Hobby Lobby: Religious Rights For Secular For-Profit Corporations … Just This One Time

Writing for the majority in the Hobby Lobby case, Justice Alito emphasized [PDF] that the ruling, which partly overturned the Obama administration’s rules on birth control coverage, does not apply to other cases involving religious objections to government regulations:

This decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to hold that all insurance-coverage man-dates, e.g., for vaccinations or blood transfusions, must necessarily fall if they conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs. Nor does it provide a shield for employers who might cloak illegal discrimination as a religious practice.



In any event, our decision in these cases is concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate. Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance-coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs. Other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests (for example, the need to combat the spread of infectious disease) and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them.

Apparently, the Supreme Court has determined that contraception, unlike immunizations, just doesn’t cut it in terms of public health.

In a footnote, Alito cites findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to back up claims that the government should be allowed to require immunizations over the religious objections of people who oppose vaccinations.

Of course, the contraception rule, the New York Times points out, “relied on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine, an independent group of doctors and researchers that concluded that birth control is not just a convenience but is medically necessary ‘to ensure women’s health and well-being.’”

It is undeniable that the advent of contraception, used by around 99 percent of sexually active women, and family planning has had an extraordinary impact on public health on a level similar to the creation of new vaccines. Unless, of course, your worldview leads you to believe that such pills are simply used by women as tools to have an abortion.

Justice Ginsburg points out in her dissent that the Supreme Court has rejected past religious objections to generally applicable rules from non-persons, including church-operated schools:

And where is the stopping point to the “let the government pay” alternative? Suppose an employer’s sincerely held religious belief is offended by health coverage of vaccines, or paying the minimum wage, see Tony and Susan Alamo Foundation v. Secretary of Labor, or according women equal pay for substantially similar work, see Dole v. Shenandoah Baptist Church? Does it rank as a less restrictive alternative to require the government to provide the money or benefit to which the employer has a religion-based objection?

Indeed, the high court previously rebuffed religious-based challenges to laws regarding the minimum wage, equal pay and regulation of illicit drugs.

Religious groups that believe in the subservience of women, reject vaccines and blood transfusions or seek to use controlled substances as part of religious rituals, according to the majority opinion, don’t have as much “religious liberty” than a secular for-profit corporation such as Hobby Lobby.

Ginsburg adds:

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga surely do not stand alone as commercial enterprises seeking exemptions from generally applicable laws on the basis of their religious beliefs. See, e.g. Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, Inc (owner of restaurant chain refused to serve black patrons based on his religious beliefs opposing racial integration)…

[H]ow does the Court divine which religious beliefs are worthy of accommodation, and which are not? Isn’t the Court disarmed from making such a judgment given its recognition that “courts must not presume to determine…the plausibility of a religious claim?”

Would the exemption the Court holds RFRA demands for employers with religiously grounded objections to the use of certain contraceptives extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations (Christian Scientists, among others)?

[A]pproving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be “perceived as favoring one religion over another,” the very “risk the Establishment Claus was designed to preclude.”

While Alito stresses that only closely-held corporations are involved in this case, what about a company board dominated by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, or evangelicals like David Barton who believe “that the Bible opposes the minimum wage, unions and collective bargaining, estate taxes, capital gains taxes, and progressive taxation in general”?

With Congress currently debating the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, what if Hobby Lobby’s owners cited their religion as a reason to discriminate against LGBT employees? Or refuse to cover HIV/AIDS treatments?

With this ruling, it seems that the court wants to decide for itself what counts as a necessary government strategy to protect public health, and what doesn’t.

Barber: Gay Marriage Is 'The Brainchild' Of Satan

On today's "Faith and Freedom" radio broadcast, Mat Staver and Matt Barber cited recent remarks made by Pope Francis about how "the Devil wants to destroy" the family in order to declare that gay marriage is "the brainchild" of Satan himself.

"Marriage is the cornerstone institution of any healthy society," Barber asserted, "and so clearly the Father of Lies, the Enemy of the World hates marriage, wants to destroy marriage and so this concept of counterfeit marriage, of same-sex marriage, that is the brainchild, Mat, of none other than the Father of Lies himself."

Staver was in complete agreement, saying that gay marriage is an effort to "abolish all truth" as part of Satan's "attack on God."

"Ultimately, at the end of the day," Staver said, "it is a spiritual attack ... This is the bidding of the Devil. This is a spiritual assault on all of us who are made in the image of God":

Right Wing Round-Up - 6/27/14

Right Wing Bonus Tracks - 6/27/14

  • The chairman of the Colorado Republican Party wants to make it clear that "Gordon [Klingenschmitt] does not speak on behalf of the Republican Party. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and dishonest."
  • Matt Barber defends Uganda's right to pass draconian anti-gay laws and attacks Vice President Joe Biden for daring to criticize them.
  • The RNC has launched GOPFaith.com in an effort to woo evangelicals ahead of the election.
  • What is happening to this country when Republican officials can't even joke about the killing a possible presidential candidate any more? It's fascism, I tell ya!
  • Finally, Laurie Higgins insists that opposition to interracial marriage is nothing like opposition to gay marriage: "When Christians used Scripture to oppose interracial marriage, they were twisting Scripture rather than adhering to scriptural truth. When Christians use Scripture to support same-sex 'marriage,' they are twisting Scripture rather than adhering to scriptural truth."

Self-Aware Bobby Jindal Is Tired Of 'Candidates Who Tell Us One Thing Then Go Do Another'

In an interview earlier this month with the Iowa blog Caffienated Thoughts, noted paragon of consistency Bobby Jindal lamented about “candidates who tell us one thing then go do another” on judicial nominations.

Jindal was discussing recent court decisions in favor of marriage equality, which he suggested could be grounds for recalling judges. In 2012, Jindal joined the failed effort to recall an Iowa Supreme Court justice who had joined the court’s unanimous marriage equality ruling.

The Louisiana governor spent the first half of the interview deriding the Common Core education standards — which he previously backed — as a “federal takeover of education."

Paranoia-Rama LGBT Pride Month Edition: 'Gay Gulags,' 'Reeducation Camps' And HIV Cure

RWW’s Paranoia-Rama takes a look at five of the week’s most absurd conspiracy theories from the Right.

In honor of LGBT Pride Month, we have dedicated this week’s edition to looking at five of the most bizarre anti-LGBT stories coming from the Right Wing just in the past week.

5. Rick Santorum Fears Gay ‘Reeducation Camps’

Religious Right activists continue to stoke fears about gay rights supporters organizing an anti-Christian holocaust, and Rick Santorum is happy to help. The former senator and presidential candidate, out with a new film about the purported loss of religious freedom in America, warned this week that Christians in the U.S. are being sent off to “reeducation camps” and face jail and martyrdom. Santorum was speaking to none other than Bryan Fischer, the American Family Association radio host who believes gay people are to blame for the Holocaust and are modern-day Nazis.

4. Gay Gulags

If you thought Santorum’s remarks were a rare occurrence in the Religious Right, just read today’s commentary from BarbWire senior editor Jeff Allen, who warns that the “gaystapo” wants its opponents “summarily shipped off on the ‘highway’ to the ‘gay’ gulag of sensitivity training — actually, reeducation camp to receive a government-provided, pro-perversity lobotomy.”

He warns about “alarming homosexual efforts at shredding the dictionary, distorting of the Constitution, creating false rights out of thin air, rewriting civil laws to criminalize deeply held moral convictions, hijacking science to promote a deviant political/social agenda, and eliminating all religious and conscience protections for business owners,” adding that “every advance of the militant ‘gay agenda’ comes at the literal expense of true democracy and freedom.”

“Many of the vindictive items on homosexual agenda are designed exactly as vengeance against their supposed oppressors,” Allen writes. “Unlike the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in which African Americans united and fought against the truly heinous injustices of racial inequality and unprovoked acts of violence, the homosexual rights movement has no intentions of being peaceful. Nobody should fool themselves, this is a hostile takeover of America.”

3. Gays Want To Molest Their Kids

Those of you who haven’t been shipped off to a gay FEMA camp yet may want to consider this brilliant analysis by Mission America’s Linda Harvey, who this week alleged that gay parents are much more likely than others to sexually abuse their children because “when you are open to sinful, God-defying behavior in one profound way, violating other boundaries happens more easily.”

2. More GOP Rebranding

Speaking out in opposition to amendment to prohibit charter schools from discriminating in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, North Carolina House Speaker Pro Tem Paul ‘Skip’ Stam compared gay people to pedophiles and “distributed a flier titled ‘What Is A “Sexual Orientation”?’ that compares being lesbian or gay to mental disorders such as apotemnophilia (sexual arousal associated with an amputee’s stump) and coprophilia (sexual arousal associated with feces).”

The handout reportedly originated from the far-right Traditional Values Coalition. Catherine Thompson of TPM notes that “Stam did not mention that the information in his handout, which dated back to 2000, had been updated in the APA manual to classify those attractions as ‘disorders’ rather than ‘orientations,’ according to the news station.”

Local Religious Right activists quickly rushed to Stam’s defense after word of the flier got out.

This isn’t the first time Stam has tried to pull off this sort of stunt: he made similar claims while denouncing the School Violence Protect Act.

1. HIV/AIDS Cure At Pride

The latest religious group to claim to be able to cure HIV comes out of Minnesota, where an evangelical coalition is insisting that they will cure people of HIV at the upcoming Twin Cities Pride.

Andy Birkey of The Column reports that the group’s leader, Steven Uggen, believes God told him that he has the “healing power” to cure people of HIV, although most will not be grateful:

One of the words we got out of this outreach, the Lord really wanted to demonstrate his goodness to this community by releasing healing of HIV and AIDS, so we believe we’re going to see people healed of HIV and AIDS and we’re just, we’re carrying that word of the Lord into this outreach. And that will be part of our training just praying with boldness for the releasing of healing power and then sending them back to their doctors literally after praying for them. ‘Here’s what I want you to do: go to your doctor, get tested for HIV or AIDS and when you come back negative, you’ve got a decision to make whether you’re gonna serve the God who just healed you’ and then give them some gospel materials that they can take with them and encourage them to call on us and let us know and I’m confident that we’re going to have people healed of HIV and AIDS that are going to be contacting us. The funny thing is Jesus healed the 10 lepers and only one came back to acknowledge him so there may be 10 that get healed but only one come back, you know. This is a strategy that God wants to use so the very fruit of their sin is what he wants to, like, take away to show them his kindness and his goodness. I mean it’s just totally Jesus. I mean it’s like totally his way so we’re excited about that.

The Creationist Grand Canyon Trip You Always Wanted

Tired of hearing “anti-God, evolutionary explanations of the [Grand] Canyon’s formation”?

Then Ken Ham, the head of Answers In Genesis and the Kentucky-based Creation Museum, has just the vacation for you:

No matter where you go when visiting America’s national parks, city zoos, and other attractions, the religion of evolution and millions of years permeates the culture. To help combat these lies and proclaim the authority of God’s Word, every year Answers in Genesis partners with Canyon Ministries to hold creation raft trips through the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona. Canyon Ministries has been presenting the Grand Canyon from a biblical perspective since 1997. The trips were done while rafting through the canyon, showing guests firsthand the evidence of Creation and Noah’s Flood. But now Canyon Ministries has added something new.

Last year, Canyon Ministries began providing land-based rim tours of the Grand Canyon along its South Rim, operating under the name A Different View Tours. Now, rather than go to the rim and hear the anti-God, evolutionary explanation of the Canyon’s formation, I encourage you to consider a tour with Canyon Ministries. It will provide you with a Bible-based presentation of the geology of the Canyon and how it confirms the Bible’s account of a global Flood and belief in a young earth. The teaching is very similar to what you would receive on a raft tour, and it is done in the comfort of a vehicle.

Canyon Ministries, which holds that the “account of origins presented in Genesis occurred in the span of six consecutive twenty-four hour days six to ten thousand years ago,” attempted to have its Creationist material used by the National Parks Service but was rejected [PDF].

Benham Brothers Ready To Die In Battle

The Religious Right mythologizing of David and Jason Benham continues. The Benham brothers – whose plans for a reality TV show on HGTV were scrapped by the network after Right Wing Watch reported on the brothers’ anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-Islam activism – were featured speakers at last week’s Road to Majority conference, sponsored by Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition. And they’re on the schedule for the much bigger Values Voter Summit in September.

A Christian Post story on their appearance at Road to Majority frames their experience in typical martyrs-to-their-faith rhetoric, saying their reality show “was canceled because they spoke about their Christian views.”

Now, we don’t know exactly what motivated HGTV’s decision, but it seems to be a pretty good bet that it had nothing to do with the fact that the Benhams are outspoken about their Christian faith, and more to do with the fact that they had been outspoken advocates of limiting other people’s rights – as when Jason urged Charlotte, North Carolina, officials to deny permits for LGBT pride events, or when David took part it protests against the Islamic community center that critics inaccurately dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

The Religious Right revels in manufacturing martyrs. And the Benham brothers are happy to play the part, portraying themselves as targets of a demonic gay rights movement that is out to silence its critics. “If people remain silent, then it’s going to continue to get worse. But when folks step up, and speak boldly the truth, and then it can actually get pushed back,” David told the Christian Post. “You have to be willing to die. I mean, Jason and I had to be willing to lose our show. We had to be willing to lose a book deal…”

In their Road to Majority remarks, the Benham brothers portrayed themselves as warriors.

“We just remember June the 6th, 1944. We know what happened at D-Day. We know what happened on Omaha and Utah beach. There’s something about those men that our dad taught us when we were kids. And he said, ‘Boys, don’t you ever run from bullets. You run toward the bullets.’ There are cultural bullets flying, all over today, especially religious liberty. And what’s happening right now is many spiritual leaders, elected leaders, they are running from bullets. But there’s a remnant of people that are ready to stand and say ‘I’m not running from these bullets any more. I’m gonna take this beach…’”

One of the brothers invoked Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman who had been jailed in Sudan for refusing to renounce her faith (and who, it was reported today, is now safe in the US embassy), and then invoked Mel Gibson’s bloody battle epic “Braveheart.”

“Just like in the movie Braveheart, when all the Scottish Army was standing there, and they all had their gear on, and they were lined up and they were unified, and they were ready to fight but not a single one of them wanted to fight.  And then as William Wallace and a few men rode in on horses with blue face paint on. They were ready to pick a fight. And what I see before me right now are a bunch of people with some blue face paint on – so let’s go get it!"

One Year After Passage Of Gay Propaganda Ban, American Right Continues To Look To Russia As A Guide

The Human Rights Campaign released a report today to mark the first anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signing of his infamous ban on “gay propaganda” and related anti-LGBT legislation. HRC reports “an uptick in violent attacks on LGBT people” since the bills’ passage that has accompanied a spike in “anti-LGBT sentiment” in the public square.

Yet despite the dangerous consequences of the increasing use of LGBT people as scapegoats — both in Russia and in neighboring Eastern European and Central Asian countries — and the place of anti-gay politics in Putin’s expansionist agenda, many on the American Religious Right continue to celebrate Putin’s crackdown on gay rights and even to hail it as a model for the United States.

The issue has been divisive on the Right. For instance, Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid — hardly a fan of gay people — got into a memorable shouting match earlier this year with World Congress of Families representatives, who he accused of cozying up to Putin.

It has also put some groups in tough positions. The World Congress of Families was forced to suspend its planned conference at the Kremlin, which was to be funded by a handful of people close to Putin, after Russia seized Crimea and groups including Concerned Women for America started backing out.

But we continue to hear right-wing activists heaping praise on Putin for his enthusiastic anti-gay politics and increasing embrace of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Just last week, Phyllis Schlafly praised Putin for “warming up to religious freedom” as “Americans are rejecting it”:

And earlier this week, WorldNetDaily announced that people around the world are “fleeing” to Russia to escape homosexuality in their own countries .

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer continues to push for the U.S. to adopt a “propaganda” ban like Russia’s:

Anti-gay activists including Pat Buchanan,Peter LaBarbera,Franklin Graham,Scott Lively,Keith Davies,Linda Harvey,Randall Terry,Gordon Klingenschmitt,Janice Shaw Crouse, Austin Ruse, Bob Vander Plaats , Rick Scarborough and, of course, the WorldCongress of Families have defended Russia’s anti-gay crackdown or called for similar laws in the U.S.

And, of course, some have directly lent their support to the passage of anti-gay laws in Russia: the World Congress of Families has an active network in Russia and Eastern Europe and just days before Putin signed the propaganda ban recruited the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown to warn Russian lawmakers about the risks of gay rights.

The support for laws that have dangerously scapegoated LGBT people in Russia is especially ironic coming from a movement that claims that the gay rights movement in the United States is persecuting them .

Rick Perry Doesn't Understand Why Everyone Is Hung Up On His Comparison Of Gays To Alcoholics

In a salivating profile of “Rick Perry 2.0,” Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Noel Pollack praises the Texas governor’s cool new glasses and his articulate, well-researched speeches to even the most “skeptical, if not hostile, audiences.”

“Indeed, Perry is so fluent and confident in the arcane details of cutting-edge policy issues that it is difficult to understand why he has developed a reputation for gaffes.”

Yes, that is a real sentence.

But don’t worry, Pollack reports that despite the fact that Perry is a genius, he is getting help from “some Hollywood conservatives who are advising him (though he will not reveal exactly whom, for fear of blowing their cover).”

Perry tells Pollack that he doesn’t understand why everyone focused on his comparison of gays to alcoholics, a connection he also made in his book “On My Honor”: “I spoke for 59 minutes about job creation and for one minute about that.”

When my Breitbart California colleague Adelle Nazarian and I met Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the magnificent La Valencia hotel in tony La Jolla, he looked more like a venture capital executive than a governor. He was dressed in shirtsleeves and a pale blue tie,

earphones plugged into his iPhone, tapping away on his MacBook Pro and wearing the dark-rimmed glasses that have become the trademark of the post-2012 Perry persona.

It's Rick Perry 2.0.



In addition to boosting California's fortunes, Perry seems keen on boosting his own--politically, at least, in advance of the 2016 presidential campaign. He is openly considering a second run at the job, after his 2012 effort foundered on immigration policy controversies and debate gaffes. And deep-blue California is the perfect training ground for Perry to hone his message and practice speaking to skeptical, if not hostile, audiences.

Perry has spent hours being briefed on domestic and foreign policy issues at the state's array of think tanks, including Stanford's Hoover Institution. He has spent days with tech entrepreneurs and scientists, and was deeply impressed, he says, by a visit this week to General Atomics, which is developing alternative energy sources. He has cultivated a connection to the Scripps Research Institute, taking interest in their work on adult stem cells.

Indeed, Perry is so fluent and confident in the arcane details of cutting-edge policy issues that it is difficult to understand why he has developed a reputation for gaffes. Yet his one-on-one spark sometimes fails to come across onstage.

Perry tells me he is working on that, too, practicing his presentation skills with some Hollywood conservatives who are advising him (though he will not reveal exactly whom, for fear of blowing their cover).

Perry is frustrated by missteps, such as the controversy over his remarks about homosexuality. "I spoke for 59 minutes about job creation and for one minute about that," he laughs.

Yet he regards such episodes as part of a learning process. In this case, Perry says, the lesson he took from San Francisco is to stay focused on the core issue--which, for him, is the economy. "Gay or straight," he says, "if you don't have a job, that's not good."
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