Tyndale House Publishers, a for-profit Christian company, filed the 31st lawsuit against the federal government over its contraceptive health insurance mandate on Tuesday.
“Tyndale and its owners are Christians who are committed to biblical principles, including the belief that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of their conception/fertilization,” the lawsuit reads (download a PDF of the lawsuit). “But defendants’ recently enacted regulatory mandate under [the healthcare law] forces Tyndale to provide and pay for drugs and devices that it and its owners believe can cause the death of human beings created in the image and likeness of God shortly after their conception/fertilization.”
Tyndale presents an interesting case because it is easily identified as a Christian company—it publishes Bibles, among other Christian literature. The lawsuit says that Tyndale, even though it publishes Christian literature, would not fall under the federal government’s definition of a “religious employer” for the purposes of the mandate. Only churches qualify for an exemption from the mandate under the Department of Health and Human Services’ definition of a religious employer.
And since Tyndale is a for-profit business, the mandate already applies to the company, which should mean judges would consider the case quickly, on the merits, instead of dismissing it as “not ripe.” (Although Tyndale is a for-profit company, the Tyndale House Foundation, a nonprofit organization that gives its profits away, owns it.)
The company said under the law it would have to begin providing coverage for several objectionable drugs and devices: abortifacients—including Plan B and Ella—as well as intrauterine devices. The company's self-insured plan, which renewed Oct. 1, would have to provide that coverage for Tyndale's 260 full-time employees. But Tyndale has refused to add that coverage this year.
Judges dismissed three other lawsuits, like the one filed by Wheaton College, because they said the mandate did not yet apply and could undergo revisions before it went into effect for most religious groups in August 2013. That should not be a problem for a for-profit company like Tyndale.
Two judges have now considered the mandate lawsuits on the merits, and they split their decisions. One District judge in Colorado ruled against the mandate, saying it violated the freedom of a religious business owner. Another in Missouri just ruled Friday against a religious business owner, saying the mandate was not a substantial burden on his freedom of conscience (see “Not a burden,” Oct. 3).