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Obama: Bible publisher not 'religious'

The Obama administration says a Bible publisher is not religious for the purposes of being a religious employer.

Confused?

It will be straightened out in federal court where the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a complaint today against the federal government over the Obamacare requirement that Tyndale House Publishers pay for insurance coverage for abortion services for its employees.

That can’t happen, according to the complaint, because the owners find it “morally objectionable.”

It is just the latest in a long string of similar lawsuits challenging Obamacare’s requirement that employers pay for abortifacients for employees, as mandated by the president’s plan.

Tyndale House is one of the world’s largest privately held Christian publishers of books and Bibles. But Obamacare demands it purchase the abortion services because it is classified as “categorically non-religious.”

That’s even though it is owned by the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, through which profits are funneled to be donated to various charities.

“Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “To say that a Bible publisher is not religious is patently absurd. Tyndale House is a prime example of how ridiculous and arbitrary the Obama administration’s mandate is. Americans today clearly agree with America’s founders: the federal government’s bureaucrats are not qualified to decide what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how that faith may be lived out.”

The mandate 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, ADF said.

“ObamaCare demands that Americans choose between two poison pills: either desert your faith by complying, or resist and be punished,” Bowman said.

The complaint explains the founder, Kenneth N. Taylor, created the organization to publish Bibles and use the money for ministry. He assigned the royalties from his books to the nonprofit foundation, which has donated some $76 million to charities.

“The mandate illegally and unconstitutionally requires Tyndale to violate its and its owners’ religious beliefs, and it subjects Tyndale to heavy fines and penalties if it chooses not to violate those beliefs,” the complaint said. “Defendants’ coercion tramples on the freedom of conscience, freedom of religious exercise, and freedom of speech of Tyndale and its owners. These believers, as well as millions of other Americans, simply wish to abide by religious convictions decreed by God Himself through His Word, and to contribute to society in a way that is consistent with their religious ethic.

“Defendants refusal to accommodate the conscience of Tyndale is highly selective. [Obamacare] not only contains a multitude of exemptions from the mandate, but one of those exclusions renders the mandate inapplicable to 191 million Americans. Defendants cannot possibly claim they have a compelling interest to violate Tyndale’s beliefs when they have voluntarily chosen to omit nearly two-thirds of the nation from that interest for secular reasons.”

WND recently reported in another case over the abortion mandate, while Obama says he holds “unwavering” support for religious freedom, attorneys representing a Colorado family said the actions of his Department of Justice reflect exactly the opposite.

The department has filed an appeal to force the Newland family of Denver, which owns Hercules Industries, to violate their beliefs in the operation of their company, in a case also handled by the ADF.

A trial judge ordered that the mandate could not be enforced immediately against the family that owns Hercules.

But administration lawyers have filed a notice of appeal, in a document signed by Michelle Bennett, that seeks to have the arguments moved to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Every American, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith,” said Bowman. “The Obama administration claims ‘unwavering’ support for religious freedom, but this appeal demonstrates that the only thing unwavering is the administration’s tenacious opposition to that freedom.

“The cost of religious freedom for this family could be millions of dollars per year in fines that would cripple their business and potentially destroy jobs if the administration ultimately has its way,” Bowman said. “In filing its appeal today, the administration sent a clear message that it wants to force families to abandon their faith in order to earn a living. That’s the opposite of religious freedom.”

ADF reports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services could penalize the family millions of dollars per year if they don’t agree to violate their religious faith.

But it was Obama who said his “Christian faith” has guided his presidency, and, “In a changing world my commitment to protecting religious liberty is and always will be unwavering.”

Obama’s statement:

ADF attorneys have clients in other cases challenging the mandate, including Indiana’s Grace College, California’s Biola University, Louisiana College and Pennsylvania’s Geneva College and the Seneca Hardwood Co.

Other legal teams also are in the battle, and it was a case brought by a Missouri company in which the government admitted the mandate is a “burden” on religious rights.

“Indeed, defendant [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius herself has publicly acknowledged that the mandate raises religious concerns,” said a court filing from the American Center for Law and Justice.

“In a press release issued on Jan. 20, 2012, announcing the finalization of the mandate and the temporary safe harbor period for nonprofit entities that object to contraceptive services, defendant [HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius opined that the temporary reprieve ‘strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventative services.’

“Subsequently, in a press release issued on July 31, 2012, Sebelius stated that ‘the Obama administration will continue to work with all employers to give them the flexibility and resources they need to implement the health care law in a way that protects women’s health while making common-sense accommodations for values like religious liberty.'”

The legal brief, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, continued.

“The defendants cannot make a straight-faced argument in this litigation that the mandate does not impose a substantial burden on the exercise of religious beliefs. Indeed, the defendants have postponed for a year the application of regulations that purportedly advance a compelling governmental interest solely because of the burden the defendants themselves recognize that these regulation impose on the exercise of religion.

“Clearly, nothing but a burden of a ‘substantial’ nature could justify such a postponement,” the brief said.

That case is on behalf of Frank R. O’Brien and O’Brien Industrial Holdings LLC, a company based in St. Louis. O’Brien is chairman of the company that explores, mines and processes raw materials, exporting to 40 nations.

A Michigan case is being pursued by the Thomas More Law Center on behalf of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Weingartz Supply Co. and Legatus, the nation’s largest organization of top Catholic business leaders.

In the most recent filing, attorneys for Weingartz said the Obama administration either doesn’t care about or doesn’t like Catholics so much it is forcing them to choose between their beliefs and the federal law.

“The defendants offer numerous secular and even religious exemptions to the HHS mandate, but fail to offer the same respect to the Catholic beliefs of the plaintiffs – showing that defendants either care so little about those professing Catholic beliefs that they will not be bothered to address their concerns or showing that defendants are patently discriminating against and disrespecting those holding Catholic beliefs,” said the brief filed this week in support of a preliminary injunction that would protect the plaintiffs while the case moves through the courts,” the filing said.

In the Denver case, WND reported earlier when U.S. District Judge John J. Kane of Colorado granted Hercules owners Andy Newland and other family members the order preventing enforcement.

Newland told WND: “We realized we had a choice nobody should really have to face. That’s the choice to do business according to our faith, which we think is really important, or pay onerous crippling fines. And nobody, we believe, should be forced to make that decision.”

Other lawsuits have been filed by Wheaton College, Catholic University of America, University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and the Catholic University of America.

And leaders of of a number of religious-advocacy groups are warning of the Obamacare contraception mandate consequences for business owners of faith: