Hobby Lobby is significant for taking their case to the Supreme Court to protect religious rights of employers against government mandates which effectively would force them to violate religious conscience by mandating coverage of abortifacient drugs.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) stipulated that nearly all employee insurance plans cover FDA approved abortifacient drugs and contraception at no cost to the insured. This requirement is binding on most religious employers, regardless of moral objections. Any employer who fails to provide coverage for such drugs is in violation of the law and could face stiff penalties.
Hobby Lobby, argued that, as a closely held corporation, they are entitled to protections under the law against provisions that would violate the religious and moral convictions of the “owners” of such corporations. In my opinion, the goal of the penalties imposed under the law was to put all those opposed to a “pro-choice” agenda out of business. At issue is who has rights and whose rights are being violated. Do business owners have the right to refuse to provide certain insurance coverage options if those options are in direct violation of their religious conscience? On the other hand, do others have the right to mandate that business owners provide employees with coverage of drugs and/or procedures that violate their religious convictions?
An understanding of rights and freedoms and how they are defined is vitally important in the national debate that deeply divides and destabilizes our society. This conflict can be seen as a direct result of the cultural philosophy of relativism that Pope Emeritus Benedict warned us about. Essentially, an individual creates his own truth and is then denied something s/he wants, leading to the claim that the denial is an injustice. This is the philosophy of immature children, not of responsible adults.
The Hobby Lobby case can be seen as an attempt to bully those in the economic realm to agreeing with a “pro-choice” agenda or face being put out of business by an unjust law. Case in point, “unless the Green family (owners of Hobby Lobby) violate its deeply held beliefs and gets in line with the coercive government mandate, Hobby Lobby could face fines of up to $1.3 million per day.” I am thankful that the Supreme Court did not allow the “pro-choice” lobby to continue their hobby of attacking religious freedom in this country.
Hobby Lobby’s case is important because it is a litmus test to determine if those in positions of political power are willing to protect the religious liberty of individuals in this country, especially those who hold Pro-Life beliefs. Although the Supreme Court ruled in favor of religious liberty in this case it doesn’t mean that religion is something valued in our culture at large. More and more it appears that the political process in our country can be likened to a complicated game of Russian roulette — we are just waiting for a deadly bullet to the head. Our culture is at war. On one side are those who believe in absolutes as pertaining to faith and morals. On the opposing side are those who adhere to a relativist viewpoint – as long as it doesn’t “hurt” anyone then it should be allowed. More than ever Catholics need to be informed about the official (Magisterial) teachings of the Catholic faith. Not only do Catholics need to be better informed about what our faith represents to our society, but they need to act on those beliefs in the voting process. Unfortunately, people have become so cynical about the political process in our society that many, if not most, abstain from full participation in it. This is precisely why our society perpetuates an endless cycle of cynicism and ineptitude in regards to politics.
If you’ve been following this case on social media sites or blogs or especially in the mainstream media you’ll notice that there is significant hostility toward Christian beliefs and Christian business owners. As people of faith, it is important to remember the importance of choosing trustworthy media sources. If we use our discernment for religious purposes and neglect to use that same discernment in the sources that we use to gain information we will find ourselves misinformed. We must make sure as people of faith to be discriminative in our choice of media sources. It is only then that we will be accurately informed about the events occurring in the public square, allowing us to give a true and authentic Catholic response to those events.
In my experience many Catholics respond to news stories without properly discriminating their sources and, as a result, are perpetuating misinformation about current events and the Christian faith. We as seekers of the truth need to ensure that the news and information we are relying upon are in fact based in reality and not based on manipulation of public opinion. As people of faith we must first be informed about our faith and secondly bring that faith to the world, without shame.
The opinions expressed by the DPS blog authors and those providing comments are theirs alone; they are not necessarily the expressions or beliefs of either the Dead Philosophers Society or Holy Apostles College & Seminary.