“Hercules Industries has made no showing
of a religious belief
which requires that [it] engage in the [HVAC] business,”
the Justice Department said in a formal filing
(CNSNews.com) The Justice Department last week presented the Newland family of Colorado -- who own Hercules Industries, a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning business -- with what amounted to an ultimatum: Give up your religion or your business.
Terrence Jeffrey explains [the following excerpt has been edited for clarity and brevity. For the full story, please see the original report at the link.]:
The Justice Department’s filing was made in Newland v. Sebelius -- a suit brought by William, Paul and James Newland, and their sister, Christine Ketterhagen, who are Roman Catholics, and who together own Colorado-based Hercules Industries.
The Newland family founded Hercules in 1962 and have maintained it as a family-owned business ever since—growing it to the point where they now employ 265 people.
The Newlands currently run a self-insurance plan, providing their employees with generous health-care coverage that is consistent with the teachings of the Newlands' church in that it does not cover sterilizations, contraception and abortifacients. They are precisely among the class of people that the unanimous Catholic bishops said have “no conscience protection at all” under Sebelius's regulation.
In their complaint against the Obama administration, which was prepared by the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Newlands clearly explained why they could not comply with Sebelius’s regulation without violating their religious faith.
“The Catholic Church teaches that abortifacient drugs, contraception and sterilization are intrinsic evils,” says the complaint. “As a matter of religious faith the Newlands believe that those Catholic teachings are among the religious ethical teachings they must follow throughout their lives including in their business practice.”
The Justice Department responded with these arguments:
“Here, plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged that the preventive services coverage regulations substantially burden their religious exercise,” the Justice Department told the court.
“Hercules Industries, Inc., is not a religious employer; it is ‘an HVAC manufacturer.'”
“The First Amendment Complaint does not allege that the company is affiliated with a formally religious entity such as a church,” the Justice Department told the federal court.
“Nor does it allege that the company employs persons of a particular faith. In short, Hercules Industries is plainly a for-profit, secular employer.”
“By definition,” the Justice Department claimed, “a secular employer does not engage in any ‘exercise of religion.’”
“Hercules Industries has ‘made no showing of a religious belief which requires that [it] engage in the [HVAC] business,” DOJ told the court. “Any burden is therefore caused by the company’s choice to enter into a commercial activity.”