— Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit
against the Obama administration Friday on behalf of four Christian universities in Oklahoma. The lawsuit is the latest to challenge the administration’s mandate that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.
“Christian colleges should remain free to operate according to the beliefs that define them,” said Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “This mandate leaves religious employers with no real choice: you must either comply and abandon your religious freedom and conscience, or resist and be taxed for your faith. If religious convictions mean nothing in this context, there is no stopping what the government can ultimately do.”
The four universities--Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University--specifically object to providing coverage for abortifacients.
The new lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, Southern Nazarene University v. Sebelius, argues that the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as well as the First and Fifth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Attorney J.P. Jordan of Yukon, one of nearly 2,300 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, is local counsel in the case.
The suit explains that the federal government continues “to treat entities like the Universities as second-class religious organizations, not entitled to the same religious freedom rights as substantially similar entities that qualify for the exemption” to the mandate, and that the “rationale for entirely exempting churches and integrated auxiliaries from the regulations--their employees are likely to share their religious convictions--applies equally to the Universities.”
If the universities “follow their religious convictions and decline to participate in the government’s scheme, they will face, among other injuries, enormous fines that will cripple their operations,” the lawsuit states.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating 13 other lawsuits against the mandate. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.