Hobby Lobby, Obamacare, Discrimination And Evangelicals

In case you have missed it, yet another US company owned by an evangelical Christian family has challenged the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on religious grounds.

Craft store chain Hobby Lobby is facing fines of perhaps 1.3 million dollars per day for noncompliance, after refusing to obey the rules of the new law.

These objections center around the requirement to provide contraceptives to employees through its company health care plan, because they feel that some contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion.

I have no interest in debating the various religious reasons for their opinion on this, nor do I care to discuss abortion.

The bottom line is much simpler than that.

It equates to two key words in the proper name of “Obamacare” – Patient Protection.

This type of situation, in part, is exactly what the new law set out to prevent – discrimination against an employee at the hands of an employer (or insurer).

Hobby Lobby’s owners, the evangelical Christian Green family, want to impose their personal religious beliefs on each and every one of their 13,000 employees.

Think about that for a moment. Read it again:

Hobby Lobby’s owners, the evangelical Christian Green family, want to impose their personal religious beliefs on each and every one of their 13,000 employees.

Each time I read that line, it triggers mental comparisons to other countries in the world that we so easily look down upon. Countries who’s leaders adhere to strict religious dogma and oppress minorities, including women.  And we let ourselves think it is beneath us to act in the same manner.

And yet, the evangelical crowd, the Mike Huckabees and the Denny Burks of the world are treating this fight like a holy war.

Huckabee has a well known response for these situations and in addition to copying his Chick-fil-A type “appreciation day” blueprint, he managed to utter this:

The Obama administration insists that companies like Hobby Lobby bow their knees to the God of government health care mandates, even when those mandates are a clear and direct contradiction to their personal beliefs of faith.

The key line here Mike is “personal beliefs”.

I suggest the Green family respect the “personal beliefs” of those employees who disagree with their own religious leanings and simply mind their own business.  What their employees choose to do when not stocking the shelves with craft supplies and model rockets is their own business alone.

And furthermore, do these employees not pay for some of this health care through deductions?

Then there is evangelical blogger Denny Burk.  He has a few choice thoughts as well:

This is the kind of business [Hobby Lobby] that we need more of in this country, not less. What we don’t need is for the government to put such people out of business by fining them over $1 million dollars a day. Yet that is exactly what is happening right now because the Greens are not complying with Obamacare’s abortion mandate.

Abortion mandate?  Seriously Denny?  It is no such thing and you, as an educated person, and as an educator, darn well know it. The Greens are willfully breaking the law.  They are committing a crime by doing so. And a million a day is not going to put them out of business – they will never let it go that far.

But Denny is just getting warmed up:

Would you have a problem if the federal government required you to purchase goods or services that you believe to be immoral and against your most deeply held beliefs? That is precisely what is happening to Hobby Lobby right now.

Hmmm… I suppose one could say that buying auto insurance violates my rights.  How about contributing to Social Security?  Gee, I love peace, so it is immoral to have taxes diverted to tanks and nukes. We can do this all day. It is an intellectually childish argument. (And again, do the employees not pay a significant portion of their own insurance through payroll deductions? Does this not give them the right to have some input?)

My favorite:

The first line of the Bill of Rights says this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Obamacare prohibits the free exercise of the owners of Hobby Lobby.

First of all, this “free exercise” line applies to churches, groups and organizations, not owners of a billion dollar craft and hobby business.  And, the exceptions for these aforementioned groups has already been added to the legislation – even though it likely should not have been.

Second, the owners of Hobby Lobby have no right whatsoever to impose their own religious beliefs on their 13,000 employees against their will.  The Greens have no right to discriminate against any employee who does not hold the same religious views as they do.

Period.

And the Hobby Lobbys, the religious groups, the individuals and the politicians who support this holy war are not fearing the loss of religious freedom.  No.  They fear the loss of religious discrimination. The loss of having their religion of choice at the top of the totem pole.

Period.

I will state this once again – America is not a theocracy. It will never be a theocracy.  And history is littered with societies that tried to mix governmental policy with evangelical religious beliefs .

It never, ever ends well.

Now, a couple of facts.

  • Obamacare does not cover RU-486, the abortion pill. The emergency contraceptives it does cover such as Plan B, aka ‘The Morning After Pill,” do not abort. Plan B was once thought to prevent implantation, but subsequent studies found that it only prevents fertilization of an egg. Implantation can and still does, occur.
  • Hobby Lobby fills its stores with supplies almost exclusively imported from low-cost, low-wage suppliers in China.  And yes, the morality of this is certainly fair to discuss in this case, as the Greens are making a moral argument.  Glass houses after all…

With regard to requiring insurers to provide specific procedures and medications across the board, to everyone who wishes that access, think of it this way:

A universal type health care system must not discriminate. Period. That is why it is “universal”. The government and private insurers must not discriminate against anyone whatsoever, ever. Period. Protecting employees from the beliefs of their employers is absolutely necessary, as this case proves. Period.

Full stop.

And end of story.