The Christian Employers Alliance (CEA) won an important victory when a North Dakota federal court ruled that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services cannot force religious employers to pay for or perform “transgender” medical interventions.

The case stemmed from an EEOC decision to redefine and reinterpret “sex discrimination” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

The reinterpretation led to mandates which would have forced “religious employers to pay for and provide health insurance coverage for gender transition surgeries and procedures,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) which filed suit on CEA’s behalf.

CEA President Shannon O. Royce, J.D., told the Daily Citizen how important the decision is for the organization and its members:

Now that the EEOC is aggressively prosecuting businesses that don’t abide by the administration’s transgender mandates, it is imperative that Christian businesses protect themselves – and we can help. All current and future members of CEA will receive the protections afforded by this consequential ruling.

CEA is a membership organization that equips and represents “Christian owned businesses to protect religious freedom and provide the opportunity for employees, businesses, and communities to flourish.” Membership includes for-profit and nonprofit Christian businesses and ministries.

The organization “challenges laws and regulations hostile to religious freedom on behalf of Christian businesses” and provides a voice for “Christian business leaders to Capitol Hill, the media, and the marketplace.”

The alliance speaks out on “issues of conscience, including life, biblical sexual morality, and religious freedom,” providing a unique counterpoint to secular businesses.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in 2021, CEA and its members affirm “Christian Ethical Convictions,” which include these beliefs: “Male and female are immutable realities defined by biological sex. Gender reassignment is contrary to Christian Values.”

The court permanently enjoined EEOC and HHS from requiring CEA or its members to “provide insurance coverage for gender-transition procedures that violates their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

In a press release, Royce applauded the decision and ADF’s work:

CEA members are grateful for this decisive ruling and for our attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, who worked tireless on our behalf to dispute the administration’s radical transgender mandates.

We are overjoyed our members will not have to choose between the biblically based employee benefits and quality health care they provide, and the threat of federal enforcement and massive costs for practicing their faith.

Two similar cases, Sisters of Mercy v. Azar and Catholic Benefits Association v. Azar, resulted in favorable rulings against HHS, but the CEA case went further, adding EEOC as a defendant. The EEOC’s rule equated a refusal to insure transgender procedures as “sex” discrimination and did not provide a religious exemption.

In announcing the decision, ADF Senior Counsel and Director of Regulatory Practice Matt Bowman said:

All employers and healthcare providers, including those in the Christian Employers Alliance, have the constitutionally protected freedom to conduct their business and render treatment in a manner consistent with their deeply held religious beliefs.

The employers we represent believe that God purposefully created humans as either male or female, and so it would violate their religious beliefs to pay for or perform life-altering medical procedures or surgeries that seek to change one’s sex. The court was on firm ground to stop the administration from enforcing these unlawful mandates that disrespect people of faith.

The case is titled Christian Employers Alliance v. EEOC.

Related articles and resources:

Alliance Defending Freedom: Christian Employers Alliance v. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Christian Employers Association

Christian Employers Fight Federal Rule Requiring Health Coverage for Gender Transitions

Court Rules Doctors Can’t Be Forced to Perform So-Called Gender-Transition Surgery

Religious Freedom Lawsuit: Court Strikes Down HHS ‘Transgender Mandate’ for Health Care

Religious Freedom Victory: Government Can’t Force Doctors to Perform Transgender Medical Interventions

A Second Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Administration’s Abortion and Transgender Mandate


Image credit: Christian Employers Alliance