For Those of You Thinking, “Well, Hobby Lobby Has a Point About Religious ‘Freedom’ and Healthcare”

By Meghan Simons

Your boss doesn’t get to dictate what you do with your paycheck, whether it’s buying groceries, donating it all to orphans, or splurging it on hookers and blow.

Your boss might take issue with you buying pork because he’s Jewish, donating it to orphans because she thinks they’re godless, or on the hookers and blow because that’s not very Christian of you. However, your bosses would be ridiculed for thinking they have the right to tail you to make sure you’re spending YOUR money in accordance with their faith, right? There’s not much difference here. Set aside that the insurance is not directly offered by Hobby Lobby, or that they could pay taxes/penalties instead of lawyers and legal fees by kicking everyone onto the exchange, thereby taking away their supposed moral conundrum. Spoiler alert: HEALTH BENEFITS ARE COMPENSATION FOR YOUR LABOR. Why would you think for one second that your boss gets to dictate what you do with your compensation?

Second, I want you to try a thought experiment. Let’s say the owner of a for-profit business is a devout Muslim. It is forbidden in the Muslim faith to consume pork. You’ve gone to the doctor for pneumonia, and your doc gives you antibiotics. Unfortunately, many medicines in gel capsules contain gelatin, which is usually derived from animal protein. Due to fears about mad cow, it’s more common for it to be derived from pigs. Your boss claims to have the right to bar you from taking that antibiotic because your health plan is paid for in part by the company, so therefore your boss gets to dictate the company’s (their) religious belief trumps your doc’s opinion because the for-profit company is an extension of their faith. Can you imagine the pearl-clutching if Muslim business owners told these good Christians (or anyone else, for that matter) that they could not have potentially lifesaving medicine because of the owner’s beliefs? Richard Dawkins might stroke out from rage. Fox News might never recover. Michele Bachmann would require a fainting couch for the resulting vapors.

How about if it’s medicine in a gelatin capsule for high blood pressure, depression, or even erectile dysfunction medication? How about if your devout Catholic boss would only cover erectile dysfunction for married men because premarital sex is a sin, and ONLY if said medication was used with no contraception and in pursuit of conception because sex is only for procreation and every sperm is sacred? Or dictating no treatment for HIV or AIDS because only “sinners” get it and their god says no dice?

Or what if your boss says no insulin because it was derived from animal protein long ago or no Heparin to treat a blood clot because it still contains animal tissue, and their vegetarianism is a deeply-held belief too, isn’t that kinda sorta like religion, please Justice Scalia?

I cannot wrap my head around Hobby Lobby’s view that medical treatment is their business because said treatment might maybe have something to do with their employees doing the sex on their time away from work — y’ know, their private lives. Not all contraceptives and reproductive health visits are for preventing maybe babies — hormonal contraceptives have a myriad of uses beyond preventing conception. The only time the sex lives of Hobby Lobby employees is their business is if employees are boning on the clock — THEN Hobby Lobby has every right to say “No sex time ‘til break time, please.”

They can’t say, “No sex time ‘til ring time, please. Because Jesus.”

Working for a for-profit employer in the U.S. does not mean you must also swallow their religious dictates hook, line, and sinker. To claim otherwise in the name of religious freedom is a complete fallacy and wholly offensive to the very idea of religious freedom itself.

 

Reprinted with permission from Cognitive Dissonance

 

meghansimons_copy.jpgMeghan Simons is a member of DSA and the author of Cognitive Dissonance (cognitivedissonance.tumblr.com) on Tumblr and a progressive activist. She resides in the mountain West with her husband and their cats.

 

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