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Court rejects Biden admin's attempt to force religious employers to violate their beliefs

ADF attorneys represent Christian Employers Alliance
Bible study and prayer at work

BISMARCK, N.D. – In a victory for religious employers, a federal district court ruled Monday that the Biden administration cannot force non-profit and for-profit religious employers and healthcare providers to violate their religious beliefs by paying for and performing harmful “gender transition” surgeries, procedures, counseling, and treatments.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the Christian Employers Alliance asked the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota to prevent the administration from imposing two mandates against CEA, which the court did, finding that, “CEA’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened by the monetary penalties it faces for refusing to violate its beliefs.”

“All employers and healthcare providers, including those in the Christian Employers Alliance, have the constitutionally protected freedom to conduct their business and render treatment in a manner consistent with their deeply held religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Director of Regulatory Practice Matt Bowman. “The employers we represent believe that God purposefully created humans as either male or female, and so it would violate their religious beliefs to pay for or perform life-altering medical procedures or surgeries that seek to change one’s sex. The court was on firm ground to stop the administration from enforcing these unlawful mandates that disrespect people of faith.”

The lawsuit, Christian Employers Alliance v. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, filed in October 2021, argues that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is misinterpreting and improperly enforcing discrimination based on sex in Title VII to force religious employers to pay for and provide health insurance coverage for such surgeries and procedures. Additionally, the lawsuit challenges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ reinterpretation of “sex” in federal law to include gender identity, thereby forcing religious healthcare providers who receive federal funding to physically perform or facilitate surgeries and procedures that conflict with their deeply held beliefs.

“We are overjoyed our members will not have to choose between the biblically based employee benefits and quality healthcare they provide, and the threat of federal enforcement and massive costs for practicing their faith,” said Christian Employers Alliance President Shannon Royce.

“[P]erforming or providing health care coverage for gender transition services under the EEOC and HHS coverage mandates impinges upon CEA’s beliefs,” the court wrote in its ruling. “CEA must either comply with the EEOC and HHS mandates by violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or else face harsh consequences like paying fines and facing civil liability… [But] religious freedom cannot be encumbered on a case-by-case basis.”

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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Matt Bowman
Matt Bowman
Senior Counsel, Director of Regulatory Practice
Matt Bowman serves as senior counsel and director of regulatory practice at Alliance Defending Freedom, where he focuses on the impact of administrative law on religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and family.