Bullies at the Pulpit

Most of what I wanted to say about yesterday’s Hobby Lobby decision has been covered pretty extensively. I think Leah Marie  did a great job on Approaching Justice. It doesn’t leave me much room to add anything.

But still, it’s a case I’ve been following pretty closely, mostly because the intersection of politics and religion is such a dirty mess sometimes, and for a people who claim to love the separation of church and state it looks like we just can’t help ourselves sometimes.

So here’s what bugs me about this. I’ve seen a lot of folks talk about how if you don’t like Hobby Lobby’s police, then don’t work for Hobby Lobby. But it’s not that simple, since the Supreme Court sets precedents for how laws are supposed to be interpreted. So yeah, if you don’t want to work for Hobby Lobby, you don’t have to. But this ruling applies to any company that is owned by a close corporation, which turns out to be the majority of employers in the U.S., by a small margin (52%). Of course, not all of those companies are going to assert their right to religious conscious or whatever, but imagine if they did, and fifty-two percent of the workforce suddenly had to shuffle around to find an employer whose religious/corporate practices now matched their own. Of course this is a hypothetical, but some guy suggested once that if you do something that you wouldn’t be cool with everyone else doing, it’s not such a good idea.

Which is another amazing thing about this case being framed as a “religious liberty” victory. It only satisfies the religious rights of one denomination of one religion. It’s not even a Christian thing, but an evangelical thing. In fact, as Think Progress pointed out, there were a lot of religious organizations who filed amicus briefs in opposition to Hobby Lobby. And what’s their end goal anyway? To avoid implication in abortions? Never mind that the correlation between the contraceptives opposed and abortions is questionable, the fact is birth control decreases abortions, so thereby limiting access to birth control, for your employees, society, or anything, is going to inevitably lead to an increase in abortions. Bravo, Hobby Lobby.

Here’s where I’ll deviate from the facts surrounding the subject and delve into my own opinion. This was never about religious liberty. It was always about nitpicking at Obamacare, and the owners of Hobby Lobby found a potentially effective argument against a small (but really important) part of the law, and they took it to court and won. And now they can celebrate, and good for them. It’s just too bad for all the women who rely on birth control for medical reasons, and even just to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It’s bad news for anyone who has a conscious of their own, since the court has decided that liberty is important, but it’s more important when you’re a business owner. The Supreme Court didn’t uphold religious liberty, they enabled religious bullies.



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Cody Ray Shafer

Cody is a writer and media critic living in Salt Lake City, Utah. When he's not writing he plays guitar and sings with his wife Sara Beth. They have one son, Oliver, and pug, Hugo.

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