According to Hobby Lobby, the company leading the challenge against the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that it denies religious freedom, corporations can actually be Christians. And even though Christian individuals are not protected from having their tax dollars fund such un-Christian things as invasions of other nations, so-called Christian corporations like Hobby Lobby expect to be exempted from having to provide health insurance for their employees, because they disapprove of certain forms of birth control covered under the act that are, effectively, abortion bills.
As an anti-abortion Christian, I share their concerns (that is if, indeed, these are really abortion pills – I’m no expert on the various pills out there). And from a practical perspective, I don’t believe that health insurance should cover birth control any more than I believe car insurance should cover oil changes. However, as a Christian who fears rapidly expanding corporate power (now, in the name of “Corporations are people, my friend”), I dread hearing of the Supreme Court ruling that corporations may now be exempt from the law because their religious beliefs oppose it.
First, I think such a ruling opens a Pandora’s Box, as numerous corporations might claim various religious beliefs to exempt themselves from the law. Elena Kagan made a great point when she asked what happens when an employer (most likely a Jehovah’s Witness) can deny employees insurance that covers any procedure involving a blood transfusion, because the employer’s religion opposes blood transfusions. But I believe it can go beyond that, as a conservative victory here could establish a dangerous precedent. For example, if a corporation claims to be atheist, could it fire and refuse to hire Christian employees? Could atheists become major shareholders in a hospital and turn away dying Christians at the door? We’ve seen atheists use “freedom of Religion” to attack Christianity displayed in public, such a court precedent may expand that persecution to the workplace.
I repeatedly hear Christians cry that our faith will be persecuted more and more throughout the future, yet these very same Christians want to create a society in which any company can do whatever it wants in the name of religious rights (the Arizona bill to allow discrimination against customers with differing religious beliefs is further proof of this). Someday, this will backfire on us when non-Christians oppress Christians in the name of liberty.
Religious freedom is not absolute. For example, if you believe in Harem’s, you can’t have one. If the people of your nation have voted to make harems illegal, there’s nothing you can do to hoard wives for yourself, and that’s a good thing. With the thousands of religious beliefs held by various Americans, almost any law denies somebody the ability to fully carry out their religious beliefs.
Second, if Hobby Lobby is so devoutly Christian, why are they a corporation?
On their video at the hoobylobbycase.com website, the owners claim to have been a family-owned business from the beginning. If so, it’s unlikely that they incorporated to raise capital. Rather, they incorporated to protect their liability. The whole foundation of the corporate structure is liability protection. If a business’s owners make millions of dollars when times are good but wind up owing millions of dollars when the company someday fails, corporate liability protection allows them to keep the millions they have been paid in the form of dividends, while sticking their creditors, customers, and suppliers with the millions they owe (it’s called bankruptcy). This is stealing. God allowed no such injustice in ancient Israel. If someone owed debts, they had to sell everything, if necessary, to pay them.
If Hobby Lobby were so devoted to adhering to Christian purity in every little thing, they would be a partnership, not a corporation. The fact that they are incorporated means they are willing to steal by pushing their debts on society in the event hard times come. Since all corporations are, by definition, institutions of stealing, they can’t be Christian. They can be Satanists, maybe, but not Christians.
If the folks at Hobby Lobby are worried about God’s wrath against them for obeying the law, here’s something that should make them feel better. When religious leaders questioned Jesus on whether it was lawful to pay the tax to Caesar, Jesus didn’t say it was only lawful in the event that the emperor spent the money in accordance with Christian or Jewish beliefs. If we Christians are forced by the law to pay a tax or provide a benefit to others, God will not hold us accountable.
The purpose of the Affordable Care Act is to rescue the poor and oppressed from life-ruining healthcare costs and to keep hospitals from folding when impoverished patients can’t pay. Yes, paying for birth control goes a bit too far. I’m all in favor of making an adjustment to that portion of the Affordable Care Act in the future. But to exempt employers from providing insurance due to the employer’s religious beliefs is to say that the employers own the employees as if they were slaves. Slave owners always had the right to make healthcare decisions for their salves. But in a free society, workers have rights to make their own healthcare decisions. Let’s hope the Supreme Court agrees.