The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Hobby Lobby and other “Christian owned” for-profit businesses did not have to pay for certain kinds of contraception that violated the owners basic religious belief that those were “potential abortifacients due to the way they can prevent implantation of a fertilized egg in a mother’s womb.”
There are shrill responses. We’re now headed back to “back alley abortions” according to the most shrill of responses. We’re headed back to the dark ages.
That’s what happens when you poke the beasts that are strongholds in a culture. It’s just going to happen.
Lost in the shrill response, of course, are some key facts. By when it comes to any shrill response (conservative or liberal), when do we let fact get in the way?
The companies were objecting to four specific types of contraception they were being ordered to pay for in their new insurance policies. Four out of TWENTY contraceptive methods. So, because these companies are willing to pay for SIXTEEN of the TWENTY mandated methods… we are headed back to the dark ages. The beast has been poked and it roars.
Liberal friends of mine point out this is not about religious liberty at all. I point out this is not about “women’s rights” at all. We both laugh as we disagree with each other. By the way, that’s when it’s a couple of us chatting. In a bigger space like this, I’m sure I’ll get much more vehement responses.
My point that this is about religious liberty is really not this particular case. It was when Health and Human Services first put out all the rules concerning the new healthcare laws and did something very slight, but significant. They separated out “religious non-profits” like never before. Churches and other “houses of worship” would be exempt in some parts of the new healthcare laws because of normal religious exemptions that have been held up in this country for centuries. However, the new rules sliced off all other religious organizations (schools, hospitals, charities) and said THEY must follow ALL the directives.
THIS is why I see this as an attack on religious liberty. I’m not shrill about it. I’m not decrying the moral decay of America or “America has left God.” I’m just pointing out the government from time to time does something like that to see exactly how far they can push religious liberty and the views of the public regarding that First Amendment right.
If a government can nibble on the edges and find a place to wedge in and begin to erode a long-standing practice… they will do it. It’s not about political party. It’s about power. (That’s another beast that gets poked.)
While lower courts have now decided it’s just silly to separate out the kinds of religious institutions that are exempt from the HHS rules, the Supreme Court still has to hear those cases. Yesterday’s Hobby Lobby ruling sends a signal that HHS will need to back it off this time.
Again, let me point out that this ruling is incredibly narrow in scope and it does not mean that ALL contraceptive methods are being taken away. I would ALSO like to point out that HHS did not need to go down this road in the first place. They chose to nibble at this edge when there was an easy fix already in place. Hawaii gives exemptions to all religious organizations (non-profits) and then allows riders to be attached to insurance policies for free allowing contraceptives to be provided to women. Hawaii has done this for years (as a LIBERAL on NPR pointed out when this HHS rule came out).
So, it’s not ALL contraceptive methods and it has an EASY fix. But you can’t tell that by the shrill responses on one end.
On the other end of shrill responses, I would say my own response to the ruling is tempered. It is actually sober. I’m not dancing in the streets as I watch a lot of people do (figuratively).
I personally think this is a watershed moment. This may be one of the last times religious organizations or people who own businesses and try to run them with deeply held religious beliefs will get this kind of ruling.
The decision was split. It was a narrow “victory.”
Public opinion is not favorable. In 1993, when the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was passed, public opinion was vastly upset with the Supreme Court infringing on religious freedoms. This time around, it’s hard and fast the other way.
This is why I sense this shift. There is a clash of definitions. There are “human rights” and “religious liberties.” It is perceived that “human rights” get infringed on by “religion” so there is a clash. The narrowing in the past few years is seen in terminology. We have gone from “freedom of religion” to “freedom to worship.” Big difference.
When “human rights” and “religious liberty” clash, and the god of a culture dictates “human rights” are infringed on by “religious bigotry,” religious liberty goes out the window.
Now, for me, it’s simply saying, “That’s the way it is.” When this country was founded it added in religious liberty because they knew where they didn’t want to return. We don’t have that knowledge any longer. So, we’ve made “human rights” to be something “religion” somehow infringes upon. It’s an unnecessary dichotomy, but that is the language and argument.
Religious liberty is a freedom given. It is also a freedom that can be taken away. We can whine and cry, but that’s the fact. We need to understand our true allegiances and realize when those liberties are ultimately taken away, we will then be in harmony with the majority of Christians around the world.
It doesn’t mean we don’t make the case for continuing religious liberty. Far from it.
I’m just noting that the tide is shifting, has been shifting, and in my lifetime will probably totally shift. And in that moment, I must be prepared. I also need to prepare others that I serve.
I won’t “whoop it up” over the Hobby Lobby decision. I won’t whine about America leaving God.
I will simply try to keep pointing the way to a magnificent Savior and a King. That King has a kingdom greater than the country where I live. That King has graced me with the luxury of living in a great country that has afforded me tremendous freedoms. But those freedoms are fickle in human hands. The freedom I have in Christ is greater, and THAT is what I want people to know.
Women have tremendous freedom in the Kingdom of God. As do the unborn. All humans have tremendous freedom when they have been truly set free. And in this country, without Christ, we STILL don’t understand what “freedom” really is about.