Over the past year, a number of Christian organizations have sought exemptions from the contraception mandate of Obamacare. The requirements for religious exemption were intentionally made so restrictive that few institutions are able to qualify, including churches and church run schools, colleges and universities.
College of the Ozarks is a Christian college with Christian values in the Mission Statement and Visions and Goals. Their mission statement reads:
“The mission of College of the Ozarks is to provide the advantages of a Christian education for youth of both sexes, especially those found worthy, but who are without sufficient means to procure such training.”
When they applied for a religious exemption to the contraception mandate, they were denied and basically told that they weren’t religious enough to meet the standards. Like so many others, they have been forced to turn to the courts and their case is still pending as far as I know.
East Texas Baptist University and Houston Baptist University had also applied for exemptions from the contraception mandate based on the religious views of the Christian universities. Their initial request was denied. The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty filed a lawsuit on behalf of both universities, seeking a permanent injunction against having to go against their religious faith by complying with the contraception mandate.
Last Friday, Federal District Court of Southern Texas Judge Lee H. Rosenthal, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, ruled in favor of the two universities. In her decision, Rosenthal wrote:
“The religious organization plaintiffs have shown a sincerely held religious belief that the court cannot second-guess.”
“The plaintiffs have also shown that if they do not comply with a certain requirement that they believe offends that belief, they will face onerous fines.”
“The public interest weighs in favor of granting the injunction. Protecting constitutional rights and the rights under RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] are in the public’s interest.”
After the ruling was issued, Eric Rassbach, Deputy General Counsel at the Beckett Fund issued a press release, stating:
“The government doesn’t have the right to decide what religious beliefs are legitimate and which ones aren’t. In its careful opinion, the Court recognized that the government was trying to move across that forbidden line, and said ‘No further!’”
“The government has enforced the health care reform law very unevenly, handing out exemptions to those it sees as its allies. Perhaps the worst part of the government’s approach is that it seems to have decided that religious institutions are the only ones not to get an exemption.”
Rassbach is so right when he says the Obama administration has been very inconsistent in enforcing the contraception mandate and handing out exemptions. If someone has been a big supporter or donor of Obama or other leading Democrats, they seem to have no problem getting exemptions. But if you are a conservative, GOP oriented and Christian institution, you find it virtually impossible to get a religious exemption from the contraception mandate and will be forced to go to court and hope that your case goes before a conservative judge appointed by Bush or Bush.