It has barely been a month since Arizona’s “practice or observance of religion” legislation giving any person or group the “ability to act or refusal to act in a maer substantially motivated by a religious belief” was vetoed by the governor who helped write the legislation. Arizona evangelicals were incensed their attempt to expand religious liberty to mean religious freedom to impose Christianity on any Arizonan or disregard any state or federal law failed, but little did they know that within a month of defeat the Supreme Court would decide whether or not to make the failed Arizona legislation the constitutional law of the land in a federal “practice or observance of religion” case. The so-called Hobby Lobby case will allegedly answer whether or not a private secular corporation is a religious person that can disregard federal law and impose its religion on female employees, and like Arizona’s failed “religious liberty” legislation, a decision for Hobby Lobby will be a national religious tyray license with far-reaching implications.
It did not take more than a quick perusal of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties counsel’s arguments before the High Court demanding religious liberty to disregard a federal law to understand that there is much more to the case than meets the eye. It was the claim by Hobby Lobby that its religious belief determined that certain forms of birth control such as Plan B and IUDs induce abortion that goes against the corporation’s religious belief. The attorney for the government explained that none of these contraceptives aborts a pregnancy, but only prevents implantation in the uterine lining that is the definition of pregnancy; therefore the contraceptives could not possibly induce abortion.
The response from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties came in the form of an amicus brief by former Democratic Senator Bart Stupac who wrote that “this doesn’t matter because although the government has made statements that terminating a fertilized embryo before it implants in the uterus is not an abortion, the relevant matter for claim of conscience is plaintiffs’ belief that a distinct human life begins at fertilization. It is no salve to be told that the government defines abortion differently.” However, it is not the government’s definition of abortion; it is humanreproductive biology that dictates there is no pregnancy until a blastocyst (when the embryo is a hollow sphere) implants in the uterine lining in the womb. A blastocyst is the second stage after a sperm cell punctures an ovum (fertilization) and becomes a single-celled zygote that is physically unable to implant in the uterine wall and likely sloughed off. Therefore, a zygote caot be a living human being according to biological reality and Hobby Lobby’s Christian bible according to its god almighty.
It is the idea that Hobby Lobby’s religious “belief” is not supported by its own bible or biological reality that makes a favorable ruling tantamount to enacting Arizona’s “religious observance” legislation the law of the land. The Arizonalegislation granted any individual or group freedom in the “practice or observance of religion the ability to act or refusal to act in a maer substantially motivated by a religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.” If the Court rules for Hobby Lobby, then it acknowledges the corporation’s religious belief that human life begins at fertilization and sets a very dangerous precedent redefining pregnancy, making personhood the law of the land, and redefines abortion, miscarriage, and contraception as homicide; something the pro-life movement lusted after for decades. It also allows anyone to “act or refuse to act” if they claim they are motivated by “religious observance;” even if it is not “compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief” such as Hobby Lobby’s ridiculous assertion that “human life begins at fertilization.”
Despite the High Court is ruling regarding a corporation’s religious liberty, once the precedent is set in stone any small business owned by a racist can claim religious liberty to refuse to serve people of color, a homophobic owner can refuse to serve or hire gays, and any hardline evangelical can refuse to hire Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Catholics, or women by claiming their religion forbids women working outside the home. In fact, there are no anti-discrimination or civil right laws that caot be disregarded if anyone claims adhering to them violates their religious beliefs whether or not those beliefs are part of a religion. The real danger is the myriad edicts that are firmly rooted in the Christian bible anyone claiming religious freedom or conscience violation will be allowed to act upon regardless state or federal laws.
A ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby et al will adversely affect women first and it is game over for women’s reproductive rights because every Republican-controlled state will enact bans on abortion and contraception based on the idea that life begins at fertilization. As an aside, it was not until Republican man-god Ronald Reagan granted the Jerry Falwell, Paul Weyrich, and Francis Schaeffer “moral majority” political power that the idea a fetus is a living human being became mainstream. In fact, prior to 1982 the official position of the Southern Baptist Convention and Protestant evangelicals was that “god does not regard the fetus as a soul no matter how far gestation has progressed,” and that the “method of preventing pregnancy (including induced abortion) is not so much a religious as a scientific and medical question to be determined in consultation with one’s physician.” One wonders how much America’s women love Ronald Reagan now.
The religious right has panted for a “religious liberty” ruling abolishing the First Amendment’s “free exercise clause” in their behalf since 1982 to restrict other Americans from their right to religious freedom and they will not stop at dominating women. Although there was no mention of gays in Arizona’s “practice or observance of religion” legislation, it is believed that legally discriminating against gays was a major goal of the failed legislation. A ruling for Hobby Lobby will set the precedent for any business or individual to discriminate against anyone as long as they claim it is part and parcel of their religious belief system, and one might be hopeful uber-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will join liberals on the bench and repeat his opinion to Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties their claim of corporate religious liberty is “an exaggerated view of religious freedom that serves to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” However, the High Court is ruling for a corporation and there is little doubt the conservatives will follow their Citizens United decision and come down on the side of the secular for-profit corporations regardless the absurd assertion they pray, worship, and demand religious freedom to become a law unto themselves.