A US religious liberty group is celebrating court victories which fully affirm freedom and protections for several Christian colleges.
Two separate court cases went in favour of Christian colleges that were challenging the Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare’.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate within the Act forces employers to pay for insurance which covers abortion drugs, like the morning-after pill.
Five-year legal battle
The US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma ruled that four colleges who brought a legal challenge cannot be forced to provide such health insurance.
The court issued an order saying that the HSS mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
It ends a five-year legal battle for the colleges – Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University, and Mid-America Christian University.
They were represented in their case by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor said: “These universities no longer have to fear being forced to pay fines for simply abiding by the Christian beliefs they teach and espouse, and they are no longer required to fill out forms authorizing coverage for abortion-inducing drugs”.
“The government has many other ways to ensure access to these drugs without forcing people of faith to violate their deepest convictions,” he added.
In the second case, a court in Indiana ruled in favour of two universities that were also challenging Obamacare with ADF support.
The US District Court for the Northern District of Indiana sided with Grace College and Seminary in Indiana and Biola University in California.
Baylor said: “Religious organisations have the freedom to peacefully operate according to their beliefs without the threat of punishment by the government.”
He added that the ruling “fully affirms that freedom and provides permanent protection” from the mandate.