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Jan 10 2013

“Forcing” Christians to violate their religious beliefs?

Holy Antichrist, Batman! Hold onto your utility belts, because, as CNS News breathlessly reports, the Obama administration has found a way to legally force Christians to violate their religious beliefs, despite the First Amendment.

In a legal argument formally presented in federal court in the case of Hobby Lobby v. Kathleen Sebelius, the Obama administration is claiming that the First Amendment—which expressly denies the government the authority to prohibit the “free exercise” of religion—nonetheless allows it to force Christians to directly violate their religious beliefs even on a matter that involves the life and death of innocent human beings.

It’s a long screed that’s only missing one thing: any mention of any Christian being forced to violate their religious beliefs. What they’re complaining about is the fact that health plans have to cover contraception, which includes medications that rabble-rousers like to call “abortion-inducing drugs.” But this ignores the plain and simple fact that nothing in the Obama health-care program ever requires Christians to have an abortion. Christians like the evangelical founders of Hobby Lobby might not like abortion, and they might like to use their financial position to try and impose their religious views on their employees, but in fact it’s none of their business what kind of health care their employees choose to pursue.

The First Amendment only protects personal exercise of religious freedom. It has always restricted religions from forcing their beliefs on others, and in fact that’s part of its duty. Whenever one group is allowed to dictate what religious practices others must submit too, “free exercise” has been violated. If the founders of Hobby Lobby are Christian, the First Amendment protects them from being forced to ingest “abortion-inducing drugs” against their wishes, and that’s the extent of their free exercise. If, as Protestants, they attempted to forbid any of their Roman Catholic employees from praying to Mary and the saints, they would be similarly limited. They can abstain from such prayers themselves, but to allow them to impose their religious restrictions on their employees would be a violation of free exercise, not a protection of it.

What the Obama administration is really trying to do is to force Christians to grant other people the same respect and free exercise privileges that they demand for themselves. It’s telling that believers like David and Barbara Green would be willing to try and sue for the right to deprive their employees of their religious freedom.

17 comments

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  1. 1
    ayamesohma

    Now if we can only get these theocratic fascists to get out of the cancer/palliative wards and permit end-of-life choice across the board, across all states.

  2. 2
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    Curiously, the same people who wail about how including contraceptives on employee insurance will turn around and insist that they aren’t imposing their religious beliefs on their employees because nothing is stopping the employees from buying contraception with their paychecks. So…what’s the problem with putting it on the insurance, then?

    1. 2.1
      A Hermit

      Naked Bunny is right; insurance benefits are compensation for the employee’s labour, like wages are. A Jewish or Muslim employer can’t force their employees not to spend their wages on pork and a Christian employer can’t force their employees not to use their insurance benefits as they see fit.

      Also this: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/455/252/

      U.S. Supreme Court
      United States v. Lee, 455 U.S. 252 (1982)

      When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes that are binding on others in that activity. Granting an exemption from social security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.

      IANAL but that looks like a precedent to me…

      1. Naked Bunny with a Whip

        And that’s an even more extreme example, since in this case Hobby Lobby isn’t trying to get out of paying into the insurance program (AFAIK) but rather wants an exclusion on coverage that only applies to their employees. Money that Hobby Lobby pays into the insurance fund can be used by employees at other companies to cover their contraception. Money is fungible, and unless their is a separate (presumably much smaller) fund specifically for no-contraception insurance programs, Hobby Lobby can’t prevent “their” insurance premiums from being used to purchase birth control.

    2. 2.2
      Naked Bunny with a Whip

      Here is a recent sample of what I mean. The article is a stack of over-the-top, emotion-manipulating rhetoric that never once actually delves into how insurance works. From Forbes, a magazine dedicated to finances.

      Mr. Green seeks neither to outlaw contraception nor to prevent his workers from using birth control. Hobby Lobby’s health plans already cover contraceptives.

      Many companies have made conscious business choices to kowtow in dread of the PR nightmare Democrats hang over them like the Sword of Damocles…. But Mr. Green seemingly relishes a chance to demonstrate resolve under persecution.

      Ah, yes, The government is persecuting Hobby Lobby, undermining its owner’s deep religious beliefs, by requiring the company to do something, it stresses, it already does.

      And this is Forbes, not World Net Daily.

  3. 3
    unbound

    Kind of like dealing with little kids, isn’t it? They have such simplistic, naive views on the world, and they really don’t seem to be capable of understanding that their views may simply be wrong.

    Kids (unlike these groups) at least grow up and start to understand.

  4. 4
    rturpin

    I find it interesting that none of these right-wing Christians so concerned with how Obamacare allegedly tramples on their liberties has raised the issue of Christian Scientists being required to fund health plans that provide blood transfusions.

    The truth is that no business is required to provide health coverage for its employees. Hobby Lobby can forego that, and instead pay the employer responsibility penalty of two thousand dollars per employee per year.

  5. 5
    mikespeir

    I’m not entirely unsympathetic to their concerns. From their standpoint they think they’re being required to participate in something they see as morally wrong. It’s a problem we all face in one way or another. There’s probably not a profession (or anything we do, for that matter) we can take up that isn’t in some way, at least distantly, connected with something or other with which we’d rather not be associated.

    For instance, I have a part-time job on the side cleaning up a church. Of course, I don’t attend there. I don’t believe the things they do. I only show up to clean because they write me a check every week. But, then, the Hessians only showed up for the same reason: because the British were writing them paychecks. Maybe they were just mercenaries, but they were still fighting for the British cause. It bothers me sometimes that, however “mercenary” I am in cleaning that church for pay, I’m nevertheless fighting, in a way, for the Christian cause, one I oppose rather strongly.

    But, hey, that’s life, and life’s not always fair. There’s probably no avoiding such conflicts of interest completely. These Christians don’t seem to understand that. They’d like to tailor reality altogether to their liking at the expense of the rest of us. They’d rather everybody else bear the unfairness, not them.

  6. 6
    Anna Y

    I’d like to chime in with a handy reductio ad absurdum that Naked Bunny has already partially brought up. Hobby Lobby DOES pay its employees. Providing health insurance to employees is part of the compensation package. So, do they insist on paying their employees in some kind of “special” currency that said employees cannot then use to fund an actual abortion? What stops any female employee of Hobby Lobby that becomes pregnant and doesn’t wish to carry that pregnancy to term from using a paycheck that was provided to her by Hobby Lobby to pay for a private abortion clinic to provide her an abortion? Does Hobby Lobby refuse to employ females (or fertile females, who may find themselves in need of an abortion, or fertile heterosexual males for that matter, who may choose to fund their partner’s abortion, or, in fact, anyone who may choose to give money to any friend or family member who finds themselves in need of an abortion in order to help them pay for it)? Why does an employer-funded health insurance policy count as a “special” form of compensation that this employer can then single out for restrictions on what the employee so compensated can use it for? If they take the position that it’s none of their business what their employees do with their paychecks, only with their health insurance, then they are, in fact, saying that they are ok with funding their employees’ abortions, but they want to punish their employees for choosing to have them by making them very expensive.

    Yes, I know, we aren’t ACTUALLY talking about health insurance paying for ACTUAL abortions, either surgical or medical, only for emergency birth control (and, possibly, any hormonal birth control), but since Hobby Lobby lawyers are insisting that the owners’ belief that these medications cause abortions matter more than any factual/scientific evidence that they do. But I’ve already stipulated that this is a reductio ad absurdum argument, so I’m allowing for this ridiculously inclusive definition of “abortion” that Hobby Lobby is proposing.

  7. 7
    Gregory in Seattle

    @rturpin #4 – It is the Jehovahs Witnesses who object to blood transfusions (because God prohibits the eating of blood, or something.) The Christian Science position is that medical insurance itself is a sin, as it shows a shocking lack of faith in the Almighty.

  8. 8
    hexidecima

    it’s always a shame when such asshat Christians denigrate real people who are suffering real persecution with their lies.

  9. 9
    Sunny Day

    I’ve already gone through that argument with this one.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151345510396760&set=pb.402602941759.-2207520000.1357863328&type=3&theater

    We’ve moved on from the supposed additional costs, they “why does our religious freedom not matter” and now we’re at the part where they can’s show any of Plan B’s affects on implantation. But for right now they trust the FDA as an authority.

    Don’t suppose if anyone has examples of Christians not trusting the FDA’s authority.

  10. 10
    smrnda

    Another point – insurance companies want to cover contraception because in their cost benefit analysis, it makes financial sense for them to do so. Hobby Lobby is demanding that other businesses (insurers) offer plans specifically tailored to their religious beliefs. It’s like demanding that stores open special locations that don’t sell things you find objectionable like alcohol or smut. I wish someone from the insurance industry would point this out to them and tell Hobby Lobby to quit demanding that they offer special contraception free plans that they have no interest, commercial or ideological, in supplying.

  11. 11
    mxh

    Yep. I hate these asses who think that freedom of religion means freedom to shove their religion down other people’s throats. I would love to see a Jewish CEO refuse to allow their employees to use the money that they give them to eat pork, because that would clearly mean that their money is supporting something that goes against their religion, or a Jehovah’s Witness boss not allow their employees health insurance cover blood transfusions. Lets see if they will stand up for those people “exercising their freedom of religion.”

  12. 12
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    I’m laughing too hard to get past “Holy Antichrist”.

  13. 13
    SallyStrange

    “Thou shalt not allow thy employees to flout my laws, regardless of whether they believe in Me or not…”

  14. 14
    Brian M

    Riffing on mikespeirs….the best solution is “simple”: rather than having the employer “provide” the insurance, make it a state benefit. So much simpler. :)

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