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Hobby Lobby Ain't A Church, It's a For Profit Business.

Jul 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby Ain’t A Church, It’s a For Profit Business.

"Religious Freedom" Run Amok: How The U.S Supreme Court Believes Corporations Are People, Yet Treats Women Inhumanely

A 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court (comprised of all men) delivered a stunning set-back for women’s reproductive rights in the Hobby Lobby case yesterday. The conservative majority ruled that a crafts chain store (here, one with over 500 outlets) whose owners espouse “sincere religious beliefs” can refuse to provide insurance covering contraception to its female employees.

The ruling elevates the rights of a FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION over those of its women employees and opens the door to all manner of claims that a company can refuse services based on its owner’s religion. Think about the ramifications: As Justice Ginsberg’s stinging dissent pointed out, companies run by Scientologists could refuse to cover antidepressants, and those run by Jews or Hindus could refuse to cover medications derived from pigs (such as many anesthetics, intravenous fluids, or medications coated in gelatin).

In this case, the owners happen to be deeply Christian; one wonders whether the case would have come out differently if a Muslim-run chain business attempted to impose Sharia law on its employees.

As many have pointed out, Hobby Lobby is the same company that invests in Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceuticals, makers of abortion inducing-drugs and the morning after pill. It also buys most of its inventory from China, where forced abortions are common. The hypocrisy is galling.  

Hobby Lobby is not a church. It’s a business — and a big one at that. Businesses must and should be required to comply with neutrally crafted laws of general applicability. Your boss should not have a say over your healthcare. Once the law starts permitting exceptions based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” there’s no end to the mischief and discrimination that will ensue. Indeed, this is the same logic that certain restaurants and hotels have been trying to deploy to allow proprietors to refuse service to gay couples.

We are a nation that respects religious beliefs, but also the right not to have those beliefs imposed upon you by others. Our personal beliefs stop at the end of our noses, and we should therefore keep it out of other people’s business — and bedrooms.

While we work to overturn this decision by legislation, people of good conscience should BOYCOTT any for-profit business, including Hobby Lobby, which chooses to impose its religious beliefs on its employees. The only way such companies ever learn to treat people with decency and tolerance is to hit them where it counts–in their pocketbooks. I won’t be shopping there, and women everywhere should exercise their right of protest and refuse to shop there as well.

-George Takei

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