Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wheaton College Takes the Lead

This morning, the news broke (for me, via Christianity Today, Facebook, and my own email inbox) that the Trustees of Wheaton College have filed a lawsuit over the employer-covered contraceptives mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, citing violations of the institution’s freedoms under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States for the practice of religion. The mandate in question would require the College to cover the costs of abortion-inducing contraceptives in the medical insurance plans it offers to employees and students and their spouses and dependents. Wheaton College, a Christian institution, has a high regard for the sanctity of life from the moment of conception, and as such to fund these forms of contraceptives would be to contradict its stance on that issue.

Dr. Philip Ryken, the president of Wheaton College, was in Washington today, offering some remarks and speaking to the press about both Wheaton’s action as well as the broader issue of religious liberty. The audio of the morning news conference can be found here, and his interview today with Christianity Today can be found here. Also, note the column he wrote for The Daily Herald this spring outlining Wheaton’s position, for context.

The news has made its way around the various outlets today, including the Chicago Tribune, CNN, NBC News, Christianity Today, and The Foundry (main blog of the Heritage Foundation). The most notable point of this news is that Wheaton, a strongly evangelical Protestant institution, is partnering with Roman Catholic institutions to bring this suit (with the legal assistance of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty). Formal collaborations between Wheaton and Catholic organizations are understandably rare, but as Dr. Ryken commented in his interviews today, this action was a prime opportunity for such a partnership, and I predict will magnify its effect.

I have never, ever been prouder to be an alumnus of Wheaton College, and I continue to be grateful for God’s provision of Philip Graham Ryken as its president. A friend of mine and fellow Wheaton alumnus who works for a United States Senator said to me today in a text message, “It’s sad that it’s come to this but we’re doing the right thing.” Those were my sentiments exactly. If there is anyone I trust to lead this new phase of the battle for defense of religious freedom, it’s Wheaton College and President Ryken.

Needless to say, today was only the beginning of this story. I would ask all friends of Wheaton to join me in praying for God’s hand over this legal battle and His grace for the leaders of Wheaton and other schools and the team at the Becket Fund.

This is Rubio, over and out.

ADDENDUM, 7/20: Please also see these answers to frequently asked questions about Wheaton's suit.

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