AUSTIN, TX, August 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of Christian ministries and the Texas attorney general have appealed to the United States Supreme Court over the HHS contraception and abortifacient mandate, with more than a dozen states joining the Lone Star State.
Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief with the Court Monday in Houston Baptist University v. Burwell. Fifteen other states joined the State of Texas in the action.
That same day, the Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the high court for the Christian and Missionary Alliance in the case of East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell.
The signatories on the Christian and Missionary Alliance brief include four religious non-profit retirement communities and two religious non-profit colleges.
Houston Baptist University and East Texas Baptist University are among the many religious schools and institutions contesting the Obamacare mandate forcing them to provide contraception and other abortion-inducing drugs to their employees in violation of their religious convictions.
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Though the Supreme Court ruled that the mandate does not apply to closely held corporations whose owners have sincere religious objections, it did not address the question of how the mandate would apply to religious non-profits.
An “accommodation” for religious and later “religious exemption,” amounting to feigning to a shift of responsibility on to insurance companies while religious employers still fund contraception and abortifacients, have both been roundly trounced as phony gimmicks, leaving religious employers having to seek redress legally.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June that compelling religious employers to complete a form authorizing insurance companies to provide abortion-inducing drugs to women does not violate religious liberty, reversing a lower court ruling and setting the stage for legal challenges in the Supreme Court.
Paxton spoke out in defense of religious liberty upon filing the Houston Baptist brief.
“The continued assault on religious liberties in our nation threatens every single American and undermines the foundation of our Constitution,” Paxton said in a statement. “No government should impose costly fines on its citizens for living in accordance with their convictions, and today the State of Texas stands with all religious institutions seeking protection from the overreaching mandates of Obamacare.”
The states of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia were also signatories on the Texas brief.
In the Liberty Institute brief, the Christian and Missionary Alliance ministries ask the Supreme Court for religious organizations to be exempt from providing contraceptives through their health care plans. The Alliance argues that the HHS mandate causes religious organizations to violate their faith by providing abortifacients, and that the requirement violates the organizations' sincere religious belief that all life is sacred and must be protected from conception to natural death.
“The government is giving these ministries two options,” Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford said in a statement. “Violate their faith or pay a hefty fine.
“The government has no right to tell a ministry that they must participate in what they see as the ending of a human life, in violation of their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Shackelford said. “We must stand up for the rights of these ministries to uphold their faith – and not be fined for doing it.”
Attorneys for the Christian and Missionary Alliance called their case central in the religious liberty fight with regard to religious non-profit employers.
“We are hopeful the Supreme Court grants the petition and reviews this important case,” stated lead counsel Greg Jacob, “which has far-reaching consequences for religious non-profits nationwide.”
The Alliance ministries and schools in the brief are Shell Point Retirement Community, the Alliance Community for Retirement Living, Chapel Pointe at Carlisle, Town and Country Manor of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Simpson University, and Crown College.