Religious Freedom: Will the Supremes Let Us Keep It?

Today’s the day in which the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in Sibelius vs Hobby Lobby.

The question at hand is not whether the HHS Mandate is Constitutional. The question which is being brought before the Court is whether or not the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 protects Hobby Lobby against the fines and penalties of the HHS Mandate.

The Obama Administration has argued in previous court appearances that the First Amendment only applies to formal worship activities and other direct actions of federally recognized churches, within the confines of their church proper. This narrow interpretation of the First Amendment would end freedom of religion in this country. In fact, it is very similar to the kind and type of religious freedom that totalitarian states operating under communism grant.

So much is at stake with this case.

Please pray that the Supreme Court will preserve the religious liberties and religious exemptions that Americans have long enjoyed.

From SCOTUS Review:

Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

Linked with:

Docket No.Op. BelowArgumentOpinionVoteAuthorTerm
13-35410th Cir.Mar 25, 2014TBDTBDTBDOT 2013

Issue: Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    What is the option if the Supreme Court decides that the RTFA no longer fits in their edited version of the Constitution?

    • hamiltonr

      I think Christians are going to have to do some hard thinking about how to resist, and that for the long haul.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        Early media meta opinions seem to be confused, right along gender lines, with Kennedy as a possible swing vote (which tells me that Hobby Lobby likely lost):
        http://www.goosh.org/#Hobby%20Lobby%20Supreme%20Court

        But I’m downright shocked that the Catholic Latina grandmother would be coming down on the government’s side in this- and that feeds into my despair that the Church has downright lost the culture war.

        • oregon nurse

          I’m totally unsurprised. That’s the popular feminism of her age and background speaking. She has put women’s reproductive ‘rights’ ahead of her Lord and Savior, just like Pelosi, and innumerable other ‘liberated’ women. It’s completely unsurprising to me that the women on the court were the ones that came across the most critical in their questioning.

          • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

            True, but what it practically means is that we’ve lost another generation of Catholics. In her culture, it’s the women, not the men, who pass on the faith.

            It’s possible, given Justice Kennedy and Roberts final remarks, that this battle is won, but the war, the war is lost.

            • oregon nurse

              Indeed, Ted. The war was lost when women themselves became the greatest enemy of
              motherhood.

  • Darren

    I wholeheartedly agree!

    The two questions under consideration:

    1. Do corporate entities enjoy freedom of conscious?

    2. Does this freedom of conscious obviate a legally defined person’s obligation to abide by laws to which that person has an objection?

    We have seen in Citizen’s United the SCOTUS recently extend freedom of expression to corporate entities. It will be extremely interesting if they extend the definition of corporate personhood even further and the implications this will have. I am interested in an abstract way in how our definition of personhood continues to evolve, but have little preference either way.

    On the second point though all individuals stand to gain immensely; there being a great many laws to which one might reasonably object. I suppose we will be heading down the path to yet another government agency, this one tasked with logging each person’s (flesh-and-blood and corporate) catalog of exempted laws and ensuring that local, state, and national law enforcement agencies are aware of which laws apply to which person. Logistically challenging though it may be, it will be a great victory for personal freedom! I am very excited about such a prospect and will be keeping my fingers crossed along with you.

    • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

      The SCOTUS may also find the principle from Matthew 6:24 relevant.

      • hamiltonr

        Another Scripture-quoting atheist. Oh my.

        • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

          You shouldn’t be surprised; the Pew Forum survey data indicates that they average more knowledgeable on the Bible than Catholics.

          As happens, though, the oral argument suggests they’re not going to.

          • hamiltonr

            I’m not surprised, nobody who comments on this blog mis-quotes, mis-applies and mis-interprets the Scriptures more than atheists. The interesting point is that they don’t believe what they’re saying. It’s just a manipulation.

        • Mike Blackadder

          It’s true. Atheists are perhaps ironically the most ideologically driven and most obsessed with religion. It also explains why they are politically the most partisan of any religious demographic.

    • FW Ken

      Perhaps we need to stop looking at privately held corporations as legal entities, Ann’s see them for what they are: the property of their owners.

      • Darren

        “Perhaps we need to stop looking at privately held corporations as legal
        entities, Ann’s see them for what they are: the property of their
        owners.”

        Not really. Corporations are just that, legal entities possessing a limited set of the same rights and responsiblities as flesh-and-blood persons, but historically only a limited set. While corporations may own property, enter into contracts, sue in court, and recently exercise free speak rights, they may not (yet) exercise religious freedoms or vote. Corporations are also subject to civil penalties, but can not, for example, go to jail.

        Perhaps you are confusing a corporation with a sole proprietorship, the traditional “family business”. While corporations are owned, that ownership is legally divorced from leadership (they can be the same, but in most cases are not), which can range from a single owner to hundreds of millions of owners (ie stockholders).

        P.S. If it is the “privately held” aspect that is the source of confusion, that is only a regulatory category – it has no impact upon the legal status of the corporation as such, it indicates only how many owners a corporation may have before being subject to various investor and financial disclosure laws.

        Corporations offer owners legal isolation from liability, either civil, criminal, or financial, of the corporation, and allow for easier transition from one owner or leader to the next, but at a significant tax disadvantage. In short, corporations are _only_ selected by owners in preference to sole proprietorships or partnerships under those circumstances when the owners themselves _want_ to have the business divorced from their personal affairs. In all other cases the tax penalties make the selection sub-optimal.

        • oregon nurse

          Focusing on rules for corporations, even closely held corps, detracts from the real issue which is – can the gov force a business owner to violate their religious/moral conscience as a cost of being allowed to do business. We’ve clearly seen that single owner small businesses have had that right taken away from them, so discussing corporations as if corp laws somehow make a difference in the matter, is a waste of time.

  • Tom Miller

    I for one don’t relish the idea of having to ask my potential employer what religious beliefs the owner of my corporation has in order to determine what my medical plan will cover. If they happen to be a Jehovah’s Witness will my plan not cover blood transfusions? If they are Scientologists can I forget about psychiatric care?

    Can you put a limit on any religious groups’ deeply held beliefs? I personally don’t want 15 riders on my insurance to handle everything the owner of my corporation doesn’t believe in.

    • Darren

      It is unlikely to be that confusing. Should the SCOTUS rule in favor of corporate freedom of conscious, and that such convictions exempt one from odious laws, then much as corporations have moved off-shore to more favorable tax locations, we can expect a mass of corporate conversions to whichever faith tradition would provide them with the lowest operating costs – taxation, minimum wage and hour, safety, environmental, anti-discrimination, retirement, disclosure, etc.

      It will take a few years, but eventually we should reach a new normal as to corporate religious affiliations and how much of our current employment law is still enforceable.

    • oregon nurse

      The reality is that you only ever get a plan that your employer decided was what they wanted to give you and at a cost they wanted you to pay. You can obsess about potentially having to pay for your own contraception while ignoring all the other things you don’t get – if that makes sense to you.

      I wonder how many people are up in arms over contraception coverage while blithely paying through the nose for their employer’s dental ‘insurance’ that will have them paying tens of thousands out of pocket to fix their kid’s buck teeth.

  • peggy-o

    I have no faith in the courts but all faith in Christ so I have prayed. Honestly I don’t understand how our constitutional system hasn’t already imploded from years of relativism. If we’ve already said corporations are people and money is speech, than following this ridiculous trajectory than no company should be forced to buy unhealthy pills or do anything that violates their religious beliefs.

    I just don’t get it. Why all the piecemeal arguments when the first amendment seems so clear?

    • oregon nurse

      I’m with you. This isn’t even arguing a case for our Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. This is about the scope and meaning of a related law which could presumably be challenged as unconstitutional at some point as well. Makes you wonder if it all isn’t just legal bureaucratic BS designed to keep politicians, lawyers and judges permanently employed.

      • FW Ken

        Not to mention insurance executives.

      • peggy-o

        It’s crazy… Or else my thinking is way off. By arguing over a right we already clearly have rather than standing for its enforcement, are we not weakening it? Do we not dilute it by these later, possibly weaker laws as you suggest or splinter examples? Obviously I have no legal background but we already have this constitutional right why argue as if we don’t and risk that we someday won’t?

        • oregon nurse

          IMO, I think you’ve nailed it. It’s like we’ve already conceded that we have no right to religious freedom and now we’re just fighting over the details of how to pretend we still have it. And all this just to get relief from RFRA – a federal band-aid law that is unconstitutional beyond federal jurisdiction – that was passed to undo/mitigate prior law that had tried to limit religious freedom and was found to have overstepped it.

          • peggy-o

            I’ll pray for more Solomon’s but without all the extra wives. Such a sad state …

  • JohnStefanyszyn

    World Vision believes in self-religious “freedom”….the same freedom of self-rights that the homosexuals claim so as to justify their way of life.

    …AND religious freedom / freedom of self-rights also confesses that it is RIGHT and GOOD for one to worship ANY ‘god / self-belief’.

    Why does man turn to ‘freedom’ to protect one’s way when the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Only Creator, said to worship Only the One Creator and Him Alone, His Will Alone to serve in obedience?

    …because man desires to “know” / establish & justify “good and evil” in his own eyes.

    …because man desires to be “keeper” of himself first and foremost

    …because man desires to do what is right in his own eyes.

    …because man desires to serve and magnify ‘oneself’ (XES).

    BUT ,soon, it is Only the King Jesus Christ that will rule the earth in power according to and in obedience to the Will of Jehowah Elohim and NOT according to man’s first love for his “self-freedom”.

    ….and man will weep and will clench his teeth in anger when his freedom will be no more.

    John Stefanyszyn

    ….a bondman of the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Only God


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