Belmont Abbey College Sues Federal Government Over Contraception Mandate
GASTON COUNTY, NC- Belmont Abbey College is suing the government... saying its religious beliefs are being attacked.
"This is not just about us. This is not just about Belmont Abbey College. This is about you and everyone watching this right now. You're all next," said Belmont Abbey President, Dr. William Thierfelder.
Belmont Abbey leaders say they feel cornered because the government is violating their religious rights.
"That's unacceptable. That's not an American thing to do," said Thierfelder.
Under part of President Obama's health care reforms, student and employee health insurance plans have to cover contraception and other birth control.
The catholic college says the mandate forces religious institutions like it to violate their beliefs or face heavy fines.
Students here say they chose the college because it supports their own moral values. Now, they say the government is trying to force their school to do something they don't believe in.
"It's actually kind of scary that the government can do that. It makes me proud of my college that they're standing up and doing something about it," said student, Theresa Benson.
Belmont Abbey wants to be exempt from the birth control mandate. The government has already granted exemptions to Mcdonalds and some teacher unions.
The government says the catholic college can't because it allows non-catholic students to attend the school and employees to work there.
"We welcome everybody. And right now, that's why we wouldn't qualify for the waiver," said Thierfelder.
The college has about 300 employees. That means they could pay over $400,00 in fines if they don't cooperate.
"We would not comply with it," said Thierfelder.
Students say it's just not right. They believe pre-marital sex and abortion is immoral.
"I just believe that we should uphold our catholic moral values and just stand for what we believe in," said student, Kate Drinkwater.
The school says they'll fight all the way to the Supreme Court if they have to.
Belmont Abbey is the first to sue over the mandate, but the school hopes other colleges jump on board.
The new regulations are scheduled to take effect next August.
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