From David French at NRO's Phi Beta Cons:
Today's Inside Higher Ed details the rather disturbing story of an EEOC finding that Belmont Abbey College, a Catholic college in North Carolina, engaged in "gender discrimination" when it refused — consistent with its Catholic faith — to cover oral contraceptives in its employer-provided health-care plan.
To describe this as a fundamental religious-liberty issue would be something of an understatement. Private religious organizations have traditionally enjoyed the right to organize around a religious purpose and advance their religious message through hiring, personnel policies, and public expression. In fact, personnel policies are a fundamental part of any institution's religious expression.
Perhaps most disturbing was the EEOC's utter failure to offer any substantive analysis of the college's First Amendment rights. After all, this is not an "in name only" Christian institution. Even a brief glance at the college's website shows that it is committed to its Catholic values. Yet the federal government just plows through that identity. And to what end? For what higher purpose? Does the so-called sexual autonomy of a few disgruntled employees actually trump core constitutional values? Some would say yes
According to the Inside Higher Education story on the case, "In its letter, the commission [i.e., the EEOC] noted that failure to cover oral contraceptives constituted gender-based discrimination because it denied a benefit to women only."
Because Catholic moral theology maintains that the use of oral contraceptives for the prevention of pregnancy is immoral, oral contraception is not a "benefit" according to Belmont Abbey College. Thus, the EEOC, a government agency, has issued a verdict on the veracity of the moral theology embraced by Belmont Abbey College: it is mistaken.
Separation of Church and State ain't what it used to be.
(Originally posted on First Thoughts)