Hobby Lobby and Shrill Responses

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.


10 thoughts on “Hobby Lobby and Shrill Responses

  1. The problem is that this opens the door for any religious preference to be used to serve a businesses interests. Think hiring women or older workers is too costly…get or develop a religion that says you don’t have to. Your company is bought over by a Christian Scientist…no health coverage for you or you kid be treated for cancer.

    The only reason this could pass is because the particular preference matches with the beliefs of a big enough portion of the population. It is preferential treatment of a popular religion, but the consequences are frightening and far reaching.

    1. I should also point out that older people are routinely not hired or let go and no one ever has to make a religious claim in doing so.

      1. A company I worked at a few years ago had three large rounds of layoffs. At every one the employees let go were given a paper outlining some demographics of the people let go, including average age of staying and let go employees. So they were worried about the law at least wrt letting people go. Now if they had a religion behind doing so, it could well be very different, because apparently now these other laws do not take priority over personal belief preference.

      2. In larger companies that would be something important to document. In other companies it can just happen without that kind of justification. It can take place either by laying off older employees or choosing not to hire older employees when given the opportunity. And religion has nothing to do with it.

      3. Agreed it can and does happen and has nothing to do with religion. However, it is restricted and monitored to at least some degree. With this ruling the doors are wide open for any religiously based because we have just given protected status to people’s individual beliefs. Once we start evaluating labor issues in this light each case will be fought in court deciding (based judge and jury personal preferences) which forms of discriminatory behavior are acceptable. It is going to be a huge, expensive mess that will end either with establishing a religious state or rewriting this ruling.

      4. We can both make “slippery slope” arguments. It is with respect I say we simply disagree. And good people will.

      5. Slippery slope has to do with a gradually changing bar. I’m saying the bar has been picked up and moved several miles. There’s no slope.

      6. I apologize. Your first comment said, “Opens the door.” I took that as an equivalent.

        I disagree, of course. The narrowness of the decision is detailed in the written responses by the Supreme Court. Also, Hobby Lobby is offering sixteen of the twenty options. They objected to four. Employees still get options, whereas before they did not.

        There are other cases coming down the road that will object to ALL forms, and I predict they will NOT get a hearing.

        Here is precisely where we disagree. You see this decision as something drastic in one direction, and I certainly can see that.

        I, however, see it differently, as I tried to delineate in my post. It will be one of the LAST of this kind. The tide of the court does not represent the tide of the culture and the tide of the culture will overwhelm the tide of the current court quickly. You can disagree. That’s fine.

        Get back to me in a year or two. Honestly. I mean that.

        Momentum, culturally speaking, does not favor these kinds of decisions for much longer, IF AT ALL. I mean, really, the Washington Post was the quickest out of the gate to call for a tightening of the federal law regarding religious freedom. It took them all of 12 hours.

        There are momentum changes that happen that have nothing to do with the “score on the board” at the current time.

        In other words, I predict YOUR opinion wins. Rejoice. And then visit me in jail. lol

      7. As you say, let’s wait and see. We don’t really have another way to know for sure.

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