WASHINGTON (BP) -- The U.S. Department of Justice has appealed a court order that had given a Colorado business a temporary reprieve from the Obama administration's abortion/contraceptive mandate.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado had issued the order in July, giving the Catholic family that owns Hercules Industries -- a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning manufacturer in Denver -- a reprieve from complying with the mandate, which requires that employers pay for health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. The Obama administration is seeking to lift the order, which would mean the Newland family would have to offer the insurance this year. The administration filed the appeal Sept. 25.
"In filing its appeal, the administration sent a clear message that it wants to force families to abandon their faith in order to make a living," said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Matt Bowman. "That's the opposite of religious freedom."
Since Aug. 1, many secular businesses nationwide have been required to offer the insurance to employees when their next enrollment period begins. Faith-based groups, including Christian-run hospitals, universities, and nonprofit ministries, must adhere by August 2013. Businesses could face hefty fines for not complying.
"The cost of religious freedom for this family could be millions of dollars per year in fines that would cripple their business and potentially destroy jobs if the administration ultimately had its way," Bowman said.
The Obama administration opposed the order issued in Newland v. Sebelius, arguing that people of faith forfeit their religious liberties once they engage in business, according to ADF.
In contrast to this argument, President Obama released a video in September saying his "commitment to protecting religious liberty is and always will be unwavering."
However, the Obama administration currently is facing about 30 religious-freedom lawsuits over the mandate from secular business owners and faith-based organizations that say the mandate violates the First Amendment. Hobby Lobby is the largest business yet to have filed a suit. Multiple Christian schools, including Louisiana College, also have gone to court.
On Friday, a federal court heard arguments in the Thomas More Law Center's motion to halt the implementation of the mandate on behalf of Legatus, the nation's largest organization of top Catholic business leaders, and the Ann Arbor-based Weingartz Supply Company.
Bowman said Americans, including family business owners, should be free to live and conduct their business according to their faith.
"The Obama administration claims 'unwavering support for religious freedom," he said, "but this appeal demonstrates that the only thing unwavering is the administration's tenacious opposition to that freedom."
Compiled by staff of Baptist Press and World News Service, where a version of this story first appeared. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).
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