Outcome of Hobby Lobby case could have profound implications on core American values

Rick Warren

In a Washington Post op-ed, The Purpose-Driven Life author Rick Warren posits the following question:

Does our Constitution guarantee the freedom of religion, or does it merely allow a more limited freedom to worship? The difference is profound. Worship is an event. Religion is a way of life.

Warren’s observation is that the forthcoming conclusion to be reached by the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius case currently underway at the capital could have a profound effect on how the constitutional right to freedom of religion is implemented in America from here on out. If the court rules that Hobby Lobby and other business with religious owners must subject their personal beliefs to stipulations of the government, then the faiths of such employers must themselves be essentially empty, Warren explains:

The outcome of Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby will affect every American because any religion allowed to be practiced only inside a house of worship, and not in the day-to-day business of life, is a worthless faith.

The government stipulation with which Hobby Lobby has found itself at odds is the HHS mandate, requiring for-profit businesses of a certain size to cover abortion-inducing drugs in their healthcare plans. For many Americans, faith-based convictions are central to every aspect of life. More than the whims of whichever political party happens to be shaping legislation in the US, American turn to their religious formation to guide their daily actions and decisions.

The pro-life movement is a prime example of the moral hierarchy that shapes the lives of so many Americans; rather than simply accepting abortion and other anti-life practices without question on the grounds of their legalityAmericans guided by a religious compass confidently oppose actions they perceive to be morally wrong. The same was true of slavery and the civil rights movement: the legality of dehumanizing black Americans did not cause religious persons to blindly accept the practice simply because it was legal. On the contrary, ethical views shaped by religion have frequently served as a catalyst to life-affirming action and legislation. We are seeing the same trend in state-level pro-life legislation in the US today.

Warren explains that the religious views of its owners have shaped the core business practices of Hobby Lobby. Until the HHS mandate was introduced, Hobby Lobby didn’t find itself at odds with the United States government on issues of how business was conducted. Hobby Lobby, for example, closes down on Sundays because of its owners’ Christian belief that Sunday is a day to rest and honor God. But Warren explains the odds at which Hobby Lobby’s owners now find themselves with the government:

The administration argues that because Hobby Lobby is a for-profit corporation, the company has no religious rights under the First Amendment. In fact, the government says that exempting Hobby Lobby from paying for drugs and devices to which the Greens object would amount to an imposition of the Greens’ faith on their employees.

The government has not argued that being closed on Sundays, for example, is an imposition of Hobby Lobby’s faith on its employees. But refusing contraception coverage in its healthcare plan, apparently, is. Warren argues that, without the freedom to practice their beliefs in all spheres of life, all of the other freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution are irrelevant.

In conclusion, Warren quotes Thomas Jefferson’s black-and-white view on government trampling of religious liberty:

“No provision in our constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of civil authority.” My prayer is that the Supreme Court will agree with Jefferson.

  • MamaBear

    Rev. Warren is 100% correct. The very basis of this and other court cases opposing the government contraceptive mandate is not contraception, it is religious freedom.

  • Faithkuz

    The government has protected the right of Muslim truckers not to deliver alcohol.

  • john lind

    Nobody is forced to work at HL or for any other employer. It is simply ridiculous that an employer can’t choose to instill its values and require its employees to adhere to its values if they want to be employed by that employer. If they disagree with the employer’s values, they can look for employment elsewhere.

    • MamaBear

      And employees really are not even required to actually adhere to the HL owners’ values. HL pays for 16 of the 20 government required birth controls. If someone wants to use one of the other 4, all they have to do is pay for it themselves.

      • john lind

        I definitely hear what you’re saying. I’m of the opinion that an employer and an employee should be able to contract between themselves without having any government involvement.

        For example, if a devout Catholic only wanted to hire Catholics that signed an agreement that they would only use NFP as a BC method, then it’s nobody’s business but the two parties that agree to the contract. If an atheist employer only wanted to hire atheists that agreed never to step foot in a church, again, it’s between them.

        I’m just fed up with a society that uses the force of government to disallow both voluntary association and the ability to freely enter into contracts while at the same time using that same government to refrain from protecting a whole class of human beings from violence.

  • Basset_Hound

    I know this is totally irrelevant to the subject of the story, but it IS a good read…


    • john lind

      Powerful…brought tears to my eyes. Suicide is always sad but to me it is even sadder when a young person is so hurt that they take their life.

      • Basset_Hound

        Mine too. This young man had a supportive family and community and still felt hopeless. It was truly tragic.

    • MamaBear

      Sometimes we forget we are commanded to “weep with those who weep.” Not to explain away their pain, judge it, or even understand it. But to accept it and grieve with them.
      I have known people who lost children to death, but I can think of nothing more heartbreaking than when it is the way the Warrens lost their son.

  • MamaBear

    Interesting comment from several liberals (including Obama appointees to the Supreme Court who I don’t think should be commenting yet): “Why don’t they (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga) just drop all employee insurance, have their employees get their own on the exchanges, and pay the fine?”
    Somehow, the fights with nuns and private businesses over covering EXACTLY what the government wants, smells of government control being the real goal, instead of health care.

    • observing Christian

      For profit driven companies like Hobby Lobby that are Christian owned, forcing this kind of company to drop their insurance would cause an unreasonable burden. It would severely impair employee retention to drop a benefit like a group insurance plan. That would be an egregious imposition that none of us should have to tolerate. If the federal imposition on Christians (how about Muslims?) stands with the S.C.O.T.U.S. decision, then the door will be wide open to make worship in the markrletplace unlawful, just as this article states. It kind of reminds me of God’s prophet, Daniel, along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who were punished by their state for following their God driven consciences.
      Jesus the Christ said that we are to “render unto Caesar (I.e. the guv’ment) what is Caesar’s…but to render unto God what is God’s”. Financing abortifacients that murder unborn babies is against God’s will. Those forming human beings belong to God. I hope that this court does not give Christians and others of faith “hell to pay” for the ability to murder innocents as government policy funded from our company’s policy. In fact, this Is already the case with publicly traded corporations, I presume. God forgive us if we ever repent for straying so far from His will!

      • MamaBear

        And even if they win on religious grounds, what about the people whose consciences object who are not religious? Should not their rights of conscience be protected as well?
        If they lose, what next? Our rights are eroding. Our culture is turning against people of faith, at least if that faith has a Judeo-Christian basis. There are already people who openly object to people voting moral values, if those values are supported by their religious beliefs.
        In my years of teaching music, it went from “Silent Night,” “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” and “Chanukah” being included with the songs about Santa and snow, to being told a parent had claimed my “penguins” in the Winter Program were too “Christian!”
        It comes down to more and more government control in more areas of life. And in the name of “tolerance,” we no longer actually tolerate those who do not agree due to faith or conscience.

  • Chandler Klebs

    I really think that religious freedom does need to be defined. I for one am against the way that all types of freedom are labeled as religious. There are times when I would be fighting against religious freedom if a religion is based on harming people, but in the case of abortion, I have to side with the religious people if their faith is what drives them to protect innocent life.

    At the center of almost every debate is a problem of definition. If we cannot define which freedoms are religious or not, then we waste time with irrelevant debates that do not help anyone.

    • john lind

      I agree. Some of the other regular posters on LAN are probably getting tired of me “beating my drum” on free association and property rights, but the Hobby Lobby case should not even have to have a religious component to it. If an atheist employer wants to offer a group health insurance plan to her employees, she should be able to pick the plan that she wants from whatever insurance company she chooses, assuming that the insurance company offers a plan to her liking. If she is against the plan providing birth control or any other product, she should not have to provide it…it’s up to her employees to accept it as part of their compensation or seek employment elsewhere.
      I see religious freedom being an issue if the State tries to keep somebody from proselytizing, preaching, witnessing, providing charity, etc. on State owned land.

      • Chandler Klebs

        I think we all have the right to challenge whether any human or group of humans can truly “own” land. I also think that acts of charity are far from being religious in the same way that proselytizing, preaching, and witnessing are. To assume that all freedoms are equally relevant is nonsense.

        • john lind

          Chandler, thanks for the reply. I’m all for
          private land ownership but would be very interested in hearing your thoughts on why a human or collective of humans might not be able to truly own land.

          Charity is certainly not only in the realm
          of theists but many theists practice their faith or religion through charitable acts.

          I’m not sure if you’re saying that my (John Lind’s) belief is that all freedoms are equally relevant. I don’t think they
          are. I find one’s freedom to practice one’s faith or the freedom for someone to perform acts of charity much more valuable than the freedom to do many other

          I do think the freedom to voluntarily enter
          into contracts with others without government involvement is a very important freedom (one that’s being violated by the Affordable Care Act).
          Again, I find it frustrating that a business owner has to rely on religious freedom rather than contract rights and/or rights of association when negotiating with his or her employees.

          • Chandler Klebs

            I think that humans and other animals require land that they can live on and eat from. The high population of most species and the limited land have made this a constant conflict. It could only be solved by a population reduction or divine intervention.

            I am not saying that your belief is that all freedoms are equally relevant. I suspect that many others see it that way. I don’t like the concept of freedom is defined well enough for there to be laws about it.

            I think that if there are to be any laws about freedom, they all need to be considered separately. Religions are a hard case because they are a combination of many things. I am not sure there is anyone smart enough to properly do this. I hope the world is not doomed to stay the way it is.

  • Jenn

    Satan is in the White House and he’s not going to stop ruining our lives as long as we allow him to be in control…

    • MamaBear

      Not sure if I would say Satan is in the White House, but it does seem the WH occupant is on speaking terms with him.

      • Jenn

        so true..