By Eleanor Linton, PFI Intern
Wheaton College announced Wednesday that it was filing a suit alongside Catholic universities against the Health & Human Services Preventative Services Mandate. The suit is separate from the one filed by Catholic University of America against the HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, proponent of the mandate that would require employers to cover abortion drugs, contraception, and sterilization when renewing their health care plans. Effective August 1, this mandate has become controversial due to the fact that institutions such as universities are not exempt from the implications of the mandate, although some have legitimate objections.
Religious freedom is once again under attack, and this latest assault has been recognized by Wheaton’s current President, Dr. Philip Ryken. Addressing the decision to file suit, Ryken pointed to the history of the college as a precedent for their action on the mandate: “Our first president, the abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, believed it was imperative to act in defense of freedom. In bringing this suit, we act in defense of freedom again.” Even though theological differences between Catholics and the Protestant Wheaton still exist, the necessity of standing up for religious liberties is creating allies in the church aisles.
However, because churches are not forced to comply with the HHS Mandate, Ryken is concerned about other religious institutions that embrace high moral standards but are not released to follow their consciences. “The mandate, by providing an exemption for churches, but not for other religious institutions like Christian colleges, is in effect to create two classes of religious institutions in the U.S.: those that have full protection for their religious freedom and those who don’t.”
Wheaton is one of four evangelical colleges suing the Federal government, including Geneva College in Beaver, PA, and part of a total of 23 total lawsuits (Becket Fund). The nature of the mandate is aggressively attacking organizations that believe in the sanctity of human life, from conception onwards. Holding to the belief that all life is a gift from our Creator should not be penalized, but praised and protected.
For further reading, please see the article from Wheaton College.