CCCU, Religious Freedom, and the HHS Contraceptive Regulations
On February 16, 2012 at a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, representatives of four member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) expressed major concerns about the severe (and unprecedented) impact of the new Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate upon religious freedom.
The four higher education institutions are Union University (Jackson, TN), East Texas Baptist University (Marshall, TX), Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI), and Oklahoma Christian University (Edmond, OK). Dr. C. Ben Mitchell, the Graves Professor of Moral Philosophy at Union University noted "The policy [requiring the health insurance provided by most religious institutions, including CCCU institutions, to cover all FDA approved contraceptives] is an unconscionable intrusion by the state into the consciences of American citizens." President Dub Oliver of East Texas Baptist University framed the issue as "whether the government will force religious people and organizations to do something they believe is wrong." Dr. Laura Champion, Medical Director of Calvin College Health Services raised the fundamental question of religious freedom, and Dr. Allison Garrett, the Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs at Oklahoma Christian University, finds the Obama Administration's "compromise" to insufficiently address religious colleges that self-insure.
At the time of this posting, there are at least two lawsuits filed by higher education institutions challenging the contraceptive mandate in federal court: Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius, Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-01989 (pending in the District of Columbia) and Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius, Civil Action No. 11-cv-03350-CMA-BNB (pending in the district of Colorado). Additional details on the cases can be found here and here.