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Christian Healthcare Centers v. Nessel

Description:  Christian Healthcare Centers, a Michigan faith-based medical nonprofit, filed a lawsuit against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, seeking to vindicate its constitutionally protected right to operate as a religious ministry. Michigan’s civil rights law, which state courts recently reinterpreted to include sexual orientation and gender identity, now requires Christian Healthcare Centers to hire people who do not share their faith, to prescribe cross-sex hormones to facilitate efforts to alter a patient’s biological sex, and to use pronouns that do not accord with a person’s biological sex. All of this violates the ministry’s religious beliefs and undermines its ability to provide safe healthcare to the needy and the rest of the community.


A doctor holding a stethoscope
Monday, Aug 29, 2022

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Christian Healthcare Centers, a Michigan faith-based medical nonprofit, filed a federal lawsuit Monday against Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, seeking to vindicate the organization’s constitutionally protected right to operate as a religious ministry.

Nessel and other Michigan officials are responsible for enforcing Michigan’s civil rights law, which state courts recently reinterpreted to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This law now requires Christian Healthcare Centers to hire people who do not share their faith, to prescribe cross-sex hormones to facilitate efforts to alter a patient’s biological sex, and to use pronouns that do not accord with a person’s biological sex. All of this violates the ministry’s religious beliefs and undermines its ability to provide safe healthcare to the needy and the rest of the community.

“Christian Healthcare Centers should be free to continue its vibrant outreach to the community through its low-cost, high-quality medical care,” said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch. “It’s unconstitutional for the state to require that this Christian ministry abandon its faith principles in order to continue serving those in need.”

“Christian Healthcare Centers should not be forced to check its faith at the clinic door—the very faith that motivates the nonprofit to open its doors to help those in need,” said ADF Senior Counsel Hal Frampton. “Christian Healthcare Centers serves everybody with compassionate care and respect, including patients who identify as the opposite of their biological sex, providing them with the same high-quality care it provides to all of its patients. Yet this lawsuit is necessary to protect Christian Healthcare Centers’ constitutional rights and to ensure other religious organizations can freely operate according to the dictates of their faith.”

Christian Healthcare Centers provides high-quality healthcare to all while offering substantially reduced prices for patients with lower incomes who cannot afford quality care elsewhere. The nonprofit was founded to offer a distinctly Christian alternative to traditional primary care, focusing on meeting patients’ medical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Christian Healthcare Centers’ principal place of business and main clinic is in Plainfield Charter Township, and it has a secondary clinic in Newaygo.

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit Christian Healthcare Centers v. Nessel in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT John Bursch

John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom. Bursch has argued 12 U.S. Supreme Court cases and more than 30 state supreme court cases since 2011, and a recent study concluded that among all frequent Supreme Court advocates who did not work for the federal government, he had the 3rd highest success rate for persuading justices to adopt his legal position. Bursch served as solicitor general for the state of Michigan from 2011-2013. He has argued multiple Michigan Supreme Court cases in eight of the last ten terms and has successfully litigated hundreds of matters nationwide, including six with at least $1 billion at stake. As part of his private firm, Bursch Law PLLC, he has represented Fortune 500 companies, foreign and domestic governments, top public officials, and industry associations in high-profile cases, primarily on appeal. He received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1997 from the University of Minnesota Law School and is admitted to practice in numerous federal district and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

ABOUT Hal Frampton

Hal Frampton serves as senior counsel in the Center for Conscience Initiatives at Alliance Defending Freedom. In this role, he regularly defends the constitutional and statutory rights of creative professionals, medical professionals, and others to live out their faith in the workplace without government coercion, harassment, or discrimination. Before joining ADF in 2021, Frampton was a partner at an AmLaw 100 firm where he focused his practice on litigating complex employment, commercial, and class-action disputes. Frampton earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 2006. After law school, he clerked for judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He earned his B.A. from Furman University in 2002 and his M.A. from Maynooth University in 2003. Frampton is a member of the state bars of South Carolina and Nebraska.