WASHINGTON — A federal court Friday stopped enforcement of the Obama administration’s abortion pill mandate against a Bible publisher represented by attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom. The administration opposed the order, arguing that Tyndale House Publishers isn’t religious enough for an exemption from the mandate, a component of ObamaCare that 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.
Tyndale House Publishers, based in Carol Stream, Ill., is the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media and directs 96.5 percent of its profits to religious non-profit causes worldwide. The publisher specifically objects to covering abortifacients. The court’s order is the third nationwide against the mandate and the second obtained by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys.
“Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman, who argued before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Nov. 9. “The court has done the right thing in halting the mandate while our lawsuit moves forward. For the government to say that a Bible publisher is not religious is startling. It demonstrates how clearly the Obama administration is willing to disregard the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom to achieve certain political purposes.”
In its opinion accompanying a preliminary injunction order in Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, the court wrote that “the beliefs of Tyndale and its owners are indistinguishable…. Christian principles, prayer, and activities are pervasive at Tyndale, and the company’s ownership structure is designed to ensure that it never strays from its faith-oriented mission. The Court has no reason to doubt, moreover, that Tyndale’s religious objection to providing insurance coverage for certain contraceptives reflects the beliefs of Tyndale’s owners. Nor is there any dispute that Tyndale’s primary owner, the Foundation, can ‘exercise religion’ in its own right, given that it is a non-profit religious organization; indeed, the case law is replete with examples of such organizations asserting cognizable free exercise and RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] challenges.”
The publisher is subject to the mandate because Obama administration rules say for-profit corporations are categorically non-religious, even though Tyndale House is strictly a publisher of Bibles and other Christian materials and is primarily owned by the non-profit Tyndale House Foundation. The foundation provides grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world.
On July 27, Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys obtained the first-ever court order against the Obama administration’s mandate on behalf of Colorado’s Hercules Industries and the Catholic family that owns it. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and allied attorneys are also litigating five other lawsuits against the mandate: one in Minnesota on behalf of Annex Medical, Inc.; one in Indiana on behalf of Grote Industries; another one in Indiana on behalf of Indiana’s Grace College and Seminary and California’s Biola University; one in Pennsylvania on behalf of Geneva College and The Seneca Hardwood Lumber Company and its owners, the Hepler family; and one in Louisiana on behalf of Louisiana College. The lawsuits represent a large cross-section of Protestants and Catholics who object to the mandate.