WASHINGTON (RNS) The Green family that owns the Hobby Lobby craft store chain believes the federal government ran roughshod over their religious liberties when the Affordable Care Act required their company to cover the full range of birth control options in employee health plans.

Steve Green, President of Hobby Lobby, speaks at the Religion News Writers Association Conference in Austin, Texas on Thursday (Sept. 26). RNS photo by Sally Morrow

Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, speaks at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Austin, Texas, in 2013. RNS photo by Sally Morrow


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

As Christians, the Greens argued, they could not comply. In their view, four of those birth control methods can cause abortion, though many major medical voices disagree. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear the case.

Combining fundamental questions of religious rights, corporate rights, Obamacare and abortion, the case is, for many people, the most important the Supreme Court will decide this year. It will be bundled with a similar lawsuit filed by the Mennonite owners of a wood cabinetry corporation who hold views similar to those of the Greens.

“The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law,” wrote David Green, the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby. “I say that’s a choice no American and no American business should have to make.”

Supporters of the so-called contraception mandate fear that a victory for the plaintiffs could prompt businesses to flout any number of laws by claiming a violation of religious freedom.

They ask: What about a woman’s right to be covered for the full array of birth control options available through the Affordable Care Act? Is it really the company’s right to decide that the only drugs and medical procedures they’ll cover are the ones that conform to the owner’s personal faith?

Hobby Lobby store in Ohio.

Hobby Lobby store in Ohio. Photo courtesy DangApricot via Wikimedia Commons


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Administration supporters also argue that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. claim religious rights the Constitution bestows on individuals, not corporations.

“It’s easy to be sympathetic to the devout individual business owners behind the corporations in these cases,” said Elizabeth B. Wydra, of the left-leaning Constitutional Accountability Center. “But their rights are not implicated by the Affordable Care Act’s contraception provisions.”

That’s not how the Greens and their supporters see it. To them, you can’t separate the family from the corporation, because the family runs the corporation according to its deeply held Christian values. Hobby Lobby, for example, closes its more than 600 stores on Sundays, pays employees far above the minimum wage and limits store hours so employees can spend more time with their families.

For the Supreme Court to agree with the Greens, two questions must be answered:

  • First, does Hobby Lobby, the corporation, have religious rights protected by the First Amendment?
  • Second, if the corporation does have religious rights, have those rights been violated under a 20-year-old statute that sets a high bar for government interference when it comes to protecting religious freedom?

Jeff Mateer, senior counsel at the conservative Liberty Institute, said the question of a corporation’s religious rights is not a tough one.

“If the court determines that they do not have that right, it’s really going to change 200 years of legal precedent where we have assumed that corporations do have First Amendment rights,” he said. He pointed to the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in the Citizens United campaign finance case, in which the justices overturned bans on corporate political spending as a violation of freedom of speech.

Wydra, however, sees a strong argument for denying Hobby Lobby religious rights.

Though churches and other religious organizations enjoy the First Amendment’s protection of free exercise of religion, she has written, “these explicitly religious corporations are and always have been distinct from secular companies, even if there are unquestionably devout religious people who work for and own secular businesses.”

If the court decides that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood do have religious rights, it would then have to turn its attention to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Congress passed it in 1993 to address concerns that the federal government needed to take greater pains to protect religious freedom.

If the government is going to tread on religious freedoms with a law such as the Affordable Care Act, RFRA requires the government to show a “compelling interest,” and that there is no less burdensome way to meet its goal.

That compelling interest test could be a hard one for the Obama administration to pass, legal scholars on both sides agree, since it has given out exemption after exemption to those who say they would have problems complying with one portion or another of the Affordable Care Act.

Churches that object to covering birth control, for example, have exemptions. So do the homeless, and people who can prove it would be a financial hardship to comply. “It’s hard to argue that you’ve got a compelling interest when you’ve exempted out so many people,” Mateer said.

Exemptions aside, medical and public health experts see a compelling government interest in ensuring women’s health through access to contraception.

Birth control has “profound” health benefits not only for the women who use it to prevent and space out pregnancies, but for the children whose mothers have access to it, said Dr. Nancy Stanwood, board chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health.

“The medical community is clear,” she said, “that contraception is fundamental preventative health care for women.”

View of the U.S. Supreme Court building from the sky.

View of the U.S. Supreme Court building from the sky. Photo courtesy of By Farragutful via Wikimedia Commons


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

If the Supreme Court allows a company owner’s personal belief to limit access to birth control, “what other things will get carved out?” Stanwood asked. “If someone is a Jehovah’s Witness, and they object to (blood) transfusions, then their employees don’t get transfusions?”

Notre Dame Law School professor Rick Garnett, who writes about religious freedom, said the court may well agree that corporations have religious rights, but he also suggests that such an outcome won’t be as momentous as many assume.

“It doesn’t mean every single business is going to be invoking RFRA to get out of regulations it doesn’t like,” he said.

Hobby Lobby might be able to make a case, he said, but probably not Citibank or McDonald’s since not all businesses have a religious character. And even if Hobby Lobby successfully invokes religious rights under RFRA, it doesn’t mean those rights have to prevail, Garnett added.

“Sometimes RFRA claimants will win,” he said. “And sometimes they’ll lose.”

KRE/AMB END MARKOE

47 Comments

  1. Logical extensions of the notion of corporate religious belief:
    – All female staff must wear hijabs while on duty
    – Employees may pick up their paycheck after attending mandatory mass
    – Paychecks will be replaced with special debit cards which can’t be used to buy pork products, alcohol or rental of movies by Jewish directors.
    – All paychecks will be automatically tithed to the Holy Church
    – The company health insurance plan will only cover faith healing
    – All members of the Board of directors must be members of the LDS church or convert if they are to retain their chairs.
    – No Muslims or Jews shall be served by our restaurant chain.
    – Bringing in lunch which is not Glatt Kosher is grounds for termination.

    Obviously there is no way to have corporate religious beliefs without trampling on the very notion of labor laws and engaging in sectarian discrimination.

    RFRA was never meant to be applied to employer’s beliefs. It was meant to protect employees from coercive actions by an employer. Actions which attack religious practice. Forcing employees to obey religious dictates is not free exercise of religion. Hobby Lobby’s argument makes a mockery of religious freedom by trying to justify sectarian bullying.

    • “Forcing employees to obey religious dictates is not free exercise of religion. Hobby Lobby’s argument makes a mockery of religious freedom by trying to justify sectarian bullying.” Are you serious? What sectarian religion is Hobby Lobby requiring its employees to follow by not giving them free contraception and abortifaciens? None! Not providing a benefit to employees is NOT forcing ANYONE to follow any religion! Suggesting that the logical conclusion to giving Hobby Lobby religious rights is forcing others to be observant Evangelical Christians is simply a non sequiter! Their employees are being forced to do anything! They simply wont get to contracept and kill their unborn chidlren on the backs of owners of Hobby Lobby! Theyre free to abort all they want! It just wont be FREE! Since when was an employer required to compensate an employee with any damand they had! Employees know full well the list of benefits Hobby Lobby provides before every signing any contract! Hobby Lobby is NOT just a corporation. It is the work of Christians who have the right to carry out their business in the manner their conscience and religion dictiates. It is their religious freedom to NOT be forced to pay for YOUR abortion. And that right does NOTHING to impinge on your free exercise of religion or no religion. That you and the author cannot see this distinction is a sign that this nation has citizens who cannot grasp basic logical analysis for imoprtant policy issues. That alone is a serious threat to the ability for a free and Constitutional democracy to survive and thrive.

      • Hobby Lobby is forcing its employees to follow the sectarian dictates of its employers. Their employees are ENTITLED UNDER THE LAW to receive contraceptive care in their health insurance and it is only the religious dictates of their employer which prevent this.

        Hobby Lobby is micromanaging the personal healthcare choices of the employees in violation of the rights of privacy of said employees to uphold purely sectarian religious dogma. Not choosing to do something for employees that the employees are legally entitled to is coercion. No matter how hard you try to reframe this as entirely the employer’s decision, it still comes down to forcing the employee to follow the employer’s religious beliefs.

        Whether your religious belief allows for contraception or abortion should be of no concern for anyone else. Its private and personal.

        The fact that you put an alleged right to hamper abortion and contraception as the duty of a Christian shows this is entirely sectarian in nature and there is no rational or secular argument to support such views.

        As for your “right to contract” that argument would have worked in 1896, but these days corporations accept all forms of regulations in favor of employees despite contracting to work for said companies. Employers have to put up with many things which may go against their personal beliefs such as paying them minimum wages, paying overtime, maternity leave. They simply cannot be treated like individuals making personal choices here.

        It is religious freedom not to have to answer to the dictates of the faith of other people. You have no clue what religious freedom means. To you it means a Christian can bully their way into controlling the behavior of others.

      • Forrest Buckley

        Wow, take a deep breath before you have a heart attack you deeply religious Christian. God forbid the heart attack would be at work and your employer would not permit CPR because they BELIEVE it might condone hemosexual behavior! In short, get a grip on yourself and your beliefs and stop trying to force, by any means available, those beliefs down other people’s throats. And always be careful what you pray for.

      • A reminder, contraception or any other health coverage is not free employees pay for insurance for coverage. Do you refer to a benefit which you receive from an insurance coverage as as “free”?

        • A reminder, health coverage is not given out of the beneficence of an employer but as compensation for work performed their behalf. It belongs to the employee in the same way as their salary.

          An employer has no more say in how healthcare is used as they do in how employee’s paycheck is spent.

      • Really ~~~ they don’t seem to have any problems buying the bulk of their products from China ~ so their religious beliefs only deal with their employees, but not with those they purchase products from? oh, wait they have to make a profit… So, in other words they do not care about the Chinese (or other countries people’s) fertilized eggs or contraception mandates? So, religiously speaking they are okay to mandate their beliefs to their employees (and the federal government), but they can make a big profit by doing business with a country that condones/mandates abortions?, and buying their products knowing this, and making a profit from it? Why not buy their products from companies with their same belief and Christians values? Oh wait – they do not open on Sundays so everyone can spend time with their families and enjoy the Sabbath. I wonder what working conditions are for the employees of the companies they purchase from…

    • Larry,

      Your “logical extensions” are not logical. As the first respondent made clear, not supplying something because of belief is not the same as forcing someone to carry an action because of belief.

      It is a pity that many citizens of the USA have not been trained in any formal logic. You have a number of constitutional rights that are very valuable, but as a whole you are letting them go without a fight. You have a number of government bodies such as the CIA, DHS, NSA, FBI, police forces at all levels, etc which are treating you citizens as criminals and terrorists and are very intent on removing these constitutional rights from the citizens. I live in a country that does not have your freedoms and there are very few protections within our constitution for the people. You forget that you have to protect those rights and allow them to be applied to all citizens or in the end as you reduce the protections for those you do not like, you also will lose your protections.

      The company in question is privately owned and run on the basic principles of the owners. For publicly owned companies, there is no such background and no such principles. They are two different kettle of fish.

      The problem for “secular” people is that they rarely understand that “secularism” is in fact a religious belief and standpoint. Much as secularists and atheists want to narrowly define religious belief to exclude their own belief systems, they very much demonstrate the same fundamental characterisations of those who they oppose most strongly. It is quite intriguing that many secularists try to force their beliefs down other peoples throats while at the same time decrying “religious” people for doing the same. It appears that there are few people who can discuss in a logical, well-reasoned manner the reasons for their standpoint.

      We live in interesting times and next few decades will be interesting to watch and live through.

      • @Hill Strong,
        You are way off!
        The fascism you worry about is endemic to religion, not secularism.
        The Holy Roller Christians are throwing our rights down the drain – not secularists!

        The entire wish for there to be a Supreme Being where we can all refer our problems upward to a dictator is EXACTLY what religion is all about.

        God beliefs are fascist at the core.
        And suckers don’t like thinking for themselves.

        • The fascism that you refer to is endemic to secularism as it is to anywhere else. Atheist and Secularists will fight for there religious beliefs with no less fanaticism as anyone else. Case in point are characters like Richard Dawkins and the like. These men an women in earlier times would have been outstanding agents of the Inquisition. Their own words betray the mindset and attitude that I am referring to. They have no problems forcing their views down the throats of everyone else and are particularly pernicious in the present their points of view.

          By your own words you demonstrate that you understand little of the Nature of God. You also demonstrate that you are as unthinking as the ones you rile against. I have met your ilk on both sides of the debate and the only difference between you is the premise of whether or not God or gods exist.

          I have met various Atheists and Secularists who can and do discuss their position in an intelligent, logical manner. I have also met many Atheists and Secularists who could not argue their way out of a soggy paper bag in defence of their position, their only recourse is abusive name calling and denigrating comments.

          To think and discuss intelligibly is not a function of the beliefs one holds but a determination to do so.

          You are entitled to your beliefs, in like manner so am I. How you view this post and what you think of it is completely up to you.

          However, from my perspective you are a long way from actually having any real understanding of the issues.

      • So what you are saying is that BOTH the religious and the secularist have invalid fundamentalist beliefs that they are both trying to force down other people’s throats? If they both are religious beliefs then whose beliefs should the government follow? Should a secularist employer force his employees to partially pay for medical insurance which covers abortion?

        • Religion is invalid – not secularism.
          Secularism is NOT a religion, it is the lack of a religion. Just as Atheism is the lack of belief in a god.

          Religion and Fascism go hand in hand. Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin knew it.

          A brilliant Agnostic Document already runs our country – The US Constitution with the Establishment Clause which ensures everybody’s freedom of religion.

          It is still the only Godless Constitution in the world.
          Thank your lucky stars the Christians won’t be allowed to subvert it.
          Try as they may.

          You asked, “Should a secularist employer force his employees to partially pay for medical insurance which covers abortion?”

          You must pay for nuclear weapons through your taxes – even though you might object to those weapons on religious grounds. Your religious conviction does NOT matter. You must pay those taxes or you can go to jail.

          The Supreme Court has already ruled that the Affordable Healthcare Act is valid law and is a TAX. So…yes, you must pay for any medical procedures covered by the law. Even abortion and anything else you might object to.

          If people are against abortion they should support free contraception.
          Religion poisons all of these decisions. Life is hard enough.
          Keep religion in the home and at church.

        • John,

          What I say is that the finite cannot understand the infinite. There are many on all sides who think they know the truth and attack those who are different.

          My view is that people are precious, not for they do but because Jesus Christ, The Only Begotten Son of God did for all of us what is impossible for any of us to do, reconcile us with God.

          Does that mean I accept what people do, no. There is a difference between accepting people and accepting what they do. Do I care about the atheist, secularist, murderers, liars, cheats, those of different racial characteristics, different religious ideologies, different political ideologies. Yes I do, but do I accept their lifestyle choice when they are obviously against what God has said, no i don’t.

          The problem with the world of today is that there is a view that to be accepting of people, you have to accept their choices. Sorry, that doesn’t wash. I know Atheists and Secularists who have great disagreement with the fact that I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, but they still accept me and treat me as a fellow human being, to be treated with respect. Are we close friends, no. We don’t have any significant commonalities.

          From my perspective, their choices lead to eternal death, but I don’t see the future and I don’t know how God will play things out for them. I’ll discuss my beliefs with them as they ask. I try and make my life an example for them. But long ago I learnt the futility of forcing my beliefs down someone’s throat.

          One thing I have discovered in my journey that is both humbling and outstanding is that God has given choice, the freedom to follow a course of action. As as father, He will discipline, but if the child is recalcitrant, they will then face the consequences of their actions. we on this planet are reaping what we sow. We make choices and then have to face the consequences. we cannot argue that God has a responsibility to get us out of trouble when we have chosen to follow a course of action that leads to that trouble.

          I don’t expect to change your mind, but I hope that what I say at least gets someone, somewhere to think about these things and make the necessary choices. Whether that happens is in the hands of God not mine.

      • My examples are simply what happens when a company has alleged strong sectarian religious beliefs and applies them to the workplace. If an employer can ignore current laws concerning healthcare entitlement under the rubric of religious freedom, they can also ignore anti-discrimination laws, all labor laws and the RFRA.

        Corporate religious belief means all people working for and representing the company must submit to religious beliefs of its owners. That is what you are arguing for. That is what I am giving you examples of. Its utter bullcrap no matter how you try to package it.

        All companies whether privately owned or public corporations are subject to various regulations and laws concerning their conduct. They are not individuals, they are not their owners.

        They are entities which are separate and apart from their owners. The owners get various legal and financial benefits from such a separation. It is grossly dishonest to suddenly consider these distinctions to be non-existent when it comes to the obligations of a business entities after one reaps its rewards.

        The problem with people who rag on secularism is that they are essentially telling me that they have no respect for religions or beliefs besides their own. They are admitting that they do not understand religious freedom and only see such things as means to their own aggrandizement.

        Religious freedom means I never have to be compelled to care what your religion says on any given subject. It is not part of your rights to coerce anyone to accept your religious views.

        • Larry,

          If that is your stance, then you are more than happy to allow Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, etc, as employees to be protected from businesses saying that they cannot display their religious character.

          There are many secular businesses that prohibit the wearing of any adornments that indicate the religious standing of their employees. Are you prepared to battle against that mindset as well?

          Somehow, I don’t think so.

          When it boils down to it, you as an employee do not have to work for a company if you don’t like its policies. You can leave. One has to remember that you don’t own a job, you are providing a service to someone else. There may be legislative side benefits for the service you supply, that is an added bonus.

          There are a number of companies that I will not work for or provide any services to, as I object to their policies. That’s it, and if the only work in my field is with those companies, I’ll change careers first.

          • There is no such thing as “a religious character” to a business. A business is formed to make money and to insulate its owners from financial and legal liabilities of running it. I am showing examples of what corporate religion would entail. Simply the end results of your arguments. It would be blatant sectarian discrimination and violating every labor law one can think of.

            “There are many secular businesses that prohibit the wearing of any adornments that indicate the religious standing of their employees. Are you prepared to battle against that mindset as well?”

            Why should I? Its both rational and non-discriminatory. It is not based on believing in a mythical skygod and his dictates. It is based on not offending customers, co-workers and enforcing a company uniform image. You are stuck on this idea that secularism is another religious belief. Its false. Secularism is all religious beliefs. If you can’t be inclusive of everyone, be neutral instead.

            “When it boils down to it, you as an employee do not have to work for a company if you don’t like its policies. ”

            No, it doesn’t. We have laws to regulate the conduct of companies to prevent discriminatory or abusive behavior of employers.

    • Exactly.

      The Holy Rollers need to be schooled in what sort of road they are on. If we drop separation of church and state as they request, they are very likely to find the ‘wrong’ religion in the driver’s seat. Then who will they turn to?

      Religious expression belongs at home and in the church not in the public policy. Otherwise they are free to break the law and take the consequences.

      They should be more respectful and grateful for the Establishment Clause.

  2. I work in a BIBLE College and we have been forced to do the same as Hobby Lobby so there really is no freedom of religion where this “healthcare” is concerned. Religious institutions have no protection either unless they are churches.

  3. “The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law,”

    That is SO bone-headed and rich.
    Coming from a company whose PRIMARY mission as an ART SUPPLY provider is to sell tools to flout God’s 3rd Commandment.

    “Thou Shalt not make any graven images.” (Exodus 20:4) :-)

  4. Was it not Jesus that said “Render unto Ceasar”,
    Git a grip Christian Facists, these type of issues
    convince me more and more that my choice of Atheist
    over my former Christian position is the right choice.

    • Exactly.
      Once one discovers that truth, that God is a fascist concept all the good teachings of the Bible shrink to a few sentences.

      God is a cultural delusion, passed on as tradition through generations, but completely imaginary. A social agreement to defer responsibilities elsewhere, and nothing more.

      • And if you are wrong..? What a fearful eternal life you will have.
        I look it simplistically…
        If the is a watch there is a watch maker..
        If there is a creation, there is a Creator.

        Denying this allows you to do what ever you want with no consequences.
        My Bible states God says we will live eternally either in His presence, or sparated for ever,
        The Bible says God is love, to be seperated from Him will mean to never ever have or feel love again..
        To me , thats a very lonely place.
        One last thing.. Atheism is faith there is no God,
        Faith is an expectant hope based upon whom you choose to believe,
        Biblical faith is believing in the promises of God.
        If you do not believe in a creator , I ask ” How do explain the order in the universe.. if it were not so, there would be chaos,

        • @Lou,

          “And if you are wrong..?”
          What if YOU are wrong? What will Zeus say to you?
          Besides, if fear is the only good argument, that is evidence that we are dealing with con game.

          “If there is a creation, there is a Creator.”
          Or if things exist, maybe they always did but in different forms.

          “Denying this allows you to do what ever you want with no consequences.”
          Tell that to my wife.

          “The Bible says God is love”
          It also says God is Vengeance, Vanity, Jealousy, and Pettiness.

          “Atheism is faith there is no God”
          No. Atheists don’t believe in God – that is all.
          God may exist but I don’t believe in it.
          And yes, I am an Agnostic also – as in, I do not know.

          “you choose to believe”
          No. Belief is not a choice. You based your belief on something. If that thing disappears you have no reason – Atheists do not choose to not believe. We run out of reasons to believe.

          “How do explain the order in the universe…”
          It is beautiful, mysterious and interesting. But I don’t know the answer.
          The idea that “a god did it” answers nothing. Which god? What does it mean to me? Why would it matter…?

          Life is about love and curiosity. Religion is unnecessary, dangerous and most importantly…it doesn’t appear to be true.

  5. Susan Humphreys

    One poster said “not supplying something because of belief is not the same as forcing someone to carry an action because of belief.” He is right it isn’t force it is called coercion. Coercion is creating a circumstance where the only choice is to do what the coercer (?is that the right word) wants. A rose is a rose and poop is poop and by any other name it still stinks! AND as one other poster pointed out the Hobby Lobby folks may be digging themselves into a hole that they can’t get out of, and find they are the ones deep in the muck.

    • Im posting to much …
      The Bible says ” Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.

      Show me your mountain and I will show you my God.
      If Hobby Lobby is right and God is in it…. Man cannot hurt them…
      Remember, they can simply close their stores….

  6. WOW… everybody is one sided..
    First of all , what wrong with Hobby Lobby to state .. If you wish to work here, we do not cover birth control in our insurance.
    If you can give the church an exemption. then why not Hobby Lobby,
    Are you saying that thiscounty that WAS founded onJudeo/Christian principle is asking a person /store owner/ corporation owner to directly disobey God in order to remain in business?
    Christians allowed themselves to fed to lions and to be cruxified and set on fire as human candles rather than deny Christ… THATS REAL HISTORY!!
    If a person wants to have health insurance to cover abortion etc, they should not go to work for the Church because they wont get it there!
    If its that important to a prospective employee , they can ask the question and find out the info.
    Again, there are other placea person can seek work!!
    I was born Jewish, i dont think that I am going to work in a Synogogue and bring in Ham sandwhiches into the the place for lunch.
    Most important is the fact that Hobby Lobby was already in place before the
    ACA!!..
    Its like trying to bring about a cleaner environment the goverment says:
    YOU HAVE ONE YEAR FOR EVERYBODY TO BUY A NEW CAR THAT IS A HYBID.
    Yes some could do it… for many it will be impossible.
    The ACA should not effect businesses that are already in existance ,
    My own personal opinion is that the government has no right to tall how people must worship their God.

    • “If you wish to work here, we do not cover birth control in our insurance.”

      Because the law says otherwise. Having an alleged religious belief is no excuse for violating it. Its like saying you should be exempt from prosecution for murder because it was a human sacrifice.

      “Are you saying that thiscounty that WAS founded onJudeo/Christian principle”

      There is no such thing as Judeo/Christian principles. Its a nonsense term to mean whatever the speaker wants to impute to it. Whatever a fundamentalist Christian wants to take undue credit for, becomes lumped into that.

      Our country was founded upon secular precepts. That no religion has authority or special privileges under our system. People who claim the US is a Christian nation really want to create a theocracy. They are willing to lie about our history and make ignorant arguments in service of that anti-democratic goal.

      “I was born Jewish, i dont think that I am going to work in a Synogogue and bring in Ham sandwhiches into the the place for lunch.”

      Is a synagogue set up for commercial purposes or a house of worship. If you can’t tell the difference between the two, you will never understand the arguments employed.

      • Larry,

        “Because the law says otherwise”. In your country, you have so many laws that you do not know about. What you do not realise is that you have already in your short life have broken enough of them that if desired your government could easily send you to prison. One of the support bodies for your own Congress has only recently released such a report, go look for it.

        Laws are of two types, those that are there for societal stability and those that are there for control. The latter are the more numerous – have a look at them.

        You at least have a constitution that gives you some protection from the predations of your government. Unlike you I live in a country that doesn’t have such protections. We do however have a somewhat feisty election processes which can in turn mitigate some of these problems.

        Just because there is a law on the books, there is no guarantee that the law is just or right. Lawyers are one group that are always looking for the loopholes in the letter of the law for the benefit of their clients, irrespective of the spirit that was behind the law.

        Your DOJ(gy sisters), NSA, FBI, DHS, CIA etc are good examples of government bodies that play havoc with the law, twisting it any way they want or need.

        We have a national health care system, which is not the greatest, not even necessarily good, but it is far superior to what you have.

        Finally, the population of the USA has less knowledge of its own history and anything outside of its borders than most countries. Enough studies (by your own institutions) has demonstrated this. What you don’t seem to understand is that the separation of church and state was founded by the Puritans (a Christian sect) as a result of the persecution that they were under in England. they wanted to ensure that that principle was solidly laid down so others wouldn’t experience what they experienced under British Rule.

        The problem your country faces today is still keeping that separation, however the religion of secularism wants to gain control and will do anything to disguise the trappings that it is a religious belief system, one that believes in the ascendency of man.

        You as a secularist or atheist are entitled to your views, wrong-headed though I think they might be. From my point of view, there are many who claim to be Christians or Jews or Moslems, etc who are secularists at heart and are simply wearing a facade that enables them to gain influence with particular portions of the population.

        Jesus Christ gave us the gauge – by their fruit you will know them. Unfortunately, what many of you think as being Christian is just secularists in dressup.

        • So what you are saying is laws are only valid if Christians can use them against others. Again to bemoan the separation of church and state/secularism is pretty much an admission that you have no respect for the rights of other faiths besides your own. Secularism is the only way to guarantee religious freedom. Religious freedom does not mean one gets to use their faith as an excuse to harm others.

          “What you don’t seem to understand is that the separation of church and state was founded by the Puritans (a Christian sect) as a result of the persecution that they were under in England. ”

          Hill, you are very ignorant of American history. Separation of Church and state came from people FLEEING THE PURITANS. Most notably Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island who was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony (the Puritans) for such ideas. He wrote of the wall of separation to protect both church and state more than a century before the Constitution was drafted. Separation of Church and State was also a major part of the philosophy of the Quakers when William Penn founded Pennsylvania. Penn was fleeing persecution of the British established church.

          The laws of my nation are not written in Christ’s name. They are written by the will of all Americans. What I think of Christians who think the government belongs to them can’t be published here. Lets just say there is no group in the US more ignorant of the meaning of freedom and more hell bent on undermining democracy than the “religious right”.

  7. While both sides have logical arguments, a corporation paying for insurance that covers abortion is no more intrusive into the corporate owner’s faith than is paying taxes which are mixed into a general fund and subsequently used to pay for war or other acts which are an anathema to most religions.

    Finally, paying for a plan which covers abortion does not mean that any of Hobby Lobby’s employees will have an abortion. It is merely mixed into a general fund that permits that act.

    • There is no logical argument for Hobby Lobby at all. A company has no religious beliefs. It is a commercial entity. Essentially a legal person who is also a form of property. Its employees are not assumed to be adherents to the faith of its owner(s).

      If Hobby Lobby gets sold to Home Depot, would it be considered a forced religious conversion? Of course not.

      It would be both counterproductive to the wannabe theocrats and just plain stupid to everyone in general to establish a legalized notion of a company having “deeply held religious beliefs”. What it would do is put the courts in the unenviable position of having to determine which companies have such beliefs and which ones don’t. Whether said belief is truly religious enough for exemption. Its the kind of entanglement with religion our system tacitly avoids at all costs. It also allows the government to attack and restrict the very religious belief they claim existed in the first place.

  8. Susan Humphreys

    Some more points about Coercion. It is important to understand Mr. Green’s tactics. In a sense the person that uses force is more honorable than the person that uses Coercion, at least they aren’t hiding their motives or intent! The person that uses Coercion knows that their arguments have been rejected or discredited. In the case of the Hobby Lobby man he knows his arguments have been discredited. TRUTH, stands on it’s own merits, it needs no claim of divine authorship, or scholarly credentials. If people can so easily reject your “TRUTH”/argument and put forth a better one then some people stoop, lower him/herself, dishonors him/herself and uses Coercive tactics to get his/her way. Another way to put it is he/she sneaks in the back door when he/she can’t walk in honestly and openly through the front door. It is also what the anti-abortion folks are doing with their restrictive laws on family planning/abortion clinics.
    A good book for folks to read is “The True Believer, Thoughts on the nature of mass movements” by Eric Hoffer. It will give you a good understanding of the nature of the fundamentalist. One point that was made clear in the book is that The True Believer will twist and pervert anything, they will use anyone or anything, IF it suits their purpose. AND they are so narrow minded and short sighted, suffer from tunnel vision, and can’t fathom the full range of consequences of their actions.
    I think Green dishonors himself, his family, his religion and his God. Honorable people don’t use his tactics even if it means they lose the skirmish. A dishonest win is really a loss. Your personal honor and integrity can NOT be taken away from you (which is what prisoners of war and folks in internment camps discovered and what kept them alive despite the deprivations and torture) BUT you can throw them away as I think Green is doing.

  9. Deanna J Clark

    Nobody is forced to work for any store.
    However, Hobby Lobby is interconnected with forced abortions in Chinese factories, and through an entire global culture dependent on sterile women.
    I’m interested in their sincerity.
    Do they have a “made in America” section in their stores? How do they treat employees who become pregnant? This is a huge, complex sociological issue reaching into every part of the global economies.
    I think they should do everything in their power as Christians to remove the temptations to abortions, in and out of their business.. However, if they’re just a “business as usual” corporation, then why should they be so picky?

    • Nobody should have to be interested in their sincerity because courts should never be put into a position where they have to rate the level of religiousity a company exhibits.

      The idea of corporate religious beliefs is an untenable fiction. There is no way to have it without completely devolving into discrimination, gross violations of laws to protect workers and consumers and governmental role in determining religious belief.

  10. Mr. Green has so much money that he wants to control the country, if not the whole world because he honestly thinks God wants him to do this. Being Evangelical, they want to convert the world to Christianity and really don’t believe in other people’s beliefs and he can’t handle having to comply to anybody, anything business,or any government beliefs or rules. He thinks money will buy him everything and anything and even the world and an exemption from following any laws.

  11. Examples of the arguments employed in favor of “corporate religion”

    You are an employee of a company which gets acquired by a major Saudi concern, then it would become a Muslim company. That new owner is a lay Inam, he went to a fancy Madrassa back in Saudi Arabia. He has served Allah in many capacities in his public and private life.

    By the arguments people pose here, since one chose to work for that company, they contracted to be subservient to the owner’s religious belief. One can be compelled to follow the dictates of the employers. It means that if the company said that all workers must pray 5 times a day towards Mecca or they will be docked their salary, you must comply. All women must wear hijabs on duty. If the workers don’t like it, they could just leave. Promotion can only come to Muslims working there. After all, nobody has to be promoted in a job.

    Essentially people saying all the religious beliefs of the owners trumps one’s beliefs as an employee. Even though such a rule violates the Equal Employment Act.

    The owner is making a principled stand of religious conscience to avoid complying with the EEOC. The owner is not forcing his employees to follow the rules of Islam, he is just choosing not to enforce a law which goes against his deeply held beliefs.

    Oh wait, you can’t conceive that happening You think the law can only be applied in favor of Christians. After all they are the only ones who can exercise religious freedom.

  12. I have to take exception to this comment from Physicians for Reproductive Health: “The medical community is clear that contraception is fundamental preventative health care for women.”

    Contraception does not prevent a disease, and in fact is a known carcinogen that also can cause blood clots and stroke.
    For folks in the “reproductive health” camp to claim that Ella is not an abortifacient is disingenuous. If unprotected intercourse happens on Day 1, and Ella is taken on Day 5, then fertilization has already happened. That’s Biology 101. When you kill a fertilized embryo, that’s an abortion.

    Why doesn’t the Affordable Care Act make things like eyeglasses and hearing aids free? Shouldn’t we be concerned with an administration whose number one priority is making sure we don’t reproduce?

  13. As a Mammon-worshiper, my religion prohibits me from providing ANY healthcare to workers. And from paying them minimal wage too. Should my sweat shop, I mean business, be allowed to continue in these conditions under the umbrella of religious freedom?

  1. […]  Does a corporation have religious rights? That is the question at the heart of Hobby Lobby’s fight against the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. It’s an important question — affecting everything from health care to election funding to the numerous anti-LGBT/religious freedom laws — that is in the news again as Hobby Lobby takes its case to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. It’s potentially one of the most important cases of the year. And it got me to thinking. What happens if Hobby Lobby wins? What happens if Hobby Lobby wins their argument that, as a corporation, it has religious beliefs and religious rights that are protected by the First Amendment? […]

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