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GuideStone welcomes friend-of-court briefs from cross-section of Americans

DALLAS — Today GuideStone learned that amicus briefs were filed on behalf of it and the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic order, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their challenges to the contraceptive mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After the Tenth Circuit issued a joint ruling against their separate cases, GuideStone and the Little Sisters of the Poor filed a joint petition for Supreme Court relief.

Southern Baptist amicus supporters included the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the International Mission Board, Dr. Albert Mohler and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Twenty states, the Cato Institute, the Christian Legal Society, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Foundation, a group of Orthodox Jewish Rabbis and many other religious and secular organizations also filed amicus briefs supporting GuideStone and the Little Sisters.

According to the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom, today’s strong support highlights the importance of the case and the need for the Court to decide in the upcoming term whether religious ministries, like religious for-profits, will receive protection from the Mandate. It also shows the broad importance of the case to a variety of different religious groups and faith traditions.

The amicus briefs came after good news on Friday when the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it would keep in place the preliminary injunction won by GuideStone earlier at the District Court level while GuideStone appeals its case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The preliminary injunction, which protects certain ministries from providing abortion-causing drugs or devices in their health plan, or face crippling fines, was first issued by a federal judge in December 2013. Upon the government’s appeal, a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit of Appeals ruled 2-1 to end the injunction. GuideStone, along with co-plaintiffs Reaching Souls International, an Oklahoma-based missions-sending organization, and Truett-McConnell College, a Georgia Baptist institution, appealed the Tenth Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court in July.

Churches and integrated auxiliaries of churches, including GuideStone, are already exempt from the mandate and its penalties as religious employers. GuideStone’s current litigation was filed to protect against the government’s efforts to use the GuideStone health plan and to shield other ministries it serves, such as children’s homes, colleges and other ministries not controlled by a church or association of churches, from the mandate and its penalties.

“We welcome this support from across the nation as we seek relief for ministries that are forced to comply with the government’s scheme or face crippling fines,” said Harold R. Loftin, Jr., general counsel for GuideStone. “This support is affirming, and we hope and pray that the Supreme Court will decide to hear the arguments in this case.”

The case is GuideStone v. Burwell.

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