I have a pretty strict policy of not commenting on people's Facebook posts when I disagree with them (they have a right to express their views after all), but a post on a friend's wall today got me going.
Luckily, I can write about the issue here and steer clear of my friend's wall.
In the post, Hobby Lobby owner David Green talks about why he's suing the federal government over its requirement that employers include no copay contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans. According to Green, this is a violation of his right to religious freedom because it makes him fund abortion-inducing medication.
First, let's take care of his claim that morning-after pills cause abortions. They don't. Despite anti-contraception activists' claims to the contrary, the science shows that what emergency contraception does is prevent fertilization.
Ok, with that addressed let's move onto the topic of religious freedom and Green's claims that his is being violated. Courts have ruled time and again that private, for-profit companies don't have religious rights. And they certainly don't have a right to discriminate against women. That's exactly what denying them this contraceptive coverage does.
This isn't the first time that companies have tried this tactic to discriminate.
Back in the 1960s, business owners tried to claim a "religious right" to refuse service to black people. And in 1976, a school district attempted to use religious freedom as an excuse to pay married men more than women (married or not) because the Bible told them that only married men were heads of households.
Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that although a business owner has a constitutional right to express his religious beliefs, he does not have an absolute right to exercise such beliefs “in utter disregard” of the rights of others.
That's exactly what happened earlier this month when a federal judge ruled against Hobby Lobby. The company's appeal of that ruling will fail. And thank goodness.
Just think where we could end up if the courts ruled that private companies can discriminate based upon their owners' or managers' religious beliefs. Pregnant and unmarried? You could be fired. Refuse to attend your boss's church? Fired. Need to take time off to nurse your son as he is dying from AIDS? Denied.
The list could go on and on. That's why our laws protect us from discrimination. Individuals have religious rights. Companies do not.