What if churches are allowed to make toilet seats?
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who don’t own a church toilet seat, you’re in luck.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a ban on churches using the seats, saying it was discriminatory because they’re not used by the church’s own staff.
In a 5-4 decision, the appeals court rejected the church government’s argument that churches should be exempt from complying with the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance requirements because they are not private entities.
The ruling comes amid growing interest in churches’ ability to make seat cushions and other non-essential items for their own use, said Mark Noll, director of the Institute for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program.
A church is not required to provide a seat cushion, he said.
“It doesn’t have to be made, but it has to be part of the function of the church.
If a church doesn’t make them, then it is not a church.”
The court’s ruling also comes on the heels of a court decision last month that said churches could not be required to make nonessential items.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-3 ruling earlier this year left it up to states to determine whether churches are required to include such items.
The court found that churches are not required by the Affordable Health Care Act to provide nonessential health care items.
It said the mandate does not apply to a church if the religious organization is not the primary care provider for its members.
The appeals court ruled that the mandate should be allowed to stand and that the religious exemption applies to all churches, not just the largest.
“Congress intended to exempt churches from the requirement to provide essential health care services,” Chief Judge James Wynn wrote for the court.
“In the absence of such an exemption, churches are permitted to engage in commercial activities that provide for essential health services, including, but not limited to, the provision of seat cushings for use by members of the congregation.”
The ruling will be appealed.