Wheaton College Challenges Controversial HHS Mandate

Image: Wheaton College Challenges Controversial HHS Mandate

For Immediate Release: December 13, 2013
Media Contact: Emily Hardman, ehardman@becketfund.org, 202.349.7224

Washington, D.C. – Today the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty refiled its lawsuit on behalf of Wheaton College against the administration’s controversial HHS mandate, which forces the evangelical liberal arts institution to violate its religious teachings or pay ruinous fines. Wheaton College’s original lawsuit was delayed for over a year by the government’s promise of a religious accommodation, but the government still insists that Wheaton College is not a “religious employer” and therefore ineligible for a religious exemption.

“The administration is still forcing Wheaton College to make an impossible choice to either comply with the mandate and violate its conscience, or pay severe fines,” said Adèle Keim, Legal Counsel at the Becket Fund and lead counsel for Wheaton. “Any definition of ‘religious employer’ that leaves out Wheaton College is obviously flawed.”

Wheaton College is an explicitly Christian liberal arts college and graduate school with a deep commitment to do all things “For Christ and His Kingdom.” A pervasively Christian institution, Wheaton’s students, faculty, and staff affirm “the God-given worth of human beings, from conception to death.” The institution’s religious convictions prevent it from providing its employees with access to abortion-causing drugs that can harm human life. Wheaton College is now fighting for the right to carry out its Christian mission free from government coercion.

“We cannot abandon our Christian beliefs simply because the government refuses to recognize that Wheaton is a religious institution,” said Philip Ryken, President of Wheaton College.  “The government has exempted plans covering millions of people from this mandate—it should exempt Wheaton too.”

There are currently 88 lawsuits challenging the unconstitutional HHS mandate. The Becket Fund currently represents: Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the Poor, Guidestone Financial, Christian Brothers Services, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, Colorado Christian University, the Eternal Word Television Network, Ave Maria University, and Belmont Abbey College.

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.

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