Feds admit the truth: they’re co-opting ministries’ health plans

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Ryan Colby 202-349-7219 media@becketlaw.org

September 15, 2015, New Boston Post

But bureaucrats don’t get to tell nuns what to believe, especially when those bureaucrats mischaracterize their own Orwellian scheme. Recently, a number of federal judges have called out the agencies’ game. First, a group of five judges reminded the agencies that they can’t “tell people what their religious beliefs are” and warned that the government’s plan is a “dangerous approach to religious liberty” that is “contrary to all precedent concerning the free exercise of religion.” Next, another federal judge rejected the agencies’ shell-game as “a purposely complicated act of bureaucratic legalese and accounting tricks” that force the ministries to “opt-in” to permitting the agencies to “infect the [ministries] health plans.”

Perhaps sensing that the jig was up, the government just admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court that they are wrong and the ministries are right: the government’s scheme really does take over the ministries’ health plans. Would that they had done so years ago, instead of leading some lower courts to exactly the opposite conclusion.

These shenanigans would be mildly humorous coming from a bumbling movie villain like Vizzini. But from federal agencies of the most powerful government in the world, they are chilling—especially since their success in persuading courts to rule against religious ministries means these donation-run religious groups are facing fines large enough to bring down mega-corporations. It’s time for the government to stop playing word games and start leaving religious ministries alone.