As you all know, there are several Supreme Court decisions due this term regarding the ability of corporations or personal businesses to express their religiosity in defiance of the law of the land. One is Hobby Lobby which thinks it should not be required to practice something that is against their religion. The second is today’s “stay” on whether Catholic Organizations have to dispense something their religion completely disavows; birth control.
On one hand we will hear the drums of how religion is being imposed upon by the government. On the other hand we will hear how those employed by these employers, have the right to choice just as do their bosses….
Let us look at the first plank: how religion is being imposed upon by the government. As is been oft repeated, the Constitution as originally written said rather little about the right to religion. However, it IS in the Bill of Rights, which because they were a necessary addition added to get the Constitution garnering enough votes, one can loosely say, the original Constitution deals with religion…
And as is oft repeated with every controversy, the First Amendment states as follows: 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.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. This means that Congress cannot say: ”This year’s official religion will be Pentecostal. All other religions are hereby abolished”. This may sound far fetched to us, but was a real factor in the daily lives of the colonists before the nation was forged. Quakers were ostracized by Episcopalians. Catholics were beset with punitive laws except in Maryland. If you needed to go before the state or county courthouse, you had to be of that area’s official religion, before you could get heard… True, dat.
The second part, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; is where the argument will be directed. Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor, both have similar arguments which are as follows.
“WE don’t believe sex should be had for enjoyment. Our religion is anti-sex. If we have to dispense or are required to pay for people to commit sex without the consequence of pregnancy or a viral AIDS infection, we are having our free exercise of religion being prohibited….”
More clearly put: our religion demands that we prohibit sex for enjoyment wherever it “pops” up. If you stop us from prohibiting enjoyable sex, you are interfering with our religion.
In the matter of text, they have a point. If their religion does indeed demand that they stop everyone from having enjoyable sex, then the government in stepping in to stop them from stopping some amazing sex, is depriving them of their religious rights. So we should conceive that they have a textual point….. Before the Obamacare, religion was not impinged. Now it is.
The next step is to see if that point is relevant with the norms of today’s society. As an extreme case, allowing a quirky religious sect to burn their babies alive because “it is called for by their religion” would be a case where the harm done to a citizen of the United States of America against their will, would outweigh in society’s eyes the harm being done to the religiosity of those practicing such a barbarity. Burning witches at a stake would suffice as an example as well.
There is obvious a gray area then where government must trample on religion and religion finds it must interfere with government.
We can use the extreme case above of burning witches. One could say that happened in Delaware in 2010. (lol. Our witch got burned bad.) Here we have a case where one religion (the witch burning one) interferes with the other religion (the witch one). When you have two opposite religions, the government has to look at other laws other than religion to determine policy. In this case, murder. Correct?
So the correct assessment is that since both religious issues cancel each other out, then the factor of murder by default becomes the deciding one. The witch-burning religion is in the wrong by existing laws on the books (murder) and therefore it must stop its practice. Was it’s bizarre form of religion impinged upon by government? Absolutely. And for good reason; it was murder.
So we now have precedence of government making necessary impositions upon any religious practices that harm society. Yet there is still no imposition upon ones beliefs. You can still “believe” that burning witches is your goal in life, but you just can’t carry it out. It hurts other people.
So the defense of the law by the government must not focus on the rights of these religious petitioners. but should solely focus on that harm which if allowed to go forward, that religion will impinge upon all those millions of people who are not in either sect, and who will suffer at the hands of any court decision favoring either sect’s quixotic religious preferences.
They have First Amendment rights too…. such as in having our Government abridging the freedom of speech…
The courts have long upheld that “expression” was the founding father’s meaning of “speech”. Porn doesn’t move it’s lips but is a form of expression protected by the Supreme Court. Just like that Pat Robertson of the 700 Club doesn’t move his lips, but is also considered a form of expression protected by the Supreme Court. Art is expression. Music is expression. Love is expression…
Likewise there are reasonable limits to the right to expression, again, determined by society’s norms. Going nude in a public school is not good. There are reasons that is against the law. Playing music too loud on Newark’s Main Street is not good. There are reasons that is against the law. Graffiti in the Bank of America building, not good. There are reasons that would be against the law.
So the argument made before the court will be two fold; what is harmful or non harmful to each side, and what society’s norms will dictate, whether one or another is extreme when compared to the norm of society….
Therefore this becomes a moral question, not one of logic. After all, both sides think logic is on their side. And I think all will boil down to something said by the last Pope, Pope Benedict….
He stated something along the lines, “that people have to eat; and to eat, they have to work.” If work is abundant, perhaps one can leave one employer and go to another which they prefer. But if work is scarce, they are bound to hang on to that job no matter what external factors line up to batter them. If there is one job in town, and the boss halves the wages, one has to accept it. If there is one job in town, and the boss demands sexual favors for one to keep it, one has to acquiesce because there is no other alternative.
So for every religious nun or Hobby Lobby business owner who wishes to buck the current law, there are those countless employees working for them who will get hurt if their employer gets any exception to the current law simply because their religion states “it” is against all enjoyable sex.
Those employees working for these bosses, can’t have enjoyable sex because of the religiosity of their employers…. ” I’m sorry Hon, but because I work for Hobby Lobby, we can’t do it for another 15 days… Just hold it inside, will you?”
Their expression, in the privacy of their home, is impinged… While yet…the religious owners expression in the privacy of THEIR homes, is not affected by one bit…
Since one side is negatively affected in private by the consequences of not having contraception reimbursed, and the other side is not, it seems imperative that a thoughtful, logical, non-judgmental court, would decide to protect those who are hurt, at the expense of those who are doing the hurting….
Remember: it is still the insurance companies who are paying for all these sexual items; not the employers themselves; there is no harm to the employers if this policy goes forward. They are not in anyway contributing any harm to themselves. Just like if they burned witches….
Those they are affecting, do get harmed…. Not being allowed to enjoy sex because of your luck at being hired by one employer over another, surely trumps whether that employer feels slightly “miffed” that he is required to insure his employees and that insurance will allow them to enjoy the wonders of sex without getting pregnant or getting viral AIDS.
AIDS kills, like being burned at the stake. Being allowed to stand around the fire going “tsk, tsk” should not become our nation’s definition of what “religion” is all about……