Hobby lobby decision: Bad News All Around
Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a “family owned Christian” company named Hobby Lobby has the right to refuse to provide health insurance coverage to its employees that would include certain both abortion and some forms of birth control for women because to do so would supposedly interfere with the owner/employer’s religious freedom.
This decision is being hailed as both a “pro-life” victory and a victory for religious freedom. I say it is neither.
It is not a “pro-life” victory because nothing is happening in the lives of women as a result of this decision that will make abortions less likely. There are, to date, only two things that have been proven to reduce abortion – access to birth control and sex education, neither of which Hobby Lobby’s owners support and neither of which are promoted by this decision. So, while I can understand how some might see this as a victory for the unborn, I must beg to differ. Making life harder for women via coercive interference in their reproductive choices rarely has that effect. They simply seek these services elsewhere, in this case by utilizing federally supported health care.
This decision is not good news for religious freedom either, not by a very long shot. Religious freedom, as guaranteed by the first amendment of our Constitution, is based on the very good idea that the institutional power of government should not be used to favor one religion over another. So why is it OK for business owners to use their institutional power as employers to do exactly the same thing?
And then there’s the thing about the company itself being Christian. Really? Did it get baptized and everything? I mean come on. I know there is a lot of room for theological debate over what does and does not constitute a Christian but I thought we all at least agreed that you kind of have to be a human being first, right?
You also have to make a free choice.
We Christians, particularly us Baptists, used to respect that freedom to the point where we fought hard to make sure that there would be no state religion in America and every person would be free to worship (or not) as he or she pleased.
So now we have corporate religion instead?
Ruth Ginsberg was right. “The court has ventured into a minefield.” It is a sad day for freedom.