BREAKING: Supreme Court Upholds Religious Freedom

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Picture of the Supreme Court building

This is a great day for religious freedom.

Image of the Hobby Lobby logoThe Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties cases is a much-anticipated and wonderful affirmation as the court process proceeds. It shows that religious freedom continues to be the lifeblood of a country founded on the inalienable rights afforded to us by our Creator.

We rejoice with the Green and Hahn families who are now free to continue serving the public, their loyal employees, and their God without having to compromise their faith.

These families’ stand for freedom benefits the many faith-based businesses faced with the same awful choice of deciding between their faith and livelihood. It also vindicates a higher principle, showing that government must tread carefully when it seeks to impose policies contrary to our most cherished rights.

Religious groups and business owners should not have to violate their faith in order to follow the law. It’s not the role of government to define what we believe or what our faith includes.

Fundamentally these cases were not about abortion or contraception: they were about whether government can require faith-based groups to violate deeply held beliefs.

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Matthew Ian 9 months ago
Responding to Ben Stepanek (carrying on from comments on July 6th below):

Hi Ben, I am not afraid, I am simply sad that this is touted as a victory for religious freedom, which it is not.

You asked me to, "provide a single cogent reason, using the supreme court's own logic' as to how this will create some awful precident".

This supreme court ruling sets a COMPLETELY NEW precedent, that for-profit corporations should be considered persons who may have religious convictions.  This has NEVER occurred before, and allows that corporations may have religious freedoms which may be in conflict with the religious freedoms of individuals.

Allowing religious freedoms for corporations, necessarily dilutes religious freedoms for individuals, which is why this is an "awful precedent" for those who value individual religious freedoms.  Will it ever affect me, probably not, but it will affect someone, which is why I feel sad about the ruling, now enshrined as a precedent in case law.

The relevant words of dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are a matter of public record, pasted below ...

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf
"Until this litigation, no decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law ...  The absence of such precedent is just what one would expect, for the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities."

"Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations.  Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.  Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations."

"The Court’s determination that RFRA [religious freedom] extends to for-profit corporations is bound to have untoward effects.  Although the Court attempts to cabin its language to closely held corporations, its logic extends to corporations of any size, public or private.  Little doubt that RFRA claims will proliferate, for the Court’s expansive notion of corporate personhood—combined with its other errors in construing RFRA—invites for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faith."
Anonymous 9 months ago
The only reason this was allowed by the courts is because now it opens up the door for all religious groups to qualify for special consideration above the law. This is a victory for Sharia Law and nothing else.
Ben Stepanek 9 months ago
No it isn't. If you had any concept of Sharia Law, you wouldn't make such erroneous and stupid statements.

So having full access to 16 different contraceptives, free third party abortion services, and a host of other convenience options equates to having no rights in your mind without 4 IUD/morning after pills?
Anonymous 9 months ago
I'm a Christian and I DO NOT feel like this is a victory at all and I'm not alone in that feeling.  Now, any corporation can try to deny ANY form of birth control for women who need it. The morning after bill is NOT an abortion and I have no concerns with it whatsoever. My employer should not have a say in my contraceptive use.  Period.  It's a sad day for America.
Anonymous 9 months ago
You can always get your own insurance, purchase it at a local drug store or get it free at Planned Parenthood. And they are not being given the right to take away all contraceptives, just four that would aboard an already fertilized embryo. All of their female employees can and have been able to have access to the other 16 of 20 legal contraceptives.
Kevin Kipina 9 months ago
As a Christian, if Christ visited you today and you expressed your concern that someone didn't want to participate in your "birth control" by paying for it, what do you think his response would be? 
David Andrews 9 months ago
Hobby Lobby is already paying for 16 kinds of birth control. So what would Jesus say about that?
Anonymous 9 months ago
What worries me are the women who are being abused at home and want to keep their healthcare private from family inquires. Even though they will have freedom to choose what they do Insurance won't be paying, so this is money they may have to explain to an abusive husband who may want her "barefoot and pregnant". I think legalism can be a too much sometimes, and I am a pro life christian. I think a loving God would want to help these women to be free from bearing many children which could make them sick and even die in some cases.  I am also a healthcare worker so I have seen the seriousness of the other side of this issue. 
Colleen Stringi 9 months ago
The employees of Hobby Lobby still have access to many forms of contraception (I believe I read the number was around 16).  The only ones at issue were Plan B, two forms of IUD, and something else I'd never heard of.  They were forms that didn't work ahead of time to PREVENT pregnancy, but instead worked after conception had occurred to get rid of the pregnancy. 
Matthew Ian 9 months ago
Why does a Hobby Lobby chain of more than 570 outlets have more religious freedom than it's thousands of employees.  There is something wrong with this picture.

Religious freedom is meant to protect the religious freedoms of the individual or church, not the religious convictions of a large company to tell it's employees what is right or wrong.

This is a decision in favor of religious conservative ideals, but it is not a decision in favor of religious freedoms for individuals.

I am a devoted Christian, and I hope I never have to work for a big business that has more "religious freedoms" than I do.
Guv Nah 9 months ago
Not a single religious freedom for any Hobby Lobby employee is compromised.  For that matter, not a single contraceptive freedom, nor abortive freedom, nor any other freedom has been compromised.
Karen Rayner 9 months ago
This has never been about Hobby Lobby telling its employees what is right or wrong, what to do or what not to do.  Any employee that wants to, can get the abortion pills (or whatever) that they want - Hobby Lobby is just not going to pay for it with the insurance they are providing. Nobody has been fired for getting an abortion, or reprimanded - the only thing that that has happened is that the government cannot mandate that HL provide insurance for medicines that are used to terminate pregnancies. If an employee of HL wants to get an abortion, that is a personal issue and they are welcome to pay for it out of their personal funds. There is NO loss of any freedoms for any individuals in this decision.  HL even pays its employees more than other similar corporations, so in essence it gives them the extra money to cover things that insurance does not. I also am a devoted Christian, and I hope I never have to work for anyone again,........but if I do, I would be honored to work for a company like this that stands its moral ground!
Larry Abbott 9 months ago
Well said. Others are twisting this into what it is not.- thank you for your thoughtful comments!
Matthew Ian 9 months ago
Karen,

The salary that a company pays an employee does not belong to the company.  It is not for the company to decide how that money should be distributed.

Likewise, an employee's health insurance does not belong to the company, but is merely administered by the company.  The insurance benefit belongs to the employee, not the company, and is part of the employee's package.

The Hobby Lobby is about modifying minimum requirements for employee health insurance, to fit the company's religious convictions, regardless of the religious convictions of the employee.

I am a devoted Christian, but I am also a keen supporter of religious freedom for individuals, and this is not religious freedom.

The employees have lost the right to a couple aspects of their health insurance, because Hobby Lobby has more "religious freedom" than they do.

As you've pointed out, it's not a big deal financially, assuming you're not a single mom with 2 kids under 5, pregnant, with a husband that has just walked out and left you.

This is not really about Hobby Lobby, or it's employees; it's about a legal precedent.  This is a bad legal precedent that places more value on the religious rights of a big company, over the religious rights of it's employees.

This one decision will have a ripple affect.
Anonymous 9 months ago
A single mother of two will be able to get other government or medical assistance to terminate a pregnancy if she so chooses. Again, HL is still offering many forms of preventative contraceptives, and the four they don't wont terminate a pregnancy, they are morning after pills. So unless that figurative mother of two just slept with her husband the night before he walked out, they're not going to do her much good anyway.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Hi Matthew, you said, "I hope I never have to work for a big business that has more "religious freedoms" than I do."  Good news...you don't, you have a choice and if you don't agree with them you don't have to work for them but it is also good news for them as they don't have to compromise their beliefs at the hand of tyrannical government.
Matthew Ian 9 months ago
Dear Anonymous, I am single father, am between jobs, have 2 daughters, and health issues that are not covered by my health insurance.  I may indeed not "have a choice" about what employer I get a job with.

I am not the only one that doesn't "have a choice".

Remember Matthew 25:40.  Remember James 1:27.

The "tyrannical government" has a responsibility to protect the weak individual from the strong corporation.  Christians have this same responsibility.

The Hobby Lobby decision by itself is not a big deal, but it is an awful legal precedent.  Big companies have legal means that individuals don't have.  This one decision will have a ripple affect.
Ben Stepanek 9 months ago
Matthew,

    Everything that you have said comes directly from a spirit of fear, and emotional response responsible for why our world is so backwards. Rather like the completerly useless and far fetched scenario you used in other posts here to try and prove your "points."

   If you can provide a single cogent reason, using the supremem court's own logic' as to how this will create some "awful precident," then please do so.

   However, having read the statements of the justices and looking at the arguments without emotion, I understand the reasoning behind it. The objection was to such a small potyion of drugs/options, invovling services already funded in other areas, and with companies having already polled their workers on whether their decision mattered to them.

   Your bigger worry should be what the new law doesn't cover in it's plans, and the fact that the IRS now has de facto end of life authority on you and your children.
Matthew Ian 9 months ago
Hi Ben, see my reply at the top, this column is getting too thin.

Re. "IRS now has de facto end of life authority on you and your children". Are you referring to "HR-3200 eRumors", documented on Christian web site http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/h/health-plan.htm#.U7tY9LEXxqY
Angie Nixon 9 months ago
Here, here!

Vance Fry 9 months ago
What a strange definition of religious freedom you have. In order to be truly free, an employee must force it's employer to pay for every form of birth control that he or she prefers. I suppose a Muslim employee is not completely free unless the employer in question pays for their leather-bound copy of the Koran as well as a plane ticket to Mecca...
David Andrews 9 months ago
"Fundamentally these cases were not about abortion or contraception: they were about whether government can require faith-based groups to violate deeply held beliefs."

True, these cases were not about abortion or contraception. However, they were not about faith-based groups. It was about families which own profit-earning corporations. Faith-based groups already had the same exemptions from the law that the Green and Hahn families sought for themselves in these cases.
Guv Nah 9 months ago
If faith based groups are exempted, then why are the Sisters of Charity suing to be exempted?  Or Christian colleges.  Or christian nursing homes.  Or food pantries.
David Andrews 9 months ago
Apparently because they do not understand that all they have to do is file a form claiming the religious exemption.

The article below reports what SCOTUS told the Christian college that sued. Bottom line, SCOTUS said, you don't have to sue, you just have to fill out the form. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/04/us/politics/supreme-court-order-suspends-contraception-rule-for-christian-college.html?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Aw%2C%7B%221%22%3A%22RI%3A9%22%7D



Andre Huie 9 months ago

Good decision by the Supreme Court. I thank God that He is always in control and will never forsake us. I pray for our government leaders daily that God will bless them as they lead our great country. I believe that government has its place and purpose, but its definitely not in healthcare!


www.christianfamilytoday.com

Jamie Duerksen 9 months ago
This is very big and very welcomed news! It's not getting much press on the major news sites...hmmm, I wonder why (wink, wink)? Should we be concerned that the court split 5-4 on what should have been a no-brainer from the start? I think so. 
Anonymous 9 months ago
Praise God.  May all of Christ's church raise up, in love, to be the light that we are
called to be!
Anonymous 10 months ago
Congratulations to Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood!  This is a win for all of us.  Thank you for your dedication and determination to not allow the government to compromise your deeply held religious beliefs.  I applaud both of you and pray for the continued success of your businesses.   
Anonymous 10 months ago
High fives to the 5 justices on this one!  It gives me hope for our country after all.  It challenges me to continue praying and not give up.
Anonymous 10 months ago
This is the best gift we' have been given.     Thank the good Lord.