Monday, June 30, 2014

Of Course I'm Blogging About Hobby Lobby.

I've tried lately to limit my political musings on this blog to avoid controversy and debate. I like getting along with people ((and I have a lot of conservative friends + family)). Working and being a mom limits my time to debate online, so I've learned to take a deep breath and "let it go" for most political hot topics as of late.

The Supreme Court ruling today, however, is far deeper than a "political hot topic." This is an interesting situation that I think requires critical evaluation ((I thought so back in March, too)). It is not as simple as either far-wing is making it out to be.

It seems that there is a major breakdown in definitions for both "religious freedom" and "corporations." Are corporations people? Do corporations have "freedom of religion" and the right to push their religious beliefs on their employees?

Many of my friends (and I think, readers) aren't interested in politics, so to keep it non-biased and fair, here is a recap (or at least the way I understand it):

Hobby Lobby is an OKC based company ((which is both privately owned and for-profit)) owned by David Green, a billionaire and evangelist. 

The Affordable Care Act (or "Obamacare") which was signed into law by President Obama and upheld by the Supreme Court two years later, requires private insurance companies to cover a wide-range of preventive services 
((including well woman visits, pre-natal visits, breast cancer screens, and more)) 
((including "barrier methods, hormonal methods (birth control pills), implanted devices (IUDs), emergency contraception (Plan B), sterilization procedures (hysterectomy), and patient education/counseling)). 

Plans are NOT required to cover drugs to induce abortions, nor services related to a man's reproductive capacity, like vasectomies. 

Hobby Lobby, a religious company, said it was "against their religion" to provide some of these services to their female employees, and the government doesn't have the POWER to make them follow this law, and offer these to their employees.

The first amendment "prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion or impeding the free exercise of religion."

The Affordable Care Act does NOT require religious employers ((churches, synagogues, mosques, or any other house of worship with employees)) to cover contraceptive methods and counseling. The women that work for these houses of worship, even before today's ruling, are expected to pay out-of-pocket.

Churches exist for religious reasons, and are non-profit ((though I will bite my tongue on some of these super churches claiming that tax-exempt status)). Hobby Lobby is not a church. Though owned by an Evangelical Christian, the company is a business run for profit, and follows the rules like any other business in this country. 

They sell home accents and scrapbooking paper. Nordstrom's sells clothes, and Pottery Barn sells furniture. 

The difference is the owner of Hobby Lobby felt his personal religious freedom was violated, if the insurance he provided for his employees was used for something his religion does not condone. 

I think many people, especially those living out their Christian faith, are in favor of the Supreme Court ruling today. But I hope they look at the ruling with an open mind, and consider the slippery slope. 

What if he had been a Jehova's Witness?

If one of his 20,000 employees required a blood transfusion after a car accident, but his religion was against it?

What if he had been a Muslim? Under this ruling, it is fair to assume that Muslim business owners could require their female employees cover their heads while at work, all in the name of religious freedom.

I had to do a little digging, but I found that back in 1990, there was a Supreme Court case called "Employment Devision v. Smith." In this instance, the religion was the Native American Church. Two men, Alfred Smith and Galen Black, were fired for ingesting peyote during a religious ritual. The Supreme Court determined the state could deny unemployment to a person fired for using peyote even if it was for religious reasons. The state was given the power to accommodate an illegal act done for religious belief, but not the requirement to do so.

The Native American Church lacks powerful lobbyists and the deep pockets that the Evangelical Churches do. This Supreme Court ruling in 1990 ruled in favor of corporations, not religious liberty. 

((Never mind that the Native American Church existed before the Bill of Rights!!!!))

Bringing it back to today's ruling with Hobby Lobby...

"Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very risk the Constitution's Establishment Clause was designed to preclude." -Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

(Thanks, Al, for sharing her dissent with me!) 

I think we have to be very careful when merging religion with government. I know that the conservative right is chanting today a victory for "religious freedom," but this is not factually accurate. Hobby Lobby is not a church. Hobby Lobby is a business, and the Supreme Court ruling that they don't have to follow the law (Affordable Care Act) in the name of religion, means that now corporations are going to be given a lot more power. 

The owner of Hobby Lobby still had his religious freedom before this ruling; if he was against birth control or IUDs or Plan B, he could avoid using them...err, try to prevent his wife from using them. 

During all of this, Viagra was not questioned. Hobby Lobby didn't seem to find objection to providing this drug to their male employees. Viagra is provided to men, for ONE REASON. I understand if they give their male employees the benefit of the doubt, and trust that only married, monogamous men, are using this drug with their wives. I just wish they would extend the same kindness to their female employees. Those wives, likely mothers, might be working part-time, making such low income at Hobby Lobby, that birth control out of pocket is more than they can comfortably afford. When they become pregnant, and choose to keep their unwanted pregnancy to term, I hope Hobby Lobby and supporters of this ruling, will find it within their "religious freedom" to support these families depending on governmental financial assistance programs.

Please excuse typos or grammatical errors. This was written quickly, while my sweet little tot was napping! Now, back to being a mama.


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