Saturday, August 15, 2009
The director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Charlotte, N.C., ruled that Belmont Abbey College, a small Catholic education institution, in Belmont, N.C. discriminated against female employees because the college refused to cover prescription contraceptives in its health insurance plan.
In March, 2009, the college was informed that a case filed against it in 2007 [by eight employees], claiming discrimination in the restrictions for contraceptives under the employee-provided health plan, had no value and all was fine. Inexplicably the case was reopened and now the college is charged with violating federal law.
Turns out that the EEOC guidelines refuse to consider that an institution's religious beliefs exempt it from offering benefits such as birth control pills. The guidelines in the state of N.C. do allow for exemptions based on religion.
If the college refuses to change its policy, the EEOC will pursue legal action.
When does the government have a right to enforce its laws on religious institutions?
Can a religious hospital that opposes abortion be forced to perform one?
What about religious freedom as defined in the 1st Amendment?