The Gospel Coalition

The facts are well known: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) requires employers to provide insurance for their employees. As part of the mandated health coverage, businesses must include contraceptives and abortifacient drugs in their insurance plans. Hobby Lobby, owned by the Green family (strong Christians and generous philanthropists), is refusing to comply with the HHS mandate, believing that the government is requiring what is unethical and infringing upon their religious liberty. Perhaps it is tragically fitting that Justice Sotomayor denied Hobby Lobby judicial relief on December 26---St. Stephen's Day, the day the church remembers its first martyr.

Millions of Americans are already outraged. And rightly so. Our government not only allows for abortion, and celebrates abortion rights, and wants women to have unfettered access to abortion on demand, it now requires other Americans to pay for abortion-inducing drugs or face crippling fines. It is not an endorsement of any political party to conclude that this policy is morally degenerate. More Americans should be alarmed than are already.

The Department of Justice's brief filed in October makes a number of arguments (in opposition to the Greens) which bear closer scrutiny and ought to arouse no small degree of concern. I'm no legal scholar, but as a Christian citizen and an American worried about our liberties, I would ask questions like these:

I'm a pastor, not a lawyer, justice, or politician. But let us pray for all of the above, that they may do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. Religious liberty is a precious gift we think too little of, and we will miss it sorely when it's gone.


Comments:

B

January 9, 2013 at 12:57 AM

@Lyric...I'm very curious to know in what way these drugs "destroy a fertilized egg"? I have worked in the medical field and currently work in basic science research. I can guarantee you that I know what I am talking about when it comes to mechanisms of contraception and abortion. I also doctrinally adhere to what most Reformed Christians would, so I'm not some left-wing feminist nut. Scientifically speaking, there is no evidence that birth control is abortive. These drugs do not destroy the fertilized egg. They are designed so that fertilization should not even occur. If you are a woman and are sexually active and not using any form of birth control, your own body actually rejects more fertilized eggs than hormonal birth control does. It is sophistry to say otherwise.

Lyric

January 9, 2013 at 12:38 AM

The argument that birth control medications are never a form of abortion is pure sophistry. Anything that destroys a fertilized egg - which by definition is a new living organism, and which is exactly what some forms of birth control are designed to do - is an abortifacient drug. This is unacceptable to Christians, with or without a U.S. Constitution. It is unacceptable because it is a gross offense against morality and against God. It is, in our view, a violation of God's own inalienable right to decide who lives and who dies.

As for the Constitution, however, I unfortunately have to side with those who say it does not violate the First Amendment. Obamacare may very well be unconstitutional, but not because of the religious issue. As is often the case with political documents, the First Amendment can be interpreted in many ways - but one thing it absolutely cannot be interpreted to mean is that a citizen may do or not do whatever he chooses so long as his religion demands it. That, my friends, is chaos. For example, a religious leader can't violate a contract with an employer and then defend himself on the basis that "God told him" to do it.

There's a danger on the Christian right (of which I myself am a card carrying member) of equating Constitutional law with Scripture. I regard the Constitution as a human document that is authoritative only in a limited sense (that sense being that it is, in fact, the legitimate law of our land). As Christians, we must insist on obedience to the Constitution, not because it is perfect, but because God calls us to respect authority. As Christians, we must also insist that our allegiance is to someone BEYOND the Constitution. When the two are at odds, the Constitution always loses.

[...] Why You Should Care about the Hobby Lobby Case – “The facts are well known: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) requires employers to provide insurance for their employees. As part of the mandated health coverage, businesses must include contraceptives and abortifacient drugs in their insurance plans. Hobby Lobby, owned by the Green family (strong Christians and generous philanthropists), is refusing to comply with the HHS mandate, believing that the government is requiring what is unethical and infringing upon their religious liberty.” [...]

Matt

January 9, 2013 at 12:18 AM

Pastor DeYoung argues that the owners of Hobby Lobby are “martyrs” because they are required to pay for health insurance for their employees which along with thousands of other policy holders subsidizes their purchase of drugs that make it unlikely that an embryo will attach to the wall of the uterus.

My brothers and sisters around the world who are being killed and imprisoned for declaring that Jesus Christ is Lord might be offended by this statement.

Gary Simmons

January 9, 2013 at 12:13 AM

OK. I am a pacifist who is very strongly drawn towards becoming Catholic. Since I embrace both of these conscientious objections, I think that probably puts me in a position to compare them a bit more fairly than outside people or people with one or neither objection. Here goes.

First: all taxation is organized theft. Plain and simple. It's not a good or godly thing. Government exists to curb Genesis 6 level violence with the threat of violent punishment, per Genesis 9. This is not part of God's perfect creation, but it serves its purpose. (Side note: I agree with AIG inasmuch as s/he said that we don't need to be thankful for soldiers protecting us. We didn't ask for it. We're willing to die for our beliefs, which is why we are the only ones who are NOT cowards, actually.)

While all taxation is organized theft, at least some good things such as public libraries and public education (despite its flaws) are sustained by them. I have benefited from these, and though I didn't sign any contract saying it's OK to dock my pay for it for the rest of my life, it's a battle I'm willing to let go of.

Taxes do, however, have uses contrary to my beliefs. This is aggravating. However, it does me little good to refuse to pay taxes. I am not OK with *pointless* martyrdom, and that's not a hill that is worth dying on.

On the one hand, I can say that I am not personally supporting war for the reasons another person mentioned above -- namely, that I am not personally drafted to fight. However: no, conscientious objection is NOT actually respected in this country. I would have to be part of a strictly pacifist church to have good protection of my 1st amendment rights. And, secondly, male pacifists have problems with the FAFSA and college.

On the other hand, I would like to point out that the Constitution only calls for a standing NAVY. Not a standing army. No DHS. No FBI. No CIA. No TSA. No air force, either (I'd argue that the USAF is constitutionally closer to "army" than "navy"). And as such, I still think it is valid for everyone, not just pacifists, to criticize the military-industrial-congressional complex. Just for what it's worth.

Now, the question is what is the analogy between me paying taxes and me as an employer providing contraception. Setting aside the fact that the government should not be allowed to force people to engage in a private sphere third-party purpose or else face a fine, and setting aside the fact that the fine is heavy enough to be a gun to the head rather than a hand in the pocket (coercion rather than incentive, which is generally not allowed in tax penalties), here's the deal.

If I buy a health insurance package for employees, it is different than me paying salary/wages. I pay salary/wages on the assumption that people need to eat and put a roof over their heads. If they happen to buy the Pill or condoms as well, that's on their head, not mine. I bear no moral responsibility for it because wages are implicitly given for purposes which are inherently good: food and shelter. What they do with their money is not my moral obligation at this point.

However, buying a healthcare package is not like giving money that can be used for primarily good purposes. This is more akin to forcing Hindu employers to give gift certificates to steakhouses. Yeah, steakhouses have meals other than cow-killing, but this is a grave offense to Hindus and they should not be coerced to either go out of business or support an institution which is gravely abhorrent within their ethical framework. Or, to relate it to myself as a pacifist, it is like drafting me to work on an assembly line for gun parts and then saying "well they're not making you go to war. They respect your rights, so stop complaining." To which I say: ???????. Pardon my Greek.

Now, since some of these drugs can be used for legitimate medical reasons, they can be reconciled to a Catholic healthcare program - but NOT simply to shut down a healthy fertility function so you can abuse yourself for pleasure. You have no medical right to force others to foot the bill if you want to shut down your fertility so you can game the system for extra sex. Do that on your own dime, folks. Shutting down a healthy and properly functioning body system is technically poison, and the only legitimate reason for doing so, IMO, is anesthetics to alleviate pain/induce sleep for surgery.

Catholics were and are generally willing to support legitimate healthcare, and although we would support research for treatments of irregular/painful menstruation, PCOS, etc., that do NOT have a contraceptive side effect, we generally are willing in the meantime to wince and nod and allow these drugs when used for a legitimate medical purpose. The problem is when you're using such things without a medical purpose. That is NOT your employer's responsibility.

[...] Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan since 2004. Kevin blogs at the Gospel Coalition and this article is reprinted with his [...]

Jennifer Burris

January 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM

I have not had a chance to read all the comments yet so I apologize if this has already been addressed. I too am against forcing anyone who is against providing free contraception that can be linked to the potential or outright abortion of any baby. If you do not want the responsibility of a child than you can abstain from sex or pay out of your own pocket to get out of what is seen to be an inconvenience to you. Like it or not many who do not claim Christ will want that option. I do not believe they can force me to make sacrifice to their "god" sex. That being said I believe Protestants lose some of the power behind their argument about preserving life in it's most vulnerable state when many of them still indulge in the vaccination program for their kids. I beg you to please call manufacturers and have them send you the ingredient lists to these medicines. Some have used aborted fetal cells during the process of making them. Others use chick embryos, green monkey cells, and I believe baby cow. If we are willing to better the health of our children at the expense of someone treated so horrifically how are we different? Perhaps we have and idolatry problem just as large as those who have made sex into their "god". The Catholic Church has done a phenomenal job in looking into both of these arguments and I commend them for seriously thinking through them. Let us pray the Protestant Church begins to do the same!

Ryan Rickard

January 9, 2013 at 08:19 AM

Strange that from the same blog and writer, he can be concerned about "Religious Liberty" but be in favor of criminalization of smoking weed and the prohibiting of marriage by some individuals. "Religious Liberty" does not mean Evangelical Liberty or even Christian Liberty, it means the liberty to freely worship how and what and where you like without government interference. I dont smoke marijuana and I believe homosexuality is a sin, but if we are going to play the "Religious Liberty" card, then we must play it for all, even those that we disagree with-or otherwise we are the Red Coats.

Ryan

January 9, 2013 at 07:10 PM

Kay, while I am sympathetic to the concern you raise about goods purchased from China, you may be overstating the case; if your logic holds, was Paul in error when he permitted Christians to purchase meat that had been sacrificed to idols? Did that constitute "supporting idol worship?"

B

January 9, 2013 at 05:57 PM

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0039128X03001284

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010782406003611

Read the abstract paragraphs if you cannot access the full articles.

Marcella Franseen

January 9, 2013 at 04:54 AM

If you go to Plan B Onestep's own site it says Plan B can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting. You can find this information at this link under "How does Plan B One-Step work. http://www.planbonestep.com/faqs.aspx

"Plan B One-Step® is one pill that has a higher dose of levonorgestrel, a hormone found in many birth control pills that healthcare professionals have been prescribing for several decades. Plan B One-Step® works in a similar way to help prevent pregnancy from happening. It works mainly by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. It is possible that Plan B One-Step® may also work by preventing fertilization of an egg (the uniting of the sperm with the egg) or by preventing attachment (implantation) to the uterus (womb)."

Kay Harris

January 9, 2013 at 03:54 PM

I absolutely agree with the stand that Hobby Lobby is taking. However, it is troubling to me that while the Greens are taking a stand against this healthcare mandate because it supports abortion in the U.S., they are supporting government supplied abortion in China with every "made in China" product that is sold in
their stores...which is most of the store. Not just the Greens, but for all, including myself, who buy made in China goods...we are guilty!

Gary Simmons

January 9, 2013 at 02:01 AM

Lyric: agreed. That *is* the chink in the armor.

However: why not teach women that they are only fertile, what? Six days in a cycle? Track your cycle and then use condoms and/or abstain during those days if you don't want to get pregnant.

This would satisfy that "compelling" interest without burdening myself or other Catholics at all. It's easier, I think, to think that employees can pay for enough condoms to handle six days a month of fertility, which would presumably mean one pack a month, without insurance covering it.

But then Obama's friends in the Big Pharma would be unhappy because this solution means that they would not be able to turn the female half of the workforce into their cash cows. How unfortunate that women wouldn't be exploited! /sarcasm.

Freedom is slavery!

Matt

January 9, 2013 at 01:40 PM

I do not wish to engage trolls who insist on misrepresenting my views. I stated earlier that I hate abortion. The issue is not my heart here, its a matter of definition. Once implanted, I believe there is NO Christian moral defense for aborting that baby (rape & incest issues are not the topic here, thus I do not intend to deal with them). I simply mean to state that I reject the notion that a drug that prevents implantation is equivalent to an abortion. Firstly, this is because implantation is required for further viability and development, meaning no non-implanted zygote can develop to sustainability. Secondly, this notion of conception = fertilization would construe as abortions hundreds of naturally-occuring non-detectable events inside a woman after any unprotected intercourse. This is manifestly absurd. Finally, using such terminology for non-abortive events does violence to the meaning of the term so as to cheapen it for those that experience it or force it on women (see Desiring God article on female gendercide in Asia/India). My last point here is that in my own small group I have walked with a couple who knew from the 4-month mark their baby would not survive outside the womb due to a developmental defect. She made the courageous and correct Christian decision to carry the child to term, he died 1 hour after birth, and their experience is one of the strongest testimonies of God's grace and strength to me. I say this to emphasize I speak not as an uninformed philosopher into a vacuum. Blessings all; and as we work to understand this rightly, let us remember that God is bigger than all of it, and His grace abounds where we fail in our need to be right, to enforce a moral code, and even in misguided decisions in unplanned pregnancy.

Lyric

January 9, 2013 at 01:32 AM

@Gary...Unfortunately, "compelling government interest" is highly subjective, as are many of our laws and court rulings. I'm sure Obama will argue that "free birth control" is a "compelling government interest."

Lyric

January 9, 2013 at 01:29 AM

As an aside, I should be clear that I personally make a distinction between products that may, as a side effect, sometimes induce abortion, and those which are explicitly designed to do so. The article I linked to does not make that distinction.

Gary Simmons

January 9, 2013 at 01:18 AM

Matt: I also would say calling them "martyrs" is a bit of an overstatement, but they are facing unreasonable discrimination unnecessarily.

Lyric: fortunately, this is NOT a slippery slope. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_Freedom_Restoration_Act ) gives us an imperfect, but useful, framework for determining how to go about religious exemptions.

Short version: Catholics can make a good case about contraception, but probably couldn't get out of supplying those same medicines when prescribed for treating menstrual problems. On the other hand, because refusing blood transfusions would mean denying life-saving and necessary treatment, yes -- their religious objection would be acknowledged, yet also overruled because of the compelling interest of people not dying is enough to outweigh their objection.

Longer version, quoting Wiki: " Congress states in its findings that a religiously neutral law can burden a religion just as much as one that was intended to interfere with religion; therefore the Act states that the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” The law provided an exception if two conditions are both met. First, if the burden is necessary for the “furtherance of a compelling government interest.” Under strict scrutiny, a government interest is compelling when it is more than routine and does more than simply improve government efficiency. A compelling interest relates directly with core constitutional issues. The second condition is that the rule must be the least restrictive way in which to further the government interest. "

Taxation is a constitutionally explicit power, so it is a case in which the government can overrule my pacifism objection, for instance. This is why I said it's imperfect, but useful. Definitely better than "accept all objections or none", wouldn't you say? Yet even if a central constitutional power is what is being objected to, the government has to do its darnedest to be as accommodating as possible.

If this were 100 years ago, and theoretical 1913 Obamacare had the theoretical assumption that reading the Bible reduces the chances of mental illness, would it be constitutional for the government to mandate that employers (even the hypothetical 1913 Freedom From Religion Foundation) MUST offer access to Bibles? (Assume that the same cannot be said of the Qu'ran, etc.)

The answer, I think, is no. But this thought experiment is helpful for explaining to secular folk that this is simply a case of the majority imposing themselves in a manner that tramples the minority. This thought experiment is ALSO a rule of general applicability that doesn't specifically target atheists or Muslims, but it still unfairly would burden them. Constitutionally speaking.

Lyric

January 9, 2013 at 01:07 AM

@B...I'm glad you asked. As I am not a medical professional, I will answer by linking to an article that explains it better than I can: http://www.lifeissues.org/abortifacients/index.html. But I will say that I have researched this particular question thoroughly, for personal reasons as well as for the sake of the larger cultural debate, and I've found that both side of the argument agree on the basic science. There really isn't a question that some forms of "birth control" are destroying fertilized eggs. The difference is how they are defining when a pregnancy begins.

kpolo

January 8, 2013 at 12:51 PM

@AJG: Your words were you mention children:
"Yes, but the government is using my tax money to kill people, including children. How is this any different?"

Yes, technically you didn't mention "women & children". If you distinguish between killing children vs. women & children, I rest my case.

"Anyway, only a radical would argue that the abortification of a 24-hour blastocyst is akin to murder. A collection of cells that has no cognition and no consciousness is not a human being."

You are a collection of cells with cognition and consciousness. Why does cognition or consciousness define a human being? So a person with a brain-injury who has no cognition and becomes unconscious is not a human-being? Gosh! I need to scramble this info to all the paramedics. Why waste time helping accident victims? They are not human beings. Of course, you will retort that they once had cognition and therefore are humans. But that is a purely arbitrary criteria. Absent abortion, you have no real need to arrive at such a definition.

A newborn has very little cognition and is not self-conscious until a few months later. Is neo-infantificide fair game?

The science of embryology (every major embryology text book holds to this definition; some recent editions have revised "human development to "development") tells you that human development begins at the point of conception. The embryo (even if only once cell) has a unique DNA, derived but distinct from a biological mother and father. Its growth is self-directed. Philosophically, it is only distinct from the adult it will one day be in 4 ways:
1) Size
2) Level of development
3) Environment
4) Degree of dependency

You consider those 4 valid reasons to discriminate against a class of human beings.

AJG

January 8, 2013 at 12:22 PM

@kpolo "Assuming that a war is just (in the Augustinian sense), your analogy fails miserably."

The only just war is a war fought in self-defense or a war to overthrow a tyrant. By that definition, there have been only three just wars in U.S. history: 1)the American Revolution, 2) the War of 1812, and 3) the U.S. Civil War from the perspective of the Confederacy. All other wars have been wars of agression. You cannot possibly quantify the benefits of military action before that action is taken so there is no way to justify a war of agression before action is taken.

And where did I say anything about women and children? A U.S. soldier who kills a person defending his homeland is guilty of murder too.

Anyway, only a radical would argue that the abortification of a 24-hour blastocyst is akin to murder. A collection of cells that has no cognition and no consciousness is not a human being. It has the potential to become one but it does not meet the definition of a person.

diesel

January 8, 2013 at 11:30 PM

What about the fact the Hobby Lobby wants to oppress their employees by denying them insured health coverage for services commonly available elsewhere? Let me guess . . . . . you can quit your job and work somewhere else?
How would you like it if the company you worked for is taken over by a Jehovah's Witness follower who refuses to provide health care as a corporate benefit for all workers because of their faith? I'm sure you'd be the first ones to line up and sue them.
Or where are the benefits to support new parents - time off to have a child, for example? I'll bet if you don't turn up for work within 6 weeks they'll hire someone else, because after all you're on your own in the the right wing world AFTER you are born. Rank hypocrisy.

kpolo

January 8, 2013 at 11:20 AM

AJG, I think you are making a false comparison of War and Abortion.

Your characterization of war resulting in murder is wrong. Murder is defined as the intentional killing of innocent human beings. The vast majority of those killed in war are not innocent. Innocent beings may be killed (collateral damage) in a war, but the purpose of a war is never those. There are wars perpetrated by warlords like the Somalian gorillas and there are wars engaged in by sovereign governments. If you think the US military deliberately goes to war to kill women and children, then you have other issues. Assuming that a war is just (in the Augustinian sense), your analogy fails miserably.

Abortion on the other hand is always murder.

B

January 8, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Kevin, I respect you a lot and always have. This is why I am very sad to see that you are joining the conservative masses in spreading some very pernicious falsehoods regarding contraceptives, abortive methods, and the HHA mandate. You (and many, many others) say that the mandate calls for businesses to “include contraceptives and abortifacient drugs in their insurance plans”. Yes, the mandate calls for businesses to cover contraceptives (ranging from condoms, injections, the pill, emergency contraceptives etc). It does NOT, however, call for covering abortifacient drugs. It is a common mistake to include Plan B and other similar “morning after pills” in with abortive methods, but that is scientifically disingenuous, and dangerously misleading. There is actually only one abortive pill that is used these days, and that is mifepristone. Mifepristone is not the same as the morning after pill and is only used medically. There is no current scientific evidence that emergency contraceptives (such as Plan B) do anything in the way of preventing implantation or dislodging a fertilized egg. There are several peer-reviewed (i.e. legitimate and accepted within the scientific community) articles that speak to this. Emergency contraceptives are often simply a much higher dose of a birth control pill. With this understanding, the debate about the HHA mandate becomes completely different. It is a terrible misunderstanding, or a willful lie, to tell people that the government is forcing businesses to pay for abortive drugs. I truly hope that all people – especially those in a position of leadership - look into the science behind these methods before spouting off nonsense that is deceptive.

AJG

January 8, 2013 at 11:05 AM

@kpolo "However, you do gain from the benefits that just wars bring – peace."

Nobody asked me if that was a Faustian bargain I was willing to live with. A peace that comes at the cost of people murdered all around the world is an immoral peace.

AJG

January 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM

@Josh "No sovereign government can remain so without a military. But the government, while taking your money and using it for purposes you don’t agree with, has not conscripted you and forced you to fight."

Yes, but the government is using my tax money to kill people, including children. How is this any different?

"If it did, you would be in the same sort of situation that the Greens are: being forced to actively participate in behaviors that are opposed to their beliefs."

Not true. No one is forcing the Greens to have abortions, just as I am not forced to kill people in the military. I AM forced to be an accomplice to the act, however, by paying taxes which support such killing.

This is actually a perfect analogy; it's just that evangelicals in general love the military and the murders they commit while abhorring abortionists and the murders THEY commit.

kpolo

January 8, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Nicole,
Do you realize by "contraception" the government includes abortifacent drugs? Drugs that intentionally prevent the embryo from implanting? And the government also requires health-care programs to cover abortions? We are not talking birth-control pills - yes, the Catholic Church is against all forms of contraception. I don't believe evangelicals in general hold to such a view.

Please do you homework before waxing eloquent on the lack of empathy or care of your fellow brothers in Christ.

Nicole

January 8, 2013 at 10:09 AM

I'd like to point out that they aren't being forced to provide abortion coverage (you mention terminating a fetal life - there's no proof that contraception does this, it's a hypothetical thought experiment that isn't proven and even then is still slim to none). As a Reformed young woman, while I don't support forcing a company to do something on religious grounds, I'm absolutely appalled at the lack of dialogue Protestants are willing to have about contraception in general. I'll defend the Catholic church's right to not provide it and in the same breath say it's wrong that they don't.

I grasp that for some, these theoretical, unproven maybes might be a conscience issue enough to keep someone from using it (I've noticed most people who argue against contraception have almost no idea how it actually works or they quote Randy Alcorn - notice the lack of actual science there). However, just as we don't want the government legislating our consciences, why are we supporting the Catholic church legislating others'? In this regard I find the owners of Hobby Lobby at the very least ignorant by demanding that their workers adhere to their unscientific understanding of contraception.

Furthermore, if you cannot grasp the non-contraceptive uses of hormonal birth control, I'm wondering if you've ever bothered to have a conversation with the women in your life. I know at least three women who use the pill to offset a very painful condition known as endometriosis which can even lead to loss of fertility. I've used it because I have health problems that require medication that would be damaging to a baby if I got pregnant (how many babies should I be forced to miscarry?). It regulates cycles (I've had friends have their cycles stop because of stress and this helped kick it back into gear), equalizes hormones (like women dealing with PMDD). The owners of Hobby Lobby clearly don't have compassion on their workers in that regard.

So yes, I agree that the Supreme Court ought not to be telling companies what to do with their religious freedoms, however, I wish my brothers in Christ cared enough about my fellow sisters and me to recognize the burden companies like Hobby Lobby place on their female employees (I hate Planned Parenthood, but for women who can't afford the care they need, they may well turn to them to get their medication for free - is that what we want? To drive our sisters into the arms of the worst offender of life in our country?). At least I have a husband who advocates for me and loves me by making sure I'm cared for in this way. I feel sorry for the rest of the women who have been abandoned as the men of the church run off to scream 'religious liberty' with little regard to how it sounds to others. Good job placing burdens on the backs of women and not lifting one finger to help them.

Steven Mitchell

January 8, 2013 at 09:52 AM

To answer two of your questions:

#2 — The term 'substantial burden' is a common one in law. Finding what is and isn't a 'substantial burden' is a pretty routine job of the courts. It's a ubiquitous factor is all varieties of discrimination law especially. But depending on how broadly you construe 'government' (American or European sense), you might take some solace in knowing that it is not the presidential administration that determines what is and is not substantial, but rather the judicial system.

#4 — Again, the word 'neutral' here has a particular meaning in the legal context, particularly in free exercise law. Here 'neutral' does not mean that it impinges on no religious practice. Rather, it means that the law is of general applicability regardless of religion. That is, the law does not target the exercise of religion, but only incidentally does touches upon it. The landmark case here is the conflict between an Oregon law making possession of peyote illegal and the Native American Church's use of the drug in religious ceremonies. Even though the law clearly impinged upon NAC's religious practices, the law was neutral on its face, in that it did not target the NAC and affected any possessor of peyote.

M

January 8, 2013 at 09:43 PM

If Hobby Lobby's owners are taking this stand in the name of being pro-life, I would like to know what kind of maternity benefits and leave they provide for their employees and their dependents. My spouse and I work for "Christian" employers (a church and a Christian school), neither of which provide us any maternal/parental benefits. It's ironic that the "pagan" employers (Apple, Google, Whole Foods, etc) that provide generously for their employees are functionally more pro-life and pro-family. There's a whole lot more to being pro-life than being anti-abortion.

Samuel James

January 8, 2013 at 09:37 AM

I'm almost hoping that the mandate survives court contests, and I'll tell you why.

This law would be a perfect legal precedent to overturning Roe V. Wade. According to the White House, the issue of abortion is not a matter of religious conscience but of sufficiently neutral and "broad" nature that the state has a compelling interest in enforcing taxation to support it. But based on that reasoning, Roe v. Wade is grossly unjust, since it prohibits states from legislating against a broadly neutral issue on the ground that such legislation would be invasion of privacy and "legislating morality."

If this law stands, then the odds are pretty good that Roe v Wade WILL be overturned, and then one by one, states will begin to amend constitutions to protect life.

kpolo

January 8, 2013 at 09:37 AM

Man! This is what I came to America to be free from.

AJG: Taxes pay for more than war. You may consider war immoral. Therefore you are not obligated to participate in it (the US honors conscientious objections to war, even in drafts). However, you do gain from the benefits that just wars bring - peace.

Abortion has no such parallel. Jesus never asked his disciples to go along with immoral acts of the Roman empire. Would you make a similar argument if our government were asking for taxes to pay for the killing of toddlers people deemed unnecessary or unwanted?

James M.

January 8, 2013 at 09:25 AM

AJG, because this is not Caesar's to take. Liberty over one's conscience is cornerstone to the American political system. If contemporary politicians can take that away, you are not nearly as free as you think.

Josh

January 8, 2013 at 09:25 AM

@AJG: No sovereign government can remain so without a military. But the government, while taking your money and using it for purposes you don't agree with, has not conscripted you and forced you to fight. If it did, you would be in the same sort of situation that the Greens are: being forced to actively participate in behaviors that are opposed to their beliefs.

AJG

January 8, 2013 at 08:42 AM

As a pacifist, I think taxation to support the war machine is immoral. Does that exclude me from paying my taxes? Why does this not fall under "Render unto Caesar..."? If the Greens don't want to comply with Federal regulations, let them continue their stand and go out of business.

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Paul Reed

January 8, 2013 at 08:12 AM

I remember when the issue was babies be killed, and funding wasn't.

Brent

January 8, 2013 at 07:53 PM

People are flailing wildly all over everything but the main topic here.

Why should the government have its hand in anything Hobby Lobby does internally? Who is Barack Obama to say that a company must provide insurance? I think you all need to pull back and take a look at what the liberals have done. They have made this a religious battle (which are rarely ever settled) instead of the freedom battle that it is. It is not about abortion in the first place. The battle was lost when John Roberts failed to do his duty on the Supreme Court. If Hobby Lobby can't find a way around this stupid mandate, they will have to find other means to operate their business or just end it and be an example of someone who would not be bullied.

Folks on here need to stop blurring the issues. These forums get off topic by people with aberrant beliefs who want to provoke others to notice them. Do you desire significance that badly?

Michael

January 8, 2013 at 07:30 PM

Matt, you said, " since a zygote must implant to deveolp into a baby."

A zygote is a baby. So you could also say you don't think abortion is wrong since it just keeps a zygote from being born into a baby.

BC pills do cause abortions. The FDA, pill makers, PDR, and doctors know it. Could it be that those who deny it are the ones who've been taking the pill for years and seek to justify themselves?

Marcella Franseen

January 8, 2013 at 04:25 PM

In talking about abortion, we are talking about the purposeful taking of human life. Science shows a new and unique individual human begins the process of growth and development at conception, this process continues after birth. Once conception occurs, there is no way to stop the growth and development of this new human being except to kill him or her. The Morning After pill, or Plan B pill, can do just that. And if the government has the power to force us to pay for an abortifacient at any point in pregnancy, does it not retain the power to force us to pay for abortifacients at every point in pregnancy and including those of the most vile and inhumane means?

Mr. Fosi

January 8, 2013 at 04:11 PM

Regarding AJG's comments: Let's grant for the moment that opposing abortion is directly analogous to opposing warfare. They aren't, but let's grant it for a moment.

This isn't a refusal by the Green's to pay taxes, it is a refusal to pay for drugs and doctors that will kill unborn children.

There is a big difference between paying taxes to Caesar who uses them to wage war contrary to your conscience vs. Caesar declaring that you must directly provide abortive services contrary to your conscience.

As a pacifist you can oppose what your gov't does with the money it coerces you to pay and still be acting in line with your conscience. If the gov't conscripted you to serve in a theatre of war or as a logistical officer stateside, then they would be compelling you to act against your conscience.

When the state applies coercion to force a Christian to directly provide abortive (either physical or chemical), they are essentially conscripting the Christian to become an funder of abortion. It is the Christian's job to ensure with their own money that women in their employ be able to kill their children.

Joshua

January 8, 2013 at 03:57 PM

What about Jehovah's Witness taking a stand against providing blood transfusions? Is that a legitimate parallel??

Gustavo Karakey

January 8, 2013 at 03:30 PM

The health care law was never really about "health care" per se, but about how much control the federal government could exert over the "evil" and "greedy" private sector as well as individual citizens.

The same mandate that now requires private companies to provide "reproductive health" benefits against the conscious of their owners will in like manner someday restrict certain health procedures that it no longer deems socially cost effective.

Joe

January 8, 2013 at 03:26 PM

The Bible says not to argue with a fool. Let's stop arguing with fools. Everyone has to choose if they will serve God and if they will live right. If they don't, they will go to hell.

John

January 8, 2013 at 03:18 PM

@kpolo

"human development begins at the point of conception."

There's no such thing as the "point" or "moment" of conception -- it's a 12 hour process. At what point does the egg become a person? When the sperm touches the egg? When all the chromosomes are lined up? Mitosis? You accuse others of having arbitrary criteria. What is yours?

"So a person with a brain-injury who has no cognition and becomes unconscious is not a human-being? Gosh! I need to scramble this info to all the paramedics. Why waste time helping accident victims? "

An person in an unconscious state is a relaxation of brain, just as silence is a relation of the tongue. Zygotes do not have brains, or even neurons. Moreover, embryos at this stage can split into identical twins. Is this a case of one person splitting into two people? Embryos at this stage can fuse into a chimera. What has happened to the extra "person" in such a case? The state of these people's souls would be even more fascinating to hear.

Greg

January 8, 2013 at 03:03 PM

@Marcus, they actually mentioned this awhile ago. This is them trying to get more attention focused on it.

@Matt and @Nicole, note that KDY said "contraceptives AND abortifacient drugs". There are plenty of alleged "contraceptives" that are actually contragestives and plain abortifacients.

Marcus

January 8, 2013 at 02:49 PM

Seriously. What took TGC so long to deliver this information? When news is delayed, no one cares. We've been trying to get peoples attention about this at least since Christmas time.

Thanks for finally getting this news to us, but the building is burned down and the people are dead.

Nate

January 8, 2013 at 02:41 PM

Here's my issue, and my concern about defending Hobby Lobby. While I do think that we should defend Hobby Lobby against the govt. trying to erode our 1st amendment rights, let's be careful about setting Hobby Lobby on too high a pedastal. What I mean by that is. Hobby Lobby, while decrying that the govt. force them to provide abortifacients for employees, more than likely, buys and sells goods from China, a country that intentionally does what Hobby Lobby is opposed to.

Now, if someone can tell me that Hobby Lobby doesn't purchase and sell goods from China, then I'll be even more in their corner. However, we all need to be careful about decrying the erosion of our liberties in this country, while we purchase, and thereby encourage, another nation to destroy the unborn with a ruthlessness not even known in this country.

I have boycotted China for years (in the past). I currently don't. But this episode reminded me of why I should probably begin again.

Matt

January 8, 2013 at 02:27 PM

@Nicole - Very well said. I applaud your comments. They are similar to my wife's position on this issue, which is fairly close to my own position. While I can graciously allow for difference of opinion on this issue, my belief is that the Pill is not an abortifacient because it's main function is to prevent ovulation; secondarily to prevent the egg from ever being fertilized; and ONLY THIRDLY to prevent the zygote from implanting in the uterine wall, which even then, I don't consider to be abortifacient, since a zygote must implant to deveolp into a baby. Like you I share a hatred for our abortion-celebrating culture. It is ironic that some of the more zealous posters here fail to see the use of the birth control pill, as with condoms, as a means to reduce the potential for abortions. The tone-deafness is only made worse given all the non-birth control uses for the Pill you mentioned. I share grave concern for impingements on religious liberty, but I find Hobby Lobby's arguments to be tenuous and to be missing the point in the manner I just described in the prior sentence. Anyway, thanks for your comments and perspective.

kpolo

January 8, 2013 at 01:55 PM

@AJG: "I can safely say that aborting a collection of cells as an abortificient does is not akin to murder, though."

Would rearranging a collection of cells through a projectile be murder? Most adults I know fit the definition of being a collection of cells. What you are advocating is that human life is only valuable if there is some functional attribute associated with it (cognition, self-consciousness). In other words, you have a utilitarian view of human life and its value. I'm sure you would object if at some point the vast majority of humans deemed your-life irrelevant through some equally arbitrary functional criteria. Remember, in the past, some human beings were denied any value purely because of another attribute - the color of their skin. In fact, if I had landed in the US about a 100 years before I did, I would have had very few rights.

AJG

January 8, 2013 at 01:36 PM

And anyway, the subject of abortion is ancillary to the discussion at hand: whether or not it is a violation of religious liberty to require someone to provide the means necessary to commit an act that one considers immoral. Unless the government is forcing one to commit that act themselves, I think the objection is specious.

Damian

January 8, 2013 at 01:34 PM

Hobby Lobby didn't help their cause when they implemented the policies and then stopped.
But based on this ruling, any actions by the federal government that limits or eliminates religious freedoms is allowable so long it meets two criteria:
1. It's "neutral" and targeting anyone in particular.
2. It's essential for proper function of any government program.

All this said, I have to be honest and say it would be quite troubling if a muslim-owned corporation wanted to abide by Sharia law within their company.

AJG

January 8, 2013 at 01:33 PM

@kpolo

I don't know when the distinction is made between a blastocyst and a fetus. Viability and consciousness are certainly key points in the discussion. I can safely say that aborting a collection of cells as an abortificient does is not akin to murder, though.

[...] Why You Should Care about the Hobby Lobby Case (Article) Kevin DeYoung (DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed) [...]

nonnoon

January 25, 2013 at 07:38 PM

Romans 13:7
Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

[...] Why You Should Care About the Hobby Lobby Case—And Be Alarmed [...]

Maggie

January 14, 2013 at 09:53 AM

Vicki- You're right. Those of us who consider prevention of the implantation of a zygote (not egg) DO consider an IUD to be an abortion-inducing device. The ethical dilemma you posed has nothing to do with whether or not employers should be legally mandated to provide contraception and/or abortion-inducing drugs to their employees.

[...] 11, 2013 · Why You Should Care About the Hobby Lobby Case—And Be Alarmed | Kevin DeYoung. [READ MORE] The Giglio Imbroglio — A New Moral McCarthyism  | Albert Mohler A Christian pastor effectively [...]

bruce

January 11, 2013 at 11:30 AM

You have a good analysis of the brief but your analysis overlooks the free exercise rights of a secular corporation itself. Secular corporations themselves should also have a constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. There's no reason why a corporation should have to be non-profit and religious to have free exercise rights. That's no where in the Constitution. The Constitution doesn't enshrine second class and first class corporations when it comes to free exercise rights.

Mel

January 10, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Chinese people have to make a living too. Not to mention that it is the fastest growing area for Christianity. People with morals that boycott others to deny them a way to buy food doesn't seem very moral.

[...] via Why You Should Care About the Hobby Lobby Case—And Be Alarmed – Kevin DeYoung. Share [...]

Jory

January 10, 2013 at 10:23 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ceY54ljux8

Vicki

January 10, 2013 at 05:11 PM

If people were really serious with the idea that preventing implantation of an egg is considered abortion, then all IUD medical devices (especially copper T) should also be considered abortion inducing medical devices. And there are women with epilepsy who depend on Copper T to prevent pregnancy without hormonal means. They have to face the medical risk that a hormonal pill would increase the frequency and size of their seizures. Also, if they get pregnant, they have a very high risk of having miscarriages that would risk their and their child's life. So.. what would be the most ethical thing to do in this case?

[...] Why You Should Care About The Hobby Lobby Case -And Be Alarmed- I am, in general, a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. I won’t go into the reasons why, but as a Christian I believe it is a very important piece of legislation. However, I’m not a fan of all of it, and what is currently happening with The Hobby Lobby is alarming. Adjustments must be made to prevent what is happening here. “Millions of Americans are already outraged. And rightly so. Our government not only allows for abortion, and celebrates abortion rights, and wants women to have unfettered access to abortion on demand, it now requires other Americans to pay for abortion-inducing drugs or face crippling fines.” [...]

Passion News | Three Passions

February 13, 2013 at 07:11 PM

[...] – Why You Should Care About the Hobby Lobby Case – And Be Alarmed – Kevin [...]

[…] strategy to protect the integrity of our schools, hospitals, and businesses. Next year’s Hobby Lobby decision will be another key test. Lest veteran believers see this shift as cultural retreat, new Ethics and […]

[…] defensive strategy to protect the integrity of our schools, hospitals, and businesses. Next year's Hobby Lobby decision will be another key test. Lest veteran believers see this shift as cultural retreat, new Ethics and […]

chris

April 15, 2014 at 01:09 PM

in bonhoeffer's day, the 1930's, Germany's jewish christians were told they were no longer considered christian. now our government determines which business's are christian enough to be exempt from the hhs mandate on abortifacient medications.