Belmont Abbey College is under attack for changing its employees’ benefits package to more completely reflect Catholic moral theology. The College is operated by the Benedictines as part of this particular community’s teaching charism.
Last week, thanks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal government took a giant leap toward encroaching on the religious liberty of Catholics. Reuben Daniels Jr., director of the EEOC District Office in Charlotte, N.C, ruled that a small Catholic college discriminated against female employees by refusing to cover prescription contraceptives in its health insurance plan. With health-care reform looming before the country, this ruling is a bad omen for people of faith.
In 2007, eight faculty members filed a complaint against Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., claiming that the school’s decision to exclude prescription contraceptives from its health-care plan was discriminatory against women. “As a Roman Catholic institution, Belmont Abbey College is not able to and will not offer nor subsidize medical services that contradict the clear teaching of the Catholic Church,” said the college’s president, William Thierfelder, at the time.
In March the commission informed the college that the investigation of its employee health insurance plan had been closed with no finding of wrongdoing. Inexplicably, the case was reopened, and now the college is charged with violating federal law. If Belmont Abbey doesn’t back down, the EEOC will recommend court remedies…
And that’s the rub: Increasingly it is clear to Catholics and other religious groups that without very clear exemptions for religious employers—and conscience protections for individual doctors, nurses, pharmacists—federal health-care laws and guidelines could severely restrict religious freedom in the U.S.
You can be sure that I will be making a contribution to the Chancellor’s Fund noted in Patrick Madrid’s blog post. I urge all concerned to do the same.
Idea: Since so many of our pro-“Choice” friends at places like Topix have made donations to Planned Parenthood in our names, I believe I shall make donations to this fund in honor of them…