Christian healthcare under attack
The United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will soon hear a number of cases testing religious freedom and rules enforced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Several non-profit Protestant and Catholic healthcare facilities are being sued in order to try and block them from participating in church pension plans.
Attorney Diana Verm, who serves with The Becket Fund, elaborated on the nature of these attacks on religious liberty.
“These are cases about religious ministries – like hospitals and health clinics – that are often helping and serving churches,” Verm explained. “Many of these hospitals have been sued over their employee pension plans. There’s a church plan exemption from the laws that govern employee pension plans, and this lawsuit is over whether the ministry out of the church can use that exemption.
In other words, challenging attorneys — who, according to Verm, stand to make considerable money from the lawsuits – are asking the courts to determine whether the religious hospitals and clinics are religious enough to qualify for the pension plans.
“So that goes against 30 years of IRS precedent, and it also interferes with the definition of what religion is,” the legal expert asserts. “If you have a court that’s trying to figure out if the ministry is closely associated enough to the church, that causes religious liberty issues.
Verm maintains that if the attorneys fighting against the religious hospitals win, it will be the employees who will pay the price, meaning that they will likely receive less in benefits – including retirement funds.
The Becket Fund is slated to submit a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.