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  • Evangelical Wheaton College Joins HHS Mandate Lawsuit

    Wheaton College, an evangelical institution, filed a lawsuit against the HHS mandate today, joining Catholic University of America in opposing the rule’s coercive trampling on religious liberty. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is representing Wheaton College in the school’s complaint. Left to right: John Garvey, President of Catholic University of America; William P. Mumma, President of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College.

    Wheaton College, a leading evangelical postsecondary educational institution, has joined the chorus of organizations suing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over its mandate requiring nearly all insurance plans to cover abortion drugs and contraception.

    “Wheaton College and other distinctively Christian institutions are faced with a clear and present threat to our religious liberty,” said Dr. Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College, in an announcement today that the evangelical institution has joined a lawsuit with the Catholic University of America (CUA) against the anti-conscience mandate. “Our first president, the abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, believed it was imperative to act in defense of freedom. In bringing this suit, we act in defense of freedom again.”

    Wheaton College is the fourth Protestant college to file suit against the HHS mandate (and, full disclosure, this author’s alma mater). The Illinois institution joins Colorado Christian University, Geneva College, and Louisiana College. In total, more than 50 institutions are participating in more than 20 lawsuits. These plaintiffs include Catholic hospitals, religious schools serving inner city children, and ministries providing hospice care and assistance to the developmentally disabled.

    The HHS mandate lawsuits take on added significance since the Supreme Court ruling in late June that allowed Obamacare to stand. The mandate goes into effect on August 1. After that, as employers renew their health plans in the coming year, they will have to comply with the HHS mandate’s coercive requirement to cover abortion drugs, contraception, and sterilization—regardless of religious or moral objections.

    As Ryken noted, the narrow religious exemption included in the final rule effectively only applies to churches and will provide no protection for countless religious employers that hold moral objections to the mandated services. In the case of Wheaton, coverage of abortion drugs would violate the commitment to protecting unborn life stated in the school’s “community covenant,” which is signed by faculty, staff, and students.

    Throughout the spring, the Administration touted a so-called “accommodation” to the rule for non-exempt institutions. But that accommodation is nothing more than concept and holds no force of law. Moreover, the college views the rumored accommodation as a “shell game that does not resolve the moral issue that we have,” Ryken explained today.

    Damage to religious liberty remains the fundamental problem, and the HHS policy sets an alarming new precedent, as Ryken explained: “The mandate, by providing an exemption for churches, but not for other religious institutions like Christian colleges, is in effect to create two classes of religious institutions in the U.S.: those that have full protection for their religious freedom and those who don’t.”

    That serious challenge explains the evangelical-Catholic alliance among the plaintiffs, as Ryken noted in a press briefing with CUA President John Garvey today:

    Wheaton College is a distinctively Protestant institution, in our hiring practices, in our theology, but we have a respect for Roman Catholic institutions and, in this case, we recognize that we have common cause with the Catholic University of America and other Catholic institutions in defending religious liberty. We’re, in fact, co-belligerents in this fight against government action. I think the fact that evangelicals and Catholics are coming together on this issue ought to be a sign to all Americans that something really significant in terms of religious liberty is at stake.

    All Americans benefit from religious liberty, and we should all be prepared to defend it. Today’s news of Wheaton joining the legal challenge should call attention to the seriousness of the HHS mandate’s threat to religious freedom specifically and the potential for future collisions with conscience under centralized health care policy like that embodied in Obamacare.

    Posted in Featured, Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Evangelical Wheaton College Joins HHS Mandate Lawsuit

    1. Roy Callahan says:

      It's about time. These folks obviously have more going for them than the US Episcopalian Church who now deny their biblical and origins in order to ingratiate themselves to the politicians who want to control them. You know, something akin to what Hitler and Stalin did – "Preach the party line and we'll let you preach.

      • Bobbie says:

        that's too bad they'd give up the will of God and fall to the will of man! Pray Christians are strong enough to realize the fight is against this deplorable act of man/ Obama. National government health care compromises all inalienable rights which is forbidden! Jesus is specific that no man or his government rule over another the way America intended and civil law entitles while God is specific in our stand against any mankind that does. We have to fight against all government control over us!

    2. Dr. Pete Kleff says:

      Such an alliance is mandatory. Otherwise all is lost. The attack on religious freedom in the U.S. is more insidious than that in Nazi Germany. Do not forget Orthodox Christians are equally outraged.

    3. joan says:

      People of all faiths need to work together, as one body to defeat this blatant and reprehensible attack on Religious freedoms, and the rights of citizens. It is obvious, Obama has no regard or respect for our Constitution or our Republic. He lied to get elected, now we are finally seeing his true agenda, which is his desire to Lead this great country into Saul Alinsky's Socialist dream. I say to American Patriots, he has to be voted out in November, because in his second and final term, he will have no qualms in pushing his destructive agenda down America's throats, just as he did the Obama Care Mess. That was against our will and so is Socialism!

    4. Mike Gillespie says:

      Our ensuing struggle with the incursion of unreasonable governmental mandates falls outside the realm of our theological differences – we can continue to discuss (and cuss?) those at other opportunities. Saving America and our religious freedoms from tyranny and despotism gives us reason to cooperate fully in this sphere. As one of our founding patriots is quoted as allegedly saying – "If we don't all hang together, we shall assuredly all hang separately". And if he didn't say it, I just did!

    5. RTKlass says:

      I am neither Catholic nor evangelical, but I strongly support the efforts of institutions of both faiths to defend the Constitutionally -guaranteed religious rights of all of us against the encroachment of the federal government via "Obamacare." The Supreme Court has erred is its recent conflicted decision (as — being human and not inerrant — it has erred in the past, e.g. most notoriously in the Dred Scott decision). The religiously-based institutions are right .

    6. Carol says:

      It's important that all people of faith stand together so we do not lose our right to practice our faith as dictated by conscience. That right is innate in us as humans created by God and not something subject to the whims of politicians. I congratulate Wheaton College and the many others who have joined the Catholic church in protesting this illegal mandate.

    7. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      It's important to note here that while these institutions probably also object to taxpayer-funding of abortion, contraception, sterilization, etc., they are not suing over taxpayer-funding but self-funding.

      This regime, while it loftily speaks of tolerance and respect for the opinions of others, simply cannot tolerate diversity of opinion when it conflicts with theirs. They hate this free society.

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