Hobby Lobby Aftermath: Christian College Demands an Exemption…from the Exemption

On Monday, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the Supreme Court relied heavily on “less restrictive alternatives” when it exempted closely-held corporations from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.  Justice Alito stressed that such alternatives would have “zero” effect on their employees.

This assertion was drawn into question by another decision handed down a mere three days later, granting a temporary injunction to another case, in which Wheaton college argued that applying for the exemption would render it “complicit in the provision of contraceptive coverage, in violation of its religious beliefs.”

Dozens of institutions have gone to court, claiming that having to send such letter to their insurance company violates their religious faith—in other words, they are demanding an exemption from the exemption!

Whether the fear aroused by Thursday’s decision in the case of Wheaton College v. Sebelius is justified remains to be seen. That decision was only a temporary order. It granted a Christian college the right to refuse to sign a form in order to certify that it is a non-profit religious institution entitled to a religious exemption from the contraceptive mandate—at least until a judge decides whether forcing the school to sign would violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Although the decision is only a temporary order, it strongly suggests that the opinion handed down by the Court a mere three days earlier was based on false promises.

That opinion, authored by Justice Alito, relied on the assertion there are “less restrictive” ways of providing coverage to employees for the health services to which their employers object.  The first alternative identified by Justice Alito is for the government to pick up the tab. Call this Justice Alito’s “Plan B.”

The second possibility suggested by the Court (“Plan C”) is for the government to order the insurance companies to absorb the costs, as it does in cases involving non-profit religious institutions. Plan C was devised by the Health and Human Services Agency to accommodate non-profit religious institutions by allowing them an exemption from the contraceptive mandate.  It is that plan to which Wheaton College and its fellow travelers object.

The outcry that has greeted Thursday’s decision is understandable.  By granting a temporary injunction in favor of Wheaton College, the Court suggested that the very alternative it had suggested was available probably violates RFRA.  If the Court doesn’t think that the challenge is likely to succeed, then it shouldn’t be granting the order.

Thus the Court seems to be saying that at least one of the two “least restrictive alternatives” that it posited in Hobby Lobby is not actually legal.

More than that, if the Court decides in favor of Wheaton College’s claim that Plan C substantially burdens its freedom of religion, it will eliminate the accommodation that the government devised out of respect for religious groups.

Perhaps this could be justified if there is yet another way of guaranteeing that there will be “zero effect” on employees’ access to reproductive health care services, as Justice Alito promised. Justice Alito’s conclusion was premised on the availability of alternative ways for employees to get coverage. By his own reasoning, if there are no alternative ways for employees to gain insurance coverage for the omitted services, then the case for the exemption fails.

Yesterday’s decision strongly suggests that he, along with other Justices, might well be prepared to eliminate one of the two alternatives hypothesized in Hobby Lobby.  But what of the first alternative suggested in the Hobby Lobby decision, Justice Alito’s Plan B?  After all, even if Plan C (make the insurance company pay) is eliminated, there is still the possibility of Plan B (make the government pay.)

Or is there?  The arguments being made by Wheaton College and by other parties raising similar claims (like the religious order, Little Sisters of the Poor) give the illusion—but only the illusion—of there being a meaningful distinction between Plan B and Plan C.  This is because these parties are all arguing that they object to Plan C, but not to Plan B.

That is, they object to having send a letter to their insurance carriers certifying that they are claiming an exemption from the contraceptive mandate because, they claim, in so doing, they are in essence authorizing, or triggering, the extension of coverage for the services to which they object by the carrier.

But they don’t object to sending documentation to the government and having the government pick up the tab.

Why not?  Why is sending notification to the government of its intention to activate its right to an exemption from the contraceptive mandate any less an act of “facilitating sin,” from the point of view of these religious organizations, than sending a notification to an insurance carrier?

In either case, the effect is to activate the assumption of the obligation to cover the omitted services by another party.  Logically, there is no reason why a religious party who subscribes to the religious doctrine against “facilitating sin” would not perceive there to be just as much as agency involved in sending a letter to the government and just as much responsibility for triggering the provision of insurance by the government as there is in sending a letter to an insurance company to trigger its assumption of financial responsibility.

Of course, there is no requirement that religious beliefs be logical. If Wheaton College or Little Sisters believe there to be a meaningful distinction between the level of responsibility involved in providing documentation to the government that triggers its provision of funding for coverage and the level of responsibility it bears on the existing accommodation plan for getting an insurance company to pay, that is its right. But the holding that will eventually be issued in the Wheaton College and Little Sisters cases will have to apply to all parties alike.

If in a future case, a religious “person” or institution should claim that according to its beliefs, notifying the government that it is claiming an exemption facilitates sin because so doing will cause the government to pick up the tab, that “person” will have no less right to its beliefs than Wheaton College and Little Sisters have to theirs.

It is not up to the Court to decide which religious beliefs to protect, and there is no litmus test of logic or rationality to which religious beliefs can be submitted in order to qualify for protection.

Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in Wheaton College suggests otherwise. In an otherwise powerful opinion, joined by the Court’s two other female Justices, Justice Sotomayor wrote that while she does “not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs, … thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened … does not make it so.”

With this statement, Justice Sotomayor dismisses not just the belief that there is a difference between activating coverage by the insurance companies and activating coverage by the government, but the whole idea that “facilitating” the commission of “sin” by someone else could constitute a substantial burden on the free exercise of religion.

This, however, is a trap that liberals should resist.  It is understandable why opponents of the exemption claims in Wheaton College and Hobby Lobby want to argue against a wholly subjective criterion of religious belief.  Insisting that the subjective belief that there is a burden “does not make it so” allows one to deny the existence of a burden, whereas once the existence of a substantial burden is conceded, the government faces an uphill road.

But uphill is not the same thing as impassable, at least not if the Court applies the law, dare we say, conscientiously.

Tempting as it is, refusing to recognize the existence of a substantial burden based on the religious doctrine of the “facilitation of sin” is in fact a more dangerous road than the uphill road faced when the burden is conceded. There are numerous reasons why it is a mistake to deny the existence of the burden.

First, it is not in fact illogical to believe that when one provides another with the economic means to act one is “facilitating” or providing material support for their actions. By the same token, it is neither irrational nor crazy to believe that if the actions taken by someone who has received material support from you are immoral, then you bear some responsibility, or are complicit in that immorality.

This is the same logic that underlies laws against material support for terrorist organizations; it is also the logic underlies boycotts. I might very well to decide to boycott Hobby Lobby because I don’t want to lend my dollars to their activities.  If I do, I will be acting on a theory of facilitating sin (or immoral conduct) not unlike their own.

There is another reason why we should resist refusing to recognize the substantial burden involved in what the plaintiffs believe to be the facilitation of sin, and that is that, contrary to Justice Sotmayor’s assertion, there is no test to which religious beliefs can be subjected in order to qualify for protection, other than what the believer subjectively thinks. We do not demand that speech meet any objective test of rationality or logic for it to be protected, and belief is no different. It is not for the Court to judge the merits of anyone’s beliefs.

Fortunately, there are better grounds for refuting the claim that there is a right to an exemption.  Rather than insisting that there is no burden, or that the burden is not substantial, we should accept the logic of the religious prohibition of the facilitation of sin and look to see where that leads.

In the context of the prohibition, there is no principled basis for granting less protection to a plaintiff who believes it is a facilitation of sin to engage in actions that trigger Plan B than to plaintiffs like Wheaton College and Little Sisters who object to triggering Plan C.  If anything, the (hypothetical) plaintiff who believes it’s a facilitation of sin to trigger Plan B as well as Plan C is more logical than the actual plaintiffs who (apparently) only believe it is a violation of their religion to trigger Plan C.

Indeed, if one takes the idea of religious prohibition of facilitation of sin to its logical conclusion, participating in any accommodation that ensures there will be “zero” effect on the employees is by definition an act of facilitating sin.

Of course, what matters in the individual case is what the particular plaintiffs actually, subjectively believe.  If Wheaton College and Little Sisters happen not to believe that it’s against their religion to act in ways that lead to the government covering the tab, so be it.  But if the Court is to be logically consistent itself (a matter which is now seriously open to question), then it has to be prepared to grant the same treatment to religious objectors to Plan B as to Plan C.  To put it plainly, there is no logical basis on which the Court can distinguish religious objectors to accommodations that involve making the government pay.

But to allow religious objectors not to participate in “plans” that enable the government to pay for things they view as sinful is tantamount to allowing religious objectors to object to government itself.

If a religious objector has a right to be exempt from signing a document that triggers the provision of government funding for contraceptive services (as would logically seem to follow from holding that a religious objector as a right to be exempt from signing a document that triggers the provision of funding the same services by an insurance carrier), then why not hold that a religious objector has a right not to pay taxes to the government that are used to pay for things that the objector deemed to be sinful. The Court has already addressed this issue in United States v. Lee, where it held, for obvious reasons, that no such right can be recognized.

Similarly in the case of Bob Jones University, the Court held that a private religious institution can not demand an exemption from regulations enforcing important government interests when those regulations accompany the receipt of government subsidies in the form of tax exemptions. In both cases, the Court recognized that the government’s use of the tax system to collect revenue and to subsidize private actors (as it does when it provides tax exemptions) cannot be allowed to be subjected to exemption claims. In neither case did the Court find it necessary to deny the existence of a burden. Instead, it held that some burdens are not unconstitutional, particularly, in cases with the fundamental ability of the government at stake.

Returning to Justice Alito’s “Plan B”—make the government pay—it’s worth noting what a remarkable (not to say hypocritical) concession this is coming from supposedly stalwart opponents of government-funded healthcare.

We hold little hope that the Court’s conservative Justices will recognize that the so-called private system of employment-based insurance that opponents of Obamacare are trying to preserve is itself a system of government funding through tax expenditures (although the Court alludes to this in in its cryptic reference to “the usual business reasons” for preferring to provide health care as a fringe benefit).

We hold no illusions about the political feasibility of getting people in Congress to enact Justice Alito’s “Plan B.

But what is merely a fragile hope from one point of view is a political opportunity from another. Even if passing such a law proves to be impossible, progressives should not lose this opportunity to demonstrate that by their own logic, the opponents of the contraceptive mandate have conceded that direct government funding would be a better—“less restrictive”—way of delivering health insurance than having it funneled through employers (which is what the “traditional” so-called “private” system amounts to).

nomideplume@gmail.com'

Nomi Stolzenberg is the Nathan and Lilly Shapell Chair in Law at USC Law School, Director of USC's Program on Religious Accommodation and Co-Director of USC's Center for Law, History and Culture. She writes widely on law, religion, gender and culture, and currently is writing a book on the Satmar community of Kiryas Joel.

  • Jim Reed

    If religion wants things to be messed up, then when their side controls the appropriate aspect of government, things will be messed up. Single payer could get religion out of the picture and do something practical for the nation. Trying to compromise with religion is stupid because their priority is to cause trouble. No compromise will work because they aren’t looking for a way to make it work.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    Religion poisons everything. If there was a god, there would be no religion.

  • Rmj

    “This is the same logic that underlies laws against material support for terrorist organizations; it is also the logic underlies boycotts. I might very well to decide to boycott Hobby Lobby because I don’t want to lend my dollars to their activities. If I do, I will be acting on a theory of facilitating sin (or immoral conduct) not unlike their own.”

    A) “Not unlike” is not an eloquent way of saying “the same.” If I choose not to patronize Hobby Lobby because I find their legal arguments offensive simply as a matter of law (I don’t have to find them offensive on only moral grounds), I am simply choosing how to spend my money. I am not choosing to put Hobby Lobby out of business (which I won’t. Undoubtedly the majority of Hobby Lobby’s patrons are unaware of this controversy, or don’t care if they are aware. I haven’t shopped in Wal-Mart for decades, because I don’t like their management practices. It hasn’t brought Wal-Mart to its knees, but my reasoning is not the same, or even “not unlike,” the reasoning of people who want to boycott Wal-Mart until it changes its practices. I simply don’t want to shop there: period.) An exercise of choice is not the same thing as “I’ll be back when you start behaving in a manner I approve of.” I simply won’t be back. Period.

    B) both boycotts and bans of “material support for terrorism” are, I would submit, dubious actions anyway. As with my “boycott” of Wal-Mart, I don’t threaten the fortunes of the Walton family one jot, nor do I expect to. But having choices, I don’t have to shop there, either. “Material support for terrorism” is a rather inchoate phrase that can, like criminal conspiracy, mean pretty much whatever a prosecuting attorney wants it to mean. The courts may have upheld such charges at law, but that doesn’t mean I think they are legally sound or well-founded. No more well founded, I would say, than the majority opinion in Burwell.

    And, the simple fact is, the government cannot be concerned with “facilitating sin,” or trying to avoid such matters by government policy impositions on individuals (or closely-held corporations, or educational institutions). As Niebuhr pointed out, a society, or a government, is primarily concerned with survival. It cannot sacrifice itself, or rather its members, for a moral purpose, especially if that sacrifice involves the self-immolation of the society or nation. Individuals may make that choice, but as with civil disobedience, that choice must be made recognizing there will be consequences to the decision. Hobby Lobby wants the protections of U.S. law, without any consequences for such protection. If they deem their participation in health insurance a sin, that is a matter between them and their God (it is not my God, as I see no damnation of my soul from such participation).

    If the government really has to be concerned with everyone’s personal (or corporate, as in denominational) concept of “sin” (which is largely a Christian concept, by the way), how does government ever function?

  • Jim Reed

    Are we headed for a dual conservative/progressive marketplace? The morality of Walmart might not be too big of a deal, but Chick fil a has struck a chord. Fundamentalist Christians now go there more often, and people of progressive morals less often. Chick fil a expands in the South because that is where their ideological base is. In our polarized society as the poles draw in more customers, there will be fewer neutral customers, and more companies will be forced to pick a side. In the internet marketplace, .com might have to split into .red and .blu. There has been lists of Christian businesses and Christian advertising for many years, but it has always been a one sided battle until now.

  • yepowecommiesux

    Working with the God-less that abound in this country has done nothing but create chaos. THAT is the problem – the God-less. Or, I should say, those who believe in “themselves” and nothing else.

  • yepowecommiesux

    Wrong. The God-less have poisoned everything because they believe in and support all the immorality that goes on. Sin is the problem, has always been the problem and will always be the problem.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    If you need religion to convince you to be a moral person, then you are not a good person.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    If there was a god, there would be no need for religion.

  • Christopher

    Can anyone tell me what religion/church doctrine/free exercise of their beliefs was violated by the exemption granted to Hobby Lobby et al? From what I have read the exemption does not keep anyone from buying any form or birth control or using it. I did not read where anyone that uses these types of birth control would be fired by Hobby Lobby for using them. I have read the dissent by Justice Ginsberg and many articles by those opposing the ruling and statements by Senator Reid that asks “What about the religious beliefs of those women denied coverage” but for the life of me I cannot figure out how anyone’s religious free exercise was violated since the contraceptives are still fully available to anyone that wants to buy them.

    Is it a religious belief that other people/corporations should pay for contraception?

    For the life of me I cannot figure out what religious belief/practice is being violated. Does anyone here know? If so can you please explain it to me?

  • Christopher

    Is there a difference between a religious business choice and people choosing to go the a Jets’ Sports Bar instead of a Raiders’ Bar to watch a game? I certainly make a choice not to eat at McDonalds because I do not like the taste and/or quality of their food. So if people want to shop where they are more comfortable/like the taste and feel, because of the religious philosophy or lack thereof is that not just smart business practice by finding a niche and playing to it for profit? I doubt Netflix worries about please people that don’t like movies.

  • Christopher

    If you believe their is not God/god then you have an “ultimate reality” and legally you have a “religion.”

  • Christopher

    If you believe that a moral person is a good person then you have made a religious judgment. The natural law or law of the jungle is to take what you want. Are you saying that my Viking forefathers that raped and pillaged Europe were not moral or good people? If so…what is your reason to make such a claim?

  • Jim Reed

    There is a Christian television broadcasting network with about half a dozen sub-channels, but I think you have to be really hard core to watch any of it.

  • Christopher

    Single payer would mean that the government has embrace the religion of Socialism and would be violating the free exercise of my religion. My religion does not allow me to be a socialist or to even give sympathy to such an evil doctrine.

    It is a maxim of the common law that: Quod alias bonum et justum est, si per vim vel fraudem petatur, malum et injustum efficitur. What is otherwise good and just, if sought by force or fraud, becomes bad and unjust. 3 Co. 78.

    If you FORCE me to pay for socialism then it is bad and unjust. Why would you promote something that is bad and unjust? Are you a bad person? I certainly would never force my religion on you. To do so would be a violation of my faith. I don’t make you pay for my house of worship or a ride to meetings or to pay my religious leaders to to pay for my religious food or practices. Why would you want to force me to pay for your religion or socialism?

  • Christopher

    Are you saying that your picture of god is that we would all be forced to be good as you see good? How would your view of god force us to be good and peaceful. What would your view of god do to abolish murder and war and poverty and tyranny?

  • Jim Reed

    Religion should not be a 4th branch of the government with veto power over spending bills. If we as a nation decide we want single payer health care, then get with the program. It is the system that works best in the rest of the developed world.

  • Christopher

    The article states: “But if the Court is to be logically consistent itself (a matter which is now seriously open to question)”

    Very true. ACA aka ObamaCare was declared by Justice Roberts to be Constitutional STRICTLY because it is a tax.

    Justice Ginsberg’s dissent in Hobby Lobby states:
    “In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

    How does the Hobby Lobby ruling mean that the RFRA does not apply to tax laws? The RFRA DOES apply to tax law or this case could not have had the outcome that it now has. The Court applied the RFRA to ObamaCare and ObamaCare IS a tax and the RFRA WAS applied to THIS IRS enforced tax law.

    So does RFRA apply to tax law or not?

    Consistency by the court would indeed be nice. Justice Ginsberg in her dissent even admitted that the ruling in Bourne (that declared the RFRA unconstitutional as applied to the States) that she signed on to with the majority had errors in the history of case law concerning the “least restrictive” clause.

    How can anyone today KNOW what the law is? Even in the Hobby Lobby ruling 4 Supreme Court Justices say the RFRA does not apply. How can an average Joe or Jolene trust any law? The Obama Administration has lost 13 times this year and that was before the Hobby Lobby ruling. If the administration does not know the law or what the Constitution means how can I protect myself from violating the law or believe the government will follow the law?

    Laws that are vague are VOID. What federal law is NOT VAGUE? How can a multi-million word law NOT BE VAGUE? How can I know if it even applies to me? And if 4 Supreme COurt justices don’t know that a for profit corporation is a person covered un the RFRA how can I trust a attorney to tell me if I am protected or not protected or am liable or not liable?

    I have a religious objection to vague laws that have too many words and/or are changed so often that I cannot know from one year to the next what I am required to do or not do. Madison in the Federalist Papers wrote that such laws are not laws. If ObamaCare is so vague that there is a 5/4 split in the Court as to what it means and a 5/4 as to if it is even Constitutional but only as a tax, a word not used in the law as it only used “penalty” and Roberts declared that to mean “tax”, how is that not vague?

  • Christopher

    If we as a Nation decide to outlaw prayer by taxing out of existence then that is unconstitutional. Prayer is just ONE religious doctrine and no more important than any other. I agree that religion should not be the 4th branch of government but Socialism is a religion and it is in DIRECT opposition to my religious beliefs and practices. By my doctrine Socialism is satanic. To be a Socialist eternally damns me. But you seem to believe that you can force me to be a Socialist just because the majority of Americans think that Satan’s way is the right way. I don’t try to get you pay for my religious practices. Why do you think it is okay for government to force me to pay for your religious practices?

  • Christopher

    And so they found a niche. Good for them. I certainly don’t watch it as it would nauseate me as Protestants and Evangelicals always do me but it makes the tv choices more diverse. I don’t have to watch and I don’t have to shop at Hobby Lobby either. It does not make it a “dual conservative/progressive marketplace.” It makes it a more diverse marketplace. Do you oppose diversity and/or choice in the marketplace?

    I don’t like Wal-Mart because it harms diversity in the marketplace so I don’t shop there.

  • Jim Reed

    We have social security, medicare, even medicaid. We also have a military to provide for the common defense, which nowdays really means offense. We all have to pay taxes. It is called being a part of the country. You can have any religious beliefs you want, or say any prayers you want, but we don’t have to pay any attention to your religion, and it shouldn’t get you out of paying your fair share.

  • Jim Reed

    For me it is not a matter of being for or against any of these things. It is just an observation, the political split is now manifesting itself in the business world. Chick fil a expresses Christianity, so Christians would rather spend their money there. Target asks people to leave their guns home, and other stores encourage people to carry guns. There was a report of a restaurant where the waitresses now all wear loaded pistols strapped to their hip so everyone can see how much that restaurant approves of guns. People can now pick a restaurant where they can express their politics, and that really means expressing their religion. It doesn’t matter if this a more or less efficient system, it is just the way our politics is driving us. Will it kind of taper off here, or will more and more businesses start expressing either Christian politics, or separation of church and state politics? I don’t know, but it might be a trend to watch.

  • Christopher

    The Bible speaks of separating the wheat from the chaff. It is indeed a trend to watch. We make choices when we shop. If we spend our FRNs at Wal-Mart instead of at Ma and Pa stores then we support Corporations that refuse to pay a living wage. If we buy sweatshop created tens then we support sweatshops. I we use Social Security numbers then we support socialism. Choices. I love choices.

  • Christopher

    No. YOU have those Socialist programs. I reject them and have lived without them for 4 decades. I have been applying the RFRA to protect myself since 1996 AD. I don’t have a Social Security Number and neither do my children or my grandchildren. We do have a military but it is no longer for defense but for invasion. We all do pay taxes. I voluntarily pay Gas taxes because those are supposed to go the GENERAL welfare and not to corporate or individual welfare. But I do not pay income taxes or Social Security taxes of Medicare taxes.

    You don’t have to pay attention to my religion but the government does. As per Hobby Lobby: “the Government can impose such a burden (on my commercial activity like earning a living) ONLY if the strict RFRA test is met.”

    So I don’t have to pay any attention (or dollars) to YOUR religion of Social Security and Medicare and foreign wars. And I have no problem with that. Do you?

  • Christopher

    I saved the government over a million FRNs by adopting a special needs child instead of becoming a foster parent and having the government pay her medical costs. Did you pay your fair share of those costs? Does that qualify as paying my fair share? If it does then I have no problem with paying that way but I will not pay Socialist style taxation like income taxes.

    My religion demands that I am a good steward over what God gives me and giving the government of my property is not being a good steward. It spends it on the NSA and the IRS and corporate welfare and forces forms on my that violate my faith and if signed would cause me to commit perjury since I could NEVER agree that I owed a tax or had an obligation to file a 1040 form.

    Justice O’Connor and Justice Breyer emphasized the declaration of Madison in their opinion in CITY OF BOERNE:
    “This duty [owed the Creator] is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society….

    My Creator tells me that I must eschew Socialism and therefore the claims of Civil Society are to be paid ONLY if it does not violate the directions given to me by my Creator. The 1040 violates my faith at least as much as Form 700 violates Wheaton’s faith. That is what the RFRA does. It protects my right to NOT to be a Socialist or to pay any share of Socialism’s religious doctrines like Social Security or Medicare or be involved in the graduated Income Tax which is the 2nd plank of the Communist Manifesto written by the Prophet of Communism.

  • Jim Reed

    The government doesn’t have to pay attention to your religion in that income tax is not a religious option.

  • Jim Reed

    This is a country where paying income tax is not a religious option. Of course that is the same as every other country.

    Nobody has to obey the law in that there is no penalty unless they are caught. If you are caught, I am sure the powers of your religion will do nothing to assist you.

  • Jim Reed

    Technically I guess that is true because if there is a God, then we don’t need religion. If there is no God, then we need religion to be the God.

  • Christopher

    But it does. That is EXACTLY what was just stated in the Hobby Lobby ruling. The government MUST MEET the strict RFRA test before imposing burdens on my commercial activity. The Hobby Lobby ruling applied to a tax enforced by the IRS. The government believed that the RFA did not apply. The government LOST.

    Here is what the Court stated about taxes and the RFRA:

    “HHS highlights certain statements in the opinion in Lee that it regards as supporting its position in these cases. In particular, HHS notes the statement that “[w]hen followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.” 455 U. S., at 261. Lee was a free exercise, not a RFRA, case, and the statement to which HHS points, if taken at face value, is squarely inconsistent with the plain meaning of RFRA. Under RFRA, when followers of a particular religion choose to enter into commercial activity, the Government does not have a free hand in imposing obliga- tions that substantially burden their exercise of religion. Rather, the Government can impose such a burden only if the strict RFRA test is met.”

    I have used the RFRA since 1996 AD and the IRS sent me letters confirming that my wife and I are not required to file a 1040 return. I don’t have a SSN. I don’t pay income taxes. I am exempt and the RFRA helped to get me that exemption.

  • Jim Reed

    The supreme court ruled in a direction which assures there will be contradictions to follow, and there is probably no way to know how the various contradictions will be judged.

  • Christopher

    Get caught? Get caught violating what?

    The power of Hobby Lobby’s faith assisted them.

    I have letters from the IRS saying I am not required to mail or file a 1040 form. I have never hidden from the government concerning any tax issue. I have testified in Tax Court as a witness for other people several times. My views on the RFRA and income taxes are well known by the IRS and the Justice Department. In fact I once told three DoJ attorneys during a break in an Ohio courtroom that if they could just tell me what law required me to pay income taxes that I would turn myself in and plead guilty to tax evasion since I had not filed or paid in decades. Not one of them could tell me the law and neither could any of the 5 IRS agents in the audience that heard the question.

    My attorneys have informed me that because of my religion that I am not subject to the Income Tax at least in part because of the RFRA. In fact I just got off the phone with one of my attorneys an hour ago discussing the statement by the Court in footnote 43 of the Hobby Lobby ruling and was told that I have obviously been right since 1996 AD concerning the RFRA and income taxes and income tax forms.

    I have repeatedly asked the IRS to explain my rights (REQUIRED as per IRS Publication 1) under the RFRA and they have not responded. But then the IRS only has to respond to “taxpayers” and I am not a “taxpayer” as defined in Title 26.

    I have repeatedly asked my Congressmen to ask the IRS to demonstrate, as required by the RFRA, that the income tax, as applied to me, is a compelling government interest AND the least restrictive on the practice of my faith. My Congressmen have forwarded those inquiries and the IRS HAS NEVER RESPONDED except to tell me I am not required to file a 1040 return.

    I have never been audited or even had a demand that I file or pay. So what will the iRS catch me doing that is illegal?

    I did get a call once but as soon as I got Senator Harry Reid to tell me, in writing, that the IRS agent has to prove their authority and I demanded the person claiming to be an IRS agent prove her authority she went away.

    I am allowed by law to BELIEVE my attorney and have committed no crime if I follow his legal advice even if my attorney gave me bad advice. So what law am I violating? What can I “get caught” doing?

    I am allowed by law to believe the letter from the IRS stating that I am not required to mail or file a 1040 return.

    Do you have some other option I need to follow where I can follow my faith and still get an answer form the IRS of which you could approve?

    Even Chief Justice Roberts in the ruling that stated that ObamaCare was a tax clearly stated that some people in the U.S. are not required to pay income taxes: “26 U. S. C. §5000A(b). It does not apply to individuals who do not pay federal income taxes…” National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. ___ (2012)

    Get caught? For what. For not being a voluntary slave to a voluntary tax system?

    “Our system of taxation is based on voluntary assessment and payment, not upon distraint.” –United States v. Flora, 362 US 145 (1958)

    Know the truth and the truth can make you free.

  • Christopher

    What if God knows that people are different and have different abilities and wants His/Her children to be as happy as they can be with their limited abilities and so God gives the world different religions for different people so they can choose which religion is best for their pursuit of happiness. What if the most important thing to God is freedom of choice and individual liberty? That is what my God tell me is their greatest commandment.

  • Christopher

    So you believe the tax laws like ObamaCare are too difficult to understand? That means you believe the tax laws are void for vagueness. I agree.

  • Jim Reed

    We need single payer. If Christianity is allowed to be involved in the interpretation of the law, they will screw things up.

  • Christopher

    I wonder what the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution would have been like if Christians were not involved. Well I don’t need to wonder. We can just read about the French Revolution.

    If Socialism is allowed to be involved in health care then…well I’ll just let that Christian Thomas Jefferson answer that one:

    “The error seems not sufficiently eradicated, that the operations of the mind, as well as the acts of the body, are subject to the coercion of the laws. But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. … Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in France the emetic was once forbidden as a medicine, and the potatoe as an article of food.”

  • Shrdlu42

          Here’s an idea: pass a regulation that presumes no employer has any objection to contraception coverage unless they notify the government, or their insurer, in writing that they do. Then Hobby Lobby and this school have a choice: 1) Do nothing (to preserve your “moral” purity) and allow the insurance you pay premiums for to cover these medications; or 2) “Compromise” your purity by making the notification, and thus be freed from paying premiums for that coverage.

          Thus, we leave it to those with “delicate moral sensibilities” to decide which route is preferable – and the government doesn’t have to turn somersaults to please every person who says “I believe”.

  • Shrdlu42

          Please remember that “religion” is hardly a monolithic entity. There were plenty of members of “religion” who opposed both the Hobby Lobby decision and this one.

  • Shrdlu42

         If you mean by that the “religious right” who presume they speak for God, then I agree.

  • Shrdlu42

         That makes about as much sense as anything Pat Robertson spews.

  • Shrdlu42

         First, “Socialism” is no more a “religion” than “Capitalism” is. (Though fanatics on both sides tend to make a “religion” out of their beliefs.)

         Second, how is single-payer “Socialism”? Is Medicaid “Socialism”? (Reagan once thought so.) Are the many benefits, including healthcare, we provide to members of the military and veterans “Socialism”? Opponents of such programs thought so. Is Blue Cross “Socialism”? Opponents of it also thought so.

         “Socialism” has become little more than an empty epithet used by those to demean whatever they dislike. And for that reason, whenever anyone raises that cry, it tells me they have no good argument to make!

         By the way, does the Common Law think prohibiting murder is “bad and unjust”? After all, we use force to do that! (Not sure where “fraud” comes into this, except that it describes your argument.) It’s no good mindlessly quoting something until you can put it in context!

         I might add that Sir Edward Coke (who you are quoting) didn’t live in the U.S., and died over a hundred years before our nation was born! So what relevance does his views on the Common Law have on questions of Constitutional or Statutory Law? Answer: none!

  • Shrdlu42

         Prayer is the “excercise of religion” protected by the First Amendment. But that doesn’t mean that anything contrary to one’s beliefs violates the Constitution. (In fact, the Hobby Lobby decision wasn’t based on the Constitution, but on an Act of Congress.) For example, people don’t have the right to perform human sacrifices, no matter how much their religion demands it.

         And please stop with that “Socialism is religion” lie. Repeating it calls your morality into question!

    P.S. – And are you as passionately opposed to government vouchers used to send kids to parochial schools? Why should this Jew have to pay for that?

  • Shrdlu42

         Half-right. We don’t have to turn somersaults to “accomodate” every half-baked argument someone might make in the name of religion. Even under the “Hobby Lobby” decision, if the government has a “compelling interest”, and has chosen the “least restrictive means” of fulfilling that interest, the claim for a “religious exemption” from law will fail.

  • Shrdlu42

         That’s odd, “the RFRA” has only been around since 1993, and the version of it employed by the Court has only been around since 2000. How, then, could you “apply” it “since 1996″? Did you travel in the TARDIS to do it?

         As for income taxes, Social Security taxes, or Medicare taxes, unless you have applied for and qualify for one of the very limited statutory exemptions, you are a criminal!. (Or, what part of “illegal” don’t you understand?)

         But please, do stop paying all those taxes, and then cite this decision as your defense. I promise to visit you in prison.

  • Shrdlu42

          Please see my earlier Comment about the “temporal” problem with your claims.

    http://religiondispatches.org/hobby-lobby-aftermath-christian-college-demands-an-exemption-from-the-exemption/#comment-1489096067

          I’m afraid your ranting makes one of two things clear: A) either you are a pathological liar (an accusation I rarely make), or B) you are incapable of understanding the English language.

          Let’s go back to that highly selective use of the decision you just engaged in, to demonstrate how you deceitfully left out a key part.

    HHS also raises for the first time in this Court the argument that applying the contraceptive mandate to for-profit employers with sincere religious objections is essential to the comprehensive health-insurance scheme that ACA establishes. HHS analogizes the contraceptive mandate to the requirement to pay Social Security taxes, which we upheld in Lee despite the religious objection of an employer, but these cases are quite different. Our holding in Lee turned primarily on the special problems associated with a national system of taxation. We noted that “[t]he obligation to pay the social security tax initially is not fundamentally different from the obligation to pay income taxes.”. . . Based on that premise,we explained that it was untenable to allow individuals to seek exemptions from taxes based on religious objections to particular Government expenditures: “If, for example, a religious adherent believes war is a sin, and if a certain percentage of the federal budget can be identified as devoted to war-related activities, such individuals would have a similarly valid claim to be exempt from paying that percentage of the income tax.” . . . . We observed that “[t]he tax system could not function if denominations were allowed to challenge the tax system because tax payments were spent in a manner that violates their religious belief.” . . . .

    Lee was a free-exercise, not a RFRA, case, but if the issue in Lee were analyzed under the RFRA framework, the fundamental point would be that there simply is no less restrictive alternative to the categorical requirement to pay taxes. Because of the enormous variety of government expenditures funded by tax dollars, allowing tax-payers to withhold a portion of their tax obligations on religious grounds would lead to chaos. Recognizing exemptions from the contraceptive mandate is very different. ACA does not create a large national pool of tax revenue for use in purchasing healthcare coverage. Rather, individual employers like the plaintiffs purchase insurance for their own employees. And contrary to the principal dissent’s characterization, the employers’ contributions do not necessarily funnel into “undifferentiated funds.” . . . . The accommodation established by HHS requires issuers to have a mechanism by which to “segregate premium revenue collected from the eligible organization from the monies used to provide payments for contraceptive services.” . . . . Recognizing a religious accommodation under RFRA for particular coverage requirements, therefore, does not threaten the viability of ACA’s comprehensive scheme in the way that recognizing religious objections to particular expenditures from general tax revenues would. 43

    Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, 573 U. S. ____ (2014), pages 46 – 48 of the majority decision (pages 52 – 54 of the PDF file), emphasis added and citations omitted. Official copy available at: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-354_olp1.pdf

          Note that the footnote you quoted from (Number 43) comes at the end of this passage. Why did you omit what came before? Because it destroys your entire argument!

          The Court distinguishes taxation from the Affordable Care Act, and holds that the earlier Lee ruling still applies. So what you wrote is simply, incontrovertibly, false!

    P.S. – In “another life” you don’t go by the names “Ecgberht” or “Classic Chris” do you? This sounds like the same kind of nonsense and sophistry they spew.

  • Shrdlu42

          Except, in this case the “contradictions” are entirely the product of Christopher’s deceit.

  • Shrdlu42

          That’s not what he said, but:

    Yes, the tax laws are too difficult to understand, and

    No, they aren’t “void for vagueness” (would that they were.)

          Being able to parrot legalese doesn’t make you a lawyer. You have to know what the words mean, and you clearly don’t.

    P.S. – And yes, I do. I’m a retired attorney, with the degrees and admission certificates to prove it.

  • Shrdlu42

          Don’t worry, neither it nor any other religion is.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    The point is: god is a fictional character and no sane adult should believe in one.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    It flies over some people’s heads.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    Grown people that believe in a magic man in the sky are not well in the head.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    Religion has very little to do with morality.

    Atheists don’t need the threat of hell or the promise of heaven to be good people.

  • Shrdlu42

          Sorry to disillusion you, but here is how Jefferson described himself as a “Christian”:

    I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he [Jesus] wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every HUMAN excellence; and believing he never claimed any other.

    Letter to Doctor Benjamin Rush (4/21/1803) – The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Random House 1972) page 567. Emphasis by Jefferson on the word “human”.

         And speaking of Jesus’ doctrines, here’s Jefferson’s view of the theology ascribed to him:

    The establishment of the innocent and genuine character of this benevolent Moralist, and the rescuing it from the imputation of imposture, which has resulted from the artificial systems,* invented by ultra-Christian sects, unauthorized by a single word ever uttered by Him, is a most desirable object, . . . .

    * E.g. The immaculate conception of Jesus, His deification, the creation of the world by Him, His miraculous powers, His resurrection and visible ascension, His corporeal presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity, original sin, atonement, regeneration, election, orders of Hierarchy, etc. [Jefferson’s note.]

    Letter to William Short (10/31/1819) – The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Random House 1972) page 694 (Emphasis added).

         Now, I’m aware that not all Christians agree with everyone of those “doctrines”, but certainly most “conservative” Christians do, and I suspect so do you. So, indeed, let’s invoke Jefferson on the subject of Christianity. Including a part you omitted from that quote you misused:

    Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose to them, they will support the true religion by bringing every false one to their tribunal, the test of their investigation. They are the natural enemies of error, and of error only. Had not the Roman government permitted free inquiry, Christianity could never have been introduced. Had not free inquiry been indulged at the era of the Reformation, the corruptions of Christianity could not have been purged away.

    Notes on Virginia (1781) – The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Random House 1972) page 275 (Emphasis added).

         Please note the date. The French Revolution was eight years away. The French ban on emetics he mentions was passed in a most Christian nation!

         But worst of all is how you deceitfully twist Jefferson’s words around, to mean the opposite of what he was saying (by taking them out-of-context). Jefferson was describing the battle in Virginia for religious freedom, to rid itself of laws mandating obedience to Christianity. As he put it (just before the passage you quoted):

    This is a summary view of that religious slavery under which a people have been willing to remain, who have lavished their lives and fortunes for the establishment of their civil freedoms.

    Id. at 274 (emphasis added).

         And it’s immediately after calling those laws slavery, that Jefferson writes of the “error” which “seems not sufficiently eradicated. The error being the view that “operations of the mind, as well as acts of the body, are subject to the coercion of the laws.” Jefferson was speaking of the distinction between pure belief (whether Christianity or some other religion is the “true faith”) and actions (can I perform a human sacrifice in the name of my “god”). The former government cannot touch, the latter it can control.

         So, thanks again for demonstrating that dishonesty is your “true faith”!

  • Shrdlu42

         Lather, rinse, repeat. I can’t be bothered dealing with anymore of these lies of yours.

  • Shrdlu42

         Buddy, our prisons are filled with people mouthing the same nonsense you keep spouting. They also believed themselves “exempt” from the Income Tax. The Courts said otherwise.

         And guess what? Those prisons are also filled with people who followed bad legal advice. “Ignorance of the Law is no excuse.” (Except in those cases where the Law requires the “perps” knew they were breaking the Law. But those are rare.)

  • Shrdlu42

         And grown people who make such needlessly insulting and childish remarks are ill too.

  • Shrdlu42

         Thought so, even you can’t explain it.

  • Shrdlu42

         Still makes no more sense than the first time you spouted that.

         You do realize that fundamentalist Anti-Theists like yourself are merely the mirror-image of the fundamentalist Theocrats. You both believe you have “the way, the truth, and the light”, and cannot tolerate any deviation from your “gospel”.

  • Shrdlu42

         Yeah, like those “God-less” that gave us the Unholy Crusades, the Unholy Inquisition, or the UnholyWars of the Reformation (when the “Godly” gleefully slaughtered each other over how to worship the “Prince of Peace”)!

  • Shrdlu42

         I won’t go that far, but I agree that religion isn’t necessary to be moral. In my view, the moral Atheist ascends to the highest level of Heaven – because they are good for goodness’ sake. (Fortunately, God has a sense of humor, and won’t hold disbelief against them.)

    P.S. – Of course, as a Jew I don’t really believe in Heaven, but it’s the thought that counts.

  • Shrdlu42

         That is, at best, a debatable point. People are quite capable of being moral and good without being religious. In fact, what’s wrong with the “religion” you seem to espouse is that it confuses obedience with morality. It all goes back to that fundamental ethical question: Is the something good because the Gods love it, or is it good because it is good?

         And careful about stigmatizing the Vikings. They didn’t all act that way. (And plenty of Christians did the same on their Crusades.) Besides, they were a religious people too.

  • Shrdlu42

         Correction, religion doesn’t necessarily produce morality. But the people who are good for goodness’ sake are few and far between. If believing in a heaven and hell make the less “noble” among us behave themselves, that’s a plus in my book.

  • Shrdlu42

         Given how wrong your other blabbering about Law has consistently been, I see no need to reply at length to this one.

         I’ll just say that the “free exercise of religion” includes the right not to exercise a religion (which is what Atheists, among others, claim the right to do). The protections of the First Amendment (and the rest of the Constitution, and our laws) apply regardless of whether or not one is “religious”. That’s the whole point!

  • Shrdlu42

         As with the original remark, that makes no sense at all. It’s like saying if there was a government, then we wouldn’t need any laws.

  • Shrdlu42

         Does that include the freedom to choose abortion, contraception, or gay marriage?

  • Shrdlu42

         I don’t really care about the argument you and the author of this article are making (it strikes me as hyper-intellectual and pretentious), but I will point out that the “concept of sin” is hardly unique to Christianity, nor did the idea originate there. So saying it’s “largely a Christian concept” is like saying belief in an afterlife is “largely Christian”. I think the Pagans, Hindus, and Muslims (to name a few) would object.

  • Shrdlu42

         Yes, the emphasis on being “Christian” is indeed polarizing our society. Exactly as the Founders foresaw and feared would happen when Church and State, Religion and Politics, are mixed.

  • Shrdlu42

         Sure there is. One goes to the specific sports bar to “commune” with fellow “worshippers” in the “Church of Baseball” (or football in this case). But does that mean one avoids Kosher Deli’s when seeking a Pastrami Sandwich? Whatever happened to “You don’t have to be Jewish . . . .”?

         What’s next: dividing the country by race as well as religion, national origin, or anything else human perversity can think of? Say goodbye to the United States of America.

  • Shrdlu42

         Yes, but the T.V. analogy doesn’t work for a variety of reasons – not the least of which is that those channels are engaged in religious activity, so such “discrimination” makes sense. But tell me this: What is the religious way to make a Pastrami sandwich? Why should the religion of an automechanic, stockbroker, or plumber make any difference?

         Christian Nationalists approve of such discrimination because they feel comfortably in the majority. Should that ever change, and it very well could, I expect them to protest loud and long at the idea of a Non-Christian Yellow Pages (where people who don’t want to support members of the Christian faith can go).

  • Shrdlu42

         Yes, and clearly you hate the idea of a United States of America.

    P.S. – And enough with that “Socialism” nonsense. You merely display your ignorance every time you repeat it.

  • Shrdlu42

         Here, at last, we agree (somewhat). The issue was never that anyone’s religious beliefs were violated. Instead, some (mistakenly) saw this as an attempt by Hobby Lobby to impose it’s beliefs on its employees (by preventing them from obtaining contraceptives). As you correctly point out, that isn’t the case.

         Nor is it even the case that the employees won’t get insurance coverage for contraceptives. Hobby Lobby won only because “Obamacare” provided an alternative way for them to receive such coverage – free of charge.

         However, the real issue is how far this “religious exemption” will travel. The great area of concern is whether we will now have to create a similar exemption in Civil Rights laws. The Court indicated we might not, but I’m waiting for “the other shoe to drop” in the form of this “dream” case. A religious based bigot offers a car for sale, with the tag line: Blacks, Catholics, Women, and Gays need not apply”. A Black, Catholic, Lesbian answers the ad, and when rejected sues for discrimination based on her race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation. (This will, of course, involve there being a law forbidding discrimination on the latter basis.) It will be fun watching the “conservatives” on the Court try to explain how the government has a “compelling interest” in forbidding the first two forms of discrimination, but not the latter two!

          There is a rational case to be made for “accommodating” people’s personal religious beliefs, but demanding (as the “right-wing” does) that our laws and the government must turn somersaults every time someone says “I believe” is simply insane!

  • Shrdlu42

         Actually, all Justice Roberts was discussing was the Individual Mandate portion of “Obamacare”. There’s a lot more to the law than that (most of which wasn’t before the Court in that earlier case).

         As for how RFRA doesn’t apply to tax law, please see my earlier Comment.

    http://religiondispatches.org/hobby-lobby-aftermath-christian-college-demands-an-exemption-from-the-exemption/#comment-1489119777

         You claim to have read the decision, but obviously you didn’t read it very carefully. (Whether or not “Obamacare” is a tax had nothing to do with this case.)

         How do we know what the law is, in court decisions? Easy: count the number of Justices on each side. Whichever side has the majority is the law!

         Administrations “losing” before the Court has been going on since the nation began! Yet we’ve managed to survive it. This is especially true where, as here, it’s a case of first impression! (This particular part of the Affordable Care Act regulations had never been challenged before. So we didn’t know how RFRA applied to it. Now we do.)

         Again you are just babbling. Instead of wasting your time and everyone else’s displaying how ignorant of Law you are, why not just pay a lawyer to advise you, or take some courses on the subject.

    P.S. – And if you’re going to quote Madison and The Federalist Papers, please have the decency to provide an accurate and specific source (page numbers, etc., or at least a web link), that way we can see whether or not you’re just making things up!</i? (As you certainly appear to be doing.)

  • Jim Reed

    Passing laws to make religion happy won’t work because they don’t want to be happy.

  • Jim Reed

    Religion is about how to worship God. God doesn’t want worship. Thinking God created a universe for the primary objective of being worshiped by this universe is counter productive.

  • Jim Reed

    If the law allows it. The law has the ultimate say.

  • Jim Reed

    Even if the belief makes certain individuals behave themselves, considering the whole group this belief is a disaster and causes the group to do terrible things which the individuals normally wouldn’t do, but as a group they would.

  • Jim Reed

    Those religious people need to get beyond opposing the Hobby Lobby decision, and oppose Hobby Lobby. The problems come because they have been taking a back seat, and leaving it to the non-believers to do all the opposing.

  • Jim Reed

    None of those things are very important. This is about Christianity finding ways to demonstrate to the rest of the world they are morally superior. It has been becoming harder, and their options more limited, so they work with whatever they can find now.

  • Jim Reed

    According to John Oliver, if there was any logic in this world those prisons would be filled with Keurig coffee machines.

  • Jim Reed

    If there was no God, then religion would be the only way to know about that God.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    How is pointing out that there is no god insulting, but insisting that there is one is not?

    Typical holy roller double standard hypocrisy.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    If a god actually existed, it would not need thousands of religions and preachers to try to sell its existence. It would make its existence known.

    Understand yet?

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    Ah, the old “atheism is a religion” canard.

    I suppose “not collecting stamps” is a hobby in your world.

  • http://www.tommytwowheels.com TommyTwoWheels

    Since there is no god, no religion can “know” about one.

  • Jim Reed

    With no God to get in the way and upset things, religion becomes the God. Knowing about God is more a function of having people accepting of things that this religion “knows”. It is a competitive market, so religions must work hard to make their stuff be known.

  • http://www.devonnollforpresident2012.org Devon J. Noll

    I have read through this article, and understand the legal ramifications of the SCOTUS rulings. What drives me crazy is that any corporation that gets tax-exempt status can claim a “religious exemption” based on an undo burden argument at all. Corporations are not forcing their employees to use the contraceptives that the insurance would pay for, and unless they are hiring complete morons, the employees are free to make up their own minds about sex and the use of contraceptives, since in many instances they are paying for the insurance through payroll deductions. Their employees also have the right not to work for them if getting contraceptive care is important to them.

    These arguments are not really about religious liberty or hardship, but about power and greed. Corporations are legal entities, not people, and while the owners (whether secular or religious) may have strongly held beliefs, the cost of insurance for their employees, including contraceptive choices, is far less burdensome than the costs they will incur with a woman who is pregnant because she could not afford the appropriate contraceptive for herself and is working for them.

    They claim that to provide these contraceptives through company insurance would be a religious burden – well, guess what, most of them already do and have for years. Now that they are required to do so, they are using it as a way to attack the ACA and their employees in one fell swoop. That they appear to have the support of the most clueless SCOTUS in our history, and certainly one that is bought and paid for by corporate/religious America, is why they are doing this now. And this sadly is an instance where they will get an inch and take a mile, all with the blessings of SCOTUS.

    Religious freedom is giving to each of us, for now, based on the belief that any person can choose and practice (or not practice as is the case with Atheists) what ever faith they want. That we now have a faction in this nation that believe that they can violate the religious freedoms of a specific group of people in this nation while hiding behind their corporate veil is insanity. While I am a minister, I strongly object to this kind of religious practice and find it repugnant on two levels: religious and as an American whose family signed the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. This is not religious freedom that SCOTUS is allowing, it is religious tyranny!

    I posted as sermon this week about integrity and our moral compass. I find myself wondering if this SCOTUS or these so-called “religious” corporations have a moral compass, because they most certainly do not have a shred of integrity.

    Rev. Devon J. Noll
    New Word Universal Fellowship Church
    http://www.newworduniversalfellowship.org