Today’s Inside Higher Ed details the rather disturbing story of an EEOC finding that Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic college in North Carolina, engaged in “gender discrimination” when it refused — consistent with its Catholic faith — to cover oral contraceptives in its employer-provided health-care plan.
To describe this as a fundamental religious-liberty issue would be something of an understatement. Private religious organizations have traditionally enjoyed the right to organize around a religious purpose and advance their religious message through hiring, personnel policies, and public expression. In fact, personnel policies are a fundamental part of any institution’s religious expression.
Perhaps most disturbing was the EEOC’s utter failure to offer any substantive analysis of the college’s First Amendment rights. After all, this is not an “in name only” Christian institution. Even a brief glance at the college’s website shows that it is committed to its Catholic values. Yet the federal government just plows through that identity. And to what end? For what higher purpose? Does the so-called sexual autonomy of a few disgruntled employees actually trump core constitutional values? Some would say yes.