June 30, 2014
My God is Better than Your God, or What the Hobby Lobby Ruling Could Mean For You
Today the Supreme Court decided that Hobby Lobby doesn't have to provide birth control to its employees, despite federal laws that dictate otherwise.
Hobby Lobby claimed that provided contraception violated their religious beliefs. Now, religious institutions... churches, non profits... they were already exempt from these federal laws. But Hobby Lobby is a for-profit corporation. Legally, as Mitt Romney reminded us, a person.
To give you an idea of why this is such a terrible precedent, I present myself. The married mother of three. The accomplished crafter. The SAIC educated artist. The DIYer. I am exactly who Hobby Lobby wants shopping at their store. And I am also who they want to work for them.
Most of the people behind the anti-abortion movement consider themselves religious. And the anti-abortion movement and the anti-contraception movement are closely linked. It seems like madness, but it's true. Because in both of these cases, the philosophical center of the debate is women, daring to have sex for pleasure. If they get pregnant and need an abortion, they're evil, selfish, sinning harlots. If they don't get pregnant because they successfully use contraception, they're evil, selfish, sinning harlots.
That's the common ground. That's where it starts.
Now Hobby Lobby, who claims deep religious beliefs, says it's an infringement on their freedom of religion to support those evil, selfish, sinning harlots if it provides them with a third party insurance plan that includes birth control*.
The fact is that about 99% of women in the US have used contraceptives. Married women are among the most reliable users of the pill*. Working women rely on contraceptives.
And NOT just to keep from getting pregnant.
Birth control regulates periods, letting you control what day it begins, how long it lasts, or even if you have one at all. And with all the side effects of menstruation (cramps, headaches, insomnia, etc.), being in control of when or if these symptoms occur INCREASES your productivity at work.
So if I worked at Hobby Lobby, they would have the right to ensure that I am minimally productive for at least one week out of each month.
Hobby Lobby, which says its deep religious beliefs are behind this legal action, wants to make sure women follow its Christian values. But I don't have Christian values. In fact, as a Jew, it is essentially to me that I take contraception.
The most important law in all of Judaism is to do what you must "in order to preserve life." You can eat any non-kosher food, break the Sabbath, anything- IF it preserves life.
If I get pregnant, I get melanoma. If I get pregnant, I get cancer and a uterus ready to explode. If I get pregnant, I run extremely high odds of death. For me, contraceptives preserve life.
Now that Hobby Lobby has the right to deny me my legal protections because of their religion, I might be fired for taking off my Jewish holidays. Or if I skipped shul and went to work on Yom Kippur, I could be fired for refusing to take my lunch break, what with my fasting and all.
Now Hobby Lobby has opened a door that MUST be closed, to the elevation of one religion over another.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that Hobby Lobby has the right to ignore federal laws under the guise of religious persecution, it's open season on non-Christians in the workplace.
Because as much as these right-wing conservative blowhards claim there is a war against Christians in this country, it's a lie. What's happening is that our country, founded with the understanding that there must be no state instituted religion, founded by men of faith but not CHRISTIAN faith, by theists and deists and Quakers, has reached a point where the "other" religions are visible. Where once in a while, a Christian might assume that everyone around them is also Christian and be wrong.
Jews, Hindus, native peoples, Sikhs, and horror of horrors, Muslims are all around us. Living in peace, administering to their faith in peace, and generally going about their lives.
This so-called War on Christians, it's the realization that Christians don't have the absolute majority anymore. That there is enough of a voice of "others" out there that when a statue of Jesus or the Ten Commandments appears on a state house, somebody is going to complain. Not just to whine for the sake of whining, but because this great country was founded on something important.
Not Christian men. Not white men. And not even all male "men." All people. They all have the right to their religious beliefs or to none at all. And no company is above that.
At least, not until today.
It's a dark day in American History. A day when all the non-Christians stood slack jawed and shocked, amazed that now their employer could dictate their lives beyond work, based on some idea that their moral authority is better, that their faith is more important, that their God is better than your God. Or even that their personal idea of God is somehow superior to another person's.
I'll leave you with this, rather than my own furious ramblings.
“I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
“We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws...”
*Yes, I know the ruling specifically covers a subset of contraceptive methods. And despite what you may have heard, these methods (IUD, morning after pill) are NOT abortifacients. This still sets a tremendously dangerous precedent. The precedent that YOUR BOSS gets to decide what medication is or is not covered by your plan, based only on your boss's own perceived religiously moral superiority. If YOUR BOSS says that blood transfusions are against his religion, or that mammograms are against his religion, should he have the power to remove those options from your third party insurance? I think not. And I am not alone.