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Hobby Lobby: the Bible verses behind the battle
June 29th, 2014
08:19 PM ET

Hobby Lobby: the Bible verses behind the battle

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

Washington (CNN) – For the Greens, the Christian family behind the Hobby Lobby chain of stores, their battle with the Obama administration was never really about contraception. It was about abortion.

After all, the evangelical Greens don't object to 16 of the 20 contraceptive measures mandated for employer coverage by the Affordable Care Act. That puts the family squarely in line with other evangelicals, who largely support the use of birth control by married couples.

Like other evangelicals, however, the Greens believe that four forms of contraception mandated under the ACA - Plan B, Ella and two intrauterine devices - in fact cause abortions by preventing a fertilized embryo from implanting in the womb. (The Obama administration and several major medical groups disagree that such treatments are abortions .)

“We won’t pay for any abortive products," Steve Green, Hobby Lobby's president, told Religion News Service. "We believe life begins at conception.”

Evangelicals as a whole may be relative newcomers to that view, but since the 1980s it has become nearly gospel. (The Pew Research Center has a helpful guide to other religious groups' stance.)

As Christianity Today editor Mark Galli has argued, evangelicals arrived at their current stand on life issues through a combination of factors, including biblical interpretation, moral accounting and political calculus. Others also add the influence of early architects of the religious right and the example of the Catholic Church, which has opposed abortion for centuries.

But given the importance of scripture to evangelicals, it's no surprise that groups like the National Association of Evangelicals cite the Bible in the second sentence of their policy stance on abortion:

And because the Bible reveals God's calling and care of persons before they are born, the preborn share in this dignity (Psalm 139:13).

You'll see that verse, Psalm 139:13, cited quite a bit when it comes to evangelicals and abortion. In it, the psalmist says to God, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb."

(You'll also see that verse cited by many Mennonites, so it makes sense that a Mennonite business, Conestoga Wood Specialties, joined a companion challenge to Hobby Lobby at the Supreme Court.)

If God knew you in the womb, the thinking goes, then you must have been at some stage of personhood, and that provides biblical justification for the idea that life begins at conception, according to evangelicals and other Christians.

In addition to Psalm 139, you'll also hear evangelicals and Mennonites cite several other Bible passages that they believe affirm the sanctity of human life.

Genesis 1, for example, says that mankind is made in God's image; the Ten Commandments make murder a crime against God; and Job, the old Testament sufferer, frets about what would happen if he mistreats his servants because:

Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?

Again, you see the divine and womb interacting, which is why evangelicals like the Greens so strongly oppose contraception that prevents embryo implantation in the womb.

Still, those verses may not be on the Greens' minds after Monday's decision. Instead, Steve Green has said, they'll be thinking about Daniel 3:17-18

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Belief • Bible • Bioethics • Christianity • Church and state • Culture wars • evangelicals • Health care • Obama • Politics

soundoff (2,278 Responses)
  1. fintronics

    On deck......... corp's right to deny employment based on religion.... wait for it...

    June 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
    • fintronics

      What do you think? would hobby slobby deny me employment if they found out I was an atheist? you bet you azz they would!

      June 30, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        Oh, they would find some excuse, but you're absolutely right. Welcome to the United Corporate States of America...

        June 30, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
    • ausphor

      Exactly, if they are not already doing so without detection. You might be the best damn chicken fryer that Chik-fil-A has but don't get caught kissing your same s&x partner, out the door with the likes of you, they would demand.

      June 30, 2014 at 3:16 pm |
  2. brenna56

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/hobby-lobby-retirement-plan-invested-emergency-contraception-and-abortion-drug-makers

    June 30, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      They have no problem with making money from it, brenna–they just don't want their employees to get it...

      June 30, 2014 at 2:58 pm |
  3. SeaVik

    I don't understand why the religious beliefs of the owners should have any impact whatsoever on what level of healthcare they are required to provide for their employees. If they were Christian Scientists who don't believe in any medical treatment, should they be able to argue that they shouldn't have to provide healthcare for their employees? Of course not.

    Individual religious views vary wildly and it's not right that a business owner should be able to use his particular views as an excuse to infringe upon the rights of his employees.

    June 30, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      The way I read this decision, SV, your scenario is ABSOLUTELY possible. All they have to be is "family-owned" and they're golden as far as denying insurance coverage entirely...

      June 30, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        From what I can tell, paying people more than starvation wages is against THEIR religious beliefs...

        June 30, 2014 at 4:14 pm |
  4. crittermomagain

    Plan B, IUDs, etc. do not cause abortions. Because someone chooses to "believe" that they do is irrelevant. I can choose to "believe" that a bicycle is a Harley, but I'd be wrong.

    June 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      And that's just another little squirt of lunacy in this decision; now, businessmen get to decide what is an abortifacient and what is not. They don't need and scientific training or even look anything up in the dictionary, all they need is their opinion. I can decide that pork rinds are painkilers with just as much authority...

      June 30, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
    • joey3467

      I know I usually ignore what the actual doctors have to say in favor of what I believe. But seriously, if the doctors says the things in question don't cause abortions, then what Hobby Lobby believes shouldn't even matter.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
      • crittermomagain

        ... and my personal opinion is that I don't care either way. "Abortion" of a microscopic zygote, or "prevention of implantation" (which is what actually happens) ... either is just fine with me.

        An acorn is qualitatively different than an oak tree.

        June 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
  5. ragansteve1

    Personally, I think there is a lot of unwarranted elation on one side of the "debate" and a lot of fear mongering on the other. If I read the "Opinion of the Court" correctly, all they are saying is that HHS must treat "closely-held" (e.g., family owned) businesses the same as they treat religious non-profit companies with respect to their beliefs about contraception/abortion if those businesses can show deeply held religious beliefs of the owners. That's a pretty narrow decision I think.

    And it leaves a lot of questions open that the lower courts will have to decide. That is the way our system works.

    June 30, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      For-profit = NON-profit. That alone makes this decision a joke. It's a straight shot from there to simply allowing corporations to be churches...

      June 30, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
      • ragansteve1

        S-o-o, you fall into the fear mongering camp. I get it.

        June 30, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          Nope, you lose, skippy. The so-called SCOTUS is allowing corporations to be treated like churches, s how hard would it be fort a corp to declare openly as one?...

          June 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          Next the prohibition of 501(c)(3) to endorse candidates under the Johnson amendment will be removed on a free-speech pretext.

          Donations to churches will then become political campaign contributions and the wall of separation is completely dismantled.

          June 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
        • ragansteve1

          Well, we're not going to solve this one here. It will take months or years of lower court decisions on various specific cases to sort this out. There are, as I have said earlier, many questions to be answered. Moreover, some of those court cases may make it to the SCOTUS, and they'll take another look, or not, depending upon the case.

          I still maintain that this is a relatively narrow decision and certainly does not mean that ALL for-profit corporations have any chance of getting to the alternative the SCOTUS provided to a relatively small proportion of all businesses. But . . . we'll see.

          So, we need to keep our powder dry for the next fight.

          June 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm |
        • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

          'So, we need to keep our powder dry for the next fight.'
          -----------------------
          It's coming. Every year or so the so called "Alliance Defending Freedom" revisit their "Pulpit Initiative" to repeal the Johnson Amendment for 501(c)(3) non-profits and turn churches into a dark money clearing houses to fund political campaign contributions.

          June 30, 2014 at 3:59 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      Of course the flaw in that is there is no real test to determine if someone is genuine in thier religious beliefs and someone who is faking it for personal gain.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
      • ragansteve1

        Back in the day, when the draft was being used to fill military ranks, there was a conscientious objector status that was available as an alternative to military service. They seemed to be able to sort that out. I guess I think rational people can sort this one out as well. But I may be optimistic. That is a flaw in my character.

        June 30, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
  6. fortheloveofellipsis

    When theocracy comes to America, it will come wearing a logo and carrying an incorporation doc.ument...

    June 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
  7. No Wake Zone

    So once the planet is hopelessly overcrowded with human beings and we have rendered the planet uninhabitable, will contraceptives be acceptable to evangelicals?

    June 30, 2014 at 2:23 pm |
    • igaftr

      no, they'll still be telling everyone the second coming is going to happen any day now

      June 30, 2014 at 2:31 pm |
      • lunchbreaker

        That is exactly what I was taught at my Christian school in the heart of the Bible belt. They told us we did not need to worry about overpopulation, polution or global warming because the according to the Bible Christ would come back before it was a real problem.

        June 30, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • kudlak

          And, if the world were to end due to overpopulation, polution or global warming they would probably give God credit for it too, saying that that was the way he planned on doing it.

          June 30, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
  8. TruthPrevails1

    All I have to say is Thank The Gods That Don't Exist that I live in Canada.
    This is a ludicrous decision and with any luck it will backfire.

    June 30, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
    • tallulah131

      How are the immigration laws? Canada is looking better and better.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • kudlak

        Just don't move to Alberta, otherwise you won't see much difference.

        June 30, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
  9. tallulah131

    The very fact that bible verses are mentioned on this topic shows how unConstitutional this ruling is. Shame on the Supreme Court.

    June 30, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
  10. No Wake Zone

    So what is the point of all this? It is all random. Pain, happiness. All flora and fauna are accidents of processes that evolved on this one planet with no profound reason. It just happened. So if a baby is not born due to an abortion, who cares?

    June 30, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Our lives are important to ourselves and to the people who love us. Perhaps we are not important to the world or to the process of life in general, but we are part of it and are allowed to have meaning to ourselves and to the people around us.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:20 pm |
  11. Clint

    Wise decision! Corporations must have the freedom to make ethical decisions as they deem fit for the corporations they run.

    Great day for freedom and for this great land of ours, that's what makes America great.
    God bless the U.S.A.

    June 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
    • No Wake Zone

      This is an embarrassing day for the U.S.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Terrible day for those of us who understand that the Constitution, not the bible, is the basis of law in this country. Terrible for those of us who understand that a business is not a citizen and should not be given the same rights as a citizen. Terrible day for those of us who love a country of the people, by the people and for the people and fear the approaching time when the country will be run by an oligarchy of business owners and wealthy people.

      It's only a great day if you hate this country or if you are too blind to see the bigger picture.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:11 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        But don't y'all know that Capitalsm is Gawd's Way(tm), tallulah? Any of the RWNJs polluting this thread will testify to that...

        June 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
    • ausphor

      Sorry but for profit Corporations ethical decisions=discrimination in many cases. We do not want non Christians working for us, but you are more than welcome to spend your money here.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      Clint: What is the city you reside in? We'd like to ensure you get a the bills for these children that were not properly timed.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        Nah, you see, TP, when RWNJs like Clint talk about Responsibility(tm), they mean responsibility for OTHER PEOPLE...

        June 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          Why of course! They claim to care about the child but yet don't for one second stop to look at the potential future of that child. They scream that single parents should be admonished but yet fail to consider that the children they are forcing upon people are in most cases born to single women.
          They can't be satisfied...such little whiners.

          My guess is that Clint has never had a girlfriend that wasn't made of latex and he's holding out hope that some woman will be willing to tolerate him and have his children. Why else would he care about what someone does with their body?

          June 30, 2014 at 2:34 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          TP, not only would they not care if that child starved to death, they would celebrate it as an "inspirin' moral lesson(tm)." And then have the gall to spew about "Teh Sanc'ty uh Lahf!!!1!!1!(tm)"...

          June 30, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      ' Corporations must have the freedom to make ethical decisions as they deem fit for the corporations they run.'
      ------------------------------------
      You mean like IBM's German subsidiary selling Hollerith machines to the Third Reich so that the Nazis could automate their count just how Jewish everyone was in the census?

      (My apologies for the application of Godwin's Law, but "corporations and ethical decisions" in the absence of law is all too often an oxymoron.)

      June 30, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        Cue TheoCrat to tell us again how the Jews deserved the Holocaust. And no, I don't intend to ever let it forget that...

        June 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Corporations must have the freedom to make business decisions and hide behind an ethical argument as they deem fit for the corporations they run."

      **FIXED**

      Hobby Lobby has invested millions into company's that manufacture the pills they complain about. This has nothing to do with ethics.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
    • Ramses

      "Karmis" follow you like a puppy dog. What a bunch of insecure morons!

      June 30, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        Are you Clint's boyfriend by any chance?...

        June 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm |
  12. keeroc15

    Clearly people who have cancer have gotten it because they have not followed the bible. I don't think my company should have to pay for insurance coverage for sinners. This ruling is just another day of shame for conservative driven America.

    June 30, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
    • nclaw441

      You make fun, your statement illustrates why individuals, not employers, should pay for their own health care.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
      • igaftr

        History has proven that , if given a choice, most people will not get health insurance.

        Your solution creates a much larger social issue.

        June 30, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          "Not get?" Without either employer or government subsidy the huge majority of Americans CAN'T get health insurance, because they can't afford it. And the ACA isn't really that helpful in that regard, because it was so emasculated at the outset. No, national single-payer is the ONLY viable option...

          June 30, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • igaftr

          I know what you mean, but it is like life insurance. even if it were affordable and a wise thing, most will still not do it.

          As far as health care, even if you have insurance, you may not be able to afford to use it with the co-pays going up, costs of medicines and treatment, things that insurance used to cover, now generate a bill that you had no idea was coming from some lab somehwere for something you didn't even know was being done.

          One person I know said that He's glad he's getting forced to get coverage...they will be treating him for exposure and malnutrition, since he can no longer afford housing or food.

          June 30, 2014 at 2:56 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          Well, maybe he should look at the bright side–they won't know where to send him his bill... 🙂

          June 30, 2014 at 3:02 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          Well, at least they won't know where to send his bills,,,

          June 30, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
      • kudlak

        Well, the people in the Bible probably didn't know about mental illness, right? It was all demon possession to them.

        June 30, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
    • fortheloveofellipsis

      National Single-Payer NOW!

      June 30, 2014 at 2:15 pm |
  13. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Dad: The mill's closed. There's no more work. We're destitute. I've got no option but to sell you all for scientific experiments. [The children protest and cry]

    June 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
  14. No Wake Zone

    It does not matter if you live or die. Everything is temporary.

    June 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      I'd say that's why life is the only thing that does matter.

      June 30, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
      • No Wake Zone

        Why do you think life matters?

        June 30, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
        • lunchbreaker

          Whether or not something matters is subjective. It matters to me. Now if you ask me whether or not anyhting I or anyone else does will have any eternal lasting impact, I'll say no.

          June 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • No Wake Zone

          Sure, it matters to you. Many things matter to me as well. But WE don't matter, hence what matters to us doesn't matter either.

          June 30, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
        • tallulah131

          What a silly comment. Of course our lives are important to ourselves and to the people who love us. Perhaps we are not important to the world or to the process of life in general, but we are part of it and are allowed to have meaning to ourselves and to the people around us.

          June 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm |
        • No Wake Zone

          I disagree that it is silly. It is an important question. This is not about you or your feelings, I get that. My question is straight forward; does anything really matter? Not to us, but in general.

          June 30, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
        • tallulah131

          Of course our lives are important to ourselves and to the people who love us. Perhaps we are not important to the world or to the process of life in general, but we are part of it and are allowed to have meaning to ourselves and to the people around us.

          June 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
        • lunchbreaker

          How can your question be important when you assert nothing matters?

          June 30, 2014 at 2:24 pm |
        • No Wake Zone

          Exactly lunchbreaker.

          June 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    When does "ensoulment" occur in human beings?
    Jewish theology says it begins with the first breath of air – ergo, a foetus doesn't have a soul.
    If you think it begins at conception, you're simply being arrogant and assuming you know how God works.

    "As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5)

    June 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
    • igaftr

      According to the christians..at birth.
      When the christians accept Jesus, they allegedly get a new soul, and that is called being BORN again...not conceived again.

      June 30, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
      • Theo Phileo

        they allegedly get a new soul
        ----------------–
        Actually, no, that's not what the Bible calls being "Born Again" at all. Being "Born Again" literally means being "Born from Above." It means that you die to your old self and your old sinful ways, and then live for Christ and to His glory. We don't get a new soul. Where did you read that?

        June 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
        • Science Works

          Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg trolls Scalia in blistering dissent of Hobby Lobby ruling

          http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/06/30/justice-ruth-bader-ginsberg-trolls-scalia-in-blistering-dissent-of-hobby-lobby-ruling/

          Yhe decent .

          Theo Logic .

          Hey Diddle Diddle
          The cat and the fiddle
          And the caw jump over the moon

          And by the way Vic what about that joke deal ?

          June 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • Theo Phileo

          Science Works,
          How did that have anything to do with the Biblical notion of being Born Again???

          June 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm |
        • igaftr

          Theo
          i have been told that by MANY MANY christians. Go ahead and argue with them.
          I know it is all made up nonsense.

          June 30, 2014 at 2:36 pm |
        • Science Works

          Akira

          Sort of like now will a private dance studio that has about 400 studios be able to qualify for the exemption – they are nones ?

          June 30, 2014 at 2:53 pm |
        • Science Works

          Oops Theo it was the other side .

          June 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
        • Science Works

          Akira

          It sort of a loaded court as six a Catholics – but I agree Scalia should have excused himself – anybody that believes the devil is real should not be a judge.

          June 30, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
        • Science Works

          Dang

          It is sort

          June 30, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
        • Science Works

          Really messed that one up – are Catholic.

          June 30, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
  16. Doc Vestibule

    Life begins at ovulation.
    Every egg is sacred.
    Women who menstruate should be ashamed of themselves.

    June 30, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
    • No Wake Zone

      Don't even get me started on sperm.

      June 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
    • Alias

      These are christians we are talking about here.
      Every sperm is scared.
      _cue Monty Python fans to post lyrics_

      June 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
      • Doris

        Every sperm is scared

        lol – but you may have a point. hormonally, maybe they can sense all the frustration and "uptightedness" in the home where there may already be many half-cared for future siblings running about...

        June 30, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
  17. No Wake Zone

    I think France will win 1-0.

    June 30, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
    • Doris

      I hope so. And then I hope they get beat by whoever they play next.

      June 30, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • No Wake Zone

      France just scored in the 78th minute. France 1-0.

      June 30, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
    • No Wake Zone

      France scored a late insurance goal. France 2-0 full time.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
  18. redzoa

    The Court's decision claims to be relatively narrow, and in this context I believe, given the applicable law (i.e. RFRA and the ACA), it was correct. RFRA requires that if a federal law imposes a substantial burden on religious exercise, the law will only survive challenge if: 1) it serves a compelling state interest: and 2) it operates via the least restrictive means. The Court conceded there was a compelling state interest in providing contraception; however, because the ACA has a number of exemptions and accommodations, most notably excusing non-profit religious organizations from the contraception mandate, forcing the plaintiffs to provide contraception coverage was not the least restrictive means to further the compelling interest, i.e. the HHS could have allowed the plaintiffs the same accommodations available for non-profit religious organizations.

    The questions that remain are what degree of "religious belief" is required of a for-profit corporation and how will congress respond in future legislative acts? Here, the plaintiffs were closely-held corporations, that is, the owners ident-ity and that of their corporation were tightly linked in practice. So what if a large, publicly-traded corporation sought accommodations for alleged religious beliefs? Can a line be drawn between the plaintiffs in this case and a majority of stockholders in a publicly-traded corporation who want their corporation to reflect some consensus religious belief? Regarding future legislative acts, because Alito's decision focuses on the carve outs that proactively provide exemptions and accommodations, this decision suggests that if Congress wants to preserve general applicability, it will need to forgo otherwise reasonable exemptions and accommodations and perhaps unreasonably cast a wider net with much smaller holes. In other words, to avoid frivolous RFRA claims, Congress may need to preclude otherwise justifiable religious exercise concerns by severely limiting the availability of both religious and nonreligious-based exemptions and accommodations, potentially resulting in more draconian legislative drafting.

    June 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
    • ragansteve1

      I am not sure I understand everything you said, but I am pretty sure I agree. There will be more litigation, of that we can be sure. It will take that additional litigation in specific cases to "flesh out" this decision and answer many of those questions. That is the American way, like it or not.

      June 30, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
    • nclaw441

      Obamacare had already grandfathered in several policies that did not provide for Plan B and other contraceptives that Hobby Lobby disagrees with. Hard to say that such coverage is very important.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
      • fortheloveofellipsis

        Have your daughter get ra.ped and find out how unimportant it is, skippy...

        June 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
        • redzoa

          Giving due respect to nclaw441, the relevant "importance" here is that which the government places on the contraception coverage mandate, not the "importance" of the contraception to a particular individual in a particular situation. In other words, when the Court looks to whether the government has a compelling interest (i.e. the "importance" the government places on a particular regulation), numerous exceptions to the law's applicability suggest the government doesn't view the "importance" such as to rise to the level of a compelling interest. This is not a subjective test attempting to measure the "true" value of the law to benefited individuals; rather, it's a more objective test (at least in theory) which simply attempts to measure the number and scope of allowed exemptions from the law. The rationale for the test is that the more exemptions or accommodations a law provides, the less generally-applicable the law is, and the less likely the legislature viewed the law's purpose as a truly compelling interest. If it were truly compelling, then the legislature would not have allowed those exemptions/accommodations.

          I appreciate this legal reasoning might not be very satisfying, particularly in light of your hypothetical, and while I personally disagree with the effect being a religious business owner may indirectly impose their beliefs upon their employees, I nonetheless see the decision as a correct application of the law (i.e. RFRA) as written.

          June 30, 2014 at 2:42 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          Read Bader-Ginsburg's dissent, redzoa, and see how many holes are in the reasoning of this decision. She apparently found 35 pages' worth...

          June 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          It's a very logical extension, Akira; they can claim that paying taxes to a government that allows abortion goers against their corporate religious beliefs, and bingo,,,

          June 30, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
        • redzoa

          @FTLOE – I've read the dissent, and I agree there are troubling consequences, not the least of which is the non- v. for-profit divide and the impact on 3d party beneficiaries. The trouble is RFRA, in returning to a pre-Smith standard of strict scrutiny (under Sherbert and Yoder) v. Smith's rational-basis standard, does include a least restrictive requirement as expressly stated in the Sherbert decision. Here, there were less restrictive means available evidenced in the accommodations/exemptions for religious organizations and grandfathered plans.

          Whether we like it or not, corporations (both non- and for-profit) have First Amendment rights. Prior to this present decision, the notion that an otherwise secular non-profit corporation might bring a free exercise claim was thought to be relatively improbable, but even in the case Ginsburg references (i.e. Gilardi), that court noted the non-profit/for-profit distinction is not dispositive. The pre-Smith precedent, despite Ginsburg's argument to the contrary, doesn't expressly address whether for-profit corporate forms are ent-itled to free exercise claims. In Gilardi, taking a quasi-Originalist perspective, the court noted that the free exercise clause implicitly included groups and organizations; not just individuals. The issue here, IMHO, is that the pre-Smith precedent doesn't directly speak to for-profit corporations, but it does speak favorably to for-profit organizations bringing a free exercise claim (i.e. Braunfeld). In balance, there is precedent for a for-profit organization bringing a free exercise claim.

          That said, I believe Ginsburg is correct in distinguishing sole proprietorships from corporations (particularly in light of the shielding of personal liability in the latter form), and as I noted above, where one might otherwise reasonably draw the line between closely-held and publicly-traded corporations is apparently disregarded in this decision. I also agree that the impact on 3d party rights (here, the female employees) is effectively side-stepped; however, one might argue the distinction between a fundamental const-itutional right and a statutory ent-itlement.

          Suffice it to say that I believe the problem is with RFRA's exhaustive language applying to all federal laws and the absence of express distinctions between various non- and for-profit ent-ities and the absence of express protections for 3d party beneficiaries. Given RFRA's near unanimous support in Congress and the political power of those who constantly seek to expand religious "freedoms," it's unlikely to be remedied any time soon. In Smith, Scalia referenced a "parade of horribles" if religious exercise claims were allowed to override otherwise generally-applicable, religiously-neutral laws and I believe this decision will invite these types of challenges. Hopefully, the "gypsy curse" will manifest, this SCOTUS majority and Congress will "get what they wished for," and a future SCOTUS or Congress will need to reign in RFRA's disruptive impacts. But with respect to the tax issues, I believe the pre-Smith precedent is firmly against these types of claims (e.g. compliance with social security regulations were viewed as a compelling interest with no less restrictive means of furthering the government interest).

          June 30, 2014 at 4:04 pm |
  19. neverbeenhappieratheist

    In short, this is a case of Hobby Lobby not trusting their employees to be able to make good choices for themselves and so decided to deny their employees their personal religious freedom of making health decisions without interference from their employer. Should an employer also be able to deny coverage for treatment of STD's because they assume you must have gotten them by being a sinner? Can they refuse to pay vacation time if they know the employee is going to Vegas on their vacation to spend all their earnings on prostltutes at a Chicken Ranch?

    This is a sad day for America as we have taken one more step away from freedom and towards a theocracy like they have in Iran.

    June 30, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • phoenixapologetics

      How in the world did you get from HL objecting to 4 of the 20 contraceptives, to they don't trust their employees? That's quite a jump from the premise to the conclusion.

      June 30, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
      • neverbeenhappieratheist

        Not a leap at all when the employees don't get to decide whether they want to use legally available contraceptives their employer disagrees with.

        June 30, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
        • phoenixapologetics

          I think it's more about being forced by the government to provide the means to kill the unborn more than not trusting their employees or providing choices. The employees still have 16 different contraceptives to use and can chose which one works best for them.

          June 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm |
        • fortheloveofellipsis

          Strange that these Good Crischunz(tm) seem to have no problem making money off those "means to kill the unborn", innit?...

          June 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          As an employer, should I get to decide what my employees do with their pay? I don't think I should though apparently the religious conservatives think otherwise. The health insurance provided by your employer is a part of those paid benefits giving their employees something in return for their work. Now it seems the employer gets to decide what the employee uses their pay for. This is a sad day for all freedom loving Americans. This is a happy day for those who pray for a theocracy like Iran to run our government.

          June 30, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          phoenixapologetics: The facts were extremely that those things do not cause death. The best we can hope for is that people boycott Hobby Lobby and they lose business.

          June 30, 2014 at 4:29 pm |
    • tallulah131

      Even worse, this is another erosion of citizen rights in favor of corporate rights. Christians celebrate even as the Constitution is being pissed on.

      June 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm |
  20. Alias

    I wonder what jewish, islamic, and hindu owned companies can stop 'supporting' for their christian employees now.

    June 30, 2014 at 1:07 pm |
    • Doris

      Good point.

      June 30, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Food poisoning will no longer be an acceptable reason to miss work.
      Should've eaten kosher/halal!

      June 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
    • igaftr

      We will pay you, but you must purchase only kosher foods with the money you make from us.
      You cannot have any gods before our god, so no one can drive Saturn, or speak the names of the planets or days of the week...since they are named for those "false" gods.

      June 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • ausphor

      I wonder how many Jewish, Islamic and Hindu employees work at Hobby Lobby. I would guess they discriminate big time when it comes to religious beliefs other than their own.

      June 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
      • tallulah131

        I wonder why you don't comprehend that this is bigger than Hobby Lobby. This sets a precedence that a corporation can use it's religion to break laws that protect the rights of employees. This includes corporations that are run by non-christians. This is a terrible, terrible thing for this nation.

        June 30, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.