Should the government be able to force pro-life organizations to ignore their beliefs about abortion when making employment decisions? An ongoing religious liberty lawsuit out of New York state raises the question.
The case is about a bill signed into law by Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in early November that bars nonprofit organizations from hiring and disciplining employees based on their abortion views or even the decision to get an abortion. The issue is that the law contains no exemptions for pro-life organizations whose ideological missions are opposed to abortion. The Alliance Defending Freedom filed the case in federal court last month on behalf of Rochester-based pro-life pregnancy center CompassCare, First Bible Baptist Church, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates.
The lawsuit argues that the requirements imposed by the law “compromise the very reason for being of these organizations, which is to promote life, oppose abortion, and teach and live a sexual ethic consistent with biblical principles.”
The case bears some some similarity to the Supreme Court’s Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC case, which was decided unanimously. In that case, the court ruled that a Lutheran church was free to choose its ministers without government coercion under a legal concept known as a “ministerial exception.”
ADF senior counsel Kevin Theriot says there is “a lot” of overlap between the 2012 case and the one his organization is involved with.
“There is certainly a concern that this law forces churches and religious organizations like CompassCare to violate their core convictions when it comes to hiring and firing, and that’s an infringement upon religious autonomy, essentially,” Theriot explained in a phone interview with Blaze Media.
Theriot said that, while New York’s law is targeted at pro-life organizations, the implications of the matter should be troubling to everyone.
“Everybody should be concerned when the government dictates how an organization is able to further its mission,” the attorney explained.
“I think most people agree that Governor Cuomo shouldn’t have to hire a Republican speechwriter. You need to be able to associate with people that want to further the mission and to convey the message that you want to convey.”