Mennonite Company Files Suit Against HHS Mandate

If you’re thinking about remodeling, you might consider buying your cabinets from Conestoga Wood Specialities Corporation.

This family-owned company has joined the brave group of Christian businesses who’ve filed suit against the HHS Mandate.

It’s important for many companies to file suit, simply because the more challenges to the HHS Mandate we have out there, the more likely we are to have one stick. For instance, one lawsuit after another has been tossed by judges around the country, but a judge in New York has finally allowed the New York Archdiocese lawsuit to proceed. Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I Am Catholic, has written about this in more detail here.

Our judicial system is such that I think it’s necessary to file many times to have a good chance of success. That’s why the actions of campanies like Conestoga Wood Specialties are a critical factor in the fight against the HHS Mandate.

The owners of this company are Mennonites, but they recognize their kinship with all Christians in essential matters of faith. I would guess that they also recognize their kinship with all Americans in essential matters of freedom.

The First Amendment and religious freedom in America are at stake in the fight against the HHS Mandate. I am grateful to all Christians who are brave enough to join the struggle.

A CNA/EWTN article describing the Conestoga Wood Specialties lawsuit reads in part:

Washington D.C., Dec 11, 2012 / 05:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Three Mennonite Christians who own a wood manufacturing company in Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit challenging the federal contraception mandate for threatening their right to religious freedom.

“Being told that we must provide a health plan that includes a provision that violates the Christian beliefs of our family and the Christian values that our company was founded on is deeply troubling,” said Anthony Hahn, president and CEO of Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation.

“Forcing Americans to surrender long-standing, deeply-held principles in order to own and run a business is not merely troubling but unnecessary and unconstitutional,” he added.

Hahn is challenging a federal regulation that requires employers to offer health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. Conestoga would be required to comply with the mandate when its insurance plan renews on Jan. 1, 2013.

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the mandate by religious employers who argue that it forces them to violate their sincerely-held beliefs. The federal government has argued that businesses which are deemed “secular” do not have the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

On Dec. 4, attorneys with Independence Law Center filed a legal challenge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Conestoga’s founder Norman Hahn, and his sons Norman Lemar Hahn and Anthony Hahn, who manage the company.(Read more here.)

  • Bill S

    “Being told that we must provide a health plan that includes a provision that violates the Christian beliefs of our family and the Christian values that our company was founded on is deeply troubling,”

    I wonder if they can actually demonstrate how this is against their faith.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Well … that’s what the lawsuit is supposed to do. However, I’m not familiar enough with Mennonite teachings to say more about the theological aspects. I can say that in America, the government is not supposed to be in the business of making long-established churches answer to government regulators concerning interpretations of their faith. That is one aspect of religious freedom that this whole debate violates by its existence.

      Defending the HHS Mandate seems to me to be an oxymoron for anyone who believes in liberty and freedom, whether they are religious or not.

  • Bill S

    In this particular case we are not talking about a church but a company. Under Obamacare, providing healthcare to your employees has become the cost of doing business in this country. The HHS mandate does not discriminate. It applies to all employers regardless of their faith. Employees have the option of adhering to a faith or not. Had the mandate required people to practice contraception instead of just requiring employers to pay for it, it would be violating their First Amendment rights. I’m sure that in every case the courts are going to say that requiring an employer to pay for something that violates the employer’s religious beliefs is not the same as making someone do something against their beliefs. Providing insurance coverage for someone to do something against your beliefs is not the same as doing something against your beliefs.

  • Peg

    Rebecca, from what I understand, Mennonites come from the Anabaptist tradition. We have several families in Missouri and they are wonderful, peaceful people. They are sometimes mistaken for Amish because they dress a bit similar.

    Menonnites tend to live in community and are very family oriented. The really cool thing about them is that they live holistic lives rather than compartmentalized ones. The fabric of their lives is completely interwoven among faith,family, work and community. They work from and close to the land with groceries or furniture–good family service and quality. One would be hard pressed to separate their work from their beliefs.

    They are beautiful uncomplicated folks that better our state and to force them to peddle and pay for toxic chemicals that disrespect the family life and environment they cherish is unconscionable.

  • Bill S

    “…to force them to peddle and pay for toxic chemicals that disrespect the family life and environment they cherish is unconscionable”.

    If they are so dedicated to their faith, the employees will not take advantage of the mandate. The mandate only provides them the opportunity. It doesn’t force them to use contraceptives. Too bad for any employers trying to force their beliefs on their employees. Life is full of rules that some people find to be unfair.

  • Russell Holder

    Having to pay for something one does not believe in is truly an example of taxation without representation. This not only violates the codex of the land we live in but would establish a new precedent or hurdle… whereby the government would seemingly be more concerned in removing the limitations to constraint by constraining the limits of objection to nil. I should mention the most important fact here… it forces one to violate their own beliefs and conscience- without consent or concern for their happiness. It is nice to see freedom works and we can still voice our objection… for now.

  • A Hermit

    The argument here is a false one; all the employer is being required to do is to provide a benefit; compensation for the labour of the employee. What the individual employee does with that compensation is their business, not the employer’s.

    This is like arguing that wages paid by a Muslim or Jewish employer can’t be used by the employee to buy pork…

  • A Hermit

    Oh, and there is precedent here, by the way…in the case of an Amish employer seeking to avoid paying social security on the grounds that it violated the employer’s religious principles; the Supreme Court ruled against the employer…
    The court found n part:

    “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes that are binding on others in that activity. Granting an exemption from social security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees. ”
    I expect something similar in this case.