The Story: On Friday a federal court stopped enforcement of the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate against Tyndale House Publishers, the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of Bibles.
The Background: The Obama administration had argued that Tyndale House Publishers isn’t religious enough for an exemption from the mandate, a component of the Affordable Care Act that forces employers, regardless of their religious or moral convictions, to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception under threat of heavy penalties.
But in its opinion accompanying a preliminary injunction order in Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, the court wrote:
. . . the beliefs of Tyndale and its owners are indistinguishable . . . Christian principles, prayer, and activities are pervasive at Tyndale, and the company’s ownership structure is designed to ensure that it never strays from its faith-oriented mission. The Court has no reason to doubt, moreover, that Tyndale’s religious objection to providing insurance coverage for certain contraceptives reflects the beliefs of Tyndale’s owners. Nor is there any dispute that Tyndale’s primary owner, the Foundation, can “exercise religion” in its own right, given that it is a non-profit religious organization; indeed, the case law is replete with examples of such organizations asserting cognizable free exercise and RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] challenges.
The court’s order is the third nationwide against the mandate.
Why It Matters: “Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization representing Tyndale in the case
“For the government to say that a Bible publisher is not religious is startling,” Bowman adds. “It demonstrates how clearly the Obama administration is willing to disregard the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom to achieve certain political purposes.”