Washington D.C., Feb 18, 2016 / 14:36 pm
In a 2-1 decision delivered Feb. 18, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in its challenge to the federal contraception mandate.
“We are disappointed in the Court’s refusal to protect our religious freedom,” EWTN chairman and CEO Michael Warsaw said.
“We simply want to continue to practice the same faith we preach to the world every day,” he said in a Feb. 18 statement. “We are prayerful and hopeful that, if necessary, the Supreme Court will correct this critical error.”
EWTN Global Catholic Network was founded by Mother Angelica, a Franciscan nun. Its purpose is to share the Catholic faith across the globe. Reaching over 250 million homes in 144 different countries, it is the largest religious media network in the world and is among hundreds of organizations to challenge the Department of Health and Human Services mandate.
The mandate requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.
Employers who fail to comply with the mandate face crippling penalties. Many Catholic and non-Catholic organizations have filed lawsuits against the mandate, saying it violates religious freedom and compels them to act against their religious and moral beliefs.
In its decision, the federal court said, “We accept the plaintiffs’ sincere belief . . . that the accommodation puts them to a choice between honoring their religious beliefs and facing significant penalties. We nonetheless conclude that the accommodation imposes no substantial burden.”
The dissenting opinion in the case argued that the majority ruling “runs roughshod over the sincerely held religious objections of Eternal Word Television Network,” and threatens core religious freedom legislation.