Saturday, October 25, 2014

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Wyoming Catholic College Won’t Sue Over the HHS Mandate–Not Because They Don’t Want To

The President of Wyoming Catholic College announced that they will not be suing the Obama administration over the HHS contraception mandate–but it’s not because they don’t want to.

In a public letter posted on the college’s website, Wyoming Catholic College President Fr. Robert W. Cook espouses absolute support for the struggle for religious liberty but says that because the college has fewer than 50 employees, it will not be required to provide contraceptive coverage. The college, therefore, would have no standing to sue as they are not directly affected.

Fr. Cook writes that he was “disappointed” that the college is not able to sue but assures everyone that the college “stands in solidarity with those who are bravely challenging this mandate in court.”

Wyoming Catholic College is one of the colleges recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.

Here is the letter in full:

Dear Friends and Supporters of Wyoming Catholic College,

In the wake of the Department of Health and Human Services’ health insurance mandate – a mandate which requires employers and colleges to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences – the administrators of Wyoming Catholic College have carefully considered the possibility of filing a lawsuit in an attempt to protect and preserve our religious liberties. (There are currently, I understand, 23 lawsuits filed by 55 separate plaintiffs challenging the HHS mandate.)

I have looked into the matter and understand that Wyoming Catholic College has a limited basis for filing a lawsuit against the HHS mandate primarily because the fines that would be levied by HHS upon those colleges refusing to comply with the mandate would not be levied against Wyoming Catholic College, since we do not have 50 employees or more. Thus, there would be no direct government action against the College itself — which would be needed to form the strong basis of a lawsuit.

I am disappointed that Wyoming Catholic College cannot more actively join its fellow Catholic colleges in their courageous defense of our religious liberties. I can assure you, however, that this College shares the concerns of countless organizations and individual citizens throughout our nation. Like them, we see the HHS mandate as a direct attack on the religious rights of Americans, and a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. This College stands in solidarity with those who are bravely challenging this mandate in court.

As I wrote in my February 13, 2012 letter to President Obama (for which I am still awaiting a reply), the HHS mandate is an attempt to “coerce religious people and groups to violate their most deeply held convictions.” “Religious liberty,” I added, “is not limited to ‘freedom of worship’ but covers the right of American citizens to practice their religious faith in the public square, which includes in the relationship between employer and employees.”

These legitimate concerns and objections to the HHS mandate – shared by so many – have not been acknowledged by the present administration of our government. Their repeated “stone-walling” in this matter makes me fearful that even greater encroachments on our religious freedoms loom in the future. Seeing how clearly this administration has taken aim at the religious freedom of all (especially Catholics), I urge you to carefully consider your vote this coming November. If we do not stand up against this threat, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Sincerely in Christ,

Rev. Robert W. Cook
President

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