Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Hobby Lobby Decision: Bad for Women and Bad for Conservative Christians

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 5:30 AM

I'm not going to sit here and spell out all the ways the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision is bad for women. I will sit here and wait for my country to eventually recognize me as a legal person whose rights matter. I have hope that will someday happen.

But I'm a little stunned to see this reaction from conservative Christians in Monday's Tennessean:

"This is as close as it gets to a Southern Baptist dancing for joy.... The court reaffirmed a fundamental guarantee for religious liberty for all people."

— Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"No individual or organization should ever be forced to choose between violating their own personal religious beliefs and fulfilling a government mandate. I applaud today's Supreme Court ruling, which reaffirms our constitutionally protected religious freedoms."

— U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais

"Today the Supreme Court sided with our constitutional rights and stood up to the Obama administration's assault on religious liberty."

— U.S. Rep. Diane Black

I don't expect better from DesJarlais or Black, but I would have thought that Moore would see the problem with this ruling — the Supreme Court just passed judgment on what a "legitimate" religious belief is. This is really something the Southern Baptists want, considering how heavily Catholic the Supreme Court is? For the Supreme Court to be deciding what are legitimate religious beliefs that deserve protecting?

Alito specifically says:

This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage mandates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice.

Get that? The Court is saying that concerns about funding abortions are legitimate religious beliefs which deserve legal protections, but concerns about vaccinations, blood transfusions, and some types of discrimination aren't legitimate religious beliefs under U.S. law.

This isn't a win for religious liberty. The U.S. Supreme Court has just set itself up as the arbiter of what constitutes a legitimate religious belief. You have religious beliefs outside those bounds? The Court will have to weigh in on them. That's not more religious freedom for conservative Christians, just because they now have the right to make women who work for them conform to their religious ideals. They got given this small thing — my personhood — at the expense of theological control of their religions.

And I'm going to laugh when they finally realize that.

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