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Denver court halts fines on FOCUS

A federal court in Colorado temporarily halted enforcement of the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate this week against the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).

The Denver-based court granted a preliminary injunction April 23 for the campus ministry nonprofit after it sued over the U.S. Health and Human Services department’s mandate.

The lawsuit, filed by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Dec. 3 for FOCUS, challenged the HHS mandate over its requirement for religious employers to provide insurance coverage for abortifacients, sterilization and contraception it finds moral objectionable—or pay heavy fines.

An ADF attorney said in a statement that it’s unconstitutional to force this requirement on faith-based organizations.

“If the administration can punish Christian ministries simply because they want to abide by their faith, there is no limit to what other freedoms it can take away,” said ADF attorney Michael Norton. “The court was right to block enforcement of this unconstitutional mandate against FOCUS.”

FOCUS, a nonprofit that employs more than 400 people, is a campus-based outreach ministry to bring Christ and the Church to students at colleges and universities. It’s located on 83 campuses in the country and is headquartered in Genesee, Colo.

Several other Catholic colleges, nonprofits and faith-based organizations have sued against the HHS mandate citing religious liberty violations.

FOCUS argues the mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as well as the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“As Catholics, we do not impose our faith on anyone, but rather propose to others the life-changing power of God’s love. And as Americans, we cherish the religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution,” said John Zimmer, vice president of training and formation. “We revere each individual’s right to form and follow his or her own conscience, and we demand that the United States government allow us the freedom to follow ours.”

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