Today we are all a little more free.
In a historic victory for religious freedom, the Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-4 decision, that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood cannot be forced to pay for early abortion drugs for employees.
The Obamacare mandate at issue requires, among other things, that twenty different contraceptive methods be covered by employer insurance. Two families, the Greens and the Hahns, objected to four of the specified contraceptive methods on moral grounds.
So they went to court and argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was passed by Congress in 1993, protects them from being forced to violate their conscience. In response, the Obama Administration argued that RFRA only protected the rights of individuals and not of for profit companies.
Today, the Supreme Court agreed with the families by concluding that, at least in this case, RFRA protects decisions made by these families in their business life as well as their private life.
In essence, the court said that people do not automatically surrender their religious freedom when they start a business and become job creators.
This decision is particularly significant for Washington businesses like the Everett based Electric Mirror, which filed an amicus brief at the Supreme Court in support of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood.
Electric Mirror is owned and operated by the Mischel family who are committed evangelical Christians. One member of their family, Aaron Mischel, was adopted after his birth mother was convinced not to go through with a planned abortion.
They do not provide abortion coverage or pay for contraception that covers abortion in the health insurance plans for their employees.
Electric Mirror President Jim Mischel, the brother of Aaron Mischel, explains, “Our desire to promote life and protect the most innocent among us is not just theoretical for businesses like ours, it is deeply personal. We consider it a responsibility and a privilege to do everything we can to take care of our employees and their families, but that does not extend to helping them do things we believe are wrong. The fact that the law gives you the right to do something should not mean that I, as your employer, am obligated to participate in it with you. We are thankful that the Supreme Court acknowledged that my beliefs and my business are not separate.”
Justice Alito, who wrote the majority opinion, shared this sentiment, “It is not for the Court to say that the religious beliefs of the plaintiff are mistaken or unreasonable.”
Abortion industry advocates dislike the decision because they claim it allows employers to get in between the relationship of a doctor and the patient.
In reality, however, employers want to stay out of their employees’ doctor’s office but the mandate attempts to pull them, kicking and screaming, into the consultation room so they can pay the bill.
You may have the right to own a shotgun, but your boss shouldn’t be required to buy one for you.
Employers should be free to offer compensation packages that are acceptable to them and employees should be free to work for whomever they want. If the parties cannot agree, both should be free to find a better fit.
When government decrees prevail, only those who agree with the decree win. When individuals retain the right to make decisions for themselves, everyone wins. Giving the government power over the individual because they’ll use it in a way we like is not a long-term plan to peace and prosperity. That sword always ends up having two edges.
We can all be thankful for this important decision, but there is still a long way to go.
Tonight, say a prayer for the Greens, the Hahns, and the Mischels whose involvement in these cases have resulted in all of us being a little more free today than we were yesterday. Then consider what you’re willing to do to protect our religious freedom. After all, freedom isn’t free and we can’t ask them to do all the work.
Stay tuned, tomorrow we will look at what this means for florists and pharmacists who are also in court trying to protect their religious freedom.