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Brennan Linsley, File, Associated Press
FILE - In this Jan. 2, 2014, file photo, Sister Mary Grace visits with a resident in the dining room at the Mullen Home for the Aged, run by Little Sisters of the Poor, in Denver. Little Sisters of the Poor is among the faith-based nonprofit organizations objecting to covering birth control in their employee health plans and are in federal court Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, to challenge a birth-control compromise they say still compels them to violate their religious beliefs.

DENVER — A group of faith-based religious organizations that object to covering birth control in their employee health plans told a panel of federal judges that they should be treated like religions and not be required to even file papers saying they don't want to cover contraceptives.

But a lawyer for the federal government said Monday that would require officials to set up sort of a "detective agency" to determine whether employers aren't meeting health insurance mandates because of religious beliefs.

The cases before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver are the latest challenge the birth-control mandate in the federal health care law.

The religious groups aren't required to cover contraception. But they say a government requirement that they affirm their religious objection makes them complicit in providing the coverage.