WASHINGTON, DC - Today the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities sent a letter to the White House expressing its continued concern about the contraceptive mandate, including coverage of some abortifacients, contained in the August 3, 2011, amendment to the Department of Health and Human Services regulations entitled Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Issuers Relating to Coverage of Preventative Services Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (File Code CMS-9992-IFC2). In its letter the CCCU requested that HHS eliminate the mandate or dramatically expand the religious exemption, since requiring CCCU institutions to cover these preventative services would force them to act against their Christian convictions.
“While our schools take different positions on the services mandated by the regulations [contraception, emergency contraception, and sterilization], they are united in their belief that compelling those with a religious objection to support services that their religious convictions forbid violates the Constitution,” wrote CCCU President Paul R. Corts.
The regulations technically contain a religious exemption, but the CCCU considers it to be inadequate and unlikely to exempt any of its schools. The current exemption requires an organization to have “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose,” hire and serve primarily those who share its religious tenets, and be organized for tax purposes as a “church, their integrated auxiliary, or conventions or associations of churches.” Corts stated that there is no legal certainty that CCCU institutions would qualify for the first factor because “[w]hile our institutions do infuse their religious values into every aspect of what they do, … they are also fully-accredited, degree-granting, institutions of higher learning.” Corts went on to write that “[w]hile some [CCCU] institutions are affiliated with larger church organizational or denominational structures, many are independent religious organizations.”
Consequently Corts urged the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services to create an exemption that would include all religious organizations, not just those that perform solely religious functions, serve only those that share their religious tenets, and are connected to a larger church or denominational structure. Corts also co-signed a December 21 letter to President Obama from Protestant leaders indicating that a revised exemption broadened only to include faith-based organizations affiliated with a specific denomination would exclude many deeply religious organizations that operate independently.
Finally the CCCU letter indicated that the current religious exemption does not provide any accommodation for health plans that CCCU institutions provide to students. Corts explained that many schools object to being required to offer emergency contraceptives as it both violates their religious convictions and is in direct contradiction to the behavioral standards that schools require of their students. In order to correct this, an expansion of the current exemption would have to apply to plans beyond those offered by religious employers.
Previously, the CCCU signed an inter-faith letter dated August 26, 2011, to Joshua DuBois, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and submitted comments on September 30, 2011, to the promulgating Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Internal Revenue Service. Click here to read the press release about the CCCU’s comments.
For more information contact: Shapri D. LoMaglio, Director of Government Relations and Executive Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 184 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 115 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 69 affiliate campuses from 25 countries are part of the CCCU. The Council’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help its institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit www.cccu.org.