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EEOC Violates Religious Liberty of Catholic College

By Forcing Catholic College to Provide Insurance for Contraceptives the EEOC violates the US Constitution.

MANASSAS, Va. (Cardinal Newman Society) - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that a small Catholic college must include coverage for artificial contraceptives in its employee health insurance plan, raising new concerns about the need for conscience protections and religious exemptions in America’s health care policies.

The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) today sent a letter to EEOC acting chairman Stuart Ishimaru, noting that “it is ironic that the federal agency responsible for protecting against discrimination has so blatantly engaged in an inexcusable violation of religious liberty in its Belmont Abbey ruling.”

CNS also is sending a letter to all Catholic bishops in the United States, informing them of the EEOC action against Belmont Abbey College and highlighting the dangerous precedent this ruling sets to force Catholic employers to include contraceptive coverage in employee health plans.

“No Catholic college or other institution should be required by government to violate the Catholic Church’s clear moral teachings,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. “The apparently increasing insensitivity to religious beliefs should frighten all employers and employees. We urge religious leaders to stand in defense of Belmont Abbey College.”

In December 2007, Belmont Abbey College removed coverage for abortion, contraception and voluntary sterilization after they were accidentally included in the college’s insurance plan. Eight faculty members filed complaints with the EEOC and the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

“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 Belmont Abbey President William Thierfelder. “There was no other course of action possible if we were to operate in fidelity to our mission and to our identity as a Catholic college.”

The EEOC determined that Belmont Abbey has discriminated against women by denying coverage of contraception.

“By denying prescription contraception drugs, Respondent [Belmont Abbey College] is discriminating based on gender because only females take oral prescription contraceptives. By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women,” wrote Reuben Daniels Jr. in his determination as the EEOC Charlotte District Office Director.

Belmont Abbey College has been directed by the EEOC to reach an agreeable resolution with faculty. If this does not happen, Daniels will advise the parties of available enforceable court alternatives.

Belmont Abbey College is included in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College for its fidelity to Catholic identity and mission. Published by CNS, The Newman Guide is now a free online resource at The next edition will be published in September 2009.


The Cardinal Newman Society is dedicated to renewing and strengthening Catholic identity at America's 224 Catholic colleges and universities.This article is used with permission.



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1 - 7 of 7 Comments

  1. Sara Palen
    4 years ago

    "we are the citizens of our country, the citizens of our city, but we are also a people of God which has its own Christian sensibilities...We will continue to demand our rights. They are obvious just as our presence here is obvious. We will demand..."

    Karol Wojtyla-

  2. Stephen E. Berry
    4 years ago

    In response to Augustine Obl.S.B.: I agree with your comment. However, the so-called "Catholics" who voted for this adminstration would like to see all true Catholic institutions brought down, even to the point of closing them all. This is because the true Catholic institutions uphold the true teachings of Jesus through His church.

  3. Robert Matzinger
    4 years ago

    God Bless President Thierfelder for heeding the Call of Christ and remaining true to our Catholic faith! If only all our Catholic Schools did the same!

  4. Augustine Obl.S.B.
    4 years ago

    Sadly, this may be just a foreshadowing of the future. Since denying prescription oral contraceptives is discrimination since only women take them, will not the same tactic be used in regards to abortion--only women undergo that procedure (unless you count the aborted fetus). I fear our Catholic institutions will be subjected to a fierce onslaught in the coming months, and those Catholics who voted this administration into power will have to live with the knowledge that these attacks against the Church could not have happened without their support.

  5. Michael Nahlen
    4 years ago

    Terminate the eight faculty members and get TRUE catholics to replace them.

  6. Graham Combs
    4 years ago

    An easily predicted consequence of the 2008 elections. The 54% of Roman Catholics who voted for Democrats must share considerable blame for this violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. When are American Catholics going to begin to put the Church before the politics of convenience and expediency?

  7. Jon Kridelbaugh
    4 years ago

    Very concerning, it just shows us the direction the country is going. Pray for them, the USA, and the WORLD. God Bless.

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