“Oklahoma Wesleyan University is a leader in the national struggle to protect the constitutional right of religious liberty in the United States. Their stand for freedom before the Supreme Court will bring clarity to our personal liberties and the battle between religious freedom and religious suppression."
These were the words of Senator James Lankford (R-OK), yesterday, when he announced that Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) President Dr. Everett Piper would be his guest for the State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 12. OKWU is one of five Christian colleges represented by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys in consolidated lawsuits against the Obama administration's abortion-pill mandate. The other colleges are Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University—all in Oklahoma—and Geneva College in Pennsylvania.
These colleges make up two of the seven cases – the Little Sisters of the Poor being the most well-known – the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up back in November, challenging the Obama administration's abortion-pill mandate sham "accommodation" for religious non-profits. The unpopular, unjust, and unnecessary mandate has faced numerous lawsuits for forcing employers to provide coverage for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of their religious (or ethical) beliefs.
"Instead of allowing diversity of thought and practice, the Obama administration demands conformity to their religious worldview," said Sen. Lankford. "I applaud Dr. Piper’s stand for religious freedom, and I remain hopeful that the Courts will rule in favor of religious diversity and practice. Freedom of religious practice is an essential right for every citizen. Americans have the right to choose no faith at all, or to practice a faith and live their faith free of government suppression.”
The government has already conceded that the mandate violates sincerely held religious beliefs. That's why it exempted churches, religious orders, denominations, and other religious organizations. As for other religious employers, the government concocted an alternate way for them to comply with the mandate, utterly failing to protect their consciences.
But, as noted in the opening brief filed Monday by Alliance Defending Freedom and our allies on behalf of the non-profits:
"Truly exempt organizations do not need to comply with the mandate at all; they need not execute or deliver paperwork empowering anyone to use their plan infrastructure to provide contraceptive coverage, nor even notify the government of their desire for an exemption. They do not face any penalties, and the government is not trying to use their plan infrastructure to provide contraceptive coverage. These organizations are truly exempt; petitioners plainly are not."
All of the non-profits involved in this case, including the five Christian colleges that ADF has had the pleasure of representing, should be fully exempt from this mandate. Period. Finito. Cue the fat lady.
We applaud Sen. Lankford for recognizing the freedom at stake in this case and for acknowledging the witness of Dr. Piper and the other colleges involved for being willing take a stand for their faith and their rights to religious freedom.
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