Here at Brad OH Inc., we are firmly and indelibly entrenched in the minutiae of Corporate politics; or at least that’s what they’d have you believe. Given recent developments therefore, it would seem natural that we address the issue of Corporate Religion.
Recently, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers may opt out of the Affordable Health Care Act’s (AHCA) provision of comprehensive birth control coverage based on grounds of religious freedom. The decision came as a result of the Supreme Court’s claim that ‘American families do not give up their constitutional right to religious freedom just because they open a family business.’ (Source)
The first point to clarify is that of Religious Freedom. Religious Freedom is an absolute necessity for any decent society, this I feel goes virtually without saying. The fundamental right to Religious Freedom is essential to allowing citizens of a diverse yet ultimately secular society to practice their faith in their own way without persecution.
Another core right in this society of ours is that to own and operate a business. In a society allegedly driven by free market enterprise and initiative, all citizens must have equal opportunity to join and function in the market place freely.
However, I believe that this issue represents a conflation of these two rights, and ultimately results in significant sacrifices to individual freedoms.
Religious freedom is fundamentally an individual right. Any citizen must be allowed to practice whatever faith they see fit, so long as in so doing they are not breaking any other laws, including bringing harm to other citizens.
However, the concept that a business too has the ability to practice religion is a deeply flawed notion, and serves moreover to allow the imposition of one person’s faith onto another; namely, that of the employer onto the employee.
In this particular case, businesses such as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties are being given explicit permission to deny to their employees important health care provisions as a result of the owner’s religion. This strikes me not as an example of religious freedom being protected for the owners of these businesses, but rather an example of their religious values being legally imposed on their employees, much to their detriment.
Let’s examine the initial quote. The court claimed, as noted above, that ‘American families do not give up their constitutional right to religious freedom just because they open a family business’. I believe this to be true beyond debate. No law could or should be passed requiring business owners in America to have abortions, or eat pork, or to do anything else which violates their personal liberties. However, that’s not what’s happening here.
Rather, the ruling dictates that anyone working for them must conform to their particular religious beliefs—if you work for hobby lobby, your right to have contraceptives and other forms of birth control covered by the AHCA are forfeit. The natural extension would be for these businesses to say that no employee will be allowed to eat pork in their private lives. An absurdity to be sure—but healthcare and family planning choices are certainly just as much an aspect of private life as are dietary decisions.
Now, the business owners would claim that making them pay for these provisions is a violation of their individual right to Religious Freedom—not so. While they are free to practice their religion in any way they choose (within the confines of the law), they must be expected to operate their business in a way that respects all given laws of the nation they operate in—and healthcare can be no exception. By ruling otherwise, the Supreme Court is disrespecting the right to Religious Freedom for all employees, while falsely claiming the moral victory of defending it for the owners.
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t clarify one important aspect of the equation at this point. In a respectable move, Congress assures that women affected by this ruling will be subsidized by the government rather than their employers. While that is a commendable step by the government, it is still skirting the issue, and opens the door for myriad other violations of personal freedoms grounded under such trite and non-consequential claims as Religious Freedom.
This approach opens a veritable Pandora’s Box. Inevitably challenges to Corporate Religious Freedom such as do-not-resuscitate orders and vaccine coverage will ultimately be laid on the government as well; another example of Corporations bastardizing the legal structure of our society to save costs, and allowing the government to foot the bill.
It comes down to a key issue we’ve covered before here at Brad OH Inc., namely the concept of Corporations being treated as people. It’s a dangerous and foolhardy idea to be sure, and it leads invariably to socially damning decisions such as these. When a business or Corporation is viewed as being fundamentally equal to an individual human being, the rights of the individual will unequivocally be trampled underfoot. That’s what’s happened here, and that’s what will continue to happen until this absurd notion is dismissed as the mad miscarriage of social justice that it is.
-Brad OH Inc.