Christian Retailing

Obama administration appeals Tyndale House healthcare ruling Print Email
Written by Eric Tiansay   
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 01:30 PM America/New_York

Tyndale House Publishers celebrated in November when a federal court stopped enforcement of President Obama's abortion-pill mandate, but the battle is not over. The Obama administration filed an appeal Jan. 15.

The administration argued that the Carol Stream, Ill.-based publisher doesn't meet the criteria for religious exemption from the mandate, despite the fact that it is the world's largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles and digital media—directing 96.5% of its profits to religious nonprofit causes worldwide.

"Bible publishers should be free to do business according to the book that they publish," argued Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Matt Bowman, who is representing Tyndale House. "Regrettably, the administration does not want religious freedom to stand in the way of imposing Obamacare.

"The district court rightly halted Obamacare's abortion-pill mandate against Tyndale House, but the administration continues to argue that a Bible publisher isn't religious enough to qualify as a religious employer," he added. "For the government to say that a Bible publisher isn't religious is startling. We will continue to argue on appeal that the administration cannot disregard the Constitution's protection of religious freedom to achieve certain political purposes."

The publisher is subject to the mandate because Obama administration rules say for-profit corporations are categorically non-religious, even though Tyndale House is strictly a publisher of Bibles and other Christian materials and is primarily owned by the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation. The foundation provides grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world.

In its opinion accompanying a preliminary injunction order in Tyndale House Publishers vs. Sebelius, the court wrote that "the beliefs of Tyndale and its owners are indistinguishable. ... Christian principles, prayer and activities are pervasive at Tyndale, and the company's ownership structure is designed to ensure that it never strays from its faith-oriented mission.

"The court has no reason to doubt, moreover, that Tyndale's religious objection to providing insurance coverage for certain contraceptives reflects the beliefs of Tyndale's owners," the court continued. "Nor is there any dispute that Tyndale's primary owner, [Tyndale House] Foundation, can 'exercise religion' in its own right, given that it is a nonprofit religious organization; indeed, the case law is replete with examples of such organizations asserting cognizable free exercise and RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act] challenges."