Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) announced today that a favorable settlement has been reached with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding its lawsuit against the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. The lawsuit, originally filed in May 2012, responded to regulations from the Affordable Care Act that required all employers to include coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-inducing drugs in their health benefit plans, including those with religious objections. MCC’s President and CEO, Paul Long, called the settlement a “victory for religious liberty.”
Today the Trump Administration announced broad religious and moral exemptions from the federal HHS mandate, which required health insurance coverage of morally objectionable drugs and devices. Michigan Catholic Conference commented on the decision, saying the mandate has been “divisive and unnecessary” and these revisions should provide greater assistance to religious entities that have been forced to defend their First Amendment rights in federal court.
On the heels of a statewide advertising project undertaken by the Catholic Church in Michigan titled “Freedom to Serve” that promotes religious agencies and their work in the public square, out-of-state advocacy entities today announced a campaign to disparage Michigan’s efforts to ensure diversity in child placement. The campaign includes a lawsuit against a 2015 state law that protects religious liberty rights for faith-based adoption and foster care placement agencies. Michigan Catholic Conference called the lawsuit “mean-spirited, divisive and intolerant” as this law has helped to promote diversity in child placement and helped to serve Michigan’s most vulnerable children.
Earlier this spring, television commercials and online advertising ran across Michigan highlighting the Catholic Church’s freedom to serve others through its charitable organizations. Beginning Monday, September 11, new commercials will begin that focus on the Catholic educational setting, the teachers that personify the Church’s educational settings, and how Catholic school students are educated in the faith and formed to serve others and the greater community.
The United States Supreme Court ruled 7–2 in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer that the State of Missouri’s policy to prevent state grant funding for playground equipment at a Lutheran preschool was, in the words of Chief Justice John Roberts, “odious to our Constitution.” Michigan Catholic Conference strongly supports the majority opinion, which strikes down an inherently discriminatory practice that punished a school for its religious mission. Following the ruling on Monday, June 26, MCC President and CEO Paul Long offered comments regarding the decision and how that decision may relate to a case moving through the Michigan courts.
Today’s Executive Order, reported to offer broad protections from (HHS) burdensome mandates, begins to return a greater tolerance of religious beliefs and practices than has been present in recent years. As the presence of an Executive Order on this topic affirms, the freedom for religious institutions to serve others and to express and practice — not just worship — one’s religious convictions is a fundamental element of both American society and constitutional law.
Television commercials now running across Michigan are highlighting the Catholic Church’s freedom to serve others through its charitable, health care, and educational entities, Michigan Catholic Conference has announced. The Freedom to Serve commercials address the right for Catholic organizations to provide services to the general public in accordance with their faith-based mission, without unnecessary or burdensome intervention from the state or federal government. “This advertising project aims to reinforce the notion that faith-based health care, charitable, and educational entities here in the state are an inclusive and diverse component of our local communities that serve all in the spirit of ‘loving thy neighbor,’” said MCC President and CEO Paul Long.