Leak Reveals Strong Protections for Religious Ministries May be Coming

New rules would allow ministries like the Little Sisters of the Poor to forgo providing contraception to employees.

By Liberty McArtor Published on May 31, 2017

President Donald Trump is taking another step to protect freedom of conscience, if new rules leaked Wednesday come to pass. 

The leak revealed only a draft version of the rules. But if adopted, ministries would be allowed to forgo providing contraception to employees. The White House refused any comment beyond calling the leak an “alleged draft.”

First Liberty Institute, a Texas-based law firm devoted exclusively to religious freedom cases, applauded the news. First Liberty says the new rules would end a near-three year legal battle for several of their clients. Many had sued the federal government in 2014. The suits challenged the HHS mandate embedded in Obamacare. The so-called “abortion pill mandate” or “contraception mandate” forced non-profits to provide birth control to their workers, regardless of religious and conscience objections. 

The Little Sisters of the Poor is perhaps the best known ministry involved in the mandate battle. (The now-famous group of Catholic nuns was represented by the Becket Fund.) Last year the Supreme Court declined to rule in their case. Instead, it was sent back to lower courts that previously ruled against the Little Sisters. Some hailed the decision as a victory for religious freedom. 

But the rules leaked Wednesday would offer a much more final victory for religious ministries — especially after President Trump’s religious liberty order was found lacking by many conservatives.

“The Trump administration has clearly announced its intent to adopt an important new policy for religious ministries across the country,” said Jeremy Dys, First Liberty Deputy General Counsel. “Our clients are delighted to see their religious liberty potentially restored and to be freed to pursue their mission without the threat of punishment by their government hanging over their heads.”

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