for all Americans. The Society has also engaged in other interfaith efforts to oppose the HHS mandate.
The Christian Brothers lawsuit highlights the absurdity of the Obama administration’s policy, which would force even the Little Sisters of the Poor to insure its sisters and employees for sterilization and contraception.
Rienzi, who is also a law professor at The Catholic University of America, said in the Becket Fund release, “These women just want to take care of the elderly poor without being forced to violate the faith that animates their work. The money they collect should be used to care for the poor like it always has—and not to pay the IRS.”
Below is a powerful video concerning the work of The Little Sisters of the Poor and the HHS mandate.
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