Catholic Nun’s Network Wins Emergency Relief from 11th Circuit

EWTN Global Catholic Network wins religious freedom victory from HHS Mandate

Washington, D.C. – In a resounding victory for religious freedom, today Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), founded by a cloistered nun and dedicated to spreading the teachings of the Catholic Church, was granted last minute relief from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, one day before the world’s largest religious media network would be forced to violate its deeply help religious convictions or pay crippling fines to the IRS on July 1 (see video).

After the district judge recently issued a disappointing ruling against the global Catholic media network, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an emergency appeal to the Eleventh Circuit. Pending that ruling, the Becket Fund urged the Supreme Court and the Eleventh Circuit to step in to protect EWTN from being forced to provide contraceptives and potentially life-terminating drugs and devices that violate its Catholic teachings. Thanks to the Eleventh Circuit’s decision today to grant temporary emergency relief to the Catholic network, EWTN can now freely practice what it preaches while it pursues its claims in court.

“On the same day as the Hobby Lobby decision, the Eleventh Circuit protected religious ministries challenging the same government mandate,” said Lori Windham, Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund. “It’s time for the government to stop fighting ministries like EWTN and the Little Sisters of the Poor, and start respecting religious freedom.”http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/11-Circuit-icon-e1404238801477.png

Thirty-three years ago, Mother Angelica, a cloistered nun, founded a small television network in her monastery garage with a mission to spread the teachings of her Catholic faith. Today, EWTN has become the largest religious media network in the world, transmitting programming 24 hours a day to televisions in more than 230 million homes in more than 140 countries and territories. EWTN is also a religious shrine and pilgrimage site for millions of Catholics seeking daily mass and worship. A Catholic network whose sole purpose is to spread the word of God, EWTN must fight for the right to remain faithful to the very Catholic message it advances (see video).

“We are thankful that the Eleventh Circuit protected our right to religious freedom while we pursue our case in court,” said EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw. “We want to continue to practice the same Catholic faith that we preach to the world every day.”

After their original lawsuit was dismissed in early 2013, EWTN and the Attorney General of the State of Alabama joined the Becket Fund last October in filing a new lawsuit against the unconstitutional HHS mandate. After turning to the Supreme Court on Friday, today EWTN joins the 80% of HHS legal challenges that have resulted in favorable rulings supporting religious freedom. There are currently 100 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions—from Anglicans to Zoroastrians. For 19 years its attorneys have been recognized as experts in the field of church-state law. The Becket Fund recently won a 9-0 Supreme Court victory in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”

For more information, or to arrange an interview with one of the attorneys, please contact Emily Hardman, ehardman@becketfund.org, 202.349.7224.

###

Additional Information: