religious liberty

Because We’re Not Afraid of Debate: RFRA Madness —Marriage Support May Suffer, But That’s a Good Thing

RFRA desormeaux

 

This was originally posted at Cynicus Prime.

One of the most startling memes I’ve seen in the wake of the Indiana RFRA debate is the swift retreat by many conservatives from their previously stated support for same-sex marriage equality. Many analysts expect this kind of pushback when an issue becomes as heated as this one has. The pendulum swings back and forth, they say, and perhaps RFRA was the top of the equal rights swing and now the descent begins. Maybe, maybe not. But the pushback we’ve seen here is incredibly instructive, and ultimately worth the price for an honest public debate.

I couldn’t scroll my Twitter timeline at any point on Wednesday without someone saying they were now rethinking or abandoning their support for gay marriage after Indiana. They had reluctantly agreed that marriage would be ok, but to have their businesses hired to (not at all) participate in them? Fascism! Totalitarianism!

At first blush, this sounds like an unfortunate setback for the LGBT equal rights movement. Polls may soon show a softening of national support for marriage equality. Well, I say it’s about time. The emergent consensus was a fairy tale. It was too good to be true.

One paragraph from the Hobby Lobby ruling destroys the entire liberal “anti-women” narrative

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The instant the Supreme Court ruled on Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the War on Women™ was back on. Liberals from sea to shining sea had talking points, Facebook memes, and … narratives ready to go and deployed them in a cascade of messaging discipline. It was truly a sight to behold. You may have seen this particularly nonsensical but effective image shared hundreds of times within 24 hours:

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I mean really. But apart from saying “nuh uh!”, conservatives had little effective response to this narrative. But then Julian Sanchez from the Cato Institute’s blog discovered a little-noticed passage in the Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito:

The effect of the HHS-created accommodation on the women employed by Hobby Lobby and the other companies involved in these cases would be precisely zero. Under that accommodation, these women would still be entitled to all FDA-approved contraceptives without cost sharing.

This refers to an exception created by the Department of Health and Human Services that forces insurers to pick up the tab for coverage objected to by religious non-profit organizations and churches. Women employed by these organizations receive the same coverage, medications, and cost-free contraceptives as everyone else as mandated by HHS, even though the organizations themselves refuse to pay for that coverage.

Hobby Lobby reaffirms religious liberty, one of the bedrock principles of the Constitution

For all the things the Hobby Lobby decision does — and you can read Jason Pye’s piece on the relevant parts of Alito’s decision here — there are few things it does that will have reverberating ramifications for the future of everything from defining contraceptives as preventative or abortifacient, to whether or not our Constitution is a flawed document full of “negative liberties” as our President once declared.

But for now, the most important thing to remember is that this image being thrown around social media is a lie:

Lie

It’s a lie on so many levels and it’s tremendously disturbing that the kids are sharing it as truth. First, the opinion is narrow. It applies only to “closely-held” corporations who can prove they have a religious objection. Is your boss the owner of a closely held corporation?

Second, no one is denying you access to anything. You are free at any time to buy any of the four types of products the decision says Hobby Lobby does not have to supply. (Hobby Lobby, by the way, offers 16 other types in their health coverage. Those crazy fascist religious righties.)

SCOTUS weighs the limits of the First Amendment

The Supreme Court heard the case of Hobby Lobby, et.al. on the HHS mandate that requires most businesses that employ over 50 individuals to provide coverage for 21 forms of birth control. The businesses that are parties to the suit, while they are private for-profit companies, have incorporated or otherwise stated in their mission statements, that their businesses are owned and operated by individuals that include their religious practices in their work.

Due to their religious beliefs, that are freely stated to potential employees before they consent to work for these companies, they object to providing some or all of the contraceptives in the HHS mandate on moral grounds. The government presented the case that since they are not religious organizations per se, they do not have the freedom to run their businesses with religious overtones, at least not when it interferes with governmental mandates.

That is a thumbnail sketch of the case, and in spite of the fact that SCOTUS will not hand down a ruling until June, there are plenty of pundits offering opinions on exactly how that will end up. It’s interesting to attempt to guess what a given Justice will say on this issue, based on the questions presented during the case yesterday, however, it probably isn’t going to serve anyone to do that. Let’s not forget the ruling that the ObamaCare penalties were actually taxes by Chief Justice John Roberts, that got us to this point in the first place.

While it seems that quite a few of the commentators out there seem to think that this will fall in favor of Hobby Lobby, and the other corporations involved, perhaps at this point it would be better to think about “what comes next?” if that isn’t the case.

The Constitutional Case for Same-Sex Marriage

As the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week on both Hollingsworth v. Perry - the challenge to California’s Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state - and U.S. v. Windsor - the challenge to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which recognized marriage at the federal level as between a man and a woman – state and federal laws effecting marriage equality face their first legal confrontation with the Judicial Branch. Herein I make the constitutional case for marriage equality that respects both individual and religious liberties.

Last week, Senator Rand Paul proposed removing federal recognition of marriage - for everyone – telling Bob Costa at the National Review:

LA Gov. Bobby Jindal: Get Government Out of Birth Control

//creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/fr/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

In an excellent piece urging that oral contraception become available over the counter that ran in this morning’s print edition of the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, whose résumé includes a litany of health policy wonkery, sounded the death knell of both big government’s dominion over one aspect of reproductive health, and the pharmaceutical industry’s influence over that policy. Further, Jindal’s position masterfully bridges the gap between social conservatives and libertarians, as it accounts for both market-based health care (vs. Obamacare) and the protection of religious liberty and conscience (also vs. Obamacare). Here’s an excerpt:

Missing the point on the contraception mandate

Over the past few weeks there has been much discussion of the Obama Administration’s decision to mandate that even organizations associated with the Catholic Church cover contraception.  This has raised the ire of many on the right, who view this mandate as an assault on religious freedom.  Since the Catholic Church does not believe in using contraception, they argue, forcing them to cover it means they must violate their consciences.  Leaving aside the details, one thing is clear to me - the critics of the mandate are almost without exception missing the larger point.

The contraception mandate is awful, for sure, but not because it is an “assault on religion.” It is wrong because the government has no business telling ANYONE what they must cover.  The mandate would be wrong whether it was inflicted on a Catholic group, or a secular one.  And to be honest, I don’t think that religion is even a major factor in the decision to establish the mandate.  It is born out of a belief that there is some imaginary “right” to free health care, including contraception.  That is the true abomination.

Furthermore, why is there outrage only now?  Is it somehow okay to force non-Catholics to pay for other’s health care?  I understand this involves an issue of great moral importance to Catholics.  But is a federal mandate more wrong because it goes against a religious teaching?  I say this because many, including myself, do not subscribe to a religion, or belong to one without much political clout.  It is disturbing that somehow my liberty is not worth as much because I am in a minority and I don’t have groups lobbying on my behalf.

Separation Of Church And State: Essential To Religious Liberty

My fellow UL contributor Louis DeBroux makes an argument about the separation of church and state that is fairly common on the right, but it’s one that constitutes both a misstatement of history and a misunderstanding of what religious liberty is all about.

First, on the historical side, Louis makes this contention:

A study of American history shows that the Founding Fathers were heavily influenced by religion. Jefferson, often accused of being an agnostic or atheist, was likely a Deist; but regardless, he was a believer in God and in Jesus Christ. After all, this is the man who penned the Declaration of Independence, who so eloquently opined the concept that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. If that were too ambiguous, Jefferson also wrote “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Jefferson understood that our liberties come from God, and that if they do not come from God then they are granted by government, and can be taken by government at their pleasure. That philosophy then usurps man of his unalienable rights, and government then grants rights at the whim of the majority, which is nothing more than mob rule.

Our second president, John Adams, rightly noted that “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Opinion: SCOTUS Leads Assault on Religious Liberties

Leftists in this country like to say that they are “pro-choice”. To that I say…”bull***”! They are only pro-choice when it comes to killing the unborn, but not on education, or how much of your money you keep, or whether you get to manage your own retirement, or what kind of light bulbs you use, or how much water comes out of your shower head.

Leftists proclaim to be the embodiment of tolerance. To that I say…well, I think you know.

Leftists in this country are celebrating this week’s release of a Supreme Court decision, and a non-decision, both of which portend dark times ahead for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and protection of conscience.

In Whole Women’s Health v. Cole, the Supreme Court overturned a Texas law requiring abortion facilities in the state to 1) employ abortionists who have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and 2) meet the same surgical standards as other outpatient surgical centers. The need for both of these common-sense regulations should be obvious.

The trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell a few years ago revealed just what houses of horror many of the nation’s abortion clinics are. Gosnell was convicted of murdering three newborn babies in the minutes after they survived his botched abortions. He took the helpless, crying, wiggling babies and cut their spinal cords with scissors. He also killed another woman, a 41-year old refugee, who bled out after he punctured her insides during an abortion. Prosecutors say there was ample evidence that he’d killed hundreds of other surviving babies, and at least several more women.

Government to Christians: You’re Not Welcome Here

Church and State

Perhaps at no other time in America’s history has religious freedom suffered under such a sustained assault as today. And by “religious freedom,” I mean Christianity. This assertion may seem a bit dramatic to many without sufficient historical knowledge of this nation’s Christian heritage, or when compared to the persecutions suffered by Christians in other nations, but a brief perusal of recent occurrences should elicit no small amount of concern for those who, like George Washington considered “religion and morality” to be the “indispensable supports” anchoring the American republic.

Thanks to decades of public “education” which has stripped all evidence of the Judeo-Christian principles that form the deep foundation of our form of government, many Americans have bought into this fallacious notion of “separation of church and state,” a phrase and concept appearing nowhere in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. It is ignorance of our religious heritage which I believe has led us to a point where religion is under attack in America, and many Christians feel it improper to defend against.

Americans face persecution by anti-Christian organizations seeking to force Christians to keep their faith only within the walls of their own home (and sometimes not even there).

Consider the following examples:


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