By Victor Ochieng
Religious freedom is constantly under threat. Secular organizations are in a constant push to do away with anything religious, doing so with a zeal that has seen many people and organizations bow to the pressure. The courts also appear to be leaning towards secularism in almost every decision, making it the more difficult for religious organizations to function independently in line with their faith.
However, Wheaton College refused to bow to pressure and instead chose to fight for its religious freedom.
And finally, the college has managed to successfully beat an illegitimate government move to interfere with religious liberty.
In a ruling last Friday, a federal judge said that if the government went ahead and forced Wheaton College to provide services like the week-after pill against the school’s will, it would be in violation of federal civil-rights laws.
Becket Law reported that the judge’s order henceforth bars the government from forcing that requirement on Wheaton, a decision that brought to a successful end the college’s five-year legal tussle, which included a push for protection against a 2015 order by the Supreme Court.
Reading through the ruling, we see that Wheaton did a pretty good job in their presentation, with the judge concluding that the college had met the requirements for the injunctive order. The judge said “Wheaton has demonstrated, and Defendants now concede, that enforcement of the contraceptive mandate against Wheaton would violate Wheaton’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb.” Further, the judge noted that a move to force Wheaton to implement the requirement would irreparably damage the school’s ability to practice its religious principles and that the resultant injury would far outweigh that to the defendants.
“We are grateful to God that the court recognized Wheaton’s religious identity and protected our ability to affirm the sanctity of human life,” said Philip Ryken, a TGC Council member and president of Wheaton College. “The government should never have tried to force us to provide drugs and services against our faith, and we are pleased by the resolution of our case.”
The fight was very important to Wheaton College to protect their religious beliefs after an order by the Obama administration that would see religious non-profits violate their religious principles. At the time, most people believed that religious colleges like Wheaton would be the first to bow to pressure. However, Wheaton College didn’t budge, instead, it took a drastic move to withdraw insurance coverage to its 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
It was a move that saw the school blamed by many, but it has finally yielded good fruits, giving them the compromise they demanded as a way to ensure they didn’t do anything that contravenes their religious beliefs.