ANN ARBOR, MI – Thomas Beckwith’s ancestors, enduring the hardships of a storm tossed ocean voyage, landed on American shores in 1626 to escape religious persecution from England. One hundred and fifty years later, one of his ancestors, as a member of the Connecticut militia, fought against the tyrannical British king in the Revolutionary War. Today, Thomas Beckwith, a devout Southern Baptist, and his family-owned Beckwith Electric Company, Inc, filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new form of tyranny and religious persecution—the HHS Mandate.
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today announced it filed a 48-page federal lawsuit in a Florida Federal District Court against the Obama Administration challenging the HHS Mandate. TMLC’s Erin Mersino is lead counsel in the case. She is assisted by local co-counsel Paul Pizzo and Scott Richards of the Tampa firm of Fowler, White and Boggs.
Thomas Beckwith is an active member of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, a Southern Baptist congregation located in Largo, Florida. Beckwith Electric founded in 1967 by his parents has 168 full-time employees and provides micro-processor-based technology that protects and controls giant power system generators, transformers, and power lines, and protects the interconnection of alternative energy. The Company also provides energy-saving Volt/VAr optimization strategies and the automation of Conservation Voltage Reduction.
In his management of Beckwith Electric, Thomas Beckwith strives to “lead the company under God’s direction and by God’s principles.” His Faith prompted a business model that includes generous employee benefits, including: medical insurance, pharmacy, dental insurance, vision insurance, group life insurance, voluntary group life insurance, short term disability, long term disability, long term care insurance, Flexible Spending Accounts, Emergency Travel Assistance, Employee Assistance Program, 401(k) Retirement Plan, Profit Sharing, Educational Assistance, Due Time (Paid Time Off), 8 Paid Holidays, and a free-of charge membership at the L.A. Fitness Gym.
The Company also provides a chaplain for those employees who may be facing difficult issues of bereavement, marriage, children, finances, addictions, elder care, and other types of crises. Chaplains visit Plaintiff Beckwith Electric Co., Inc. on a weekly basis to build caring relationships with the employees.
Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, called the HHS Mandate “outrageous.” According to Land, the Southern Baptist Convention, with more than 16 million members in the United States, “share[s] the concern of our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters.”
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), by which Beckwith is informed, protects the sanctity of life. According to the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission the Mandate is a threat to religious freedom. The commission stated that, “Government cannot be allowed to tell people of faith when they can live out the values of their faith and when they cannot. We must not render to government what is God’s.”
Should Mr. Beckwith refuse to comply with the HHS Mandate, in addition to the yearly fine of $2,000 per employee amounting to $336,000 per year, the Company could also be charged with violations of the Internal Revenue Code amounting to $100 per employee per day each year totaling over $6 million in fines per year.
Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center commented, “By promulgating the HHS Mandate, the Federal Government intentionally declared war on people of Faith. The Law Center is privileged to represent Thomas Beckwith, a man who not only states what his Christian Faith stands for, but takes action to defend it.”
The first paragraph of the lawsuit succinctly sets forth the nature of the case: “This is a case about religious freedom. Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father of our country, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and our third president, when describing the construct of our Constitution proclaimed, ‘No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.’”
Thomas Beckwith believes that life begins at the moment of conception. His deeply held religious convictions disallow him from providing for, participating in, pay for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting emergency contraception, abortion, abortifacients, and any drugs, devices, and service that are designed to kill innocent human life because such activities are sinful and immoral.
The purpose of the lawsuit is to permanently block the implementation of the HHS Mandate requiring employers and individuals to obtain insurance coverage for emergency contraception, abortion, abortifacients, and any drugs, devices, and service that are capable of killing innocent human life.
Named as Defendants in the lawsuit are Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services; Seth D. Harris, Acting Secretary of the Department of Labor; Jack Lew, Secretary of the Department of Treasury; and their respective departments.
The Thomas More Law Center defends and promotes America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and moral values, as well as a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America. The Law Center accomplishes its mission through litigation, education, and related activities. It does not charge for its services. The Law Center is supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, and is recognized by the IRS as a section 501(c)(3) organization. You may reach the Thomas More Law Center at (734) 827-2001 or visit our website at www.thomasmore.org.