Join the discussion: How can religion and business work together?
Charles Dharapak, Associated Press
Closely held corporations (such as the family-owned Hobby Lobby) are not required to provide birth control for employees if it goes against sincerely held religious belief, according to Monday’s Supreme Court ruling.
The ruling has met with controversy. Some believe that this is a victory for religious freedom, while others argue that it instead allows employers to force religion on their employees.
"Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith,” Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the dissent, as quoted by Mother Jones. “Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community."
The idea is that while a corporation may disagree with the use of contraceptives, its employees should not be forced to adhere to the same standards.
“Freedom of religion explicitly includes not only the freedom to practice one's religion but to be free from the imposition of someone else's religion,” wrote Sally Kohn of The Daily Beast. “The owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cannot be allowed to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.”
As well as imposing religion on workers, many fear that the ruling is a step backwards for women’s rights.
“I disagree with the reasoning as well as the conclusion,” Hillary Clinton told the Atlantic of the Hobby Lobby ruling. “I find it deeply disturbing.”
Clinton compared women’s lack of access to contraceptives to methods adapted by countries around the world without women’s rights. A societal obsession with female bodies, she said, is “a disturbing trend that you see in a lot of societies that are unstable, anti-democratic, and prone to extremism.”
“Many more companies will claim religious beliefs,” she continued, outlining the consequences of the ruling. “Some will be sincere, others maybe not. We’re going to see this one insurable service cut out for many women. This is a really bad, slippery slope.”
Others argue that the company is within its rights, especially as Hobby Lobby does provide “16 of the 20 contraceptives required under the HHS mandate,” according to Dr. Robert Jeffress of Fox News.
The four contraceptives that the company does not provide are those that prevent an already fertilized egg from developing further, which the company views as an abortion and against its religious views.
“There is no claim that Hobby Lobby has attempted to prevent women from exercising their constitutional right to obtain abortions,” wrote Jeffress. “The company just didn’t want to have to pay for them.”
“The religious persuasion of the owners of Hobby Lobby that abortion is the taking of innocent life is not some fringe belief embraced by a handful of extremists but is a deeply held spiritual conviction of tens of millions of Americans,” Jeffress continued.
“Monday, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the right of those Americans to both hold and live by that conviction.”
“This is a landmark decision for religious freedom,” according to Lori Windham, counsel for Hobby Lobby, quoted by the Becket Fund. “The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business.”
Some have argued that this ruling is designed to protect only Christians, but Windham disagrees.