Mask Slippage—Does Faith Entitle a Right to Discriminate?
The recent SCOTUS decision in support of the evangelical Christian owners of Hobby Lobby has prompted religious leaders to drop their pretense at being a force for general solace and succor, revealing their usually masked hostility towards any who do not agree with and practice their beliefs. On the surface, to some people the consequences seemed at first to be only a minor limiting factor, denying their female employees a few of what the business’s owners consider to be forms of “abortive contraception”—defined by their principles, not those of current law. Some argue that this corporation will support other forms of birth control and that it is a question as to whether everyone should have a “right” (governmentally fostered privilege) to have every option covered, but the ramifications go beyond the significant issue of women’s access to equal contraceptive options and should be examined.
Looking closer at this specific situation, note that these Christians’ objection is solely to certain female forms of birth control. Male contraception is not dealt with at all, so, despite their claiming to support a biblically-inspired view for their concerns regarding sexual activity as basis for this denial, “Onan’s sin” of seed-spilling—which could be applied to define forms of contraception that promote non-procreative ejaculation—seems not be a concern for these folks. Fundamentally, their bible is not keen on contraception of any sort, but they use it as authority to deny only a narrow range of techniques. And where their “Holy Scriptures” address other sexual issues we all should know these texts decree, among other barbaric practices, a diminished societal status for women and that adulterers and male homosexuals should be put to death. If “sincerely held” fundamentalist bible-based sexual attitudes become grounds for this and other corporations’ treatment of their employees, then where might this precedent lead? Hobby Lobby’s owners clearly have selected which biblical admonitions would be “painful” for them to ignore from a much wider range. The owners of other corporations might not be inclined to similarly restrict themselves.
One might ponder if a commission of biblical scholars needed be convened for this case to determine how sincere such a stance might be, whether “all or nothing” should be the bottom line for any claiming duty to scriptural admonitions as reason for exemption from federal laws meant to apply to everyone. Is it heresy for believers to pick and choose amongst their deity’s canonical dictates? We might have thus seen a reductio ad absurdum come into play considering some of the contents of these religious texts. Additionally, Hobby Lobby’s apparent investment in businesses that manufacture contraceptive materials that they now refuse to pay for where their female employees are concerned does point out that their commitment to religious doctrine can be overlooked when it is financially convenient, making their lawsuit an act of hypocritical posturing.
Far more alarming than the support of the plaintiffs’ obviously inconsistent principles, the SCOTUS decision has opened the door for other religious groups with businesses beyond those related directly to their acts of worship to seek exemptions from supporting people whose lifestyles they condemn. For “people of faith” with government-contracted business an executive order signed by President George W. Bush in 2002 granted exemptions allowing for hiring discrimination essentially for their strictly religious undertakings, but that does not seem to satisfy them any longer. The July 1 letter to President Obama from a number of apparently Christian leaders requests a “faith-based” exemption from employing openly LGBT people. Therein, they call Obama on a past statement demonstrating that at one point be did not support same-sex marriage based on his own Christian faith. Those words are thrown in his teeth now that he has changed his mind and decided that he should not use his personal religious views to limit the rights of people who do not share them.
As we faith-free folk know from history, many religious individuals are eager to influence others into accepting, or at the very least complying with, the dictates of their own superstition-generated principles so such a letter does not surprise us. I encourage you to read it to appreciate the elaborate guise used when putting forth this request to act in an exclusionary manner. It is quite a grotesque mummery that should be recognized for what it actually portends. Remember that in the past, Christian inquisitors used many elaborate Latin phrases to excuse their then legally-endorsed torture, murder and property theft inflicted on many who did not share their beliefs. The pain they administered was meant to forcibly convert the victims into submission to their faith. Never be fooled by these self-proclaimed “believers,” as their ultimate purpose is to promote themselves and their irrational, inhumane doctrines, though less physically invasive techniques are now in vogue. If they have money and thus the power to back up these efforts, their “faith-based” precepts can be imposed on others under the pretext of “religious freedom.” They mean their freedom to proselytize or otherwise enjoin others to conform to their beliefs. They are never content to be the only ones practicing their nonsensical ideologies.
Subsequently, President Obama has fortunately rejected the entreaties of that letter and signed an executive order that apparently bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity among federal contractors and also protects all federal employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. However, this new order does not abrogate the Bush executive order allowing religiously affiliated contractors preferential hiring practices of applicants who hold to their favored religion. Unsurprisingly, a Fox News piece claims that this order “endangers religious liberty” and confirms my above observations about folk who think that their values come not from reasonable consensus but from a mythical supernatural entity.
Since Christianity is the majority faith in the US there are many who tacitly agree with its principles and often seem to feel that non-Christians should just shut up and accept them. They patronizingly think that adopting Christian ideals would improve everyone’s lives whether individuals are adherents of Christianity or not. It strikes me that the justices who decided in favor of these Christian evangelicals may likely have this underlying attitude. I find it regrettable, if such was their motivation, that they did not set aside their prejudices towards favoring what may be their own religious beliefs when deciding on this case as their sworn duty is to promote equal treatment for all under their jurisdiction. The Founding Fathers made it clear that Christianity was not the basis for our nation and our government officials should be bound by that standard.
If multi-billion dollar corporations owned by Muslims with a desire to implement Sharia law were the ones bringing suit before SCOTUS, one wonders what their conclusions and the supporting reasoning might have been? Certain humorists have posted pieces in the wake of this decision describing sacrifices towards Cthulhu worship as being newly sought corporate endeavors amongst other recourses to bizarre beliefs and how they might impact a workforce. These comical exaggerations emphasize that religious principles are not based on reason and could lead to absurd or deplorable results should they be used as grounds for corporate policy. The irrational is never susceptible to rational argument. If the precedent is made for legally implementing anti-LGBT, anti-female, or possibly anti-apostate exemptions (fantasize Fortune 500 companies run by those in agreement with Boko Haram), we secularist Americans will see severe erosion to the very wise concepts employed by the architects of our boldly experimental secular government.
Satanist owned and run corporations (yes, they exist and do not include Procter & Gamble) are not leaping to defend the SCOTUS decision in support of faith-based discrimination. We are atheists who embrace the idea that we willingly cooperate with our secular government in working towards equitable treatment of all subject citizens. Satanists understand that our society is not a free market and thus the government is deeply entangled in efforts to enhance social welfare through business regulation. Thus the consequences of this decision to allow special permission for businesses to discriminate excused by “religious freedom” need be examined with utmost care. This seems to be an effort to circumvent the separation of church and state which is fundamental to American society and was implemented to prevent any religion from forcing others into its precepts.
Rational people seeking to sustain an equitable environment for their fellows must continually be wary of this tendency of the religious towards attempting to influence people who do not embrace their faiths. Religious organizations may be free to be selective regarding employees in their own temples and churches, though what one believes about their mythologies may not be germane to performing tasks that have nothing to do with the dissemination of doctrines (cooking, cleaning and maintenance for example). But I and fellow secularists who support equal treatment under the law must question that the requirement of “like-faith” should be allowed to extend into businesses whose primary purpose is not religious indoctrination, regardless of the religious or philosophical beliefs of the owners of these corporations. Dealing with a pluralistic society is one of the costs of doing business, yet these supposedly spiritual people are trying to resist an egalitarianism that they often profess to uphold.
As has become baldly evident, the true agenda of followers of these supposedly humanitarian faiths is to promote those who share their beliefs and punish any who do not accept them. They would prefer a return to that “old time religion” which united churches and states to force acceptance of their principles under the guise that obedience to their deity’s dictates is better for everyone whether they like it or not. Let this revealing behavior that has emerged since the SCOTUS decision be a clear warning to secular people that many religions are simply biding their time until the opportunities arise to recapture their dominance over those who are not of their ilk. We must hold true to maintaining that American secular societal landscape which prevents forced obeisance to any religion while promoting pratical liberty and justice for all.
Peter H. Gilmore
High Priest of the Church of Satan
We Are Legion
A Moment In Time
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