Non-profits and Christian colleges are not the only organizations successfully pushing back against the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. A Florida federal district court ruled Tuesday that for-profit Beckwith Electric of Largo, Fla., has religious protections offered by the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich issued a preliminary injunction allowing the electric company to avoid covering emergency contraceptives under Obamacare.
The Tampa Tribune quoted a jubilant Thomas Beckwith, owner and CEO of Beckwith Electric: “I fought the law and the Lord won!”
The gumption to fight for religious freedom runs through Beckwith’s blood. In 1626, Beckwith’s ancestors “endured the hardships of the lengthy and storm-ridden voyage to America on a 40-foot boat” after fleeing religious persecution in England. He also has family that fought for the Connecticut Militia in the Revolutionary War.
In 1967, Beckwith’s parents started a family business out of their garage in Illinois, with financing from his grandfather. That business grew into what is now Beckwith Electric, which employs 163 full-time employees. The company is a secular, for-profit corporation that operates in consistency with Beckwith’s Southern Baptist beliefs.
He arranges for corporate chaplains to counsel and help employees with family issues. Beckwith Electric also donates to various charities, including New Life Solutions’ Family Ministries, which is a “Christ-centered ministry offering hope, help, and healing for women, teens and families by promoting healthy lifestyle choices and relationships.”
On March 12, 2013, Beckwith filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stating that the mandate is a “direct violation of conscience” and desecrates the Southern Baptist faith, requiring services that are capable of killing innocent human life. Beckwith Electric was the 50th entity to sue HHS over the contraceptive mandate. The company faced fines of $6 million per year.
Beckwith Electric’s insurance plan provides for anything that prevents conception, he said on Tuesday: “I cover IUDs that prevent conception. I cover birth control pills, maternity benefits. This is a powerful insurance policy. Where I draw the line is three [drugs]; they call them emergency contraception, but it’s deceitful because they’re not contraception. … They kill an innocent human life.”
Kovachevich wrote in the ruling, “The purpose of the right to exercise religion was to secure to all individuals the liberty of conscience without government interference. What happens, then, when the individual chooses to participate in free enterprise? Does this liberty of conscience travel with an individual in his or her commercial endeavors as a shareholder of a corporation? This court believes it does.”