The Texas Catholic Conference today expressed disappointment at the U.S. Fifth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals’ ruling Monday that would force religious institutions to violate their faith.
Several Texas dioceses and churches have long objected to provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act that require religious employers to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortions unless those employers sign a form declaring their principled opposition to the coverage, which, in turn, will compel others to deliver the coverage to employees of the religious organizations in direct violation to the coverage that they oppose based on sincerely held religious beliefs. These groups take the position that this forces them into a situation in which they are materially cooperating in action that is contrary to their faith.
However, several denominations have argued that the process is little more than a gimmick, since employment itself with the Church is what triggers access to health insurance, and that subsequent access to birth control or to abortifacients through that insurance—even through some convoluted accounting scheme—does not circumvent the employers’ deeply held religious beliefs.
This debate has not been limited solely to Texas, but has been waged in federal courts across the nation over the last four years. Texas’ Catholic bishops are eager to have the final decision heard and decided by the U.S. Supreme Court and urge the Justices to reinforce the U.S. Constitutional protections of religious liberty.