A Hollow Victory for Religious Freedom?

Many people who care about religious freedom are excited about the Hobby Lobby case. I see it as a hollow victory.

SCOTUS essentially said to the owners of Hobby Lobby: “Congratulations: you have the freedom not to be compelled to purchase something for someone else that they will use to do something that you believe is unethical. And, your freedom not to be so compelled is not guaranteed by the First Amendment, but by an act of Congress (RFRA). Also, your right only applies because you, the owners, are related to one another.”

Any legislation that requires someone to purchase anything just for the right to contract freely is a violation of the First Amendment right to associate (which implies the right to dissociate). So, if SCOTUS has already denied individuals-banded-together-by-contract (i.e., corporations) that right to dissociate by upholding the mandate that they provide insurance, why shouldn’t it force Hobby Lobby to pay for abortions?

We’ve already lost the war; forgive me for not celebrating that this skirmish went “the right way.” Just because there wasn’t a “compelling government interest” (the standard for RFRA) in this case that would override the religious freedom violations according to five of the justices, doesn’t mean that next time there won’t be an even more “compelling interest” that would catch the fancy of a fab five.

Religious freedom must mean freedom to not be forced to act contrary to one’s religion, not simply freedom to engage in worship, as the White House has tried to say. I can’t be free to praise YHWH on Sunday and then be forced to disobey Him on Monday.

About Benj

I’m a native North Jerseyan, transplanted to Pennsylvania...lived and taught in Eastern Europe for six years…Old Testament professor, ordained minister, occasional liturgist…husband to Corrie…father to Daniel and Elizabeth.
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