Southern Nazarene University and Others
“To make Christlike disciples through higher education in Christ-centered community” – Southern Nazarene University, mission statement
“[Oklahoma Wesleyan University] is a place of serious study, honest questions, and critical engagement, all in the context of a liberal arts community that honors the Primacy of Jesus Christ, the Priority of Scripture, the Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom.” – Oklahoma Wesleyan University, mission statement
“As a Christian liberal arts university, OBU transforms lives by equipping students to pursue academic excellence, integrate faith with all areas of knowledge, engage a diverse world, and live worthy of the high calling of God in Christ.” – Oklahoma Baptist University, mission statement
“Mid-America Christian University prepares students through a Wesleyan perspective to create, collaborate, and innovate to solve local and global problems for the glory of God through Jesus Christ and the good of society.” – Mid-America Christian University, mission statement
At the heart of four Oklahoma universities - Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University - is one common mission: to educate and operate in service of Christ. This mission is entrenched in every aspect of the universities’ respective cultures - including the health insurance benefits they offer students and employees.
With the Christian faith as their cornerstone, it comes as no surprise that these universities oppose a federal healthcare mandate that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide access through their health insurance plans to abortion-inducing drugs and devices under threat of heavy financial penalties through the IRS.
With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, the universities joined together and filed a lawsuit in September 2013 against the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies. In December 2013, the district court suspended the enforcement of the abortion-pill mandate against the universities.
In February 2014, the Obama administration appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which ultimately ruled in the administration’s favor, raising the prospect that the universities would need to choose between violating their religious beliefs and paying massive fines.
Not willing to give up their pursuit to serve God in all areas of school operations, the universities asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their case. On November 6, 2015 the Court agreed to hear their case and six others brought by religious non-profits challenging the mandate.
Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, said of their case, “The reason for our lawsuit is simple and clear. Under the guise of Obamacare, the Obama administration claims it has the right to require Oklahoma Wesleyan to include the provision of abortifacient drugs in its employee health insurance package. This is a requirement that we view as immoral and untenable. It is a compromise of our First Amendment rights that we are not willing to accept.”
The case, consolidated with that of fellow ADF client, Geneva College in Pennsylvania and five other similar cases, was argued in March of 2016.
In May 2016, the Supreme Court sent the cases back to the lower courts, directing the courts to allow the parties to "arrive at an approach going forward that accommodates petitioners' religious exercise."
In May 2018, the district court enjoined the federal government from enforcing the mandate against the universities, permanently ending this attack on religious freedom.