The number of plaintiffs that have joined legal challenges to Obamacare’s anti-conscience mandate reached over 100 this week.
On Tuesday, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed suit on behalf of East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University, adding two more Protestant institutions to the legal fray and helping push the total number of plaintiffs over the 100 mark.
The two Baptist schools refuse to violate their convictions by providing and paying for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans. Yet because these schools are not formal houses of worship, they do not qualify for the mandate’s exceedingly narrow religious exemption and will be forced to violate their beliefs.
A federal district court judge this week scheduled an emergency hearing on October 16 in Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.’s case against the mandate. Like the Baptist colleges, Tyndale and its owner hold religious objections to paying for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs. Despite being one of the foremost publishers of Bibles and Christian literature in the world, Tyndale also fails to meet the Obama Administration’s cramped definition of religious employer because it operates as a for-profit company.
“To say that a Bible publisher is not religious is simply absurd,” explains Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing Tyndale. “We field this motion because Obamacare demands that Americans choose between two poison pills: either desert your faith by complying, or resist and be punished.”
Because it is a for-profit employer, Tyndale is also ineligible for the Obama administration’s “temporary safe harbor” and became subject to the HHS mandate after its health plan renewed on October 1. ADF is requesting immediate action by the court to stop enforcement of the HHS mandate against Tyndale.
Even with the hope of future court decisions to protect their religious freedom, many plaintiffs are already feeling the pressure to violate their consciences and get in line with the coercive mandate.
Ave Maria University, a Catholic college and plaintiff in a suit against the mandate, meets the narrow requirements for the one-year safe-harbor enforcement reprieve. But as the school’s president, Jim Towey, detailed in a statement filed in federal court yesterday, Ave Maria is already forced to budget for possible government fines of up to $47,100 per day if the school maintains a non-compliant health plan after the safe harbor ends next year. That’s over and above the almost 25 percent increase in health plan costs the school will face with its current plan because of other Obamacare provisions.
The threat to the school from these increased costs is palpable: “These changes could require the University to increase tuition, limit student services, and postpone campus investments and maintenance,” Towey explains.
The coercive burden of the Obama Administration’s anti-conscience mandate is already taking its toll on countless business owners and organizations that provide invaluable services to communities across the country. More than 100 of those have now taken a courageous stand for their religious freedom, denouncing the conscience-crushing mandate’s constricted and unconstitutional view of faith. Given the Administration’s continual refusal to adequately protect Americans’ religious freedom from the coercive mandate, their ranks are only likely to grow.