How Hobby Lobby protects liberals from the ‘religious right’

How Hobby Lobby protects liberals from the ‘religious right’

If I see one more social media placard with a message saying bosses should stay out of the bedroom, I think I’ll scream.

The message is simplistically wrong, of course. In the Hobby Lobby case just decided by the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby most definitely wanted to stay out of its employees’ bedrooms. But when the Affordable Care Act mandated businesses cover certain contraceptives, including a few the Greens, owners of the closely held Hobby Lobby business, and others consider abortifacients, the Greens became, in effect, conscientious objectors.

This is what the First Amendment is really about. Freedom of religion  means freedom of conscience, freedom to decide what is right and what is wrong and to act accordingly. It’s not just about the rights of those who go to church or believe in God. It’s about the rights of those who in their hearts and minds simply cannot cross a red line, even if the government mandates they do so, into territory they believe is morally suspect. And the courts have been loath to force individuals to act against their consciences unless there is a significant compelling interest.

Liberals who fear religious hegemony, or a sharia-style law from evangelical Christians, should cheer this decision. It saves them from having to kowtow to fundamentalists, whichever “flavor” that fundamentalism takes on.

Let me suggest an example, however, so they can envision how the Hobby Lobby ruling protects them, too. Imagine a future when, say, a religious zealot wins the presidency. Imagine, too, that many of his ideological compatriots manage to win Congress. And then imagine that they mandate all health care coverage includes…gay reparative therapy.

I know several agnostic and atheist liberals whose consciences would balk at such a mandate. (As would I  and many other conservatives.) To them (as to me), homosexuality is not a wrong, to be corrected. And to force employers to cover therapy that sends such a message would be repulsive. Would liberals be so quick to argue that corporations don’t have rights in such a case? It’s hard to envision that scenario.

You might not agree with the Green family. You don’t have to in order to appreciate the importance of this ruling. It protects your rights of conscience, liberals, if a religious fundamentalist president ever tried to abridge them. It celebrates the individual right to puzzle out right and wrong and not just…follow orders.

Look past the contraceptive issue, the “war on women” meme, the fatuous slogans and shallow misinterpretations of this ruling. Think instead, deeply and strongly, about what is your limit, what line you could never bring yourself to cross, even as owner of a business, despite the force and strength of the federal government bearing down on you to change your mind.

Hobby Lobby just saved you from having to face that fate.

Libby Sternberg

Libby Sternberg

Libby Sternberg is an Edgar-nominated novelist whose works include humorous women’s fiction, young adult fiction, and historical fiction. Her political writings have appeared at Hot Air, the Weekly Standard, Insight, the Wall Street Journal, and Christian Science Monitor.


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