When the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. in favor of Hobby Lobby’s opposition to the U.S. Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) mandate, there were hallelujahs from their supporters on the religious right, and howls from those on the liberal left.
David and Barbara Green, co-founders and owners of Hobby Lobby, felt gratified their religious beliefs were vindicated by the decision. They believed it to be a violation of their First Amendment right to the free exercise of their religion as reinforced by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when the HHS required them to provide four supposed contraceptions to their employees that were in fact abortifacients (chemicals that cause the newly conceived child to be aborted).
The Chicken Littles of the liberal left are already whining the sky is falling over women’s rights. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the High Court’s matron liberal, wrote what was characterized as a “blistering” thirty-five page dissent, and Hillary Clinton called the decision “disturbing.”
I can understand the jubilation of those who desire religious freedom, but we may be rejoicing over too little, too late. I think this ruling missed the point entirely.
The real issue is not about women’s rights or even religious liberty, at its heart is the simple issue of what it means to be a free people served by a just government. Citizens are granted certain rights, but those rights are not necessarily to be secured at another citizen’s expense.
Hobby Lobby will enjoy a “religious preference,” but why should every other business be denied their basic freedom to negotiate in a free market the terms and conditions of their employees’ service? When the government tells one group of citizens they must pay for and provide a service to another group of citizens that is not freedom; it’s socialism. This is not a denial of a woman’s right to contraceptions, it is about whether the government is being just, or fair to each citizen, when it forces one group of citizens to pay for the rights of other citizens. Hooray for Hobby Lobby, but what about the rest of our citizens that are having their freedoms raped?
Moses wrote, “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land,” Deuteronomy 16:20. The sole purpose of government is to protect its citizens from injustice. Government cannot accomplish justice when it grants a right to one citizen at the expense of another.
This was not about women’s rights or religious freedom; it was about simple freedom and justice. But an attack on freedom anywhere is an attack on freedom everywhere, including religious freedom. I fear those who are shouting hallelujah today, may be howling tomorrow.