Today the Supreme Court ruled in Hobby Lobby that private corporations can exercise their religious freedom by denying women access to particular forms of birth control.
First, I’d like to begin with a few words on religious freedom and the regulation of business. The fundamental tension of government lies in balancing the desires of individuals with the needs of an organized, functioning society. These needs are the subject of discourse guided by conflicting visions of what enhances (and guarantees) individual liberty. Until now it has been clear that one’s religious freedom extends up until it threatens the rights and liberties of others (and this is the “Harm Principle”). No matter what you do or how you do it, you’re welcome to up until others’ rights are infringed. This is in the private sphere.
Now, when one enters the public sphere to conduct business, one must conform to those policies that arose from the discourse. This means getting all of the necessary permits, following the rules, and abiding by whatever worker and environmental regulations exist. It’s a process and everyone follows it — no one gets special treatment (in theory). It sets the supposedly-level playing field on which the marketplace stands.
What’s happened now is that the Supreme Court has ruled that a corporation’s religious beliefs (1) trump the harm caused to women by restricting their reproductive (and health) freedom, and (2) can cherry-pick those regulations meant to level the marketplace. The nice thing about religious freedom is that it was designed to allow beliefs to flourish and thrive – and where we’re headed: they’re really going to. If every man is a church; every man can pick the laws he’d like to follow. Never mind the democratic discourse. If you believe it (or believe you believe it), have fun.
As Justice Ginsburg wrote in her dissenting opinion:
Would the exemption … extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.
What if it’s against someone’s religious belief to have a minimum wage? What if their beliefs view some people — based on sexual orientation or race — as unclean? What if they believe “blessed are the peacemakers“? (That last one was a joke; nobody believes that).
What we’re seeing now is the marriage of two of the worst social systems born from the minds of men: Corporatism and Theocracy. We can tell ourselves It Can’t Happen Here, but it is. This is literally the Sharknado of Social Systems. It’s now only a matter of time before some company requires its female employees to take monthly, unpaid, seven-day sick leaves so as to properly observe Leviticus 15:19:
Whenever a woman has her menstrual period, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days. If you touch her during that time, you will be defiled until evening.
After all, it’s what God would want.