"Can a corporation exercise religion?" federal district court judge John L. Kane recently asked. He answered his own question with a provisional yes. In Newland v Sebelius, the court granted a commercial enterprise a temporary injunction exempting it, for now, from providing female employees with coverage for contraception and sterilization required by the Affordable Care Act.
The churches are already full of abstract entities with no material existence celebrated at the altar, so hey, let’s start packing the pews with them, too. In these years of declining attendance, the churches will probably welcome well-heeled worshippers, especially since letting them in also grants the churches lots of privileges.
But look where this is leading the rest of us.
Now, according to Judge Kane’s decision in Newland, secular businesses may enjoy similar status and similar immunity under federal statutes, at least, if not the Constitution. His ruling is an initial salvo in what may well be prolonged litigation, but it represents an ominous legal trend: Religious freedom is morphing into religious power. If the rights of diverse employees in a secular enterprise are subject to the beliefs of their employers, then religious people will not simply be laws unto themselves; they’ll determine, in part, laws governing the rest of us.
Religious employers are the worst employers. Now the American courts want to give them even more power to meddle in their employee’s lives…a power completely contrary to any of the principles of liberty on which this country was supposedly founded.