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Federal Government Requires Nonprofit Ministries to Violate Their Conscience and Provide Insurance Coverage for Abortion-Inducing Drugs

Insight for Living Ministries (IFLM) is the international Bible-teaching ministry of well-known ministry leader Pastor Charles R. Swindoll. Pastor Swindoll is the former President and current Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) and the Founder and Senior Pastor-Teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas.

The Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) is a nonprofit, Christian denomination including over 500,000 worshipers in 2,000 churches across the United States. CMA is also affiliated with religious colleges and retirement communities employing hundreds of people.

The sincerely held religious beliefs of both IFLM and CMA prevent their ministries from participating in any way in the destruction of an unborn human life, including facilitating the provision of abortion-inducing drugs and devices. However, following the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a mandate requiring organizations to provide employees with insurance coverage for FDA-approved contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs and devices such as Ella (the “week-after pill”) and Plan-B (the “day-after pill”). The mandate did not exempt nonprofit ministries, such as IFLM and CMA, with religious objections to providing the abortion-inducing drugs and devices.

The federal government put IFLM and CMA in a position where they had to choose between obeying the law and standing by their religious convictions in the face of steep monetary penalties.

First Liberty Seeks an Exemption for IFLM & CMA

In June 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell that the federal government could not force faith-based, for-profit businesses to comply with the contraceptive mandate against business owners’ religious beliefs. However, the Court left unresolved the claims of nonprofit ministries with religious objections to the mandate.

First Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit against the federal government in October 2014 on behalf of IFLM and CMA. After other nonprofit organizations across the country filed similar lawsuits, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the claims of seven faith-based nonprofit ministries challenging the mandate, including Little Sisters of the Poor, a ministry of nuns who take care of the poor and elderly.

The Supreme Court sent the cases back to the lower courts in 2016 with instructions for the Obama administration to seek to authentically accommodate the ministries. But, the Obama administration left office without providing any relief for organizations like IFLM and CMA.

The Latest: Trump Administration Provides Exemption & Settles with First Liberty Clients

In July, First Liberty attorneys, led by lead counsel Matthew Kacsmaryk, sent a letter on behalf of their clients to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and held in-person, on-the-record meetings with agency officials tasked with reviewing the rules related to the ACA. But, ultimately, it was the Trump Administration that brought to a swift conclusion to a mandate that posed such a threat to the conscience of millions of Americans.

On October 6, 2017, the Trump administration recognized the burden the mandate placed upon the religious beliefs and moral convictions and announced a new interim final rule for implementation of the ACA, exempting IFLM and other nonprofit organizations from the contraceptive mandate. Shortly thereafter, the U.S. Department of Justice settled its cases with IFLM and CMA, ending three years of litigation.

“Our clients can now get back to serving others instead of defending themselves against the government’s attacks on their faith,” said Jeremy Dys, Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “The Trump administration is right to let this be a decision between these ministries and the God they serve, rather than impose the government’s beliefs on these ministries. The last three years of litigation could have been avoided entirely if the Obama administration had simply recognized that the First Amendment protects the rights conscience of these religious ministries against an administration intent on coercing their obedience. We are grateful that the Trump administration has agreed to end this unnecessary and harmful assault on religious liberty.”

Press Release
For Immediate Release: October 31, 2017

Contact: Lacey McNiel, media@firstliberty.org

Direct: 972-941-4453

 

DOJ Agrees to Final Relief to First Liberty Clients Seeking

Exemption from Obamacare Mandate

Settlement builds on critical religious liberty protections recently announced by the Trump administration


WASHINGTON, DC—After three years of litigation, First Liberty Institute clients Insight for Living Ministries (IFLM) and several ministries of the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination (CMA) today received final relief from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in their fight for an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive mandate. The mandate forced ministries and other nonprofit organizations into the unnavigable position of adhering to their religious beliefs and obeying the law.

Today’s action by the DOJ comes less than a month after the Trump administration announced a new interim final rule that rolls back the Obama-era, so-called “contraceptive mandate.” Today’s settlement provides similar exemptions and prevents future administrations from targeting the religious conscience of these ministries in the future.

“Our clients can now get back to serving others instead of defending themselves against the government’s attacks on their faith,” said Jeremy Dys, Deputy General Counsel for First Liberty Institute. “The Trump administration is right to let this be a decision between these ministries and the God they serve, rather than impose the government’s beliefs on these ministries.”

In July, First Liberty attorneys, led by lead counsel Matthew Kacsmaryk, sent a letter on behalf of their clients to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and held in-person, on-the-record meetings with agency officials tasked with reviewing the rules related to the ACA. But, ultimately, it was the Trump Administration that brought to a swift conclusion to a mandate that posed such a threat to the conscience of millions of Americans.

“The last three years of litigation could have been avoided entirely if the Obama administration had simply recognized that the First Amendment protects the rights conscience of these religious ministries against an administration intent on coercing their obedience,” Dys said. “We are grateful that the Trump administration has agreed to end this unnecessary and harmful assault on religious liberty.”

To learn more, visit FirstLiberty.org/HHSMandate.

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About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm and the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.

 

To download this press release, please click here.


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