How NOT to cover the ruling in the Hobby Lobby case

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s highly anticipated ruling in the Hobby Lobby case expected as soon as today, Forbes offers a perfect example of how not to cover the decision.

And yes, I realize it’s more than the Hobby Lobby case (thank you, tmatt).

For anyone not familiar with the background or what’s at stake, ReligionLink provided this informative primer back in March that’s still relevant.

As Religion News Service puts it:

Technically,  it’s Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a showdown over the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate. The core legal question is whether a private company can have religious rights.

But to the general public, this is seen as a showdown between employers — the evangelical Green family behind Hobby Lobby and the Mennonite Hahn family that owns the Conestoga cabinet company — and the employees’ personal reproductive choices under their insurance.

But back to Forbes. 

Here’s the headline atop that organization’s one-sided account:

What To Expect If Hobby Lobby Wins Religious Freedom Case

Who does Forbes quote? Three sources — all critics of Hobby Lobby’s position. Apparently, all the “experts” are concerned:

But there’s far more at stake than the rights of women workers to contraception access, according to experts who’ve studied this case and its precedents.

“If the Supreme Court gives corporations rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it could be a sea change,” said Marci Hamilton, constitutional law expert and author of newly released book God vs. the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty.

“Hobby Lobby is discriminating against employees who don’t share their faith. This is another step towards filling the workplace with coreligionists.”

Greg Scott is vice president of media communications for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Conestoga Wood Specialties. His response to the Forbes story, shared with GetReligion:

When all of the sources represent the furthest extreme on one side of an issue, you’re not likely to get anything but the hysteria represented by that piece. The sources are uniformly hostile to the constitutionally protected free exercise of faith and completely distort what constitutes unlawful discrimination. The case has nothing to do with whether anyone has “access” to potentially abortion-inducing drugs and contraception.

Planned Parenthood, a chief opponent of the Hahn and Green families’ religious freedom, itself claims that 99 percent of women have used these products. So access to these drugs is self-evidently not a problem. The problem is the mandate, which forces these family businesses to subsidize objectionable drugs and treatments under the threat of massive fines enforced by the IRS. The only “access” at stake in this case is the families’ access to their religious freedom to opt out of participating in someone else’s decision to purchase embryo-destroying drugs.

There you have it: another side of the story. Too bad Forbes didn’t choose to pursue it.

If the ruling happens this morning, follow the comments section on this post for updates. And by all means, share any links to particularly excellent or egregious news coverage.

Update:

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.


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