EVANSTON, Ill. (RNS) The recent legal objections to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate make me think of a controversy that figures repeatedly in the New Testament.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus criticizes religious leaders who refuse to temper their interpretation of the law with compassion and mercy, warning his followers of those who “tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.”

Two millennia have passed since then, but some religious leaders are still tying up burdens for others to bear, and they are still using the same legalistic tactics attributed to Jesus’ opponents in the New Testament.

Then, as now, we are being asked to believe that a tradition rooted in compassion and care for the most vulnerable somehow violates God’s law. The plaintiffs who argue that corporations have religious liberty rights (Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, both headed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday (March 25)) or that signing a piece of paper declaring one’s cherished religious principles is a religious burden (Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Sebelius) have resorted to similar legalisms. They are using their faith to put obstacles in the path of women seeking health care that is essential to their well-being and that of their families.

Christians should not think that these legal strategies represent the best part of our faith, and other people of good will should not be fooled into thinking that the Christian majority favors gamesmanship over compassion.

The best features of the Christian tradition have valued the common good and the dignity of all people above narrow legalisms. Waving the flag of religious liberty is an attempt to turn the debate away from well-established facts that argue overwhelmingly for making reproductive health care available as widely as possible.

There is little dispute that women who can afford to avail themselves of good reproductive health care receive more education, earn a better living, enjoy better health and form more stable intimate relationships than women who cannot. It is abundantly clear that children born to mothers who are able to space their pregnancies are more likely to be healthy at birth, and less likely to experience developmental difficulties associated with low birth weight.

According to a review of medical literature conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, hormonal contraceptives can also confer other health benefits. They can help ease severe menstrual pain and excessive menstrual bleeding, but also “prevent menstrual migraines, treat pelvic pain … and treat bleeding due to uterine fibroids. Perhaps most notably, oral contraceptives have been shown to have long-term benefits in reducing a woman’s risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancer, and short-term benefits in protecting against colorectal cancer.”

As members of a faith that calls for compassion, Christians should be looking for ways to extend these benefits to all women and all communities. As people who practice a faith that values justice, we must be troubled by the fact that the rate of unplanned pregnancies among poor women is five times higher than it is among women whose incomes are 200 percent or more above the federal poverty level, and we should be moved to help spread the benefits of reproductive health care more broadly. This is what the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act seeks to do. However, its opponents are seeking to poke the mandate so full of holes that the very women who need this coverage most will not receive it.

The Rev. Dr. Cheryl B. Anderson is a professor of the Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

The Rev. Cheryl B. Anderson is a professor of the Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary


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

This is not only poor policy, but also poor theology. Nothing in the Christian tradition requires that we deny poor women health benefits and services that are readily available to the rest of society. Nothing in the Christian tradition suggests that an employer’s scruples deserve greater consideration than an employee’s health. Instead, the words of Jesus warn us against placing heavy burdens on the backs of those least able to bear them.

(The Rev. Cheryl B. Anderson is a professor of the Old Testament at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.)

KRE/AMB END ANDERSON

81 Comments

    • When employer-provided health insurance pays for men’s penis pumps and Viagra/Cialis and yet refuses to pay for women’s health care (that goes beyond “birth control,” as the article makes clear – or did you even bother reading the part of the article that indicated a variety of benefits of the use of hormonal contraceptives?), there is something seriously wrong with the mindset of those who set insurance company standards. It is yet another assault on women that the business community – controlled overwhelmingly by men – is perpetrating on women. We as a nation should be ashamed of ourselves for letting such policies as those stand!

      • @xnlover, you are just spreading lies and mis-information.
        1) I wasn’t aware plan B had any alternate use other than aviod pregnacy. (Looked it up, http://www.medicinenet.com/levonorgestrel-oral/article.htm , it only has one use). Because if you were talking about the “pill”, as in 28 days of pills, thats currently covered by Hobby Lobby, its plan B they don’t want to cover.
        2) “refuses to pay for women’s health care”, Actually I know of REAL womens health issues that feminists don’t care to touch, feminists refuse to stand up for, in fact they care so little about this one womens health issue that THEY HAVE NEVER BROUGHT IT UP. Its something SEVERAL women I know suffer from because no one (especially “feminists”) will support, and no insurence will cover it. And once you know you have it, its usually too expensive to fix ($20,000 is CHEAP to MAYBE help), unless of course you are part of the 1%. But, please go on telling me about monthly birth control is some huge burden that no women can afford and some HUGE womens health issue, never mind the much larger and more important issues that lay before you. Bet you can’t even guess the name of this womens health issue, thats how out of touch feminists too the real heath needs of women.
        3) Comparing penis pumps to morning after pill is disingenous, apples to oranges. Two entirely different things. Better comparison is condoms and monthly pills/plan B, and I’ve never heard of ANY insurence company covering condoms.
        PS: Every Insurence I know of (true I only know a few) will cover “the pill” to help with medical conditions as perscribed by a doctor, even if they don’t cover “the pill” for birth control reasons. Been there, done that, before Obamacare was passed.

        • If you’re going to fight against insurance regulations, you might want to know how to spell “insurance.” Gives you a little more credit. Not that you have any with your mysterious health issue that feminists don’t care about but that you conveniently don’t identify.

          Hobby Lobby doesn’t cover IUDs, a form of birth control. IUDs and Plan B/Ella are NOT abortifacients and anything other than religiously-based pseudoscience states this clearly.

          • Kendra,

            Regardless of where you stand on this issue, you should know that the IUD is an abortifacient. In fact, that’s how it works. The IUD does nothing to prevent conception. How it works is by turning the uterus into an environment that is hostile to the implantation of a blastocyst, so that the blastocyst is sloughed off with the menstrual stream.

          • BobRN and others who think this way – if you believe that an IUD is an abortifacient, you are mistaken. An abortifacient, by definition, causes an abortion. Misoprostol (Ru-486) is an abortifacient, which expels a pregnancy. You need to be pregnant in order to have an abortion … and since the blastocyst never implants, you are never pregnant … thus, you can’t possibly have an abortion. In fact, if that blastocyst implants, Ru-486 will NOT work, it will NOT expel that pregnancy … if you take it too late, you remain pregnant. Why some folks continue to think that, like Bachmann said today, that that little floating blastocyst is “a little human life”, is beyond me … a woman’s body naturally “flushes out”, as you put it, more fertilized eggs that ever implant. Oh, but that’s “natural”, or God’s will, or whatever … but if the same exact thing happens with Plan B, well, now somehow it’s an abortion. Give me a break.

            And none of that has anything to do with an IUD, which is a contraceptive, not something that induces an abortion. And like I previously stated, my IUD is the only method that has helped me successfully manage my menstrual migraines. I should not have to be denied that option because my employer has faulty pseudoscientific beliefs based on some religion.

          • Kendra,
            Sorry, you’ll find no break here.
            Your argument is based on your assumption that a blastocyst is not a human life. But, biologically and logically it can be nothing else. Call it abortion. Call it something else. The bottom line is, a blastocyst is a separate, individual human life. An IUD prevents a blastocyst from implanting in the uterine wall. That is taking human intervention to prevent continued human life, and the result is the death of the human life.
            Your claim that it is not an abortion because the woman is not yet pregnant because the blastocyst is not yet implanted is parsing terms to the extreme. It is splicing words to justify our immoral actions.
            And, yes, it does matter whether it’s natural or not, just as it matters whether a person dies of natural causes or is killed by human intervention. Do you really want to argue that, “Since we’re killing it this way and not that way, we’re not really killing it at all”? That’s pretty pathetic.
            Your IUD is not a contraceptive. Contraceptive means “opposed to conception.” That’s what the word (“contra” + “conception”) means. But, conception doesn’t take place in the uterus. It takes place in the fallopian tubes. By the time the blastocyst has implanted, conception has taken place. The IUD does nothing to prevent conception, but rather prevents the conceptus from implanting.

        • No, sven, actually they don’t. I have yet to have group coverage that carries contraception, even for usage in gyn disorders. Ergo, hormonal birth control when otherwise used is an apples-to-apples comparison.with Viagra, pumps, and Cialis.

  1. Frank, did you read the article? Did you miss the part where hormonal contraceptives are used for medical reasons as well? I took BC pills for menstrual migraines, which didn’t control them very well, and then had an IUD put in, which controls them the best of any form of hormonal contraceptive. Hobby Lobby is refusing to cover IUDs on the faulty, illogical, religious-not-scientific basis that an IUD can cause an abortion.

    But then again, folk like you seem to be all about the “convenience” of the audacity of a woman to want to own her reproductive rights. Sex for procreation, not recreation, right? Then you better tell Hobby Lobby to not cover Viagra, vasectomies, etc. Oh, wait ….

    • Yes I read it. Family planning is not a medical condition however if the same drug has alternate medical uses it can be prescribed for such use and I believe should be covered under your insurance as any other drug.

      • But Green is not allowing IUDs at ALL because he illogically believes that they cause an abortion, so even for menstrual migraines or the other “valid” medical reasons they can be used for, he will not allow them to be covered.

        It’s a scary thought that someone that owns a non-religious, for-profit company can use his “religious” beliefs to dictate the healthcare coverage of his employees. Do you realize the slippery slope that this sets up? Severely depressed and suicidal? Well, if your boss is a Scientologist, he could refuse to cover any psychiatric help/meds because it’s against his “religious freedoms.” Need a blood transfusion? Better hope your boss isn’t a Jehovah’s Witness!

        • I can’t answer for Green and correct me if I am wrong but the only approved use of an IUD is for birth control. And still no one is trying to prevent anyone from using an IUD.

          No one is dictating the health care of anyone else. People still have the choice about where they want to work based on the benefits offered. Some jobs do not offer health coverage at all.

          It seems the only people forcing others to do something is he government.

          • You’re correct, that if a Hobby Lobby employee wanted an IUD, they could privately get one … but since the average cost is between $500-$1200 without insurance, it isn’t exactly attainable to every woman choosing that option.

            The point is, a boss should not be able to dictate, based purely on religious ideas, what healthcare coverage should be provided and what should not. Especially since considering most of these religious tools are all about being pro-life and anti-choice, and the IUD is the single most effective birth control method out there, thereby reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

            Did you read any of the friend-of-the-court briefs filed on behalf of Hobby Lobby? They are a joke, talking about how contraceptives turn women into “tools for the sexual pleasure of men” among other inane comments. This is 2014, for crying out loud … those comments get to the heart of this hearing, which is not contraceptives, but the thought that women shouldn’t have sex “irresponsibly” (when birth control allows a woman to both treat medical conditions and plan when she chooses to have children) and pretty much only have sex to procreate. But again, I don’t see Viagra being condemned here. Hypocrisy at its finest.

          • Hobby Lobby isn’t being forced to do anything. To paraphrase your oh-so-compassionate advice to employees, HL still has a choice about where and how they do business. They have several options: cover the contraception, pay the fine, drop all insurance coverage and pay a smaller tax, or close up shop. So, please tell me why workers should have to be the only group that makes difficult “choices?”

          • People dictate all the time what is covered or not covered under health insurance.

            And I see you conveniently ignored my statements to espouse some political rant. Yawn.

        • He doesn’t care. If it involves controlling a woman’s reproduction, Frank is all for it. There is nothing sane nor rational about people who oppose contraception. Its about making choices for people without their consent. About violating the privacy of employees all in the name of Jesus.

          Being a Christian Fundamentalist means always feeling entitled to make decisions for everyone else. Especially when you aren’t.

    • Kendra, the fight is not over contraceptives like the hormones used for migraines and or contraception. The beef is over abortion medications like the “morning after pill” etc. These medications kill a living being AFTER the fact. Those are entirely different from a medication that stops one from ever getting pregnant in the first place. The first pill might be questionable to some Christians, but the second type is an absolute sin according to scripture.
      Hobby Lobby has every right to exercise their belief that it is a sin. Nobody is stopping their employees from purchasing these drugs, but no business should be forced to pay for them.

      • The whole purpose of religious freedom is so people don’t have to be constrained by what a religious fanatic thinks is a “sin”. Hobby Lobby has no more right to make such decisions as to employee health care. it is akin to forcing employees to spend their paycheck in service of Mr. Green’s church. Which is essentially what he is doing.

        Given your responses, I sincerely doubt you give any consideration that people have a right to believe something differently than you. That religious freedom only applies to fundamentalist Christians. Mr. Green is putting up a financial barrier to obtaining various forms of contraception that would not exist elsewhere. The “they can get it elsewhere” argument is one of the more ignorant (but often used) ones out there. Kendra already deflated that one above.

        • For y’all that need INSURANCE coverage for birth control: Two suggestions:

          1. Go to work for a company that supplies these….maybe free from restroom dispensers. DON’T WORK for companies like Hobby Lobby, Hint: they will never miss your absence.
          2. If you are so focused on your “health” and the destruction of new life, BUY YOUR OWN. Really. It’s just not that expensive. Even Sandra Fluke was instructed where to buy hers for $6 a week.

          INSURANCE coverage? Grow up!

      • LTW, an IUD is a form of birth control. Hobby Lobby is refusing to cover it. Which, not only is it the most effective form of birth control for preventing unwanted pregnancies, for someone like me, it was the most effective way of treating my menstrual migraines AND preventing unwanted pregnancy.

        The Green family is free to practice whatever religion they deem fit. But when they take those religious beliefs and literally force them onto the available healthcare choices of their FEMALE employees (again, the utter double standard that Viagra is fine and dandy, but an IUD is not is ludicrous), they cross a line and set a dangerous precedent. Again, it’s not a stretch to then have a Jehovah’s Witness refuse to cover blood transfusions, or Scientologists refuse to cover psychiatric treatment.

        • IrishEddieOHara

          You really don’t get it, do you? Birth control destroys the natural function of the body. It is therefore a sin, for it is a slap in the face to God, Who is the God of life and has made sex to produce life.

          Viagra, on the other hand, fixes a broken situation and makes it work.

          And they let you into a voting booth? Sheeeeesh!

          • In that case, Eddie, would impotence not be God’s will, and would tampering with the condition not be a sin by definition?

          • Then I’d assume you are completely against in-vitro fertilization? Because those 5 million babies and counting, thus far, that have been “created” in a way that is not in the “natural function of the body” must surely be a sin in your God’s eyes.

            I do love how something that helps a 60-year old man maintain an erection at his will is natural and good when NATURALLY he would not have been able to .. and God approves of that .. but an IUD, which allows a woman and her husband to plan out when they want children around school, careers, etc., … that somehow isn’t.

            Either you fully appreciate the theory of Natural Law or you don’t .. either way, you’re completely ignorant and hypocritical.

            But I still support your right to vote. This is America, after all. Even if you vote like a total RR sheep.

      • When Christians act like Pharisees, as Hobby Lobby’s owner is doing, they bring shame on the name of Jesus and turn people away from the church who otherwise might consider placing their faith in him to their salvation. When such persons as he get to heaven, Jesus is less likely to say to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25.21), and more likely to say, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers” (cf. Matt. 7.21-23) for the harm their lack of compassion has brought upon “the least of these” sisters of Jesus.

        • IrishEddieOHara

          It is beyond tiring to read the rantings of amateur theologians such as yourself. Your hackneyed attempt to mingle the use of contraceptives with compassion makes me want to lose my lunch. What is it that you don’t get about the difference between the two?

          Contraception is evil. Pope Paul VI outlined what would happen as a result of the acceptance of birth control, and everything he has predicted has come to pass. Women are used for sexual pleasure and then abandoned. Divorce rates have skyrocketed and so have STD’s.

          Contraception is a slap in the face of the life-giving God. It says to Him “We don’t want your plan for sexuality, which is that the loving union of a man and woman bring forth life. No, we just want to use other people as sex toys and then go our way.”

          There is nothing Pharisaical about opposing evil. Perhaps you, sir, will be the one turned from heaven’s gates for supporting that which God opposes.

          • If you feel so strongly, do not use birth control. Freedom of religion does not mean that you are free to make me practice your belief.

  2. Ms. Anderson, God NEVER encouraged us or encourages us today to do ANYTHING that goes against His best and Holy way, including what you or any other human being perceives in their own understanding what is compassionate. If, as Christians, we truly believe that God indwells us through the Holy Spirit and guides us in discernment and wisdom, then we MUST allow our Christian brothers and sisters to act on that discernment and wisdom no matter what WE think. God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts so the only decisions we can fruitfully examine is our own. The decisions of others are between them and God and I promise that if Hobby Lobby is making their choice in honor of God’s Holy way, God will honor them in return, no matter what the government dictates.

    • The great thing about freedom of religion is, I don’t have to give a flying crap what you think God commands you to do. Nor do I have to be compelled to. You really do not understand the concept.

    • It’s Rev. Dr. Anderson. And perhaps before you try to “school” her in what God does or does not want, you should take up HALF the education, daily prayer and holiness which Rev. Dr. Anderson embodies. She has a Ph.D. in Old Testament, is an ordained United Methodist Pastor, and constantly practices her Christian faith in the holiest ways possible. And I personally find it admirable that she forms her argument not based upon any of the accolades, but the simple biblical principles of compassion and care for the Least of These.

      Maybe you’ll find one of her books enlightening. I Find “Ancient Laws and Contemporary Controversies” to be particularly enlightening.

      • The Very Rev. John W. Morris,PhD

        I do not care what her title is. She obviously knows little about Christian tradition, which has condemned abortion as a form of murder since the beginning of the Church. Demanding that a Christian pay for birth control methods that cause an abortion for anyone is a violation of their 1st amendment rights. Why should birth control be free. Why should not my wife’s diabetes medicine not be free? Diabetes is a serious disease. Pregnancy is not a disease. It is a natural God created condition that creates a new life.

        • Why should birth control be available without a copay? Because if you look at the demographics of other countries with less restrictive abortion access than America (with fully covered abortion costs, BTW), yet they also mandate comprehensive sex ed and free birth control … they have a lesser per capita abortion rate than America. Birth control prevents unwanted pregnancies, which prevents abortion, so any so-called pro-lifer should be mandating birth control with no copay from the rooftops. But it’s not about that, is it?

          And once again, IUDs and Plan B do NOT CAUSE an abortion – not by any stretch of science. Only those that cling to some religious text think that way … and those beliefs should not dictate the options that an employee has.

          As I think Scalia stated today, paraphrasing, since when does a corporation have a religious belief? Hobby Lobby is incorporated. They are not a religious non-profit or a house of worship, which are exempt. They are a for-profit incorporated company trying to impose the impact of their religious beliefs on the healthcare of their employees.

        • Exodus 21:22-25 clearly shows that the loss of a fetus is not the loss of a human life, which is why religious anti-abortion fervor is a comparatively recent development ( considering over 2000 years have passed since the birth of Jesus. So, anyone claiming that Christian tradition has condemned abortion as a form of murder since the beginning is either ignorant of history or is deliberately being deceptive.

        • This type of theistic division is the precise problem for the present Christianity. No wonder why your religion has over 40,000 denominations and each denomination pointing a finger at other denominations over whose interpretation of the Bible is the correct one. Before you Christians preach or argue what you think God wants you to say/do, unite your house first, then argue your point collectively.

      • Exactly …. funny how all these people shopping at Hobby Lobby and defending them and their pro-life views are indirectly supporting China and their absurd one-child policy and abortion policies …

  3. Part of this bill requires that abortions be covered. There is no way that a Christian institution should be forced to pay for the murder of an unborn baby. And please, the argument that insurance companies pay for Viagra (which they should not be doing) does not mean that they should be paying for abortions.

    • They are paying real money to employees which can be used to pay for abortions. There is no way a Christian institution should do that! They should be able to tell employees how to spend their money and force them to live according to their dictates. We can’t let these employees have money to spend on their own!!!! :)

      What an employee does with their healthcare benefits (compensation for work done) is of no concern of the employer, ever. Its none of their business. It is the private choice of the employee. If they don’t want to cover the bare mandatory minimum required by law, they can just drop their insurance plan entirely and pay the fine. An employee does not adopt the employer’s religious belief nor has any duty to be constrained by it.

      • Larry, thats the problem with your socialist view of the issue. Compensation in the form of salary or health benefits should be entirely up to an employer or the employer and employee through contract negotiations. Prior to ACA the employer could provide whatever health care provisions he wanted. If the owners of Hobby Lobby do not want to contribute to birth control that acst as as an abortifacient, thats up to them! You, nor the Obama Administration have any right to restrict the free exercise of their religion. Free birth control is NOT a Constitutional right, but free exercise of religion is! Learn your Constitution!

        • The Gilded Age called, they want their labor relations policies back.

          Unlike yourself I understand how insurance works. Insurance is always bound by government limitations. Governments set the minimum policy requirements for insurance. Minimum coverages are never a negotiated part of a policy. Health insurance plans are group ones and never negotiated by individual employees.

          Prior to ACA, company health benefits were still constricted by state and national laws governing minimum coverages.

          Btw corporations are not their owners. They do not have religious rights. That is for individuals.

        • Mickey,

          You can call it socialism if you wish, but your statement that prior to the ACA the employer could provide whatever health care provisions he wanted is factually and legally incorrect. Ever since Congress amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in 1978 with the passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers who choose to offer health insurance benefits cannot exclude pregnancy and related conditions. Why? Because to do so is sex discrimination.

          Speaking more broadly, employers cannot pay higher wages to men than women, to whites than blacks, etc. Again, you may consider all of these statutory and regulatory limitations on employee compensation to be “socialism,” to be poor policy, but they already exist. The ACA is entirely consistent on this point.

          It’s important to recognize that employee group health plans are not freebies, as many conservatives have said. They are compensation for employment, as much a part of compensation as wages (indeed, because employers don’t have to add the 7.65% SS and Medicare matching, or pay other taxes and premiums like workers comp, compensating employees in the form of health insurance actually costs employers less than paying them the same amount in money).

          And FYI, after the passage of the CRA in 1964, many employers asserted a sincere religious belief that mixing of the races was against God’s law. One of these was Lester Maddox, who famously ran off black customers with an ax handle, and subsequently shut down the Picadilly Cafeteria rather than integrate. How are your arguments concerning providing health care benefits regarding contraception any different? You’re asking for a religious exemption to allow employers to have group health plans which exclude products and services which apply exclusively to women, just as pre-1978 plans did with regard to pregnancy. Lester Maddox was asking for a religious exemption to deny service to black customers while serving white customers, based on his religious belief that mixing races was wrong. Maddox was wrong then, and Hobby Lobby is wrong now.

  4. Why is it that company’s don’t offer the insurance OR offer the employee the same $ to get their own? I worked for a company that it was cheaper for me to get my own ins., but they wouldn’t compensate me for anything.

  5. The RCC and nearly all of the US Bishops fully backed Obamacare knowing exactly what they would face. They love socialism unless it pays for birth control. Join us in push for a full repeal of the ACA- or eat your own cooking. The second we take away the birth control mandate they will stand in our way!

    • Thats simply not true. The bishops have been in support of health care reform for generations, but they were only in support of ACA with an explicit religious rights exclusion for abortion and contraception. They were NOT fully in support of Obamacare. You statement is simply not factually accurate and is simply an attempt to exploit anti Catholicism to repeal the ACA. There are plenty of bishops who would be in favor of repealing the ACA as well.The Church has fought Communism and Socialism for years. So you are wrong here too. Save your bigotry. It doesnt help.

  6. R, L. Hails Sr. (P.E. ret.)

    This phony debate exposes an incredibility shallow moral theology among the clergy, and an abysmal understanding of America polity. It was inevitable that this suit would reach the SC when Obama lied to Congressman Stupak and his followers on their deciding vote to make this law. They asked for continuing the “Hyde amendment” which has forbidden government financing of abortion for a generation. Obama said the text was omitted but he would continue this as Presidential policy. He did, for about one day.

    Every human activity involves health. Most important activities involve payment. Using contraception devices requires a purchase. Drinking whiskey requires a purchase. Buying a gun requires a purchase. The policy issue is which activities must a third party fund? Must Hobby Lobby pay for slinky short dresses for its employees. This may lead to babies; it has health implications.

    At some point, which has existed for decades, the heavy hand of government should back off employer – employee health funding decisions. This, not Jesus loves everybody, is the issue, which Obama fouled up and the SC must sort out. The religious types protest too much.

    • “At some point, which has existed for decades, the heavy hand of government should back off employer – employee health funding decisions. ”

      Without the government getting involved, employees are powerless against the heavy hands of their employers. Its not like Mr. Green gave his employees a choice in the matter concerning the coverage or even bothered to ask them. He decided for them. Because his power,ego and religious beliefs must trump all other considerations.

      Health insurance is not a negotiated part of employment, it is a communal policy which has always been subject to government regulations.

      The most ridiculous part of this debate is the notion that a for profit corporation has any kind of religious belief. A corporation exists to be separate from its owners in a tangible sense. Its telling that corporate America has largely not supported Hobby Lobby in the quest to incinerate the corporate veil.

  7. The author understands no more about “Christianity” than my German Shepherd does apparently. There is NOTHING “Christian” in her article. She simply distorts and twists the Gospel to suite her twisted view of right and wrong. How sad.

    • “Oh, I get it: the desire to prevent abortions is now considered “legalism.””

      Its also rather heavy handed and shows a strong disregard for the rights of privacy of others.

  8. At least three problems here:

    1) The author speaks in the end about “poor women,” but contraception is already available for poor women. There are extremely few people who have jobs with employer-paid health insurance who are unable to afford the drugs the author discusses. This is mostly a straw-man argument.

    2) Have the employers said that they would deny the drugs for other medical reasons, if they are the only drugs available to treat a condition well? I can’t say definitively, but I don’t think they have, and that this is another straw-man argument.

    3) The big issue: The employers aren’t Methodists! What gives the author the right to declare the employers’ beliefs invalid because they differ from her own? Apparently she only wants freedom for people who share her particular views. The point of freedom is that it permits difference.

    • Im sorry, I think the author has no credibility when comparing her position on the subject to someone who really knows about equality for poor and minority communities – Alveda King. Alveda King at least is honest enough to realize that abortion has decimated the black community and that further efforts by the government to enable abortion through the ACA is wrong and must be fought as not only an attack on religious rights but also human and civil rights of all people, particularly minority and more specifically the black community!

      • Alveda King is an ignorant right wing mouthpiece who thinks she can has civil rights leadership credentials by genetics. She repeated lies to the media and has done zero for her community. She serves a purpose of giving conservative pundits a token black person so they don’t seem so blatantly racist most of the time.

        Calling her position on any given subject as one indicative of the black community is dishonest bullcrap.

  9. This column is theologically and fundamentally flawed. Ps. 139:13 and other Bible passages make in crystal clear the God knows and cares about human beings from the time of conception. The dignity and divine spark of human life from it’s very beginning trumps all other arguments. Ending that life in utero is no less murder than at any other time in that person’s mortal existence. That’s the basis of Hobby Lobby’s objection. They already provide contraception under their insurance for preventing pregnancy. Their objection is drugs that end a life after conception. Compassion should not end at the womb. It must begin there.

  10. Lets just be straight and honet with each other here. These people, like the author of this article, dont care about women’s health one bit. They dont care about family planning or women’s “reproductive health” as they like to call it. No, what the issue here is purely political, left -vs- right, a self serving party lemming issue over abortion. The author of this sad little article supports abortion and is trying to tap dance around it to make it seem as if those of us who dont, oppose women’s health. Why cant we all just argue the real issue. If you believe in it, then stand up for it, or maybe you cant because to defend the slaughter of millions of children would be painful even for the least among Gods children.

  11. “We are being asked to believe that a tradition rooted in compassion and care for the most vulnerable somehow violates God’s law.”

    Well, that’s the first time I’ve heard of the ACA being “a tradition rooted in compassion and care for the most vulnerable.” Sounds like Ms. Anderson is arguing that support for the ACA be mandated by all Christian traditions. Also, this is the first time I’ve heard of people who have jobs that provide them with health insurance being included among “the most vulnerable.” Given that birth control is widely and cheaply available for those who can afford it, and free for those who can’t, this seems a bit of a stretch to me.

    Given the health benefits available from hormonal contraceptives, why doesn’t Ms. Anderson recommend that all women take them? In point of fact, even the Catholic Church recognizes the health benefits of contraceptives and finds them morally permissible to use for those purposes. As well, most health insurance covers these uses. So, what exactly is Ms. Anderson’s point? That Hobby Lobby is in favor of colorectal cancer for women?

  12. Susan Humphreys

    Once again many here are totally ignoring the MAIN point of the article that this fight, even arguing over what is and what isn’t an abortificant, is BAD Theology. And the author is right and I applaud her for pointing this out. There are many other passages that also support her point: “don’t practice your piety in public”, “what you did to one of these who is my brother, you did unto me”, …..

  13. Susan Humphreys

    One other Theological point! There is a tiny passage that says “Thou shalt not bear false witness…..” That means spreading lies and mis-information for those of you that don’t understand the terminology. Now sure it does say against your neighbor, BUT I am intelligent enough to realize that it is a wise teaching that applies or should be applied to more than just one limited situation. But hey I realize that many Christians think the Ten Commandments are worthless and should be ignored!

  14. Dear Ms. Anderson I must admit I have never in my life heard a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ associate the act of intercourse and its fundamental purpose, procreation and having a third party pay for the chemically induced toxin know as birth control to prevent this great gift of God from possible taking place as some how being a heavy burden of the law being imposed on the women who freely chooses to have sex. If you do not want to have a child do not have sex. But if you freely choose to have sex and do not want children then that is your burden since it stems from your free will. You have prevented the God given gifts of Mercy and Compassion with an inflated ego of pride, arrogance, rebellion and hatred of love to satisfy your own selfishness. You need to quit acting like a women of the flesh and begin to live like a women born again in the spirit. Shame on you for attempting to turn the love of God’s word into a reflection of your sinful desires. Grow up before you end up being lost eternally. Remember you will die and God’s mercy and compassion will be replaced by his justice the minute you take your last breath. Quit defending sin and start standing up for love before it is to late. May God’s mercy and compassion be upon you to change your worldly mindset. God Bless, Hilda.

  15. Kudos, Rev. Anderson, I could not agree more. Jesus did warn the leaders and policy-makers in 1st century Israel that they should not impose burdens on those who are unable to bear them. Apparently, nobody wants to heed Jesus’ warning in our day because a beneficent and magnanimous majority of this country’s elected leadership decided to pass a bill, without reading it, that burdens employers by requiring employers to provide all types of health services and benefits.

  16. This entire article is irrelevant to the legal point.

    The government has no power to infringe on religious rights. No matter what Anderson’s opinions of the Hobby Lobby owners’ religious stance is, the point is that the government has no power to force any individual or organization to violate religious beliefs. Whether or not other people agree with someone’s theology is irrelevant.

    Furthermore, Anderson is factually incorrect. Hobby Lobby does provide contraceptives to employees through its health insurance. A female Hobby Lobby employee wants to get on the pill? Hobby Lobby’s insurance pays for that.

    What Hobby Lobby’s owners refuse to cover is abortions and abortifacients. Preventing pregnancy and terminating a baby are, in many people’s minds, two very different things. Care to argue the theology of that point, Rev. Anderson?

    • You say the words “religious rights”, but you really have no clue what you are talking about. Its just an empty nonsense slogan. There is this blithering ignorance as to how incorporation works and how it relates to the issues here that gets ignored.

      Whose religious rights are you talking about?

      How can a corporation, an entity made up entirely by legal fiat to be separate and apart from its owners, even have religious rights?

      The legal points here are based on twisting existing laws beyond all purpose and intent for a purely political goal. There is no rational sane legal point to be made on behalf of Hobby Lobby here.

      • There is a very simple point to be made — you want birth control, buy your own damn birth control! It is not that expensive and some of us know that it is evil and immoral to use.

        Making me buy your birth control is like taking money from you to give to people running illegal dog fights. Both are immoral and both repulse us. You just don’t have God’s viewpoint on birth control, so you don’t understand.

        • Making me pay for the meds that the obese person is on because they can’t stop shoving food down their throat might repulse me. Paying for someone’s chemo and treatments for lung cancer because they smoked and I don’t might repulse me. But when we ALL pay into healthcare premiums, it’s what happens, Edward. I could think in vitro or fertility treatments is immoral but some insurance helps cover that … we don’t pick and choose where our tax dollars go (war, legal executions, corrupt politicians, etc) …and the same applies to health care. Get your misguided morals out of it … your moral imperative is by no means universal.

          • And it’s not that expensive? Again, the IUD, which Hobby Lobby refuses to cover, is $500-$1200. Hardly affordable for most people, certainly not employees of Hobby Lobby. Not something that you can pick up from Wal-Mart.

        • The only simple thing here is yourself.

          The point you ignore, a corporation can’t have religious beliefs. Its a fiction which flies in the face of what religious freedom and laws of incorporation mean.

          You want to make a decision about my birth control options. TOUGH LUCK its not your choice to make. Being born again does not entitle you to twice the rights of everyone else. I don’t ever have to care what you think about private intimate acts of my life. We have a right to privacy.

          As for expense, you lie like a cheap rug. As noted from Kendra, female contraception is almost prohibitively expensive for working class women without some form of insurance subsidy.

          “You just don’t have God’s viewpoint on birth control, so you don’t understand.”

          I don’t have to care what you think God’s viewpoint is on any subject. That is what religious freedom means. That my life isn’t dictated by the religious wackadoodlery of others.

    • ONCE AGAIN.

      There is NOTHING in this lawsuit or the ACA for that matter that covers abortions. NONE.

      Preventing pregnancy is EXACTLY what an IUD does as a contraceptive, and what Plan B does. If a woman is already pregnant, meaning that little zygote bopped around and finally implanted in the uterine lining, Plan B or Ella does NOTHING. She’s pregnant. I can’t believe how many freakin’ times this needs to be explained to the ignorant.

      An IUD is the single most effective method of birth control, so I’d think those that want to PREVENT unwanted pregnancies, and perhaps subsequent abortions, would support them?

      Or is it, as most of the friend-of-the-court briefs filed on behalf of Hobby Lobby (and some of the very comments in this thread) show, it isn’t about contraceptive access at all, but about putting women in their proper place – that sex is a man’s right to have, that it is only for procreation and not recreation, and how dare a woman want a sexual relationship with her husband or loved one and be able to plan out their children?

      The 1920s are calling, folk … you belong back in that age. Despicable.

  17. Hobby Lobby is providing their employees a job, a wage, and benefits – from what I have read, above-average for their industry. Yet the author accuses Hobby Lobby of laying a burden on their employees because they don’t add yet another government-imposed benefit – for their female employees only – to the package already offered!
    Rather than accusing others of “poor theology”, the author and her church need to look in the mirror – because as far as I can tell, she and her church have done nothing to correct this supposedly grievous slight to the female Hobby Lobby employees.
    Let me put it another way: When an “an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church”, and other posters on the thread, espouse using the force of government to tie a burden onto a business, while not lifting a finger or spending their own $$$ to help, then we all know what word describes those who would impose one standard on Hobby Lobby while exempting themselves from doing the same.

  18. Susan Humphreys

    At least JonDo you addressed the point of this article as the others have refused to do. The issue is about placing a ‘heavy burden” on others. Unfortunately you refuse to accept that Hobby Lobby is placing that burden on their employees. BUT that is only one of the issues of BAD Theology, which means doctrines/policies. The Bible is full of other passages. One is “Thou shalt not bear false witness…” Do you know where that is found. It is one of those pesky Ten Commandments that I would suspect many of the posters here think should be displayed in public spaces. A sign of intelligence is whether one can extrapolate from one situation to another, this means apply a wise policy about one situation to other appropriate situations. In this case telling lies and spreading misinformation about the IUD and the pills in question, calling them abortificants when they aren’t. Spreading lies is BAD Theology. Then there is Matthew 6 about “practicing your piety in public” and Matthew 25: 31 “what you did to one of these who is my brother, you did to me”. This whole piece by Ms. Anderson is about what Hobby Lobby is doing,and as she says it is BAD Theology and I would add BAD Christianity.

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