How bad is the assault on religious liberty? Read the interview below about Belmont Abbey's new lawsuit. Belmont Abbey College is a small, Catholic college (run by monks) which is now required by the government to purchase contraception, morning-after pills, and ella (week-after abortion pills) for their students and employees. This is in violation of the religious convictions and consciences or the monks. But, the government doesn't care:
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Why is Belmont Abbey suing? The monks don’t need contraception, and why deny someone who wants/needs this new apparent right under Obamacare?
MARK L. RIENZI: The monks of Belmont Abbey College sued because the government left them no choice. The government is forcing these devout monks to purchase certain drugs for their students and employees, in violation of their religious convictions. For example, the government now requires the college to purchase Plan B (the “morning-after pill”) and ella (the “week-after pill”) for their students. These drugs likely cause abortions, which is a grave sin to the monks. It is one thing for the government to decide it should distribute these drugs itself, which of course is not part of this new law. But it is quite another for the government to mandate that religious Americans with conscientious objection purchase these drugs and participate in their distribution.
The law also forces the college to pay for “related education and counseling” about these drugs. The monks may preach to their students against abortion and contraception on Sunday morning, but on Monday the feds will make the college pay for a counselor to send the exact opposite message to its students. The First Amendment forbids this type of forced speech and burden on religious exercise.
As for denying anyone else the right to buy or use these drugs, the lawsuit seeks nothing of the kind. This lawsuit is not about forcing others to believe and act as the monks do, but rather about preventing the government from forcing these monks to act as the government imposes. Nothing at all prevents employees of the college from purchasing contraception — the monks just shouldn’t be coerced by the government to be the ones to provide them. And if students or employees need or want insurance plans that pay for these items, they are free to go to any of the vast majority of other employers and schools that have no religious objection to them. But everyone at Belmont Abbey willingly came there knowing that their diplomas and paychecks would be signed by Catholic monks.