There were a few readers of my Noah post from Saturday who wondered why I occasionally point out the ridiculousness of religious belief. Why pick on those who hold religious beliefs devoutly, I was asked. Why try to publicly ridicule, humiliate, or mock those devoutly held religious beliefs? Why would I intentionally seek to hurt the feelings of the religious by sharing the historical source of the Great Flood of Noah myth?
To begin to answer those questions I must first ask this question? How are beliefs in political ideology any different from religious beliefs?
That question is very important....and here is the latest example of why that is the case. From today's Supreme Court oral arguments in the Hobby Lobby, Conestoga Wood Specialties versus Obamacare contraception provision case.....
A majority of the justices seemed particularly doubtful of one of the administration’s central arguments on the issue: the claim that for-profit companies have no religious rights under federal law.
Read that again if it didn't shock you on the first go around.
Never mind the non-religious employees who work for the religious for-profit employers....because apparently an employee's right to not have employers force religious beliefs onto them is of no concern for "a majority of the justices."
Make no mistake here. If the Supremes do the wrong thing in this case.....carve out exceptions to secular law granting for-profit companies special op-out rights if "owners" are religiously and conscientiously offended by adhering to said secular law....then the U.S. will have ostensibly opened a Vice & Virtue Department Pandora's box which will alter our society dramatically.
Tell me, if Hobby Lobby and Conestoga owners are given special treatment in the Obamacare contraception provision......what law COULDN'T be objected to on "religious conscience" grounds by for-profit business owners? Furthermore, whose responsibility would it be to determine which for-profit business owner's "religious conscience" objection will be allowable and which won't? Will a Council of Serious Religious People need to be formed to make that determination?
I think it's obvious that such a system is untenable. And yet, there's a strong possibility that the Justices will create, by their ruling, just such a system.
Many disingenuous advocates for Hobby Lobby insist that the for-profit company is not actually suffering "religious conscience" pangs over contraception, per se. Rather, that specific forms of contraception are "believed" to cause abortions.....
Chief Justice John Roberts noted that the plaintiffs in the two cases before the court view certain contraceptive methods as causing abortion, even though physicians and scientists disagree.
Isn’t this about “these four methods of contraception that they believe provide abortion?” Roberts said.
Verrilli said the government “respects” the sincerity of the company owners’ belief that Plan B, Ella and intrauterine devices can cause an abortion but carefully said that state and federal law does not classify them that way.
Here's where pointing out empirical data, archeological evidence, sources for ancient "religious" stories and debunking religious "beliefs" enters the discussion. "State and federal law does not classify these four methods that way."
Placed in stark contrast here are religious "belief" and secular law. Even though those "four methods" of contraception are not legally classified as abortifacients....."believers", who happen in this case to be for-profit employers, insist they are. But science disagrees......
"Every reputable scientific study to examine Plan B's mechanism has concluded that these pills prevent fertilization from occurring in the first place...In short, Plan B is contraception."
The question becomes....will 5 very conservative Justices side with "religious belief" over scientific evidence? If the Supremes side with "religious belief", then much mischief will follow. Mischief so divisive and destructive that, I predict, it will, in effect, render many secular laws in the U.S. null and void.
If "belief" in something which has been proven scientifically to be invalid trumps the science which rendered that "belief" moot.....then it is my opinion that all scientific evidence instantly becomes suspect. As Justice Kagan put it today....
“One religious group could opt out of this and one religious group could opt out of that, and everything would be piecemeal and nothing would be uniform,” Kagan warned. “Religious objectors would come out of the woodwork.”
There are real-life reasons why the Framers kept secular government and religion separate and distinct. Even though President Obama has excluded authentic religious bodies from complying with the Obamacare contraception mandate.....preserving that separate and distinct status.....the Court now appears to be favoring privileged status for non-religious institutions if the owners of those establishments utter the words "religious conscience."
Within religious institutions, religious "beliefs" are protected from government interference. Within secular institutions....such as for-profit business, secular law prohibiting government from establishing religion applies. By siding with Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court would be turning 200+ years of settled law on it's head.
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