A new federal lawsuit raises a religious freedom issue stemming from requirements of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) mandating insurance and healthcare services that violate the religious conscience rights of employers.
The Christian Employers Alliance (CEA) is a religious employer itself as well as a membership organization consisting of numerous Christian employers. With the help of attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), CEA has filed a lawsuit in a North Dakota federal court seeking an injunction protecting the religious conscience rights of CEA and its members. They are asking a judge to block the federal mandates, which require employers with more than 15 employees – with no exemptions granted for religious employers – to provide health insurance for employees that includes gender transition surgeries and related procedures that are morally objectionable.
The lawsuit piggybacks on the success earlier this year of two similar cases in another North Dakota federal court dealing with the HHS transgender mandate, Sisters of Mercy v. Azar and Catholic Benefits Association v. Azar, which resulted in a favorable ruling and injunction that protected the religious conscience of those organizations. That ruling is being appealed by HHS.
Matt Bowman, Senior Counsel with ADF, spoke about the necessity for the latest lawsuit in a press release.
“Many religious employers—including the Christian Employers Alliance and all of its members—hold sincere beliefs that gender transition surgeries and procedures are morally wrong and contradict their beliefs that God purposefully created humans as either a biological male or female and that a person’s biological sex is immutable,” Bowman said.
“By misinterpreting and improperly enforcing federal law, President Biden has far overreached his constitutional authority, to the detriment of people of faith across the country. The government cannot force Christian employers to pay for, or physically perform, harmful medical procedures that contradict their religious beliefs. The Constitution protects religious healthcare providers and employers and allows them to go about their work in a manner compatible with their deeply held convictions and faith.”
The CEA lawsuit goes further than the Sisters of Mercy and Catholic Benefits Association cases in that it also names the EEOC as a defendant because of that agency’s questionable interpretation of the federal employment nondiscrimination law known as Title VII. The EEOC rule equates a refusal to insure transgender procedures as “sex” discrimination, and does not provide a religious exemption.
The North Dakota suits are not the only legal proceedings to be successful on this religious freedom issue. Two faith-based healthcare organizations comprising over 20,000 healthcare workers recently succeeded in obtaining a federal court injunction in Texas against the HHS mandate.
A similar lawsuit has been filed in the federal courts in Tennessee on behalf of The American College of Pediatricians, the Catholic Medical Association, and an OB-GYN doctor. More such lawsuits are likely.
The North Dakota case is titled Christian Employers Alliance v. EEOC.
Photo from Shutterstock.