Baptists vs. Sebelius
The continuing story of ecumenical outrage

Louisiana College president Joe Aguillard


Last week, the Obama administration did it again. In a new bulletin, the Department of Health and Human Services implied that there are more faith-based entities who can apply for a “safe harbor” from its controversial “contraception” mandate. 

“Every time the administration opens its mouth it changes its rules to attack religious freedom in a different way,” Matt Bowman, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom says of the bulletin. “Washington bureaucrats have no business continually picking and choosing what faith is and who is allowed to practice faith,” he continues. 

The revised safe harbor does nothing for businesses — such as the Hercules HVAC company in Denver, which won an injunction in late July, or the Seneca Hardwood Lumber Company in Pennsylvania – with regard to conscience objections to the mandate.

The one-year delay may be the most insulting part of the mandate. All it does, as both Catholic Timothy Cardinal Dolan and Presbyterian Philip Ryken, the president of the evangelical Wheaton College, have noted, is to tell faith-based entities — many of them providers of social services — that they have a year to figure out how to violate their consciences. (Expect more on the Wheaton College case shortly — there is a D.C. federal court hearing on Thursday.) 

The new bulletin came days after yet another school, Louisiana College, a Baptist school in Pineville, La., filed a lawsuit over the mandate. “Our choice to exclude abortion pills from our coverage doesn’t prevent anyone from making the choice to use those drugs,” the school’s president, Joe Aguillard, tells National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez.


KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Why, and when, did you decide to sue the federal government?

JOE AGUILLARD: We knew it was time to stand up and resist the moment we realized that the Obama administration meant to usurp our God-given religious freedoms and our time-honored Baptist heritage .

LOPEZ: How do you face “imminent hardship”?

AGUILLARD: Washington politicians and bureaucrats cannot force Americans to surrender their freedom. Louisiana College has been given a choice that is not really a choice at all — to give up our belief that every child’s life deserves to be protected or to face punishments that could very well force us to close our doors. With that kind of threat so close on the horizon, we needed to act immediately to make sure the government’s attack on freedom is stopped in its tracks — not only for Louisiana College, but for every American.

LOPEZ: Surely members of the board had misgivings about a high-profile lawsuit against the federal government in an election year?

AGUILLARD: The board at Louisiana College is as dedicated as I am to protecting the fundamental freedoms that every American is promised. Preserving freedom requires vigilance in every season, and in this season, the Obama administration has chosen to attack our most cherished freedoms. It was really an easy decision to team up with Alliance Defending Freedom to wipe this totalitarian mandate off the books.