The latest victory for religious freedom came last Thursday when Judge Robert E. Blackburn of the US District Court in Colorado, ruled in favor of Dr. James C. Dobson, and found that the Affordable Care Act and the regulations constitute a substantial burden on the exercise of religion of the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit was filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, on behalf of Dr. Dobson, a noted Christian psychologist, and his “Family Talk” radio show. According to ADF, the court granted an injunction against the abortion pill mandate, although it’s likely the decision will be appealed by the federal government.
After the ACA became law on March 23, 2011, the Health and Human Services Department issued an additional mandate, stipulating employers provide coverage that pays for contraception, sterilizations, and abortifacient drugs. Since then, according to the Becket Fund, 96 separate cases, representing over 300 plaintiffs have been filed against the mandate, challenging it on the grounds that it violates religious liberty.
Of those 96 cases, 48 were filed on behalf of ‘for-profit’ organizations, yielding a win ratio of 33-6, with seven remaining to be heard. The remaining 48 suits were filed on behalf of ‘non-profit’ organizations, resulting in a 21-1 score, with 26 yet to be determined.
What’s interesting to note is that these 96 cases were not filed because the employers do not want to insure their employees. Quite the contrary, these employers do insure their employees with quality plans which often exceed the minimum ACA requirements. However, as employers with strong religious convictions, they feel duty bound to live their beliefs and not participate in drugs or devices which terminate life prematurely, including lives of unborn children.
Yet the HHS mandate does not tolerate any employer providing insurance plans which do not provide abortifacient drugs. So basically, it’s all or nothing. And HHS structured the fines to crush companies who will not comply. A quick look at the disparity between the HHS fines and it becomes clear the federal government is only interested in one thing; breaking the back of religious faith.
Consider for a moment, a corporation which offers no health insurance whatsoever to its employees. According to the ACA, the total fine the employer is responsible for is $2,000. Per year, per employee. If an employer has 100 employees, that’s a total annual fine of $200,000 – and it's up to the employees to find their own insurance.
Now consider the same identical employer who offers its employees the best possible insurance money can buy, but refuses to include abortion drugs. The HHS mandated fine is $100. Per day, per employee, or $36 thousand annually, per employee. Multiply that individual fine times 100 employees, and you have a total annual fine of $3.6 million. Now multiply the annual fine of $36 thousand by the true number of employees an employer actually has, and the consequences are staggering.
A perfect example of this crushing financial burden is what Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods will face, should they lose their plea before the Supreme Court. According to the Becket Fund which represents Hobby Lobby, owned by members of the Greene family, Hobby Lobby has over 28,000 employees, 13,000 of which are insured. Fines for not conforming to the mandate would be $1.3 million per day or roughly $475 million a year. And because the fine is calculated from the date the mandate went into effect in August, 2011, it will mean the fines could be in excess of $100 million dollars.
Alliance Defending Freedom represents members of the Haan family which owns Conestoga Woods Specialties. As practicing Mennonite Christians, they do not object to methods of pre-conception birth control, provided such methods do not involve terminating a pregnancy. Their case has been consolidated with the Hobby Lobby case.
Conestoga Woods has approximately 1200 employees, 950 of which are insured. They would be faced $95,000. Per day, or almost $35 million a year in government fines. Few companies can withstand such horrific tax burdens, yet these families see no alternative but to fight against the HHS mandate, even if it means going out of business in the process.
Since the owners of these two companies are unlikely to deny their faith, losing in SCOTUS would mean either canceling the insurance they currently provide their employees or closing their doors and putting about 30,000 people out of work – and that’s after the fines are paid. Neither of these scenarios would be good for the country or the economy.
There is no logic whatsoever in the tax/fine justification, except that the liberal’s progressive agenda is to turn this country into a secular belief system where people are forced to deny their faith or lose their businesses, homes, and personal property. Not only is this an offense against Christianity, it’s also a scam upon the country.
After all, the government could simply apply a modest tax to everyone and provide abortion drugs to those who require them. But instead, the government is displaying its ever-enlarging muscle by demanding that religious organizations pay for abortion drugs and devices, a practice many hold despicable.
Bottom line, the HHS mandate has nothing whatsoever to do with women’s health or rights, it’s simply about the government’s desire for tyrannical control over our lives. That is why these cases are so critical. Should Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods lose, America’s further slide into the abyss of tyranny will be faster and more furious.
One last thing worth noting that neither the Becket Fund of ADF are getting rich off these lawsuits. Many do not realize that the Becket Fund For Religious Freedom is a non-profit, public-interest legal and educational institute, and Alliance Defending Freedom is a servant ministry, devoted to spreading the Gospel by transforming the legal system and advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life and traditional marriage. Both are 501(c)3 organizations, relying heavily upon the support of donors to keep the battle against oppressive government going. Most frequently, there is no cost to those they represent.
Like so many other Christians, Dr. Dobson believes that all Americans should be free to live according to their faith and honor God in their work. Yet the US government’s HHS department believes that its concept of what is good for the people is superior to any church’s view of what is appropriate to an individual’s faith. Based upon the non-stop appeals, it’s no secret the government intends to drive up the costs of these lawsuits, make its policies mandatory, and impose them, regardless of the population’s objections.
Dr. Dobson recently stated to ADF, “I never thought I’d see the day where the United States government is telling me I don’t have religious freedom as an employer – even as an employer of a Christian ministry.”