#hobbylobby and theo-anarchy

U.S Postage Stamp, 1957

U.S Postage Stamp, 1957 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t want to fully comment on the case because:

1.) I believe SCOTUS is actually the “decider-in-chief” of the constitutionality of laws,

2.) From the few summaries I’ve read, the decision is a logical one based on current case law and common law precedents.

However, from what I’ve also read the majority opinion leaves open some pretty windy doors.

I can find no better editorial expressing these concerns than the one in USA Today:

The majority said the ruling doesn’t “necessarily” mean companies can expect exemptions from other medical care barred by various faiths, such as blood transfusions, vaccinations, psychiatric care or even medical care itself. But it did not directly rule out such claims. And while the court warned companies that they shouldn’t expect to be able to assert a religious right to escape taxation or anti-discrimination laws, it left the door open for companies to challenge virtually any other law on religious grounds.

If a privately-owned company decides something is against their religious views, there is a strong possibility that their view and not the law of the land will hold sway.

If this doesn’t bother you, you aren’t reading Rushdooney and other neo-Confederates who espouse some form of Reformed theology hiding their white nationalism. If they are able to take this crack in the door and swing it open according to their beliefs, we will simply end up where they want us to – a theocracy. Not one, but many – grouped around centers of power (such as corporations).

Yes, we should hold up religious freedom but only to the extent it infringes on someone else. I also believe we should uphold religious freedom for private individuals until they become the arbiter of public enterprises. In other words, I find it rather difficult to apply religious freedom to corporations, private or not especially when they are as large as Hobby Lobby.

Post By Joel Watts (10,046 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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28 thoughts on #hobbylobby and theo-anarchy

  1. Valid point! However, there is always a “however”, to instill fear of theocracies, albeit valid, as a a probability and not only a possibility is a stretch akin to the stretch the left is making as they state that “now” women are unprotected against “medical care” (as if an abortion pill is in every single case “medical care”). So, there is fear mongering on both sides of the issue… Reformed Presbyterians (the denomination where you find defenders of Christ rule and rules) and Rushdooney-ites will not find solace for their theocracy even in the other Protestant circles… at least I don’t find it where I’m looking… I certainly would not support it since I read somewhere that “My kingdom is NOT of this world”…

    • I do not believe women will simply be left to the wilds for birth control. Indee, part of the decision included the ability of the Government to pay for it.

      The fear is real – as we have seen develop in the country before. That’s the problem with not sticking to precedent.

      • Agreed with the statement that the fear is real… “…there is a lion on the streets…” may have been a real fear as well. However in order to implement, sustain and perpetuate a theocratic state Christians will have to agree in, at least, some essential points… Good luck in getting that!!!! As a Calvinist I believe that, although God calls us to unity of Spirit and Faith, unless the latter is perfect, He designed us in a way that we will not permit our imperfections ever to reach a unity that is capable of taking over an entire nation without resorting to some unbiblical means, on which the Muslims master… Neeehhhh… real fear; but still not likely to happen. Just ask: will this theocracy be Calvinist or Methodist? There… the answer to this question cast away every fear… ;)

      • The problem faced by conservatives over limiting access to birth control is much the same that liberals face in getting rid of firearms. In both cases, it is impossible to stuff the genie back into the bottle from whence it came. Once knowledge and technology become widely available, efforts to control it prove futile. Likewise, the failed wars on drugs and terrorism are likewise good examples.

        Ideally, as with much of their agenda, conservatives would like to take America back to the turn of the 20th century. Their notions of a perfect world include no tax on income, toothless child labor laws, no labor unions, easily circumvented government regulations, senators appointed by state legislatures, Republican hegemony in politics, homosexuals in the closet (or under the ground), racial segregation, a viable Ku Klux Klan, chain gangs, whipping posts, eugenics, eighth grade education (or less) for the masses, state control over labor laws, no women’s suffrage, and a return to the Comstock Act. In short, they want the world the way God intended it – with rich white men in charge of things!

        Ostensibly, the Comstock Act of 1873 was intended to protect public morals by prohibiting pornography being sent through the mail. In reality, in the days before electronic communication, it effectively prohibited the dissemination of birth control information at a time when, as Theodore Roosevelt suggested, any white woman not bearing at least four children was committing racial suicide.

        The Hobby Lobby case is little more than white panic under the guise of Christian morals and virtue. Already, the Becket Fund – providing legal representation for Hobby Lobby – reportedly has 100 cases roughly divided between corporations and nonprofits claiming religious exemptions from Obamacare. Almost on cue, the perpetually mouthy, quadrice married and still childless, draft-dodging coward Rush Limbaugh has taken to the airways lam-blasting birth control, while blaming women for doing “a certain thing.”

        Meanwhile, as the Catholic Church in Rome discovered long ago, the real question is whether large numbers American women want to return to Victorian Era – much less the Bronze Age!

        • I am getting good at typing this…nothing in the SCOTUS ruling limited a woman from obtaining birth control. Again, your broad characterization of what conservatives want is way off base. Most Libertarian types (fiscally conservative socially liberal) were pleased with the ruling because people should not be forced into things that they have moral objections to. Those same people support civil rights, legal civil marriage for same sex couples etc. Claiming that a SCOTUS decision that is limited in scope as somehow being tied to racism and the other things you listed is rather irresponsible.

  2. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf
    This is a link to the actual opinions from the justices on the ruling. I have read them and they are interesting if one enjoys that sort of thing. I do support religious freedoms for corporations to some degree however. A large number of local churches incorporate. Many Christian charities incorporate. Most 501(c)3 organizations are incorporated. I want them to have protections (even the ones that I disagree with) so that they can continue to do the work and advocate for those who need them. At their inception, incorporating was designed to protect the individuals behind a company or enterprise, not the enterprise itself.

    • if churches incorporate, they usually (if not always) do so as a non-profit (some, like the PCUSA, do so as a non-prophet… I kill me…)

      • With the exception of taxes and what paper work is required, there is not a lot of distinction between a non profit corporation and a for profit one.

  3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent is quite good. Especially when coupled with the Citizen United ruling, Hobby Lobby potentially opens a Pandora’s Box of theological misadventures under the guise of law.

    The current Supreme Court’s judicial activism is disturbingly similar to that manifested during the turn of the 20th century Lochner era. The ruling against unions is little more than a recreation of the old liberty of contract concept invented by the Court over a century ago.

    Much like the Catholic Church after the fall of Rome, corporations are uniquely poised to take advantage of the American demise.

    • For the past two decades, the United States has been inexorably drifting into an era of neo-patronage – employment based upon who one knows rather than by what one knows. As was the case with its 19th century predecessor, the latter day reincarnation will be fraught with corruption, inefficiency, and ultimately disaster.

      Even late 19th century president James Garfield, whose presidential administration was rife with corruption, knew the time had come for reform. He’d actually begun work on a civil service model (employment based on what one knows) before being assassinated in 1881 by a wannabe political appointee. In turn, Garfield’s assassination spurred passage of the Pendleton Act of 1883. This legislation gave rise to federal, and eventually state level, civil service-based hiring.

      As with the now largely discredited 19th century spoils system, perhaps best personified by New York’s William “Boss” Tweed, the current misadventure will have to run its course before a new round of reform becomes feasible.

    • “Nothing in this interim order affects the ability of the applicant’s employees and students to obtain, without cost, the full range of FDA approved contraceptives,” the justices said.

      These cases were already around and waiting for rulings during the Hobby Lobby ordeal, so the root cause was not that case. Again, just as with the Hobby Lobby ruling, nothing in this decision has prevented women from getting birth control.

      • Current judicial activism on the part of the current Supreme Court smacks of Lochner era judicial activism. When coupled with Citizens United, and the most likely outcome in the pending McCutcheon ruling, the trend is quite disturbing.

        While birth control access may still be free in some instance, the Hobby Lobby decision makes it more complicated to obtain. Then, that was the intent – much like voter ID laws. People can still vote or obtain birth control; just, for some, it becomes more difficult.

        • Actually, if the government does what the court suggested, and would have done as Hobby Lobby requested before there was ever a lawsuit, and applies the same system as it did for non profit corporations, there will be no difference to the consumer at all. The insurer will offer the contraceptives in question and bill the government rather than the employer. The burden of difficulty is completely upon the employer who must fill out the proper forms and provide the information, the insurance company which must have a separate plan and the government who must manage it. The consumer will not be burdened. This ruling is based on the RFRA which was passed by an overwhelming majority and signed into law by a Democratic president, so laying this at the feet of the “right” is not at all accurate.

          • “…insurer will offer the contraceptives in question and bill the government rather than the employer….”

            Welcome to socialized medicine Canadian-style! By using this single payer model, Canada is able to deliver healthcare to its citizen more cheaply than do insurance companies in the United States – that tend to put profits over quality of healthcare. That’s one reason why 33 other counties have longer life spans than does the United States.

            The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) constituted little more than an end run around the Sherbert decision. The law is also uniformly applicable to ALL religions.

            The cocamanie RFRA gave the religion-crazed United States a Pastafarian religion – with its Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s deity and The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as its bible!

            By the way, Bill Clinton wasn’t all that liberal. Not only did he famously pronouce, “The era of big government is over,” he also curbed government spending – unlike his successors – and ended New Deal federal welfare. Despite conservative propaganda, his sexual proclivities were consistent with several of America’s Founding Fathers.

    • This is just a stunt by the legal teams for those at gitmo and nothing more. It is not the first such stunt and will not be the last such stunt. Again, despite what they say, the Hobby Lobby ruling is not the cause, of this, rather attempts of lawyers trying to get notoriety for their clients is the cause.

      • Let me get this straight: Lawyers representing Christian causes are moral and upright. Conversely, lawyers representing Islamic freedoms are merely “trying to get notoriety for the clients.” Actually it sounds more like conservative Christians are trying to perform an unnatural sex act with the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause!

        • Sorry if you took my point that way. The ruling in Hobby Lobby has no bearing on the detainees in gitmo. It was a narrow ruling about 4 types of birth control, it did not in any way redefine the RFRA. As judges have ruled that those detained do not fall under the RFRA already, in this case, they are doing it for notoriety. Personally, I think that those in gitmo should be able to reasonably express their faith and should have been to trial, whether civil or military, long ago. Well over 600 motions have been filed by the lawyers, most probably without the knowledge of the detainees. The vast majority have been ruled as frivolous.

          • The Hobby Lobby lawsuit was disingenuous. Owners of the company objected to four methods of birth control that they believed to be abortion. Not only is abortion by forbidden by the Bible, the Ancient Hebrews put very little value on the life of either fetuses or very young children (Genesis 38:24, Exodus 21:22-23, Leviticus 27:6, Numbers 31:15-17, etc.). More interestingly, the Old Testament claims God may cause a woman to abort (Numbers 5:21-21, 27-28)!!!

            I’ve been to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (Gitmo). Let’s just say wasn’t a choice duty station – and probably still isn’t. The detainee camp seems to be little more than America’s version of Devil’s Island – the former French penal colony off the coast of French Guiana. Not surprisingly, the French stopped using it as their empire began to crumble. Much the same thing will happen as America loses its grip on the levers of world power.

            The detainees at Gitmo haven’t been tried because the evidence against many of them is sketchy at best. Otherwise, as was recently the case with Bowe Bergdahl, the United States may use them bargaining chips.

    • Hopefully, females in power will keep from making adverse decisions regarding a slightly more distal portion of your anatomy!

  4. From a practical standpoint, it really doesn’t matter. My prostate is “gone with the wind”. But I would not have wanted someone else telling we what I could or couldn’t do with the darn thing (speaking from a medical standpoint).

    • It’s actually even worse than that in the United States. Third parties, i.e. health insurance companies, usually wind up telling both you and your doctor(s) what you can do or not do with various parts of your body. To make matters worse, there is usually little or no recourse unless one has deep pockets or a very generous doctor. Despite capitalistic apologists’ claims to the contrary, the United States has a rationed healthcare system!

  5. In commenting on the Hobby Lobby case, United States District Court Judge Richard Kopf of Nebraska, incidentally appointed to the bench by George “We Miss W.” Bush, suggested after reviewing the Hobby Lobby case that:

    1) “To the average person, the result looks stupid and smells worse…’cause corporations are not persons [despite American legal fiction to the contrary];”

    2) In keeping with Yale legal guru Alexander Bickel’s half century old “passive virtues” commentary and avoid “highly controversial cases” that serve no useful purpose – after all, Kopf askes, “What harm would have befallen the nation [if the Court had avoided the incredibly divisive Hobby Lobby case]?”; and

    3) “…it is time for the Court to stfu.” (And, no, I will not explain the acronym at the end of the previous sentence.)

    Furthermore, it is likely that, if the current Supreme Court majority were personified by a single individual, it is not beyond the realm of reason that, because HE seems to have an uncontrollable urge to do something without thinking things through first, HE would be labeled by psychiatrists as having a obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)!

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