Christian College Not Religious Enough for Religious Exemption to Contraception Mandate

Back in 1905, James Forsythe, a Presbyterian missionary was sent to the region of Sparta and Mansfield, Missouri.  It didn’t take long for the young pastor to see a need for a good education in this area.  In 1906, with the blessings of the Missouri Synod of the Presbyterian Church, Forsythe established the School of the Ozarks in which the youth of the area could get a quality Christian education at the high school level.  Within a year, he had 180 students.

In 1956, School of the Ozarks added a two year junior college program on to their four years of high school.  In 1964, the two year junior college program was expanded to a full four year liberal arts college, still centered on a Christian based education.  In 1971, School of the Ozarks became a fully accredited college.  In 1990, they changed the name to College of the Ozarks.  In 1994, College of the Ozarks was awarded a #1 ranking by the Missouri Department of Education.  Today, the school has an enrollment of nearly 1400 students in over 40 academic programs.

College of the Ozarks is perhaps the only college in the country that does not charge a tuition.  In lieu of tuition, all of their students work 15 hours per week along with two 40 hour work weeks each year.  Scholarships and grants make up the rest of the tuition costs.

The college’s Mission Statement reads:

“The mission of College of the Ozarks is to provide the advantages of a Christian education for youth of both sexes, especially those found worthy, but who are without sufficient means to procure such training.”

The Visions and Goals are:

“The vision of College of the Ozarks is to develop citizens of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hard-working, and patriotic.”

“To achieve this vision, the College has Academic, Vocational, Christian, Patriotic and Cultural goals. Even as College of the Ozarks has evolved through secondary and junior college stages to the present four-year liberal arts institution, the fundamental goals have remained the same.”

Yet, according to Jerry Davis, President of College of the Ozarks, the school does not meet the religious employer exemption for the contraception mandate, meaning that they are being forced to provide free abortion, abortifacient drugs and contraceptives to all employees, which goes against the Christian values of the school.  Davis told OneNewsNow:

“Now we have this so-called ‘religious employer exemption’ designed by some bureaucrat — I don’t know who it is — and it proposes to tell us that we’re not religious enough to have the religious exemption. Well, that’s just plain crazy.”

“We are a pervasively religious institution, but according to the new definition I’m not sure that Jesus and the apostles would qualify. It’s so restrictive — and the government has no business entangling itself into this sort of thing.”

“… In the end, in this country the American people are going to have the final say.  We don’t live in North Korea. You can’t just go out here and order the people to do something without getting challenged on it. That’s why we have the judiciary — and that’s why we’re in federal court.”

College of the Ozarks has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the contraception mandate in that it is forcing the school to go against everything they believe in.  First they are asking for a temporary restraining order while they pursue their legal challenge.  Then they hope to prove in court that they are a religious employer and therefore should be exempt from having to comply with the contraception mandate so that they aren’t forced to violate their own faith and beliefs.