By Roy Hayhurst
DALLAS — Today’s Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby is good news for defenders of religious liberty, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. The 5-4 decision affirms the right of the Green family, the Christian owners of the for-profit hobby supply chain, to operate their health plans in a way that is consistent with their values.
While the Supreme Court has protected family business owners, it has left unanswered whether the so-called accommodation to the contraceptive mandate provided to religious non-profit employers is constitutional. GuideStone is involved in litigation alongside Oklahoma-based Reaching Souls International and Georgia’s Truett-McConnell College to challenge the accommodation. While a narrowly carved exemption exists for churches and other closely held ministries, many other ministries are subject to the controversial accommodation. An Oklahoma federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in December that currently protects GuideStone and the ministries it serves from the mandate’s penalties. GuideStone is seeking a permanent injunction to provide protection while the case is heard. No trial date has been set.
“We celebrate along with other evangelical Christians that this government overreach has been blocked by the courts,” Hawkins said. “It is our belief that Christian business owners and Christian ministries should be able to allow their faith to shape what health benefits are made available in employer-sponsored health plans.
“Our litigation continues because, while similar to the Hobby Lobby case in its focus on sanctity of life, the court must decide issues that the Hobby Lobby case does not address. So even as we join in giving thanks for the favorable decision, we recognize our case must continue. We ask our participants and our broader evangelical family to join us in prayer as we persevere in our fight for religious liberty.”