Tuesday, May 24, 2016

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Catholic Education Daily


More Christian Colleges Exempted from HHS Mandate

libertyA federal court in Houston, Texas, recently dealt a blow to the Obama administration and its controversial HHS mandate by ruling in favor of East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University, according to The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Westminster Theological Seminary, a Reformed Protestant seminary in Philadelphia, was also a plaintiff in the case.

The court issued an injunction against enforcing the mandate, which requires employers to provide coverage of abortifacients, which the Protestant colleges believe are sinful.

“The government doesn’t have the right to decide what religious beliefs are legitimate and which ones aren’t,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented the two colleges. “In its careful opinion, the Court recognized that the government was trying to move across that forbidden line, and said “No further!” 

In its opinion, the federal court specifically rejected the government’s request that the court evaluate the colleges’ religious identity, saying, “The religious organization plaintiffs have shown a sincerely held religious belief that the court cannot second-guess.”

A number of Catholic colleges and universities have also sued for relief from the mandate, citing it as an infringement of religious liberty.

While a judge recently ruled against the University of Notre Dame which sued for relief from the mandate, this ruling coincides with favorable rulings like the one received by Thomas Aquinas College. According to the Becket Fund, nine out of 12 nonprofit religious institutions have successfully secured relief from the mandate.

Two HHS mandate cases involving the for-profit organizations Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood will be heard by the Supreme Court in the near future.

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