College Joins Effort to Defend Religious Liberty, Oppose Illegal Contraceptive Mandate

On September 29, 2011, eighteen Catholic colleges and universities — including Thomas Aquinas College — took a stand against a federal mandate that gravely threatens religious liberty and sound medicine. As a signatory to an appeal filed by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of the Cardinal Newman Society, the College is seeking a religious and moral exemption to a policy requiring employers to include sterilization and contraceptives — even those that can cause abortions — in their health-coverage plans.

“Thomas Aquinas College is proud to number itself among the faithful Catholic colleges and universities who have united in defense of religious freedom and moral medicine,” says President Michael F. McLean.

“As a Catholic institution informed by the Church’s teaching on social justice, we are committed to providing health-insurance coverage to our employees and their families,” Dr. McLean adds. “But we cannot abide funding surgeries and prescriptions that our faith rightly regards as morally illicit. For the government to try to compel Catholic colleges to violate the teachings of the Natural Law and of our faith in this way is a clear violation of religious freedom.”

The appeal, sent this morning to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, challenges the prohibitively narrow terms of the mandate’s existing religious exemption. It calls for a full moral/religious exemption to for all employers, individuals, and insurers, stating:

“Other employers, too, whether operating for profit or not, have the same right not to have their religious and moral beliefs burdened. Insurance companies have a right not to be forced to offer such coverage. And individuals have the same right not to be forced to enroll in or purchase coverage as the result of the Mandate’s imposition on all available plans. Federal law simply prohibits the federal government from violating the religious and moral beliefs of any of these stakeholders.”

The 18 college and universities that have signed the appeal are:

  • Aquinas College (Tenn.)
  • Ave Maria University (Fla.)
  • Benedictine College (Kan.)
  • Catholic Distance University
  • Christendom College (Va.)
  • College of Saint Mary Magdalen (N.H.)
  • College of Saint Thomas More (Tex.)
  • DeSales University (Pa.)
  • Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio)
  • Holy Apostles College & Seminary (Conn.)
  • John Paul the Great Catholic University (Calif.)
  • Mount St. Mary’s University (Md.)
  • Saint Gregory’s University (Okla.)
  • Thomas Aquinas College (Calif.)
  • Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (N.H.)
  • University of Mary (N.D.)
  • University of Saint Thomas (Tex.)
  • Wyoming Catholic College (Wyo.)

In addition, the Most Rev. Thomas Curry, Bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Santa Barbara pastoral region and chairman of the Committee for Catholic Education at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has also signed the appeal. “We are grateful and heartened to see our local bishop supporting this effort to repeal this plainly illegal and unconstitutional policy,” says Dr. McLean.

Posted: September 30, 2011

Br. Robert Nesbit

“It was at the College when I began to take my faith seriously. The community life, all the people, the faculty, the staff — and the Mass — all that really helped.”

– Br. Robert Nesbit, O.S.B. (’07)

“May God bless Thomas Aquinas College for its excellent performance as a Catholic college since its foundation in 1971, a college where parents can send their children and be sure that this college is maintaining the best ideals of our faith and is giving not only information but formation.”

– Francis Cardinal Arinze

Prefect Emeritus

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments