Reaching Souls v. Burwell

To defend their faith, an orphan care ministry, a Christian college, and a 100 year-old Baptist ministry are standing up to the government’s HHS mandate, which is forcing them to violate their beliefs or pay crippling IRS fines.

Reaching Souls International is a nonprofit evangelistic ministry that has preached the Gospel to over 20 million people and rescued hundreds of orphans in Africa, India, and Cuba by placing them into loving homes. If Reaching Souls does not comply with the government’s mandate, it will face each year in IRS fines.

Truett-McConnell College is a Georgia Baptist college committed to training students to share the Gospel by providing a biblically-centered education. If Truett-McConnell does not comply with the mandate, it will face millions of dollars each year in IRS fines.

GuideStone Financial Resources has been the benefits arm of the Southern Baptist Convention for over 100 years and provides retirement and health benefits to thousands of Southern Baptist churches and evangelical ministries like Reaching Souls and Truett-McConnell College.

GuideStone, Reaching Souls, and Truett-McConnell have joined together to represent over 187 ministries that rely on GuideStone for health benefits and face massive IRS fines for refusing to violate their beliefs.

These evangelical ministries simply cannot comply with the mandate to provide free access to abortion-inducing drugs and devices through the GuideStone health plan because doing so would violate their Christian beliefs about the sanctity of human life. While the government has exempted churches and church-controlled ministries from the mandate, it refuses to exempt religious ministries like Reaching Souls and Truett-McConnell College.

Faced with no choice but to defend their beliefs, the ministries filed suit in October 2013. In December 2013, their case became the first class-action suit to win relief from the government’s HHS mandate. But on July 14, 2015, the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court decision and ruled against the evangelical ministries. On July 23, 2015, GuideStone, Reaching Souls, and Truett-McConnell appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and Locke Lord LLP represent Reaching Souls, Truett-McConnell, and GuideStone in their fight for religious freedom. This is the second class action filed challenging the administration’s mandate; the first was filed by the Becket Fund and Locke Lord LLP on behalf of the Little Sisters of the Poor and hundreds of Catholic ministries participating in the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, a national plan for Catholic employers. The Becket Fund also represents Eternal Word Television Network, Houston Baptist University, and others in similar lawsuits.

Reaching Souls, Truett-McConnell, and GuideStone’s fight has brought them all the way to the Supreme Court, which has already ruled six times against the mandate. All they ask is to be able to live out their faith and serve others in peace and freedom.


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