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Court Sides with Christian Employers Against Biden Admin Gender-Identity Mandates

Christian Employers Alliance is seeking to protect religious freedom for its members.
Alliance Defending Freedom
Christian Employers Alliance is seeking to protect religious freedom for its members

Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the First Amendment, the government cannot force employers to violate their religious beliefs, nor can it bar them from sharing those beliefs. That means that employers in the United States have the right to operate their businesses in accordance with their faith.

But right now, multiple federal agencies are violating that right.

Two mandates from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are illegally infringing upon employers’ religious freedom rights.

Thankfully, an alliance of Christian ministries is standing up to the government overreach.

What is Christian Employers Alliance?

Christian Employers Alliance (CEA) is a North Dakota nonprofit ministry. It comprises both nonprofit and for-profit Christian employers who seek to live out their Christian faith in everyday life.

CEA’s aim is “to unite, equip, and represent Christian-owned businesses to protect religious freedom and provide the opportunity for employees, businesses, and communities to flourish.” The group strives to ensure that Christian employers enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else.

But an EEOC mandate is forcing religious employers to pay for harmful, irreversible, and potentially sterilizing “gender transition” surgeries. In addition, another mandate from HHS is forcing religious health-care providers to perform these life-altering procedures.

These mandates violate religious businesses’ statutory and constitutional rights by forcing them to act in a way that contradicts their beliefs. So Christian Employers Alliance is challenging the mandates in court.

Unlawful and unconstitutional mandates

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by Congress to protect Americans from discrimination in the workplace. It prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or applicants because of a variety of protected characteristics, including sex.

When Congress passed Title VII, “sex” was understood to be binary and clear at birth: either male or female. But the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission interprets “sex” to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

The EEOC has applied this interpretation to require employers of more than 15 people to provide health plans that pay for life-altering “gender transition” surgeries.

The agency has not provided an exemption for CEA members or other religious employers, meaning the employers are forced to either pay for surgeries that contradict their beliefs or face harsh and costly penalties including potential civil actions and private lawsuits.

Similarly, HHS has wrongly reinterpreted a portion of the Affordable Care Act to mean that health-care providers who receive any federal funding must perform these life-altering surgeries.

The interpretation forces health-care providers to prescribe puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones, perform hysterectomies or mastectomies on healthy women, and perform other harmful and medically unnecessary surgeries.

While many health-care providers view these life-altering surgeries as both medically and ethically objectionable, the HHS mandate prohibits them from having frank conversations regarding their medical concerns about the procedure. This is a blatant violation of their right to free speech.

CEA includes Christian health-care entities, and performing these surgeries or procedures would violate their religious beliefs. But if they choose not to perform the life-altering procedures, they could face civil lawsuits, loss of federal funding, investigations by the attorney general, massive fines, and even prison time.

In October 2021, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of CEA seeking to strike down these two unconstitutional mandates. And in March 2024, a federal district court in North Dakota ruled that the mandates infringed CEA’s members’ rights and violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Forcing people or organizations to violate their religious beliefs is unlawful and unconstitutional and has no place in our society.

Christian Employers Alliance v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

  • October 2021: ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of CEA asking the court to strike down unconstitutional mandates from the EEOC and HHS.
  • May 2022: A federal district court in North Dakota halted enforcement of the two mandates while the lawsuit proceeded.
  • March 2024: The district court ruled that the Biden administration cannot force nonprofit and for-profit religious employers and health-care providers to violate their beliefs by paying for and performing so-called “gender transition” procedures.