Stop Wheaton's HHS Lawsuit
For generations, Wheaton College has been a place where Christians - through careful study of Scripture and rigorous study of God's creation - could prepare seriously and faithfully to pursue God's call upon their lives. Wheaton's student body includes members of more than 55 denominations. This diverse and vibrant Christian community thus embodies an historic American Protestant ideal: "in essentials unity, liberty; in all things, charity."
We, the undersigned alumni, fear that the Trustee's decision to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concerning its mandate that employer-provided health insurance include coverage for contraception falls short of this ideal and may irrevocably damage this time-honored tradition, thus jeopardizing Wheaton's Christian witness.
We recognize that many members of the Wheaton College community have moral reservations about hormonal contraceptives. However, until this past April, Wheaton provided coverage for such medicine to its employees. The use of such contraceptive medicine by institutional employees was treated in much the same way as other issues of common Christian disagreement. However, when President Ryken wrote openly to the Wheaton College community (and thus to the rest of the world) to justify the College's lawsuit, the matter was painted as a black-and-white issue on which all members of our community- all Christians- must agree. Moreover, the letter neglected to recognize the College's prior policy of actually providing such coverage to its employees.
We are especially troubled by the attempt to play to the politics of fear by framing the question as one of religious freedom threatened by a government which supposedly has forgotten its reasonable limits. This characterization is incorrect. As a Christian non-profit academic institution, Wheaton College has the freedom to discriminate in its selection of personnel based on religion and to require its employees and students to sign the Community Covenant. As is well known, the Obama Administration responded to the concerns of religious institutions, including Wheaton College, by providing additional leeway to avoid direct financial involvement with the contraception provision.
The matter at hand is not a choice between religious liberty and governmental interference. It is, rather, a choice between the capacity of individual believers to exercise responsible Christian freedom and the ability of some Christians in authority positions, as the Wheaton College Community Covenant discourages, '[to impose] extra-biblical standards of godliness" on fellow Christians who work or study under them. At its most faithful, the Administration of Wheaton College has decided these questions in favor of the former.
We recognize that the US District Court recently dismissed Wheaton College's lawsuit; however, this does not alter the urgency of our concerns. Because we believe this controversy poses a grave threat to Wheaton College's mission and community testimony, we respectfully request that the Administration not perpetuate this lawsuit through appeals or other avenues.
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