The Supreme Court ruled today that Hobby Lobby (the corporation) could claim an exemption from providing certain birth control measures through its employee health care coverage because it violated the religious views of its owners.
There are a whole bunch of other issues and very deep issues surrounding that first sentence but I couldn't believe (0r maybe I can) the way some lit up social media in response to this! One person even went so far as to post "Hobby Lobby are homo haters!" Really? Where did that come from or is that person suddenly just jumping on the "Christians Hate Gays" or "Gays Hate Christians" Bandwagon.
So what issues are really contained in the Supreme Court Ruling? Quite a few actually.
1. Corporate Identity - What or who is a corporation and where does one draw the line between a corporation and an individual who started or owns the corporation?
2. Can the U.S. Government force individuals to violate their religious beliefs.
3. Is contraception even a religous issue and if so which religions?
4. What exactly is Separation of Church and State?
5. Was Hobby Lobby's stance purely religious or was it financial?
Those are only the tip of the iceberg and even covering those would be too much for a single blog post, especially for one that I like to keep as much as possible to the topics related to Chicago History.
First of all, I have always understood that a corporation is considered a separate entity by State Law and offers the owners some form of personal legal protection from lawsuits arising against the corporation. I am not an attorney but I do know that protection has been limited by the courts depending upon how separate the corporation truly is from the identify of its owners. For instance, if I recently just started up a corporation and I have provided the financial backing as an individual and the corporation really hasn't been around long enough to form its own true separate credit rating and financial identity then the courts can hold that I am personally still responsible financially for the corporation. I believe they call that "piercing the corporate veil"
The Supreme Court seemed to believe that Hobby Lobby being a private corporation was still close enough to its founders and owners (it is a privately owned corporation and not publicly traded I understand) that the beliefs of its owners could cross over and be considered the beliefs of the corporation and by compelling the corporation to provide birth control to its employees would cause the owners to violate their religious beliefs. If that is the logic then they should also lose the individual legal protection it would receive as a corporation as well.
I guess I should let everyone know (in the interest of full disclosure) that I consider myself a Christian as far as my religious beliefs and if I had to pick a political party I suppose I would have to consider myself a Republican even though I'm not truly happy politicians in either party.
With that out of the way and some of the readers of this article already categorizing me as a gay-hating, close minded, bigot looking to revert women's rights back to the stone age, I suppose we can move on.
My personal stance (and I do mean personal and not legal) is that I don't believe that the owners of Hobby Lobby are being forced to violate their religious beliefs by having birth control options available to employees as part of their health care plan. It is the employees decision whether or not to use or not use birth control and I strongly believe that they do not have the right as an employer to force their religious beliefs on their employees. Would hiring a non-Christian employee violate their religious beliefs? Would offering products manufactured by a government known for its pathetic human rights record violate their religious beliefs?
So why are they fighting it? Is it purely a financial reason? Are they simply pandering to the Religious Right? Are they believers in the "Any publicity is good publicity" doctrine?
The answer to that is, "I don't know". I truly don't know the owners or their true religious beliefs. I also don't know if it was a financial decision because the birth control options that were truly objected to purportedly would not really have affected their corporate pocket books much at all.
So can the U.S. Government force someone (an individual) to violate their religious beliefs? That is a very good question. The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution states in reference to religion; Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
I know that there is much more to that as represented by other court rulings or case law but in a nutshell it means that our government should really stay out of religious affairs. It should neither do anything to favor or support one religion or another or hinder persons from practicing their individual faith. I think our founding fathers were more than ingenious when insuring this wording was included. BAD THINGS HAPPEN when you mix religion and politics. That is not to say that our lawmakers and governing officials can be influenced by their own religious beliefs but our Government should not be involved in supporting a particular religion or denying an individual his rights to worship they way he or she chooses.
I am waiting for the first person to comment on this and say something like, "Well...my religion states that I have to kill one person every day and if the government tries to stop me then they are violating my rights"
Is contraception a religious issue? I guess that would depend on your religion. In different Christian denominations it actually differs quite a bit (Another reason government shouldn't be in the business of religion) If your particular religion or denomination is supportive of artificial contraceptive then so be it. If it is not then so be it. It is your individual conscience that you have to contend with and you shouldn't force your religious beliefs on others who do not share your beliefs, Period!
Of course on the other hand, I think people have lost sight of the fact that we all have free choice in the matter. If you don't like your employer, find another job! If you don't like a particular television show, don't watch it! If you don't like a particular religion, don't practice it! If you don't like a particular music, don't listen to it! If you don't like a particular food, don't eat it! (unless it is vegetables and your mother is telling you to eat it).
Finally, let us all use our heads and intellect (assuming we have any) to really look at the real issue at hand. Whether or not Hobby Lobby or any other corporation is mandated to provide birth control as a health care benefit has nothing at all to do with Hobby Lobby or their officers or owners being "Gay Haters". I don't know the individuals who own Hobby Lobby or who or what they hate, if anything. I don't even know if they truly are Christian or what their beliefs truly are. In fact, I really despise it when "Christianity" as a whole is labeled as a "Gay Hating" religion. A true Christian hates nobody. God, as a true Christian sees him, is not a "Gay Hater". People think it is funny when I say that I am a Christian and yet supported the Supreme Court's ruling on the unconstitutionality of the banning of same sex marriage. That doesn't mean that I support the idea of same sex marriage or that I approve of homosexuality but I do object to our government giving special benefits to "married" individuals and then denying those same benefits to others who could never be married until now. It also doesn't mean that I look down on or pass judgement on anyone whose sexual preferences are different than mine or think less of anyone because they are different than I am. That is truly what it means to me to be a Christian. To treat others as I would want to be treated and to love others as I would want to be loved.
Let's stick to the real issues at hand and not just jump on one bandwagon or another.