Hobby Lobby: Key to a More Liberal and Less Religious America?

Much has been written about the recent Hobby Lobby decision—how it’s a terrible precedent for corporations to be able to ignore laws because they claim a religious opposition, how the ruling will particularly harm poor women, and how the ruling is really bad publicity for the religious right. But what if the ruling that recognizes corporations as having religious beliefs is actually bad publicity for religion as a whole?

In fact, the evidence pretty clearly shows that rulings like Hobby Lobby, the recent Supreme Court’s decision to allow prayer at public meetings, and the new “religious liberty” laws that actually put more religion into public spaces will actually cause Americans—especially younger Americans—to move even further away from organized religion than they have already.

By pushing religion into the public sphere, the religious and political right is unintentionally pushing religion out of people’s private hearts and minds, and moving people out of the pews across America. The number of nones (people with no religious preference) is on the rise, with over 20% of all Americans claiming this status,  and many point to the increased politicization of religion as the cause. This trend of legal victories will, in the long run, very likely create a more secular America.

Recent data indicate that this process is already clearly under way. A poll just released by Carnegie Mellon University has found that millennials are often disenchanted with organized religion, with only 52% saying they often look to religious institutions for guidance. Millennials, and Americans in general, are increasingly leaving organized religion behind and are more likely to be liberal than previous cohorts, with 29% of millennials saying there are religiously unaffiliated compared to 21% of Gen Xers and 32% describing themselves as politically independent, compared to 37% of Gen Xers and 50% of the Silent Generation.

Though a number of studies have found that young people were leaving the church because they saw them as intolerant places, it’s unlikely that the conservative religious actors behind the anti-gay rights law that just passed in Mississippi and the Hobby Lobby case realize that their actions are part of—and perhaps a causal source—of this growing disenchantment.

While the consequences for gays and lesbians in Mississippi, where discrimination is now legal, and employees who want to control their own health care decisions are certainly grave, in the long run it’s perhaps even worse for religious establishments in the US that hope to grow—or at best not diminish even further. The religious right might be winning the legal battle, but by doing so they are losing the religious one.

  • DKeane123
  • Jim Reed

    Wouldn’t it be better to not have this discussion, just let things happen?

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    No one can stop things from happening.
    This discussion may be comforting to folks who are truly profoundly upset by these social developments. Folks like me. I was 30 when abortion became legal and contraception became legal and reliable. I remember clearly what life was like then and how little help the religious were to young women like me. I remember the coals of shame heaped on me because I had a child while unmarried. I remember the abuse, the lack of social services, etc.

  • Jim Reed

    If you want the discussion, I think the key is understanding the nature of the conservative/progressive divide. We are polarized, and the gap grows. Conservatives reward those who are the most unquestioningly conservative, and that encourages them to become more conservative and pushes out those who are not conservative enough. The more conservative the group becomes, the more they push themselves to become even more conservative.

    Progressives are lost. If they try to compromise, all they can accomplish is giving in to the conservatives, and the problems grow. Progressives don’t see much hope because there has been that large block of conservative Christians putting fiscal conservatives in power despite how much they have been hurting themselves along with the rest of us. I think all the progressives can do is stall and try to block conservatives as much as possible until some day the Christian voting block wakes up and stops putting Republicans in power.

    I guess that is about it. The gap will continue to grow until some day the conservatives just fall off the edge of the cliff, and then we can pick up from whatever damage has been left, and start to rebuild.

    This might also be the eventual solution from the religion perspective. When the conservatives go over the cliff, they will take the conservative Christian doctrines with them, and then we can start to see without those conservative Christian doctrines, there isn’t really anything left. Then we can think of a better religion.

    Does that cover everything?

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    I think that is a succinct and accurate description of the situation. Well said. Parallels my own thinking. I have pretty much ceased trying reason. I am now doing ridicule. Laughter is mightier than the pen and the sword.
    I find this thought depressing:
    “I think all the progressives can do is stall and try to block conservatives as much as possible until some day the Christian voting block wakes up and stops putting Republicans in power.’

    I want to believe we can develop better tactics. Not because “giving them enough rope” is not a sensible tactic. It worries me because these folks are violent. Lying and killing for Jebus and the Murcan Way. And they do not seem to have any stops built in. Waterboarding is baptism?

  • Jim Reed

    It is the nature of the split. There is no area for compromise. All they can do is get worse, which might push away a few more, and that will make them even worse on the average. They are left with people who don’t want to compromise. That drives out any who might, and leaves a group of people even more dedicated to no compromise. The ones who most express fanatic tendencies are chosen to be the leaders, and among the leaders those who are more crazy drive out those who are less crazy because that is what the people want.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    So the shoah is inevitable?

  • Jim Reed

    I’m sure it is, although I’m not exactly sure what that means.

  • John Richter

    Catholic employers must stand up for their religions beliefs and demand exemption from immigration laws.—”The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.” Catholic Catechism, 2241.

    In January 2003, the U.S. Catholic Bishops released a pastoral letter on migration entitled, “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope.” In their letter, the Bishops stressed that, “[w]hen persons cannot find employment in their country of origin to support themselves and their families, they have a right to find work elsewhere in order to survive. Sovereign nations should provide ways to accommodate this right.” No. 35. The Bishops made clear that the “[m]ore powerful economic nations…ave a stronger obligation to accommodate migration flows.”

  • Jim Reed

    That was a stand they could afford to take under a Republican administration. Now with a Democratic administration, they have other priorities to fight about.

  • Frank2918

    More bible will solve many problems. The truth has that effect.

  • Collin237

    Yes. The world is clearly heading toward a final judgment, in which the entire Christian religion will be declared an apostasy.

    The new religion will be based on developing a scientifically consistent theory of quantum collapse and time-dependent gravity. Be warned, you’re going to hear the Kalam argument a lot! But it will be linked to a new worldwide denouncement of discrimination.

  • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

    Interesting prediction. What is the Kalam argument?

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kal%C4%81m_cosmological_argument

    Plum,

    Never forget, Wiki and Google beat Smith & Wesson over the long run. ‘Course too many fools with Smith & Wessons and you may not have a long run,,,

    -dlj.

  • David Lloyd-Jones

    Choose one.

    -dlj.

  • Frank2918

    There is only one.

  • Craptacular

    David,

    Try not to disturb the Frank2918…it makes no sense and just gets riled up when you respond to it…NO, DON’T LOOK IT IN THE EYES!