Catholics Students React to Obama Administration Threat against Belmont Abbey over Contraception Coverage

Students at Catholic universities across the nation are banding together with students at Belmont Abbey College (BAC) in a stand for religious liberty and conscience rights, after the college was warned by the Obama administration last month that its refusal to cover contraception amounted to gender discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ignited the First Amendment firestorm earlier this month when it ruled Belmont Abbey College was wrong not to include coverage for contraception in its employee health insurance plan, despite the Catholic Church’s prohibition on contraception as intrinsically evil. In addition to the Church’s teachings against contraception as such, it is known that hormonal contraceptives often function as abortifacients.

According to BAC president William Thierfelder, while the local EEOC initially threw out the complaint, the decision was reversed after the affair went to officials in Washington.

Students from the University of Dallas, Franciscan University of Steubenville, De Sales University and Catholic University of America are fighting back, saying the EEOC decision is a troubling indication of the Obama administration’s ideas on "reasonable" conscience protection.

"People need to wake up," said Michael Barnett, American Life League’s director of leadership development and its LiveCampus college outreach program. "Under Obama, the federal government is forcing a religious institution to commit an act that violates its core values. This is religious persecution and a clear signal of what Obamacare would bring. This is the government imposing its will against the people’s will."

In a letter to the Belmont, the EEOC claimed that the school discriminated against women by not covering contraceptives: "By denying prescription contraception drugs, [the college] is discriminating based on gender because only females take oral prescription contraceptives. By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women."

In a letter subsequently sent to EEOC chairman Stuart Ishimaru, Judie Brown, president of American Life League, pointed out, "The Catholic Church teaches that contraception is an evil and certainly not the sort of ‘treatment’ one would expect to find in a health insurance plan designed for staff at a Catholic facility. Your discriminatory actions against the college are unfounded and unconstitutional."

William K. Thierfelder, Belmont’s president, affirmed that rather than provide contraceptive coverage, "We would close the college."

"This debate is part of an ongoing political struggle between the faculty and the administration of the school, and it entirely excludes the students and the monks of the Abbey," commented Ann Visintainer, a senior at Belmont. "We here at the Abbey pray the conflict may be resolved in a respectful and peaceful way, and in the meantime, we will continue to support and cherish human life in all its forms."

Not only are Catholic schools across the country running to the aid of Belmont, many are gearing up for First Amendment fights of their own in light of the Obama health care "reform" plan.

"This is an incursion into private religious belief," explained Larry Meo, president of De Sales University Students for Life. "The EEOC is attempting to impose a set of values on a certain group of colleges, and this is the very thing the president spoke against during his campaign."

Katie Prejean, a Crusaders for Life member at another Catholic college, the University of Dallas, agrees: "True Catholic academies are no longer safe from the Obama administration’s desire to manipulate every citizen’s health care, regardless of religious freedom."

Martha McAdams, a student at the University of Dallas and president of Texas Students for Life, the statewide student pro-life organization, summed up the issue at the core of the standoff between the Obama administration and Catholic institutions: "At the University of Dallas, as at most Catholic universities, abortion is purposely not included in the university- provided health insurance because it goes against a natural belief that all human life is precious."

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  • consecrata

    The Government cannot ‘force’a religious institution to commit an act against its core values, against the teachings of the Catholic Church. The government can demand that such a thing be done, but that demand can be refused and the consequences accepted … some Bishops in the USA gave in to the demand of local politicians to permit the morning after pill to be given to victims of rape but WITHOUT A PREGNANCY test, meaning that if the woman was already pregnant, she could have aborted the baby in her womb. The Bishops were not ‘forced’ to do this (many Bishops refused)…they gave in to the demands of the politicians, fearing the consequences. The Church and her members have been persecuted before and many were martyred because they would not give in to demands that were against their core values, their faith…we need to be ready to lose all our material possessions and learn to trust once more in Divine Providence…we often hear the excuse that if we don’t do what the government wants, we can lose funding and if that happens, Catholic schools and hospitals could close, etc…so be it! Better to close our hospitals and schools then to lose our souls…to diminish our faith. And if we continually succumb to the demands of politicians in this regard, then in fact, our schools and hospitals would no longer be ‘Catholic’…let us pray for the courage to obey God rather than men…

  • Warren Jewell

    If we’re headed for persecution, then let’s get on with it. I know of some Ninth Beatitude that reminds us – me – how very close I move to the Lord and His holy prophets under persecution. Besides, as we pray in the agonies of our persecution, this set of fools will have been asking for those who just won’t be persecuteed without a good fight to come out and bloody their noses. The blood of martyrs cannot only seed and nourish the Church, but cause others who take “Don’t Tread On Me” seriously to see just what awaits them. I figure that some will seek out conversion just when their ammo runs out.

    The august powers of tyranny can have me, but I will take my licks and maybe my death with a surety not only of heaven, but, as they are living by the sword, some are already prepared to make them die by the sword.

    Consecrata is accurate in her assessmnt that every inch we budge, they will seek a yard and more later. Shut down Catholic hospitals – now, 20% of such medical facilities – and we’ll see just who cries ‘uncle’. I anticipate, too, that some solid medical facilities will defy the authorities. And, they will do so with an army of lawyers giving the bureaucrats fits.

    I’m ready – bring it on, boys!

  • mallys

    I am beginning to think the crafters of Obamacare want the Catholic hospitals to shut down. That will enforce the rationing of care that they are already envisioning and preparing for.