Continued from page 1

“If the church can be dragooned into providing these objectionable services, then the door is open to other objectionable services down the road. So it’s breaching a principle,” said the Most Rev. William E. Lori, Roman Catholic bishop of Bridgeport, Conn.

The mandate “fits into a pattern of actions this administration has taken that show hostility toward religious liberty,” testified William K. Thierfelder, president of the Belmont Abbey College, which was the first institution to sue the Obama administration over the contraceptive policy.

Three years ago, Mr. Thierfelder told the House committee, the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accused Belmont Abbey College of “gender discrimination” for not covering contraception in the employee health care plan.

“They then sat on their hands and refused to issue a final determination in our case. They have left us in limbo, with an EEOC investigation hanging over our heads, for more than 2½ years,” Mr. Thierfelder said.

Asked about the case, an EEOC spokeswoman said Friday that the agency cannot “confirm or deny the existence of charge filings, investigations or administrative resolutions,” except in cases where it filed a lawsuit against an employer.

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed the Belmont Abbey lawsuit, as well as cases for a Catholic media network and an evangelical Christian university in Colorado. Priests for Life filed a federal lawsuit in New York with the assistance of American Freedom Law Center and attorney Charles S. LiMandri. Several state attorneys general, including Nebraska’s Jon Bruning, have pledged to file a lawsuit against the policy as well.

The Alliance Defense Fund plans to file a lawsuit against the contraception policy on behalf of Geneva College. It filed a similar lawsuit on behalf of Louisiana College on Saturday.

Kevin Theriot, senior counsel for the fund, cited the recent Hosanna-Tabor case as another example of Obama administration missteps on religious rights.

In that case, attorneys for the Department of Justice and EEOC argued that “the government has a compelling interest to eliminate discrimination,” even if it means intervening in hiring and firing decisions in religious entities, like the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School, Mr. Theriot said.

“Of course the Supreme Court rejected that,” because of the “ministerial exception,” he said. “But it was very disturbing that the attorneys for the administration made that argument.”

Yet there is considerable defense for Mr. Obama and his policies.

“I think on all of these questions, you have seen some people who are engaged in trying to solve the problem and some people who are engaged in wanting a political fight,” said Tom Perriello, president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

“I think if we spent a tenth as much time focused on trying to genuinely solve these problems and not score political points, we would be a more moral nation, and one that did more to promote religious freedom and social justice,” Mr. Perriello said.

“As someone who truly loves my church, I don’t like to see the church, whether it’s my church or an evangelical church, being used for political purposes. And I think that to a large extent, that’s what’s going on,” Mr. Cafardi said.

Religious leaders, however, told Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican and member of House oversight committee, that they were serious about not violating their consciences over the contraception policy.

Story Continues →