The Five Grumps Step in It Again

   This week, we depart from literary pursuits to vent our frustration over the recent “Hobby Lobby” decision by the five crotchety Neanderthals on the Supreme Court, who’ve both politicized and “religicized” (yes, I made that up) the Court to an unprecedented degree.

   First, let’s recall that our country’s founders were deists who sought, among other goals, to establish a country free from religious oppression. Their idea was to keep any one religion from becoming the sanctioned religion of the United States, and for them this meant in particular that the sort of Christian theocratic influence and abuse previously seen in Europe and England was to be avoided.

   The corollary to freedom of religion and the establishment clause of the first amendment was the implication of freedom from religion. Of course, this is not stated anywhere in the Constitution, but if freedom of thought is an inherent right, then the absence of any establishment of religion clearly implies freedom from it, as well.

   All of which brings us to what’s been going on in recent times with the political right wing, right wing Republicans, Tea Partiers, and the Supreme Court. Any objective review of recent events must lead to the conclusion that the United States is suffering from creeping religionism (a real word). The White House’s Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, permission of sectarian prayers at public governmental meetings, and now – case in point — the ability of employers of closely held corporations to exclude family planning coverage from employee insurance plans – what happened to the first amendment?

   Here’s what happened: right wing nuts, including five angry and religious white guys on the Supreme Court, have decided to impose their morality on the rest of us. How can they do this? Well, they have already defined corporations as people, issued the infamous “Citizens United” decision, and now they’re saying that “closely held” corporations, i.e., those in which at least a majority of the stock is held by the officers of the corporation who have no plans to sell and thereby give up their control, can impose their religious beliefs on employees by restricting their insurance coverage. What’s next? Refusal to cover immunizations? Blood transfusions? Organ transplants? You name it: the door has been opened and it’s a certainty that we’ll be seeing test cases in the near future. Just wait until the first corporation owned by Christian Scientists doesn’t want much of anything to be covered except (maybe) fractures.

   Well, all right, you may say. Why shouldn’t the owners of Hobby Lobby be able to control the insurance coverage of their employees? Here two answers to the question:

  • Because a corporation is a legal entity, not a corporeal person. The individuals behind the corporation are not the corporation itself. As a legal entity, a commercial corporation cannot have a religion, and should not be able to impose religious views and restrictions upon its employees.
  • As already noted, the founders believed in what became known as the “wall of separation” between church and state, making the Hobby Lobby decision an unwarranted intrusion upon individual rights. How? By making Hobby Lobby a de facto agent of the state. What has been created is government sanctioned, corporate theocracy. This is simply a devious violation of the first amendment of the Constitution.

   If the owners of Hobby Lobby truly want to impose their religious convictions upon employees. and I even agree that, as distasteful to me as this is, they do have some rights in this area, they should be required to give up corporate status and simply become a privately held, unincorporated business. Then, without the luxury of hiding behind all of the protections offered to corporate entities (something right wingers should favor, anyway), they’d be able to offer pretty much whatever kind of insurance policy they might favor.

   Finally, a brief comment about Hobby Lobby’s actual philosophy. It never fails to amaze me how right wing factions constantly talk about individual freedom but only their own and not everybody else’s. In the Hobby Lobby case, their objection to family planning coverage appears at least in part to be based upon the notion that some contraceptive methods may act as abortifacients, although in most cases this is not true. Worse, not covering contraceptive therapy will not reduce the number of abortions. It will, in fact, increase that number. Thus, if the owners of Hobby Lobby are really interested in reducing the incidence of abortions, they should be supporting contraceptive coverage. This logical inconsistency on their part is difficult to understand, but one might suspect that underlying some of it is simply hostility directed at women. And based upon past right wing, religious fundamentalist performance, I’d say that’s a good bet, since they haven’t objected to coverage for erectile dysfunction medications which, as we know, are most often used not for procreation but for recreational sex. Yup, it’s the familiar double standard, promulgated under the hypocritically altruistic banner of that ol’ timey religion.

This week’s annoyance: The five members of the U.S. Supreme Court, who oppose judicial activism except when it benefits their political views, and who have abandoned fidelity both to the letter and the spirit of the U.S. Constitution.

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