Saturday, January 12, 2013

Hobby Lobby brouhaha

Some thoughts about the Hobby Lobby situation…

The First Amendment (Bill of Rights – U.S. Constitution).

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Right off the bat, we have a problem with the word “right.” There are many interpretations of this word but I‘m gonna stick with the legal (functional!) usage. Libertarians, beware.

Rights are not absolute. In the two-hundred-plus years of our history, several limitations have been enumerated on each of the rights listed in this amendment. You’re all familiar with the classic limitation example on speech – yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. There’s actually quite a lengthy list of restrictions on this right, just as there are limitations on all of these rights. In the Hobby Lobby case, we’re talking about religious rights; so let’s examine that.

In 1878, while considering polygamy, the Supreme Court said, "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious beliefs and opinions, they may with practices." They maintained that polygamy, like human sacrifice, could be litigated against, despite a plaintiff’s religious beliefs.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said about White soi-disant Christians and their beliefs about Black men, It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.” In reality, the law sometimes couldn’t even prosecute lynchings, much less prevent them; but that’s a problem with function, not theory.

These days, the salient concept is “compelling interest.” Whether it’s Seventh Day Adventists working on Saturday, Native Americans taking peyote, or Santeria animal sacrifice, the Supreme Court relies, at root, on “compelling interest,” principally because of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was reaffirmed in the 2006 Gonzalez v. UDV ruling.

Hobby Lobby’s position, as far as I can tell (For that matter, this entire philippic is just my opinion based on my limited knowledge of what’s actually going on here.), is that they believe that IUDs, “Plan B,” and Levonelle are abortifacients and their sole resistance to complying with the law is based on those particular items. Aside from the fact that this belief is scientifically/factually incorrect, other evangelical Christians who tried to talk to the Hobby Lobby about their position were turned away by security forces. Those evangelicals wanted to say to Hobby Lobby that these devices and pills are not abortifacients but are simply a different form of contraception, which Hobby Lobby claims to support. The petition from these evangelicals states that Hobby Lobby is simply using their “faith” as an excuse to oppose health care reform and deny women access to birth control.


The reality is that the lower courts have denied Hobby Lobby’s challenge and now they’ve lost their appeal to the Supreme Court. That leaves Hobby Lobby in the position where they have the choice to comply with the law or pay the fine. Render unto Caesar, folks. It’s that simple. Your religious beliefs do not constitute a unilateral right and they do not trump the rights of your employees in your secular business.

Me, I believe that these Medieval flat-earthers simply hate living in the real America, which is not a fundamentalist theocracy, and this is a cri de coeur against the cruel truth of reality and the harsh truth of science which contradicts their weltanschauung daily. As Neil deGrasse Tyson so bluntly stated, “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance."

But that’s just my belief, which has very little bearing on reality.



  1. On the issue of rights - I agree with you. And would Hobby Lobby as a corporate entity technically be entitled to rights? I'm still not sure on this - that an entire company could claim the rights of an individual.

    On the other hand, morally I'm not into forcing anyone to participate in something they don't agree with or believe in. There springs the Libertarian eternal within me. Part of me just wants to tell Hobby Lobby to suck it up - but I'm not completely sold on universal health care either.

    I've had government health care for 13 years (military spouse). I'm not impressed. And there is so much misuse of services within the military community that now it is almost impossible to get referrals for certain treatments and specialists.

  2. Hi, Aadel,

    Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your input.