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Hobby-Horse Lobbying

By The Reverend Published: December 5, 2013

Today, the Beacon reprinted an opinion piece by Fort Worth Star Telegram's editorial director Mike Norman entitled: "Hobby Lobby's compelling biblical principles". No, really, that's the title.

You see, the owners of Hobby Lobby, a for-profit, run-of-the-mill retailer, object to Obamacare on religious grounds because the company's owners believe that taking the morning after pill causes an abortion. It doesn't. See here and here.

But the argument from Hobby Lobby owners is that Plan B prevents a fertilized human egg from attaching itself to a female's uterus.....and therefore, it's close enough to an abortion for their liking. In other words, to a certain extent, Hobby Lobby owners not only wish to remake Obamacare's contraception mandate.....but science itself.

The Supremes have taken up the Hobby Lobby case and will issue their ruling before midterm elections next year. Not sure yet whether the Supremes will take seriously the claim of the Star Telegram editor that Hobby Lobby's "biblical principles" will be "compelling"....but, who knows, they might.

Hobby Lobby is not a religious institution, it is a for-profit public retailer owned by people who are, themselves, religious. "Compellingly" religious.....whatever that means.

Cutting to the chase.....should owners of for-profit companies which serve the public and are not charitable religious organizations be given special latitude to exempt themselves from secular laws on religious grounds?

The correct answer is no.

The owners of Hobby Lobby believe this....

“the Greens believe it is immoral for them to facilitate any act that causes the death of a human embryo.”

1st question: If a current employee of Hobby Lobby spends money earned at her Hobby Lobby job to purchase Plan B at a local drug store.....didn't Hobby Lobby pay that employee the money used to purchase it? How would that not be Hobby Lobby "facilitating" that purchase? Money is fungible....at least that's the essence of the Hyde Amendment which prevents government dollars from going to pay for an abortion. So, why would the money paid to Hobby Lobby's employees not also be considered the same way by Hobby Lobby's owners?

2nd question: When a for-profit employer offers benefits....vacations, sick-days, health insurance, etc.....whose benefits are they? The Employer's or the employees? When a person is hired, doesn't the employer explain what an employee's compensation package is going to be? Point being that if Hobby Lobby offers health insurance to their employees.....that health insurance belongs to the employees, not the employer. To argue otherwise is to argue that the wages a Hobby Lobby employee earns do not rightfully belong to the employee, either.

3rd question: If Hobby Lobby, a for-profit, non-religious, corporation can be excluded from compliance to law on the basis of "compelling biblical principles", why would any other for-profit corporation not be able to do the same.....over any law they didn't like? Or are we going to set up a new government agency for the purpose of determining if for-profit employers are sufficiently "religious" to be excused from compliance?

If Hobby Lobby wins before the Supremes, what would prevent other for-profit employers from following suit.....on different "religious conscience" grounds? Many fundamentalist Christians believe that the black race has been cursed. Why shouldn't fundamentalist-Christian-owned, for-profit companies be allowed to disobey discrimination laws, refusing to hire or serve blacks on, you know, "religious conscience" grounds?

4th (and final) question: Should for-profit employers be able to impose their religious beliefs onto their employees? That is the most pertinent question in the Hobby Lobby dispute. While none of the owners of Hobby Lobby, or their families, are compelled to purchase Plan B, or contraception of any kind.....that same freedom of choice is being denied Hobby Lobby employees.

When my tax dollars go to burn up women and children in middle eastern countries, my conscience is violated....but I don't get to opt-out of paying taxes on grounds of conscience. Neither would any for-profit employers...no matter how "compellingly" those employers made their "conscientious" case.

I'm thinking even Nino Scalia will find it difficult to open up this huge Pandora's Box. Hobby Lobby's exemption request is entirely untenable. If the "biblical principled" for-profit retailer wants to opt out of compliance to federal law, then they should reorganize as a tax-exempt religious organization....say, like Bob Jones University.

Prediction: 7-2 Hobby Lobby loses with Alito and Thomas dissenting.

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