HHS vs. Tyndale

From Victor Morton:

How do you respond to this sort of news, news in which religious organizations believe the HHS policies are requiring them to do something they do not believe?

The Obama administration is claiming that a dedicated Christian publisher of Bibles and ministry material is insufficiently religious to qualify for an exemption to the contraception mandate in the president’s health-care overhaul.

According to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in the District of Columbia by Tyndale House Publishers, the company has been refused a “religious employer” exemption because the Health and Human Services Department categorically maintains that any for-profit publisher is not a “religious employer.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Tyndale, called the rule an unconstitutional and arbitrary threat to religious freedom.

“Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish,” said ADF 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.”

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • EricW

    HHS, not HHC – whose head violated with impunity the Hatch Act. :p

  • Marshall

    1. Shows the absurdities that arise when the secular government is put in the position of arbitrating what are valid religious boundaries. Organizations should be allowed to set their own boundaries, and they should be willing to live within the rules/agreements that comprise the secular state.

    2. Is it a condition of employment at Tyndale not to use contraception? Did employees understand that when they accepted employment? If not, then the bosses should not be trying to butt in to the workers’ private lives.

  • David Dollins

    Another reason to vote this President OUT!

  • Ben P.

    I’m a Wheaton College grad, and my guess is that Tyndale’s case against the government is the same as Wheaton’s and I believe Biola as well. I think their beef is not with contraceptives, but with being required to cover drugs such as the morning-after pill. I have to agree with Tyndale, Wheaton and Biola on this one.

  • T

    To me, the big picture is that this is no different than the government taking money via taxes and spending it on . . . (fill in the blank with objectionable expenditure).

    There are many things that gov’t spends tax money on that I would not, and very broad health benefits to female employees who, in theory, might use the pill or even the morning after pill (like they might do with the $ I pay them), isn’t even close to the worst.

  • Larry

    The government also requires religious employers to provide their employees with Money(TM)… and Money(TM) covers access to pornography, abortion, alcohol, dancing and playing cards! Where is the outrage?

  • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com Morgan Guyton

    This is all the consequence of not having a single payer system. It is so ludicrous. Our companies can’t hire people because of the benefits they have to provide. Let Caesar do healthcare. Let the body of Christ follow its conscience with contraception. Stupidity resolved.

  • T

    Larry,

    Exactly. Employers provide “X” to employees which *might* be used by them to obtain ___________! If this is considered a serious threat to religious liberty in this country, then I’m oh-so-glad to be in the US.

  • Albion

    Under the interim rule, Tyndale will likely lose. The rule defines religious employer as one who ” (1) Has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and (4) is a non-profit organization under section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the [Internal Revenue] Code.” Very difficult for Tyndale to prove (3) or (4) and maybe even (2). So legal basis for challenge will likely attack the rule itself as ultra vires, and that’s probably another bridge too far.

  • Ben P.

    Well, I think it’s a little more complicated than that. The government is requiring these institutions to cover these drugs, and even though they are not forcing them to pay for them, they are forcing the insurance company to pay for them, and inevitably the insurance company is going to pass on the cost to the institution. If churches are exempt, why aren’t obviously religious institutions exempt as well?

  • Marcia

    I’m puzzled: What is a “dedicated” Christian publisher of Bibles? Tyndale publishes a line of fiction (the Left Behind apocalyptic novels being one multi-million selling example) and has also published bestselling nonfiction books by football celebrities Tony Dungy and Drew Brees among the dozens of titles it publishes each year in addition to its Bibles. There are ministries, and there are ministry-inspired publishers. Those two are not identical.

  • Jon Altman

    Since when is it a matter of “doctrine” that this for-profit publisher opposes contraception? Sounds to me like they (and Wheaton College and others) are just trying to milk the opposition to President Obama for their own fundraising or profit-making purposes.

  • tdsutter

    WOW! How blatantly bias and polemic we have gotten. Lord, have mercy on our souls.

  • jerimi

    I guess my question would be: Are there any women that work there that might benefit from contraception? Can a woman make a bible and be on the pill??? Let the Theologians answer that riddle.

  • RobS

    At one moment, someone is yelling “hands off my body” and then another moment, they’re demanding government intervention onto every part of the body. Given the election year environment, I expect the political talking heads will use either argument as it fits their need at the moment.

    The Obama administration tried once to probably some concessions on this topic, but it seems they might still be in hot water if this gets some press. I won’t expect it to become national news.

  • T

    RobS,

    This isn’t about anyone demanding government intervention onto their body. The issue is whether a for-profit publisher of bibles can get a religious exemption from providing health insurance to its employees. Because the insurance will cover controversial treatments, the publishers don’t want to provide the insurance to its employees. Regardless of how we think about this issue, no one is demanding government intrusion onto their bodies. If anything, the government is attempting to make sure that women employees don’t have their employers exerting too much control over their employees’ health care options.

  • Patrick

    Ben,

    Because the US state says so. What are you going to do?

    Ole Malthus would have loved the USA. I bet you didn’t know part of the “stimulus fund” was spent helping African girls kill their kids. We’re going global with Malthus think.

  • Larry Barber

    BenP (#10)The government is requiring these institutions to cover these drugs, and even though they are not forcing them to pay for them, they are forcing the insurance company to pay for them,

    No, they’re not, its cheaper for the insurance companies to provide contraception. One difficult pregnancy will pay for a whole lot of birth control.

    This also isn’t about religious freedom, nobody is forcing anybody else to use birth control, and nobody has to “pay” for it, birth control is essentially free. This is about employers being able to force their religious beliefs on their employees.

  • Robin

    Larry Barber,

    If birth control is essentially free there is no need for it to be in the insurance package.

    The government sets the rules, if this is the way they are setting up the playing field the best option for HHS or Wheaton is (1) quit providing insurance (2) increase employee salaries by the amount of their contribution to employee health care (3) minus the tax deduction they were receiving of course.

    The big loser in that scenario is the federal government (US Taxpayer) because the premium support they will provide under the Affordable Care Act will probably equal what the employers were kicking in, but it will be coming out of Uncle Sam’s pocket instead.

  • Robin

    For perspective, if an employer did what I listed above, a family of 4 with income of $40,000 to $50,000 would likely end up paying ~$250 per month out of pocket and the Federal Government would pay ~$750 per month for the family. This is based upon very reasonable and conservative estimates regarding the cost of insurance. If insurance rates are higher, in line with Massachusetts, the families bill would be similar but the increased cost would be placed on Uncle Sam. Either way (1) the employee still gets coverage (2) the business hasn’t increased its bottom line (3) the business hasn’t violated its principles. The only clear loser is the Federal budget.


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