Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. –H.L. Mencken
One part of the fight against Obamacare worthy of note this week is the judgement against and the statement from Hobby Lobby concerning the mandate to provide contraceptives to its employees.
Being a Christian-owned company, Hobby Lobby filed an appeal for an injunction against Obamacare while their First Amendment lawsuit is pending, but Supreme Court Justice [sic] Sonia Sotomayor denied it.
Even facing $1.3mm per day fines the company said:
“The company will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees,” said Kyle Duncan, general counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Hobby Lobby in the case.
“To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs,” he explained.
Hobby Lobby’s founder and CEO, David Green, has said that his family – which has owned the company since its 1972 founding – will continue seeking to serve God through their business decisions.
I wholeheartedly applaud the Green family for refusing to comply and I hope they are successful in their lawsuit, but I think this raises two important points that deserve some attention.
First, as Christians we should not be so concerned with this issue as a religious freedom one. It is not. It is much bigger than that. It is an issue of tyranny and we should be attacking it as such.
As the Green’s have demonstrated, they are free to practice their religious beliefs. What they are not free from are the penalties for doing so, but neither are so-called non-religious organizations under Obamacare.
The issue here isn’t whether religious organizations should be exempt from the contraceptive mandate. The issue is whether anyone, regardless of their feelings about contraceptives, should be forced to pay for something that the government dictates.
It is no more egregious for the state to force the Green family to pay for birth control pills than it is to force an atheist who does not wish to provide them to employees.
This is primarily a property rights issue, not a religious liberty issue. If an employer and employee have entered into a voluntary relationship and one of them is unhappy with the terms, they are both free to dissolve that relationship at any time. Having a job is not a right, and having a job and forcing your employer to give you things they don’t agree to is definitely not a right.
If we weasel around with semantics, trying to get exemptions by claiming religious conscience, we are playing the government’s game, and they will simply change the rules to that game.
If we make the religious argument we are in effect saying that we believe Christians (and whatever other religions are recognized for exemption) have an extra right not to be harassed by the state that others don’t.
This leads to the second but related point, which is that we are also playing into the state’s hands when we let them determine religious status. We are effectively asking the government to decide what is and what is not religion.
That may work out in your favor today, but it sets a very dangerous precedent that says the government is the authority on this matter. And if they are the authority, they can change their mind at will.
Again, kudos to Hobby Lobby for refusing to comply. But Christians should be calling out the agents of the state for their sin, regardless of who it is committed against, and not be content using Christianity as a shield for ourselves while non-Christians suffer at the hands of the state.