2014 Archives

Court: Contraception mandate violates employers’ religious freedom


The following is from the June 30, 2014, edition of United Methodist News. William B. Lawrence, Dean of SMU's Perkins School of Theology and Professor of American Church History, provided expertise for this story.

July 2, 2014

By Heather Hahn

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 30 that requiring some for-profit corporations to pay for insurance coverage of contraception violates a federal law protecting religious freedom.

The 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Inc., and the linked Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. case, limits the coverage of birth control without patients’ cost sharing, as mandated under regulations for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

United Methodists and other Christians across the theological spectrum have been watching the case. Some hail the ruling as a triumph for religious liberty, while others worry about its effects on worker rights and women’s health care. . .

The Rev. William Lawrence, dean and professor of American church history at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, noted that the ruling is “another indication of a deeply divided Supreme Court whose views are almost predictably drawn along ideological lines.”

The court, he added “seems to have handed a very narrow victory to one segment of the American economic order and also a defeat for women whose economic opportunities may be minimized to a limited assortment of employers. In effect, this court decision allows persons with financial clout to control the personal decisions of those without financial clout.”

For United Methodists, the legal dispute involves potentially competing interests outlined in the denomination’s Social Principles — the free exercise of religion and access to health care for all, including contraception.

Read the full story.

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