OpEd: Special Rights for Religion Are a Slippery Slope
In addition to the presence of a well educated population, one of the reasons religion has withered in Western Europe is because the memory of the excesses of religion in the past are still remembered.
Wars of religion, the special rights granted to the Church and general behavior which was the antithesis of true Christian conduct soured the populace on a political-religion merger which generally worked against the interest of the majority and favored a powerful elite.
As often seems to be the case, America – and conservatives in particular – never learn from history or the experiences of others. A main editorial in the New York Times looks at yesterday’s horrific Supreme Court ruling which now allows employers to impose their religious beliefs on workers, the majority of whom likely hold contrary beliefs.
One can only hope the blow back is swift and extreme. Here are excerpts:
The Supreme Court’s deeply dismaying decision on Monday in the Hobby Lobby case swept aside accepted principles of corporate law and religious liberty to grant owners of closely held, for-profit companies an unprecedented right to impose their religious views on employees.It was the first time the court has allowed commercial business owners to deny employees a federal benefit to which they are entitled by law based on the owners’ religious beliefs, and it was a radical departure from the court’s history of resisting claims for religious exemptions from neutral laws of general applicability when the exemptions would hurt other people.[T]he immediate effect, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in a powerful dissent, was to deny many thousands of women contraceptive coverage vital to their well-being and reproductive freedom. It also invites, she said, other “for-profit entities to seek religion-based exemptions from regulations they deem offensive to their faiths.”Nothing in the contraceptive coverage rule prevented the companies’ owners from worshiping as they choose or advocating against coverage and use of the contraceptives they don’t like.Mr. Alito’s ruling and a concurrence by Justice Anthony Kennedy portray the decision as a narrow one without broader application, like denying vaccine coverage or job discrimination. But that is not reassuring coming from justices who missed the point that denying women access to full health benefits is discrimination.
Michael Hamar is an out gay attorney in a committed relationship; formerly married and father of three wonderful children; sometime activist and political/news junkie; survived coming out in mid-life and hope to share my experiences and reflections with others. Follow him at Michael In Norfolk.
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