Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Kathleen Gilbert

8/18/2009 (7 years ago)

LifeSiteNews (www.lifesitenews.com)

'It is absolute, unequivocal... impossible for us to go against the teachings of the Catholic Church in any way.' (Dr. William Thierfelder)

(Pictured: Dr. William Thierfelder, the President of Belmont Abbey College)'My understanding is it went to Washington, and that it was in Washington where this was decided, not the Charlotte office.'

(Pictured: Dr. William Thierfelder, the President of Belmont Abbey College)'My understanding is it went to Washington, and that it was in Washington where this was decided, not the Charlotte office.'

Highlights

By Kathleen Gilbert

LifeSiteNews (www.lifesitenews.com)

8/18/2009 (7 years ago)

Published in College & University


BELMONT, North Carolina (LifeSiteNews.com) - In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) , Belmont Abbey College president Dr. William Thierfelder said officials at the Charlotte division of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) told him that a decision to close a discrimination complaint against the school for failing to offer contraception coverage was reversed after the matter went to the nation's capital.

Eight BAC faculty members filed a complaint against the college for removing coverage for abortion, sterilization, and contraception from their employee health insurance, supplied by Wellpath. The faculty first complained to the North Carolina Department of Insurance that BAC was required to cover contraception under state law because it did not qualify for the religious employer exemption. Both the state department and Wellpath, however, disagreed with the complainants.

"If you ever came on this campus, the first thing you see is the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians," said Thierfelder. "That basilica is connected to a monastery. That monastery is connected to the main administration building."

The group of complainants, who joined forces with the National Women's Law Center, then made a gender discrimination complaint to the EEOC, which in March informed the Abbey that it had closed the issue. Two months later, the EEOC reversed its decision.

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

"You can imagine we were very surprised when, after having received the first letter, then later received another letter saying: 'Disregard the first letter. We're going to reconsider this now,'" said Thierfelder.

Asked what he thought caused the reversal, Theirfelder said, "My understanding is it went to Washington, and that it was in Washington where this was decided, not the Charlotte office." He says he gathered this information "from conversations we had with people at EEOC here in Charlotte who told us that's where this had gone to, and that's where it was being discussed and decided upon."

Thierfelder said he did not know if it was the EEOC's initiative that brought the affair to a higher level, or the complaining parties. Multiple calls made by LSN to the EEOC Charlotte District Office were unanswered at press time.

The EEOC response also accused the college of causing a "chilling effect" by publishing the names of the eight faculty members in an internal memo. Thierfelder pointed out that the eight had already broadcast the affair to local newspapers and the Internet of their own accord.

Thierfelder said he believed the decision marked a dangerous precedent.

"From a religious freedom standpoint, you don't have religious freedom," he said. Thierfelder stressed, however, that the college has "gotten a lot of support from people who are not Catholic, and who may not share our beliefs on abortion, sterilization, contraception...they see the principle and what they're saying is, 'Belmont Abbey College is not trying to tell anybody what they have to do, it's just saying what Belmont Abbey College will do.' And I think that's an important distinction."

"To try to make us change [our beliefs], there's something very wrong with that," he continued. "And I think that's why this has garnered so much attention, and especially with the health care debates that are going on right now, and with all the things that are going on with Catholic hospitals ... what they are basically saying is, if you're Catholic, or if you are of any faith, it doesn't mean anything. You're going to do what the government tells you to do."

Thierfelder acknowledged that the fight could go to the courts, and emphasized that BAC officials were united in maintaining fidelity to Catholic Church teaching against pressure from the government.

"All of us need to have moral courage in today's world," he said. "We are so resolute in our commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church that there is no possible way we would ever deviate from it, and if it came down to it ... we would close the school rather than give in.

"So it is absolute, unequivocal, impossible for us to go against the teachings of the Catholic Church in any way. There is no form of compromise that is possible."

To contact the EEOC:

Stuart Ishimaru
Chairman, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
131 M Street, NE
Washington, DC 20507
Phone: (202) 663-4900
TTY: (202) 663-4494
info@eeoc.gov

---

LifeSiteNews.com is a non-profit Internet service dedicated to issues of culture, life, and family. It was launched in September 1997. LifeSiteNews Daily News reports and information pages are used by numerous organizations and publications, educators, professionals and political, religious and life and family organization leaders and grassroots people across North America and internationally.



Comments


More College & University

BREAKING: UCLA on lockdown after shooting on campus Watch

Image of UCLA is on lockdown.

By CALIFORNIA NETWORK

The UCLA campus has been put on lockdown after reports of a shooter in the university's Boelter Hall were released via social media. Police reported a shooting on the UCLA campus, issuing a tweet to say that the school's Westwood campus was on lockdown following a ... continue reading


Christian students in U.S. not allowed to speak to other students without permits Watch

Image of Christian liberties denied at North Carolina State University (Wikipedia).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a move reminiscent of the early 1900s, North Carolina State University segregated a student Christian group from the rest of the student population. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grace Christian Life is a registered student Christian group on NC State's ... continue reading


Benedict XVI Centre approved by Holy See, but what will they be doing there? Watch

Image of The center will focus on religion and social sciences (CDJ).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

St. Mary's University in Twickenham, London has been formally approved to name one of their buildings after Benedict XVI. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to its website, St. Mary's University will name one of their buildings the Benedict XVI Centre for ... continue reading


Alarming University campaign threatens First Amendment rights Watch

Image of The University of Portland asks students to report discrimination, interactions of intolerance and incidents of discomfort (Stefan Redel/Shutterstock.com).

By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The University of Portland recently launched a "Speak Up" campaign designed to put an end to discrimination, intolerance and "incidents of discomfort." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The University's Speak Up website specifies inclusion is a top priority - one ... continue reading


Comparing some students to 'Catholic jihadis,' Mount St. Mary University president comes under fire Watch

Image of Mount St. Mary University President Simon Newman said in a memo,

By Adelaide Mena and Matt Hadro, CNA News

Amid uproar over comparing struggling students to bunnies that should be drowned or shot, Mount St. Mary's University president is now under fire for criticizing expressions of the Catholic faith at the school. Emmitsburg, Md. (CNA) - Already facing turmoil, the ... continue reading


The fight for religious liberty: How one Catholic college deals with threats Watch

Image of

By Matt Hadro (CNA/EWTN News)

The future of religious freedom in the United States will one day be in the care of today's college students, so one Catholic college is working to equip them for that struggle. Washington D.C., (CNA/EWTN News) - Wyoming Catholic College is trying to form a "community ... continue reading


4 reasons Catholic education needs your help this year Watch

Image of Are America's Catholic schools being attacked? (Wordpress)

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Catholic education system is coming under attack by a plethora of policies designed to make the hiring process, acceptance of anti-Christian viewpoints, transgender issues and Catholic identity concerns. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Cardinal Newman ... continue reading


Catholic identity or education: Are the top Catholic universities falsely rated by secular standards? Watch

Image of

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A list of the top 40 traditional Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America was created, but were they rated fairly? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Newsmax revealed their top forty Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America, but what were their standards?The United ... continue reading


Becoming Divine Mercy: A Mission of Mercy Watch

Image of

By Jessie Tappel, Communications Director at Divine Mercy University

God, the source of all mercy, provides us with an experience so great that we have no choice but to reflect it to our own brother and sister. Mercy calls for an outward response, which is made clear in the examples of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. You can ... continue reading


UST Breaks Ground on New Center for Science and Health Professions Watch

Image of

By Darnell Miller - University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas, a member of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, broke ground on a new Center for Science and Health Professions on Nov. 12, 2015. The new facility, containing more than 100,000 square-feet of modern lab space and classrooms, will meet ... continue reading


All College & University News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 3:1-9
1 And so, brothers, I was not able to talk to you as spiritual people; I ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 14-15, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people he has chosen ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. Now Simon's ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 31st, 2016 Image

St. Raymond Nonnatus
August 31: Raymond was born at Portella, Catalonia, Spain. ... Read More