Catholic Nuns, Christian Colleges Fight Obama Admin for Religious Freedom at Supreme Court
Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Zubick v. Burwell, a consolidated case that includes Little Sisters of the Poor, East Texas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University, and Priests for Life. The religious, non-profit organizations are being forced by the Obama administration to provide abortion-inducing drugs in their health insurance plans in violation of their conscience.
The HHS mandate requires that these organizations choose between violating their conscience and paying an astronomical fine. These non-profits are now petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to recognize that the HHS mandate is a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The Becket Fund, who represent Little Sisters of the Poor, ETBU, and HBU released this quote from Sister Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial for the Little Sisters of the Poor:
“Hello, my name is Sister Loraine Marie Clare. The Lord has given me a beautiful calling; that of being a Little Sister of the Poor.
We Little Sisters of the Poor are a group of women who make religious vows to God. We dedicate ourselves to serving the elderly poor regardless of race or religion, offering them a home where they are welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to Himself. We have done this for more than 175 years.
But now we find ourselves in a situation where the government is requiring us to include services in our religious health care plan that violate some of our deepest held religious beliefs as Little Sisters.
We don’t understand why the government is doing this when there is an easy solution that doesn’t involve us—it can provide these services on the exchanges. It’s also hard to understand why the government is doing this when 1/3 of all Americans aren’t even covered by this mandate, and large corporations like Exxon, Visa, and Pepsi are fully exempt, yet the government threatens us with fines of 70 million dollars per year if we don’t comply.
It is a privilege for us to care for the most vulnerable members of our society; serving them, comforting them, being a loving and healing presence in their lives; just being a “Little Sister to them” is our joy. All we ask, is that we can continue to do this work.
After hearing the argument today, we are hopeful for a positive outcome. We will continue to trust God because–as our Mother Foundress St. Jeanne Jugan said: “God will help us, the work is His”.
Thank you and God bless.”
Texas Values Founding Board Member, Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty, was at the Supreme Court today for the case, stated, “The government is giving the Little Sisters of the Poor two options: violate their faith or pay millions of dollars in fines. There is a simple, common sense solution instead. The government should protect the nuns’ conscience rights by giving them an exemption, which has already been given to many big businesses, and leave them alone to fulfill their vows to God in peace.”
Kerri Kupec, the Legal Communications Director for Alliance Defends representing four Oklahoma Christian universities in the case, stated, “Nuns, priests, and Christian schools shouldn’t be forced to go to the Supreme Court to plead for freedoms that every American is promised. The government should be allowing these organizations to focus on serving the poor, the elderly, and the next generation. The freedoms guaranteed under federal law and the First Amendment are civil rights, not special gifts that the government can give or withhold when it chooses.”
Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values stated: “Government forcing Catholic nuns to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs is not a Texas value. Nuns and religious schools should be able to exercise their First Amendment rights. If Catholic nuns and religious schools are no longer protected by the First Amendment, than who is?”
In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Obama HHS Mandate in the historic Hobby Lobby case (Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc). We stated that the Hobby Lobby victory was a “victory for religious freedom and it breathes restored life into the First Amendment.” It is vitally important that the nation’s High Court again protect the First Amendment, rule in favor of religious freedom, and allow the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Christian organizations to fulfill their mission while also upholding their consciences.