Comments about ‘Drew Clark: Religious freedom is more than a right to speak and assemble’

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Published: Sunday, Aug. 31 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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American Fork, UT

Okay, but consider this. Since religion is purely conjecture and entirely subjective, whatever privilege you seek for a favoured group must by definition be available to any who wish to claim it, including your worst enemy.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Religious freedom means that you have an absolute right to live your religion. It does not mean that you get to force other people to live your religion. Just because you own a large block of stock in a corporation does not mean that you can dictate your religious views to your employees.

Salt Lake City, UT

Mr Clark is really obsessed with the matter of contraception. The conservative Christian faiths (and Islam) are particularly exercised that businesses and corporations which belong (?) to their faiths not be required to provide contraceptive drugs. Why? The answer provided by Mr Clark and others is that such would interfere with their free exercise of religion. But we need to probe deeper.

Why do conservative faiths so fear contraception? Because contraception liberates women! Women, both single and married, can avoid pregnancy through the use of contraceptives. This diminishes the control of women by men. And of course that is the last thing conservative Christianity and Islam want.

So the freedom of religious expression as Mr. Clark sees it, is containment and erosion of actual freedom (not imagined) for women.

seattle, WA

Could not disagree more with this editorial.

As clearly stated in this article, we live in a pluralistic society. Not everyone is in favor of same sex marriage nor abortion, which seems to be the flash point in the entire argument made by religious conservatives. And there is no law which says that one must marry a person of the same sex or have an abortion.

In my opinion, it is fatuous to suggest that allowing same sex marriage or abortion is a violation of religious freedom. And it is violates the rights of those who wish to be married to someone of the same sex or have an abortion for those who are against it to find novel ways of restricting that practice by arguing that it violates their religion.

It would seem that religious conservatives wish to pass laws and secure rulings from a very conservative Supreme court majority that restrict any number of rights that the majority of the country favor: same sex marriage, non-discrimination laws and a woman's right to choose. Welcome to the new Christian Iran.

Karen R.
Houston, TX

"In a pluralistic society, people and communities need space in which to test differing modes of religious experience," Meese and Oman continued. "[That] is only possible if the government gives the religious marketplace the kind of breathing room that it gives to the free-speech marketplace of ideas."

Yes, we should stop preventing religious-based content from filling our public airwaves: TV, radio, internet. We should stop prohibiting religious-based newspapers, magazines, books, and other print forums. Religions in the U.S. simply aren't given a fair chance to present their ideas. The dominant majority needs to show some consideration and give them a chance.

When we contritely step aside and allow religion a voice, perhaps it wouldn't be too much to ask that it bring with it some rational justification for the beliefs it wants to impose on society? For instance, contraception. Perhaps it would be kind enough to show how prohibiting contraception is more beneficial than not? Or homosexuality. If it could show why it's more beneficial to our society to allow some to discriminate v. requiring all to be treated equally, I would be most appreciative.

Ogden, UT

In response:

Hobby Lobby didn't "affirm religious freedom laws" -- it allowed religion to impose itself on the secular public. The camel's nose is now in the tent.

The Obama administration’s executive order on federal contracting did not attempt to redefine anti-discrimination laws without providing protections for religious freedom. It merely denied religion the right to impose itself on the secular public.

The "free exercise of religion" does not allow religion to impose itself on the secular public. Religion and non-religion are equal in the public sphere. Religion is not pre-emptive. Unfortunately the religious, and the far right are tempting to make religious values and practices pre-emptive and impose them on the United States. They are, in effect, attempting to create a Christian Taliban. That is unconstitutional, and should be strongly resisted. As a person of strong fait, a Christian (LDS), I support the Constitution and strongly resist the attempts by the far right so-called Christians to undermine it.

Salt Lake City, UT

I believe the biggest problem between government and religion is defining what is really religion and what is freedom from religion. To most people, birth control is not or shouldn't be a religious issue. A religion can certainly have an opinion on the matter and speak to their people regarding it, but they shouldn't be able to force their opinions on others. If a company doesn't want to cover birth control because of their religious beliefs, then a woman has the right to find help from the government which has said that a woman (or anyone) has the right to basic healthcare. Some may not feel that birth control is a basic right in healthcare, but as a healthcare worker and as a mother, I know that it is. Women die everyday because of problems relating to their reproductive cycle and it is their right to receive care (regardless of their religion). I believe the Obama administration has taken a good step in resolving this issue.


Well said. Many misunderstand the first amendment relating to religious freedom. The establishment clause was meant to restrict government - not the other way around. Many falsely believe that the first amendment requires a "separation of church and state." Rather, it prevents the state from establishing a particular faith and forcing that particular faith upon the citizens. The founders understood that the rights of the people were given of God, yet they also understood that people would choose different ways of worshipping God. Over the last 50 years there has been a growing movement by a minority of the citizens to remove God and faith from the public discourse - attempting to forbid any reference of God and faith in a public way. They have tried to, as the writer of this article has pointed out, force believers inside the walls of their sanctuaries. By doing so, they ignore one of the essentials of religious worship - the service of our fellow man. Rather, they want to have such service forced upon the general population through government "welfare" programs.

Dammam, Saudi Arabia

The view that the administration applies that one is free to believe and worship as they wish is not really religious freedom. It is right to privacy which is not even listed in the constitution. It is only assumed based on the right to unreasonable search and seizure. Freedom of religion for them is therefore not a human right or a first amendment freedom.

@Roland Kayser: Hobby Lobby is not dictating their religious views to their employees. They are simply declining to pay for the contraception of their employees. The company is doing nothing to prevent their employees from buying their own contraception.

Bountiful, UT

This mindset that the religious fabric is a "marketplace of ideas" is primed and ready for abuse. Which religion is the most aggressive is converting people, and most fundamentalist in looking at the world? Islam.

There is nothing in the article's description to inhibit a rise in Islam among poorer Americans who may look for security and power as being part of a group. Islam is the T-Rex of religions, capable of providing great security for adherents, and a highly toxic view of the rest of society.

As the US struggles to offer economic security to a swelling pool of its poorest citizens, and many are left to struggle on their own, Islam can provide answers and tremendous strength to adherents in providing a respected (ie, "feared") identity and purpose.

In this context, Islam is ready to exploit American freedom, expand and greatly amplify the power current (friendly) religions enjoy, in turning the US into something quite different than religious Americans imagine.

Think it can't happen? Think again.

Here, UT

"...but don't think about bringing religious values into public, into your place of work, into the political discussion.”

1) Your coworkers don't WANT to hear you yammer on about your religion.
2) You are trying to use your "religious values" to violate the rights of other American citizens in the public and political realm. The first amendment does NOT grant you that right.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,..."

--- I.e., Your religious views are no more valid than other religious views.

"The movement to redefine anti-discrimination laws without providing protections for religious freedom."

--- Your religious views do NOT give you the right to refuse service to some customers that you provide to everyone else without a second thought.

The hypocrisy of those claiming the right to "religious freedom" is clear when they do everything in their power to violate the religious freedom of others.

Light and Liberty
St. George/Washington, UT

Mr Huderite: according to your definition, you have reduced religion to whether a religion advocates murdering old people as a tenet, that is the reason we can't give religion it's rightful place as guaranteed under the Constitution. Just a tich extreme, wouldn't you say!

Mr Kaiser: in your opinion then, nobody, including government, should be allowed to tell anyone what to do, since every law can be viewed as infringing on my "religious" views. Just a tich extreme, wouldn't you say?

Mr. Marxist (who continues to deny Marxism's heritage): in questions before Man, questions of right and wrong have no merit, right? Euthanasia, abortion, abuse! Defend anyone's right to any number of immoral issues because it is "their" right to do it! Just a tich extreme, wouldn't you say?

Houston, TX

Tekakaromatagi claims:

>>The company is doing nothing to prevent their employees from buying their own contraception.

Leesburg, VA

>>Religious freedom means that you have an absolute right to live your religion. It does not mean that you get to force other people to live your religion.

It's not Hobby Lobby which is trying to impose beliefs on employees; it's the government (and supporters of subsidized contraception) which is trying to impose its beliefs on Hobby Lobby.

Hobby Lobby employees aren't being threatened with termination if they don't attend church on Sundays or if they commit some violation of the Ten Commandments. They're not being told that raises and promotions will be contingent upon proof that they read the Bible or pray. Rather, Hobby Lobby's owners are just asserting that they shouldn't be forced to subsidize employee behavior that conflicts with their beliefs--hardly an unreasonable proposition. I think many Democrats would be vehemently opposed to a government policy that said, say, companies must subsidize employees' firearms purchases.

Hobby Lobby employees are, of course, perfectly free to seek employment elsewhere if they decide that subsidized contraception is that important to them.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Freedom is not infinitely available to all people who choose to live in a civilized society. The fact is that in order to secure the freedom for some, freedom must be taken from others. A classic example being the forfeiture of the freedom to kill people you dislike, so that all people can have the freedom to be different.

In the context of Hobby Lobby, their refusal to honor a civil law that gives freedom to be different to the employees, takes away the employee's freedom to be different. Not quite as drastic as killing people but discrimination none the less.

I believe that the American Constitution provides the right and desirability of the freedom for individual people to be different, so long as doing so doesn't infringe on the rights and freedoms of others. Others being real, live, existing, human beings in our society.

The way I heard it, people came to America to avoid religious oppression, now that they are here they want to start it all over again.

GK Willington
Salt Lake City, UT

re: marxist

Do we really want/need to probe deeper when it comes to contraceptives?

slc, UT

So how do we prevent "the state from establishing a particular faith and forcing that particular faith upon the citizens," without having a "seperation of church and state?"

Salt Lake City, UT

"Religious freedom is more than a right to speak and assemble."

Indeed to Christianity's conservatives it is a "right" to impose one's own religious dogma on others who apparently need to be brought to heel - especially women. Women must be denied reproductive freedom, and government's attempts to grant it must be villified.

Due to circumstances in my own life I have had to become familiar with Islam. What an eye opener! Particularly alarming is Islam's view of women. In Islam women are seen as potential devils who need constant supervision lest they stray. Sound familiar.

Conservative Christians can learn a great deal about their faith by studying Islam. Both dogmas come from the same source, and misogyny underlies both.

The Wraith
Kaysville, UT

What I find surprising is that this editorial and most others miss what is obviously the worst part of the Hobby Lobby decision. The companies involved didn't want to cover the cost of certain contraception medications because they believed these caused abortions. The key word there is believed. The actual science shows that they do not in fact cause abortions but who cares about actual science and facts right! Just because reality says one thing doesn't matter because these people really really believed something else and the court agreed with them! There are a whole lot of things I believe can I get the court to agree with me? I believe all religions are a detriment to our society and should be banned. It doesn't matter what you believe about that or what any facts might say, because I believe it and apparently that is all that matters anymore.

What the court should have said to the Hobby Lobby people and lawyers was "what you believe is incorrect, goodbye."


"That’s why a corporation like Hobby Lobby needs a First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion no less than a corporation like The New York Times needs a First Amendment right to the freedom of the press."

Well, let's see.
NYT business is the dissemination of news, which relies on the right of freedom of the press.

Hobby Lobby's business is selling crafts and supplies. The owners are not precluded from selling crafts based on religion freedom. Furthermore, it could be argued that by paying women of childbearing age a salary and not providing contraceptive coverage, they are actually increasing the likelihood of abortion and indirect involvement in abortion.

One reason religion has flourished in the U.S. is because in a pluralistic society there has been a wall protecting the public space. The demise of religion commenced with it being used as a political tool and will continue as it tries to justify discrimination in the public square.

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