Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer Kevin Theriot appeared on the Tuesday afternoon edition of CBN’s Newswatch to talk about the Cedar Park Assembly of God’s case. Newswatch can be seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel.
A Seattle-area church is fighting in court for its spiritual rights that are supposed to be guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
The legal fight is underway because the state of Washington is trying to force churches to break their pro-life faiths in order to cover optional abortions in their health insurance strategies.
The church filed its opening quick last week with the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, asking for a turnaround of a lower court choice that dismissed the church’s lawsuit against the state of Washington.
The suit, Cedar Park Assembly of God of Kirkland v. Kreidler, challenges the constitutionality of Washington State Senate Expense 6219, which was signed into law in March 2018. The legislation needs Cedar Park to supply coverage for abortion if the church also provides maternity care protection to its employees, or face fines and criminal charges, including imprisonment.
Alliance Defending Flexibility attorneys representing the church are challenging the constitutionality of the state’s abortion protection needs. As an outcome of the state’s required, the church’s insurance carrier inserted surgical abortion coverage directly into the church’s health plan. The insurance provider suggested that it would get rid of the offensive coverage if a court were to hold that the state law is unconstitutional.
“No church needs to be forced to cover abortions, and definitely not a church that dedicates its ministry to securing and commemorating life like Cedar Park does,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves. “Cedar Park believes and teaches that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of defense up until natural death, so supplying insurance coverage for abortions is clearly not something the church can or should be forced to do.”
“And Cedar Park doesn’t merely believe in the significance of human life, it puts those beliefs into practice by partnering with a regional pregnancy care center, hosting a yearly camp for foster care children, and ministering to numerous couples having problem with infertility. The state has no genuine legal basis to require this church– or any other– into contradicting its foundational belief that human life is spiritual,” Graves discussed.
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As the church’s 9th Circuit brief describes, SB 6219 “consists of no spiritual exception despite numerous spiritual companies’ belief in the sanctity of human life and strong opposition to abortion. When churches objected, the expense’s sponsor recommended they take legal action against if they did not wish to comply. This extreme abortion-coverage required had its desired result: insurance suppliers started placing abortion protection into ministries’ health plans in direct violation of their religious teachings … State officials hence intentionally targeted holy places for obligatory abortion protection and, in so doing, intentionally violated their faiths about the sanctity of human life.”
“Washington state is bullying churches and other spiritual nonprofits through the force of law, engaging them to break their beliefs by covering abortions in their health insurance. That’s why we have asked the 9th Circuit to have a look at this case,” said ADF Vice President of Appellate Advocacy and Elder Counsel John Bursch.
“The 9th Circuit recently said that a district court was incorrect to dismiss a similar ADF case in California, and the 9th Circuit ought to enable this case to continue for the same reasons,” he continued. “Furthermore, the Supreme Court has consistently held that federal government hostility toward individuals of faith is unconstitutional and has no location in our society. And Washington state’s policy is undoubtedly hostile: It squashes dissent and breaches the First Modification’s Free Workout Provision by targeting the church’s legitimate internal policies and religious beliefs.”