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Christian medical nonprofit asks appeals court to protect its freedom to operate consistent with its beliefs

ADF attorneys represent Michigan-based Christian Healthcare Centers
A doctor is seen taking notes

CINCINNATI – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a faith-based medical nonprofit ministry in Michigan filed their opening brief Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit urging it to affirm its constitutionally protected right to operate as a religious ministry.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and other state officials are responsible for enforcing Michigan’s civil rights laws. These laws threaten to force Christian Healthcare Centers to hire people who do not share their faith, to prescribe cross-sex hormones, and to use pronouns that do not accord with a person’s sex. The laws also prohibit Christian Healthcare from explaining its religious reasons for these choices to the public. All of this violates the ministry’s religious beliefs and undermines its ability to provide safe healthcare to the needy and the rest of the community.

“Religious organizations should be free to operate and serve their communities according to their beliefs. Rather than respect Christian Healthcare Centers’ constitutionally protected freedom—and the incredible work they do in the community—Michigan state officials are threatening to punish them for not buying into activist ideas of gender identity,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “Christian Healthcare Centers should be free to continue its vibrant outreach to the communities it serves through its low-cost, high-quality medical care. We urge the court to allow it to continue without fear of government punishment."

Christian Healthcare Centers is a nonprofit medical provider that offers high-quality healthcare to all of its members—including several members who identify as LGBT—while substantially reducing prices for patients with lower incomes who cannot afford quality care elsewhere.

Christian Healthcare Centers was founded to offer a distinctly Christian alternative to traditional primary care, focusing on meeting patients’ medical, emotional, and spiritual needs. To that end, the ministry hires staff who share its religious mission and provide medical care consistent with its religious beliefs.

“Christian Healthcare wants to speak and operate its ministry right now consistent with its beliefs. But it cannot because of Michigan’s laws,” the brief filed in Christian Healthcare Centers v. Nessel explains. “The ministry shouldn’t be forced to hope that Michigan might grant it an exemption at the end of an arduous administrative process, especially where Michigan has routinely been openly hostile towards religious exemptions. This dispute is ripe for court intervention now.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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John Bursch
John Bursch
Senior Counsel, Vice President of Appellate Advocacy
John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom.