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Dordt College News

Dordt College stance on the health care mandate for employers

August 9, 2012

 

Dordt College filed a statement this summer with the Department of Health and Human Services objecting to the contraceptive mandate accommodation. The college's argument focuses on religious freedom, and it does not take a position on birth control.

Many Christian colleges consider the accommodation problematic because it allows churches but not other religiously oriented institutions to be exempt from a new requirement that says all employers offering health insurance must cover contraceptive services, including pills like Plan B, which has been described by opponents as a potential abortifacient.

Dordt College objects to the fact that only churches will receive a special accommodation and exemption from the requirements. As part of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Dordt has signed on to a long list of religious institutions of higher education that have opposed the mandate from early on.

Following is the text of the objection filed by the college with HHS:

“We are writing to express concern about the proposed accommodation addressing coverage of contraceptives/abortifacients for religious or religiously-affiliated institutions. Because only churches are recognized as “religious employers” and fully exempt, an accommodation for other religious organizations effectively creates two classes of religious organizations in which only churches are accorded full protection of religious freedom.

“We object to the accommodation because it does not recognize Dordt College and similar faith-based institutions as organizations deserving protection of religious freedom. We object to the creation of two classes of religious organizations with different levels of protection. We also stand in solidarity with other religious communities and parachurch organizations that have a deep moral objection to the use of contraceptives and/or to drugs that can induce abortions, and we advocate for their freedom of conscience and their right to not be forced to cover drugs or procedures in strict opposition to their beliefs.

“We strongly object to having Christian colleges put in a different class of religious organizations with lesser protection under the law. There are some colleges that may be only Christian at a surface level. There are colleges that are Christian in the sense of having devotional activities or Bible classes alongside their regular academic work. However, there are also colleges that resonate with Dordt College’s founding statement, namely “to give young people an education that is Christian, not merely in the sense that devotional exercises are appended to the ordinary work of the college, but in the larger and deeper sense that all the class work, all the students’ intellectual, emotional, and imaginative activities shall be permeated with the spirit and teaching of Christianity.”

“Our ability to carry out this mission as a religious organization has always been protected under the Constitution and we expect that will continue.”

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