The Conscience of a Corporation

Stretching religious freedom to the breaking point.

Comments: 202

  1. I vehemently disagree with the opposition of many Christian conservative leaders to contraception, which most of their followers don't abide by anyways. And I think that Hobby Lobby is wrong to refuse to comply with the ObamaCare provision ensuring coverage of contraception and other reproductive health services in health insurance plans.

    But before we attack Hobby Lobby's ownership too vigorously, let's at least give them some positive recognition for also walking the walk of their Christian faith when it comes to determining the wages and benefits of their workers. In a country where the minimum wage is only $7.25 per hour, Hobby Lobby's minimum wage is at least $13 per hour, and has been increased every year for the past four years. And approximately 2/3rds of their 21,000 employees have full health insurance benefits.

    Now, none of this excuses Hobby Lobby's intransigence regarding reproductive health issues. But in a time when far too many conservative Christian leaders can be rightly pilloried for a very selective application of their faith - they are happy to use religion as an excuse to restrict the rights of women, gay and lesbian people, etc., but seem to have no use for religious teachings about social justice issues - it is nice to see a company also use its professed religious faith to treat its workers better than most big box stores do.

    www.winningprogressive.org

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Winning-Progressive/195682780442236

  2. So what is next? Does Hobby Lobby offer a flex spending, or Medical savings program, which allows people to set aside pre-tax dollars for reimbursement of non covered medical expenses? If so, will they refuse to reimburse for contraception?
    What they are doing is to restrict freedom in the name of "religious freedom." What the employer says is that all of their employees must adhere to the religious beliefs of their bosses, or suffer an economic penalty.
    There is, however, a simple answer: Single payer health insurance, decoupled completely from employment.
    And don't start with Rick Warren and his "gospel of prosperity." Let the Reverend Warren find a single quotation from Jesus advocating economic prosperity.

  3. WP writes, " And approximately 2/3rds of their 21,000 employees have full health insurance benefits."

    Yes, compared to many other corporations Hobby Lobby treats its employees well, but absent full contraceptive coverage, health insurance cannot be considered full coverage. Besides the idea that anyone's sex life is a personal decision, effective contraception is the primary reason that women's life expectancy has risen so dramatically. It isn't simply that there are fewer women dying of illegal abortions--pregnancy and delivery are natural events that are nevertheless hard on women's bodies, even without complications.

    I imagine that most of Hobby Lobby's customers are female. I hope they are paying attention.

  4. Just so. And if Hobby Lobby closes its doors because of this, an awful lot of people are going to lose some extremely good jobs....but by all means, we all must be forced to conform to the diktats of whatever unelected bureaucrats Caesar sets to rule over us, regardless of the consequences.

  5. Lemme ask, What does his religious conviction have anything to do with being a good human ?? Sorry for opening the big can of worms, my guns are loaded, No pun intended , as a matter of fact in these times a bad pun. Nonetheless, I'll stand on it. I treated my employees with everything plus what this guy did, including paid birthdays off, paid personnal days no matter how many needed. So that make me less ?? I don't think so, this guy is the exception to the rule, It's not nice to pick and choose... Especially when you pick religion over anyone else. Sorry I call it biased.

  6. Getting into contraception is none of any employers business at all, If they think it is they should be challanged all the way to the Supreme Court. Medical insurance is not debatable, anymore, it was, but not anymore, Go ahead cut all health benefits for employees that is what we progressives are waiting for, so we can call for the implimentation of single payer and an end to for profit healthcare by insurance companies. Ho Ho Ho for that's what the insurance companies are

  7. Tom,
    the irony is that if you indeed get pregnant while employed, the employer pressure to work until your due date, then pick up work asap after you deliver is hienous. And, if you have complications? Fuggaddaboutit ! Kiss that job goodbye...

  8. In matters of secular employment, Hobby Lobby and other organizations have no right to restrict health plans to reflect their owners' religious beliefs. To do is to abrogate the religious rights of employees who do not share those beliefs.

    This standard should apply to the insurance programs of all organizations that employ a secular work force and are in the business of providing products and services to the general public.

    I think that the Obama administration has crafted a good compromise that I hope shall pass constitutional muster.

  9. Next will be Droit du seigneur: the legal right allowing the lord of a medieval estate (the owner of a corporation) to take the virginity of his serfs' (his employees') maiden daughters.

    This business of employers denying their employees coverage for contraception is about economic power. First Amendment religious rights are smoke.

    Money -- and the political power attendant to it -- empower bosses to beat people dependent on them over the head with whatever their preferences may be: dress, language, tools, hours and job-site location.

    Excuses for this abound. They are all sophistries.

    I don't like contraception because of my religion.
    I don't like contraception because communists require it.
    I don't like contraception because I wish to subjugate women.
    I don't like contraception because I am a control freak.

    Who cares why you don't like contraception?

    You just think that because you sign people's paychecks you own them, control them, and are entitled to dictate how they live their lives.

  10. Exactly right, and we saw the same thing in the recent election - some employers trying to tell their workers how to vote.

  11. Corporations are people, my friend. Too often nasty, thuggish people.

  12. You obviously know it has nothing to do with money. I am sure Hobby Lobby could purchase a few truck loads of contraceptives with a fraction of what they are being fined each day. Most of the responders here are trying to make this out to be a gigantic battle of religious freedom when it really is just was stated in the article...you can buy all the contraceptives you need...just not with the company's provided insurance. We are becoming more and more like our European counterparts and it does not bode well for our society. Remember...a few brave souls got on rickety wooden ships and left the mother land to have religious freedom...not freedom from religion.

  13. Mega-corporations are no more inclined to fairly pay employees with insurance and other benefits than they are to produce at home or to protect the environment, so those making record profits should be compelled by law to do both, and/or to cut prices for consumers. Saving beyond any imaginable need is hoarding, which depresses demand regardless whether the hoarders are billionaires or corporations. Even Adam Smith acknowledged that the Invisible Hand of the Market needed guidance from government: “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.” But corporate governance in particular needs an overhaul when CEOs are paid 300 to 400 times as much as average workers, and then paid multimillion dollar bonuses after driving their companies into the ground. European and Asian executives only take about a tenth as much for themselves, including stock options, mainly because they know their employees and the public wouldn't stand for their taking any more. Citizens United gave them the right to free speech, but it didn't give anyone the right to make or to accept bribes, which is exactly what our representatives are doing when campaign donations dissuade them from acting solely in the interests of the people who elected them.

  14. The government mandate, clearly commented on as a problem when first promulgated and because of steadfast opposition by the RCC, other religious institutions, and some business enterprises, has always been headed for the SCOTUS. The First Amendment is central to the issue and the arguments before the courts will be interesting.

    For Roman Catholics the fact is that most members of the modern Church have become "Cafeteria Catholics" and the vast majority of those feel quite comfortable doing so; they are selective in their practice of and strict adherence to the faith.

    The solution and offer to compromise by the Obama administration was poorly crafted and had a slight of hand flavor to it which did not satisfy on close inspection. The principles which the RCC hold as vital would have been compromised by acceptance.

    The social engineering being practiced in DC continues to generate opposition and Obamacare has other facets which are problems. One is the small business employee compliance number of 50 full time workers or above when a business must supply healthcare where as under 50 they do not need to do so. A problem is that small business is turning full timers into part timers and I am aware that this practice is growing. The projected cost is way over prior estimates and these major concerns are a big worry.

    Obamacare, as Ms Pelosi said "had to be passed to find out what was in it"; it is a poorly written bill. The SCOTUS decision will never satisfy all parties.

  15. Contraceptives used to be banned in Connecticut, and this ban was supported by the Catholic Church. The Church was out of line here; it was showing that it did not accept that this was a secular Republic and should respect all its citizens including those where were damned in Catholic theology. It was brushed back by the Supreme Court.

    The Church and the evangelicals are similarly out of line, and need to be brushed back by somebody.

  16. Bryan, none of this changes the essential fact: the Catholic church with its
    "cafeteria Catholics", wants for religious folks the privilege to be "cafeteria Americans", who get to pick and choose which laws they want to follow. Besides the essential unworkability of such an approach (in a diverse society, every single one of us can find government actions we don't want to pay for) it is blatantly discriminatory. Why is it that heartfelt objections of a religious nature are supposed to be more important than the heartfelt objections based on secular concerns? I don't get to exercise a personal line-item veto over my taxes. Neither should the Church (or "Hobby Lobby", for that matter).

  17. The Roman church purports to do the bidding of a fictional being that is presumed to exist somewhere in space, but, in reality, the Roman church has always done the bidding of the wealthy and the powerful. The very real god it worships is money and the powers that money brings. Among these powers are the ability to control the lives of others, which the pope and his minions have been expert at for a thousand years at least. Central to this control is the subjugation of women, which is aided by keeping people as backward and as ignorant as possible. All else is subjugated to these overarching goals (even the church's rampant sexual abuse of children and the massive institutional coverup of that abuse). Mr. Barrett himself exemplifies these tendencies by his comments in this forum, comments in which he repeats ad nauseum the same magical thinking, the same patriotic slogans, the same Tea party pronouncements. We know what god such people really serve, and it has a picture of George Washington on it. Religiosity cannot mask it.

  18. The conflict between secular and religious authority is once again raging, raging here as it used to rage in Europe. In Europe secular authorities forced religions (usually Catholic) to let the secular authorities have their way. We may come to a showdown where we have to do the same.

  19. As so often, religious organizations feel the can pick and choose about where their so called "conscience" becomes effective, or conversely, is being threatened.

    At the same time that the Roman Catholic Church demands respect for its "conscience" regarding birth control as part of its First Amendment rights, it completely abrogates any "conscience" in using very much secular techniques (bankruptcy) to avoid responsibility for their wholesale condolence of child abuse.

    At the same time, specific to the ACA requirements, it seems perverse that, in the name of the First Amendment, the owners of certain for-profit or non profit enterprises, be they companies like Hobby Lobby or Catholic Hospitals, can force their own "conscientious objections" onto all their employees, who may or may not share these beliefs.

    Finally, relative to the broader issue of "the conscience of a corporation" alluded to in the title, it is my view that, of course, corporations should have a "conscience", as in "social responsibility" towards not only their employees, but to the society within which they operate, and which enables them in the first place. America, by its blind cheerleading for laissez-fair capitalism, which is driven by greed and ruled by social IRresponsibility, has implicitly or explicitly agreed that corporations may act "unconscionably". This is very much different from the "social market economies" of most other societies, where corporations explicitly have social responsibilities

  20. Doing some more background reading on this, it seems that the religious right, including Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, are making the ACA mandate to include birth control in health care coverage into an issue of "Religious Freedom", stating that "this might become this decade's civil rights movement."
    Nothing in the ACA requires individuals to use birth control services, so individual "religious freedom" is not at all threatened.
    But religious leaders apparently want company owners to have the right to impose their own religious beliefs on all their employees, at least in regards to birth control health coverage. That is an interesting perversion of the "civil rights movement".
    Of course, there is the suspicion that all this is a rear guard battle to torpedo the ACA and essentially reverse the Supreme Court ruling...

  21. The slippery slope is the main point to me. Some believe that a woman's place is in the home or that women with children should be stay-at-home moms. Will we let them refuse to employ women or fire a woman who has a child?

  22. If these religious leaders continue pushing so hard into the political arena, it's time we insist they are lobbying organizations and no longer tax exempt.

  23. and if the religious organization pushing this (or any) agenda was Muslim, would that make any difference?

  24. A corporation is a legal entity created by the state. Since the owner of Hobby Horse enjoys the benefits bestowed on him by the state, he has no right to object to any regulation issued by the state unless he can prove where the government erred and denied him any rights contained in the Constitution. The owner is allowed to practice his own personal religious beliefs; therefore, he has no legal case.

  25. Isn't the Bill of Rights rather a manifesto for individual conscience and against the idea of corporate morality? The Catholic church has a dogma, a doxy; it does not enjoy a conscience. Any corporate body may have an ethos, a culture; it does not feel shame, guilt, joy or pain. It enjoys neither memory nor the ability to reflect. To speak of corporate morality is simply false: metaphorical thinking run amok.

    Individual Catholics have morals; the church has a moral teaching. The freedom of religion grants individual Americans the right to embrace the teaching of their choice and the exercise of their conscience in freedom. It permits any church to teach what it would.

    The question may a corporation have a conscience is not intriguing at all. Given a moments thought it is merely absurd.

  26. A Corporation would be much more likely to embody the overall values of its workforce, not its owners. Workers interface with customers and the general public, and the decisions and actions of the workforce impact the community and environment far more than the those of the executive suite, no matter how tyrannical the bosses. But in the end, a corporation only truly embodies one thing, the drive to maximize profits for shareholders. Anything less is a form of altruism or socialism incompatible with true capitalism. Corporations are amoral, and any notion that they should be treated as or considered people, much less the embodiment of a faith, is absurd. Should a business owned by a Christian Scientist be allowed to deny its workers insurance for blood transfusions because the corporation embodies the faith of the owner? Of course not. The moment a business employs people, it steps out of the realm of the personal into the realm of the public, and thus must set aside the supersitions and biases of its owners. This concept is the bedrock of a pluralistic society.

  27. As admirable a conscientious stand as Mr. Green is apparently willing to take, and as employee friendly as his Company appears to be, none the less Hobby Lobby cannot be exempted from the law of the land. As the article points out in example after example, we would have complete anarchy if companies and individuals were permitted to pick and choose which taxes they wished to avoid. Can you imagine the fiasco in our courts system if this kind of exemption was granted. Talk about loopholes and lost revenue! Obamacare was ruled upon by the Supreme Court and it was deemed lawful......all must comply.

    As a sidebar, I am glad to see that states are now beginning to require On Line Only businesses to pay their fair share of state taxes. These companies, like Amazon, have unfairly wreaked havoc on traditional brick and mortar companies that employ thousands of people and fund state coffers thru their state tax contributions. Sadly, for some B&M businesses this has been too little & far too late.

  28. Businesses don't pay sales taxes, they only collect them. If someone orders items online and doesn't report them on their tax return and pay the associated taxes, they are the ones at fault and are breaking the law, not Amazon.

  29. Nicole: Yes..that's correct....but these on-line sales taxes are rarely collected. Consequently, the brick and mortar companies & their employees that do pay taxes are unfairly treated and placed in a less than competitive position. The result has been massive store closings and layoffs at the brick and mortar level.

    In all fairness, this has not been caused exclusively by the sales tax situation.
    But it certainly has been a factor, especially at the competitive level.

  30. As we humans die without air and sustenance, the corporation dies without profit.

    Corporations, as a human creation, likely have some form of conscience. So too did Victor Frankenstein's monster, but it didn't prompt remorse until the monster had destroyed his creator.

    So, yes, corporations can have a conscience, but giving them personhood with first amendment rights is the perfect weapon for them to maximize profit and take revenge on their creators.

  31. Corporations are creations of states, a legal fiction to allow individual investors to be personally immune from transgressions of the collective body. As with any other license, the granting state has the right to set conditions on the granting of the license.

    To get a driver's license, act as a general contractor, or officially marry people, you have to fulfill certain criteria, which can and do vary from state to state. In addition, corporations which engage in interstate commerce may be subject to federal regulations. Moreover, any corporation which obtains any benefit from dealings with with the Federal Government (e.g. non-profit tax exemptions, grants, loans, etc.) are clearly subject to whatever rules the Federal Government chooses to append to those benefits.

    The move to exempt corporations of any sort from provisions of Obamacare is a political fight, clearly not a genuine legal one, though it will be played out frequently in the courts, not incidentally thanks to the Supreme Court corrupting the time-honored definition and function of a corporation in the Citizens United decision.

  32. The long and short of it is that religious freedom is not a protection from having to struggle with moral dilemmas. We all live in a society and therefore we all have to pay money (taxes) for things to which we are morally opposed. That's life. Religion is supposed to help you deal with that, not insulate you from it.

    Secondly, it is no accident that morality only seems to play into women's health. Ultimately, the so-called moral objection to contraception is a desire to control women's destiny -- to keep men at the top. Let us strip bare the moral platitudes and expose this lather for what it is. I don't know why we allow them to proclaim that denying women care for a basic part of their anatomy is taking the moral high ground.

  33. This should not be seen as just a women's issue. Aren't the men in their lives affected as well, when a woman becomes pregnant in an unplanned way?

  34. It's going to be interesting seeing how the Supreme Court rules. As the majority opinion upholding the ACA was based on the theory of the right of Congress to levy taxes, this suggests that taxation law would come into play here. It's not just a matter of the law being more like taxation than conscription; it's a matter of it being defined as part of the tax code and thus less subject to moralistic reinterpretations and exemptions.

  35. I agree with Jacob. I am sure Hobby Lobby is using all in it's power to reduce the tax bill it owes the Gov't. As it should.
    Paying other parts of the tax bill it owes is not an option.

  36. We say that a corporation is a creature of the state. If that's so, in all its implications, then David Green and many others with commitments to faith are in trouble. Because where God and Caesar vie for power, Caesar is winning; and it doesn't help David that he operates in Rome. But it may also mean that we're all in trouble.

    We've always allowed great latitude to entrepreneurs, not because we're nice but because they're rare and the engines of new job creation and, by extension, of our economy: they have big stacks of chips. In the past we've danced carefully around them, in our own interests, when seeking to implement public policy, but we're no longer as nimble in dance, or even as willing to cavort: the demands of public policy, in the hands of some, are becoming increasingly strident, increasingly self-righteous, increasingly dismissive of disagreement, even by those with big stacks of chips. This is damaging to a free society, and to the incentives that impel the David Greens of our world to do what they do.

    And the importance of this goes beyond God and Caesar, as opposition to what some regard as enforced support of unacceptable behavior can be inspired by convictions other than religion: doesn't matter, the state has a mission, it's impatient, and the corporation is its creature.

    We might question that mission, and we might question the assumption of whose creature a corporation is. But it would be better if the state went back to more artful dancing.

  37. On the contrary, Richard. We've given so much latitude to corporations in recent decades that some of these corporations almost brought down the world economy due to a lack of regulation. The government was then forced to step in and bail out these corporations. The government was even lax when it came to quasi-public corporations as Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac were. The owner of Hobby Horse is not prevented by the government from making money, the sole raison d'etre of his corporation in the first place. What his employees do on their private time is none of his business.

  38. Kevin:

    Ask Green: I'm sure he'd tell you that what his employees do on their own time certainly isn't any of his business. But it's a little outrageous that he should be made to pay for it.

    As to latitude and corporations, the only ones that caused problems requiring bailouts were financial services giants that certainly should have been better regulated and a couple of poorly managed Detroit behemoths (but not all three) whose problems had nothing to do with regulation. Point to one of the size and bootstrapped nature of Hobby Lobby that caused problems -- or even the vast majority of American corporations of any size or nature.

    Our tradition always has been, overwhelmingly, that we tell corporations what they may NOT do, not what they must do: that's always been the legitimate role of regulation. We failed to tell Wall Street what it may not do, then enforce it, for a lot of political reasons dealing with too much money in the political system; and we'd better fix that before we have to do it all over again. But don't conflate forced payment of contraceptive coverage with legitimate regulation -- that's a much broader question of the appropriate role of government.

    Increasingly, our government seeks to dictate a sense of morality held by some, regardless of disagreement and in the teeth of our traditions. You should be concerned, because that sense can change with a new electoral majority that will use the same arrogated authority to force things you DON'T agree with.

  39. "More artful dancing" to include the fact that many Walmart employees are eligible for, and utilize, food stamps?
    The mantles of "entrepreneur" and "job creator" do not imbue an employer with the right to interfere in the lawful private lives of their employees. Riddle me this: does the Hobby Lobby proposed insurance pay for Cialis or Viagra? The Catholic Church is fine with Cialis and Viagra, but not with contraception. Just more hypocrisy clothed in hosannas of religious freedom. It is a definition of freedom that only Orwell could appreciate.

  40. One moment please... let's look at the other end of the spectrum, right-to-work laws. How is this cogent? Well, with right-to-work laws, a union is compelled by right-to-work laws to represent all workers in an organized company, whether an individual worker chooses to pay union dues or not, based upon his or her beliefs and prejudices. The union is compelled under state law to provide representation to all. So how is it that Hobby Lobby, or any company, cannot also be compelled by law to provide the entire spectrum of health insurance benefits mandated by Obamacare to its' employees, entirely independent of the owner's beliefs? With right-to-work, the precedent has already been established that an individual entity in the form of a union can be compelled by government to provide advocacy and representation free of charge; that same precedent should also apply to business-owners, i.e. that a business-owner can be compelled by government to provide full and complete coverage of insurance mandated by law. In a manner, the Citizens United decision confirms this, as unions are classified the same as companies and corporations as far as political contributions are tax-classified.

    Of course, with universal single-payer health coverage, companies and corporations wouldn't have the latitude or the need to intrude on our lives in such a manner; all they would have to do would be to pay their share of the taxes, like everyone else.

  41. Yes, a corporation could have a conscience. For example, the blizzard in the northeastern United States does not explain why the price of Gasoline just rose fifty cents a gallon over the weekend in California. Rather, it is evidence of lack of conscience in the private sector. I’m suppose there are plenty of Arabs in the United States who consider the high price of oil and gasoline to be a violation of human rights rather than an example of jihad. Jihad would be a good pamphlet, sermon, or book and would not be economic sanctions against another country. It seems the oil profiteers could care less about me and you. Maybe we should pray for the salvation of their souls before it is too late for us.

  42. The unlimited dumping of CO2 into the air is a problem for everyone, including those who profiteer on it while bribing credentialed people to lie to us about it.

  43. Let's momentarily slip out of our modern garb and turn our attention back to 1651. Seems that then as now, religions are nasty, brutish and short with people unless churches and their adherents must conform to civil authority. This is a case in point.

    The company's insurance plan is not just covering its owner; it's covering employees, or citizens of the Commonwealth, and employees of any "Christian" firm have the same right to be covered by their nation's laws as anyone working for any company. So, if the duly-elected civil authority dictates that plans must provide employees family planning coverage, citizens are thus covered regardless of their capo's faith. The godly boss is not above the law.

    Anything else means allowing a particular sect to subject employees to its laws--and thus they become subjects of a particular religious interest rather than of their sovereign state. Thankfully, this is a democracy, not a many-headed theocracy; we make the laws--another man's God should not.

    Besides, if a firm's employees are fundamentalist Christians (or anyone else who has restrictive views on acceptable family planning options) they can "opt out" of any coverage that they, as individuals protected by the laws of their commonwealth, choose to. No one's forcing them to get an abortion; it's up to their own conscience.

    Or, as it says in a certain religious text: "Render unto Caesar..." And Caesar says you can get a C-section, or any other appropriate treatment.

  44. " The godly boss is not above the law. "

    They show deference only to their god's law, and would very much wish to disregard man's law.

  45. One does not have freedom of religion without freedom from religion.

  46. Mr. Laycock's observation is right on. It's been difficult to thread any organized spirituality into my 19 year-old son's life. What he hears about religion is that it opposes gays, wants to restrict birth control, supports radical right-wingers, doesn't accept climate science or biological science (which is evolution-based), and seems to have removed the New Testament from its Bible. I get more traction by noting the Bible's first few books authorize slavery (from neighboring nations), stoning people who dress incorrectly (wearing the wrong gang colors), ordains genocide (women, children, animals, et. al.), and so on, with the condemnation of sodomy in there as well. Then he gets that religion always gets compromised, the bad mixed with good, and perhaps can keep an open mind about his spiritual options.

    Hobby Lobby may give staff a day off, but by opposing healthcare birth control they make religion one step harder for the next generation to accept.

  47. Let's not forget that many of their employees may WANT the extra hours and would be glad to work on Sundays.

  48. Is it not possible that what he hears about religion is the things you cite because that is what the media all too often focuses on? The media is generally (with notable exceptions like Nick Kristof and some columnists) very keen to publicise areas such as these. It's much less focused on presenting the ongoing, unsung work of church people who work in poor areas without much pay, who volunteer (think of all the post-Sandy volunteering coordinated by churches and religious groups), who are campaigning for more sustainable lifestyles and against climate change (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=YPPc0GWf28Y), who pioneered and still support Fair Trade, etc.

  49. This entire controversy is positively Orwellian. That groups now define "Liberty" as the freedom to impose their particular religious convictions on others in their employ is a true perversion of the concept. I hope they realize that the ability to impose can shift to other groups over time and at some point the shoe will be on the other foot. A core strength of our secular society has always been evidenced by avoiding this kind of imposition. If we lose this by creating a "new speak" definition of liberty, a great deal will go with it.

  50. I thought benefits are part of compensation, meaning employees take good benefits in lieu of higher pay. Most employees pay something toward their insurance as well. It seems to me that a corporation has no more business dictating how health insurance is used than they do dictating how an employee spends his paycheck.

    At any rate, all this confirms that health care should have absolutely nothing to do with employment. And why businesses of any size aren't vociferously lobbying for universal single payer, other than sympathy with their greedy insurance brethren, is beyond me.

  51. There are a number of reasons why businesses have not got behind single-payer. One is simply inertia, which is more powerful that many people give it credit for. Another is the fact that benefits are a tool for competing in the marketplace for labor. No company wants to be the first to abandon employment based health benefits and watch its labor force depart for competitors (the fear may be overblown, but it's there). Watch Vermont, which intends to bring in single-payer by 2017.

  52. Another interesting aspect of the debate is the one of privacy.

    Should a corporation which provides health coverage to its employees know which treatments their employees obtain?

    The currently accepted answer to that question is currently: yes.

  53. I'm not convinced that these business owners are as pure of conscience as they claim. The Republican aliance of right wing politics and fundamentalist christianity is suspect. They never speak of basic christian principles or social justice, only the rights of the unborn. After children are born they are on their own. The money men of the party use the religious angle when they need an issue to confront the government when it intrudes on their ability to profit. The contraception issue is a ruse to stop the movement toward taking the profit motive out of healthcare. The religious leaders are using the contraception issue to take the heat off of them for their other failings. Corporations are not people, guns are not freedom, and the free market will not solve our social issues.

  54. As they are such aggressive players when it comes to making policy, particularly policy relating to the rights of females - take away their tax exempt status.

    If they are players to this extent, they are not sitting quietly by serving their congregation's pastoral needs, they are injecting themselves into public policy and politics.

    They want to play, they have to pay.

  55. "As they are such aggressive players when it comes to making policy, particularly policy relating to the rights of females - take away their tax exempt status. "

    Public companies like Hobby Lobby don't have tax-exempt status.

  56. Corporations cannot have morals, because corporations are not people (sorry, Mitt). This kind of action has nothing to do with corporate morality and everything to do with bosses trying to impose their views on the activities of their employees even when they aren't at work.

    This isn't a new trend: I at one point worked for a major corporation that banned smoking cigarettes in their facilities, in their parking lots nearby facilities, and on any nearby property, making any violation of this policy grounds for dismissal. The obvious goal was to force employees to quit smoking completely, and although I've never been a smoker I did object to that policy because it sought to control employees' perfectly legal non-work activities.

  57. I am a former smoker and I believe the non-smoking policy is appropriate. Smokers and obese people, along with all of their attendant underlying health problems, are who drive up the cost of medical coverage. While a company does not have a right to control non-work activities, it can legally require that its premises be non-smoking and require its employees to adhere to that requirement while at work. Also, it can ban the service of nutritionally void foods which are served on its premises and if one brings such foods from home, that is the choice of the person who brings them and that person will ultimately suffer consequences at his/her own hand. If Hobby Lobby's case is favorably decided for its cause, the next logical step would be that if a person's health portfolio demonstrates that he or she did not excessively use the health care system during his/her life, that person's premiums rightfully should be cheaper than those who use more. Would that not be more fair? Obese and smokers are against that crashing down on them because they have outward conditions that can be controlled. Where I work, many have quit using varying techniques. I quit on my own with no assistance. I was just simply finished with the habit and it was time to move away from it. No pressure, no cajoling, no nothing. Just simply done on my own by myself for myself. But, I get no credit for that from my insurance company.....!

  58. You can't smoke if you work in semiconductor fabrication because if you do you shed microparticles that cut yield.

  59. Yet another example of complications and controversies arising from our paperwork-laden employer-financed health insurance.

    Eventually, we will get to the more rational, less expensive single payer system that all other developed countries use, where no health care money is diverted to profits, less to paperwork dealing with multiple insurers, and where health care outcomes are better.

    It is ridiculous to have to deal with connecting our health insurance to whomever our employer happens to be.

  60. It's all about power and control, usually of women. The spectacle of these "conscientious" "religious" people getting their panties in a wad over contraception whilst not making a peep about coverage of Viagra is unseemly at best, and ludicrous at worst.

    The employer of a secular workforce has no more right to interfere in the privacy of its employees' medical decisions than I have to dictate what medications I approve for my neighbors. It's none of my business, and none of theirs, either.

    My time is my employer's when I am at work. What I do in my private life is my business, until and unless it affects my work. Increasingly, I have seen reports of employers trying to control employees' private lives, whether through "social media policies" or refusal to cover contraception. Do we really want to revert to company stores, company housing, and payment in scrip instead of actual money? For this is where these kinds of control issues lead.

    These officious busybodies should stay out of others' private lives.

  61. The arguments of those seeking exemption from the requirement of Obamacare to provide coverage for employees who chose to use birth control, make no sense. Employees are not being forced to use contraception, it is their personal choice. Thus, it makes as much sense for an employer to refuse to pay its share of health insurance premiums for a policy that includes payment for birth control as it would be for the employer to require employees to sign pledges that no portion of their pay would be spent for such products and services. In other words, employees also have rights. And if the door is opened for accommodations regarding birth control, how about exemptions for blood transfusions, vaccinations or, in some cases, total exemption for all traditional medical treatments.

  62. Will these objecting "christian" employers do the Christian thing and provide a living wage to their employees (other than CEOs and high-up execs)? I highly doubt it.

  63. The actual cost to a corporation for allowing freedom of religion & use of BCPs by including coverage in their health plans must be trivial ! It is not about cost- it is about principle, they say. How about the principle that an owner does not believe in Viagra or cosmetic surgery ? How about a Christian Scientist boss ?
    Hmmmmm. A slippery slope ?

  64. Just another example of the insanity of putting employers in charge of employee healthcare. The current model was a mildly hysterical reaction to an attempt by unions to start regional health insurance buyers' groups shortly after World War II. Back then there were no MRIs, people died before they reached 70 and premature babies didn't have a chance, so health insurance was cheap (remember when it was a "fringe benefit"?). Employers saw the unions' plan as socialism and took on the burden of providing health benefits.

    Today benefits constitute a third of the cost of a full-time employee. Hence the employers' mildly hysterical reaction to being compelled to offer it. Hence the trend of hiring a lot of part-time employees, who don't make nearly enough to buy health insurance themselves.

    How much worse does it have to get before we are ready to admit that the employer-provided model doesn't work—that it creates more problems than it ever solved?

  65. Actually, employer-provided healthcare started before World War II; Henry J. Kaiser, a government contractor for the western dams during the 1930s, discovered that many of his employees had chronic health conditions that impacted on productivity which were easily treatable--so he set up clinics to treat his employees on site. (This is the origin of Kaiser Permanente--a well-regarded, non-profit, doctor-owned HMO system.)

    To prevent wartime inflation and curb black markets, the Office of War Production enacted wage and price controls in early 1942. If higher wages could not be offered to entice better workers for equivalent work, health insurance as a fringe benefit could--and the (then) non-profit Blue Cross/Blue Shield system was available as the insurance plans of choice. Sadly, many of the Blues have been taken over by for-profits, who only paid the respective States. (Regulation of insurance is a State--not Federal--affair, and cash-starved States have relatively ineffective insurance regulators willing to allow this for a large "trust fund" set up by the for-profits who buy the Blues.)

    Many unionized employers--most notably American auto companies--produce some of their product in Canada, which has single-payer healthcare.

    The problem remains our for-profit heath insurance, and their layers of overpaid executives and unrealistic stockholder and market expectations.

  66. I suggest that you go back and read your history where you will find that health insurance had nothing to do with unions after WWII.

  67. We forget where employer-paid health care originated.

    In the WW II labor shortage with price controls and rationing, employers competed for better-skilled workers by offering health insurance. They only have incentive to do things like this during labor shortages. Now we seem to have a permanent labor surplus, so it has all broken down.

  68. Thanks, Mr. Keller, for using the comparison to conscription. It's the arguement I've favored for some time, mostly because I lived throught it.

    Growning up in an activist anti-war Quaker community during Viet Nam, my parents were educators who wrote hundreds of letters of recommendation to draft boards for conciencious objector status. Most where denied.

    My father's assistant, a music teacher and world class first french horn, attempted just what you describe during that war. He calculated his taxes, then paid the amount, minus the percentage that he believed went to military operations. This went on for some years before the IRS took note of what he was doing. Of course, when they did, it didn't end well.

    He never served a day in jail, but his conscience wound up costing him far more than had he just shut up and paid his taxes. But it was pure. He arranged his life around living on a subsistance income low enough he doesn't pay any income taxes.

  69. Sorry, but I don't find anything "pure" or admirable about being a tax cheat.

  70. At least he lived by his true convictions. You've got to congratulate him for that maneuver. However, when it comes to the IRS, trying to circumvent what is owed is never a wise move. Not separating "church from state" here, one must remember the biblical quote "Render under Caesar that which is Caesar's; render unto God that which is God's." It's not nice to fool with the IRS.

  71. I am sure we could sight many thousands of cases where people were prepared to die and in fact did die ,for things that they believed in. The 907 coolaide drinkers at Jonestown comes to mind. Drinking the coolaide doesn`t mean that it was/is rational or a valid idea.

    A little common sense and even less than a little Critical Thinking should put an end to the USA`s evangelical problem however it is not easy for the descendents of Homo erectus (ie. Homo Sapiens) to think critically. It is just not something that evolution emphasized, just the opposite in fact.

  72. The root cause of this problem stems from the fact that an employer is the provider of a persons healthcare plan. This is a system that should be relegated to history. The only sensible solution to this ridiculous situation is for the country to adopt a single payer system where all citizens have access to universal coverage without the imposition of anyone's religious ideology.

  73. Even if it doesn't adopt single payer, at least it could abandon the employer involvement in insurance, which supposedly arose only because employers were at one point prevented from offering more pay and needed to find another method of attracting employees.

  74. Agreed. And in a way, this extreme overreach by religious institutions is helping to forward that cause. If you can't trust your employer to provide decent human healthcare then the government will be forced to take it out of their hands. And really, companies would probably vastly prefer having healthcare expenses taken off of their books.

  75. Concur. Moreover, we are a coupon to the rest of the world in shouldering the highest priced healthcare system. Single-payer would not only minimize administrative costs and profit taking, but influence mufti-nationals to level the playing field in the sale and distribution of their products across the board.

  76. Not to mention that 99% of the things at Hobby Lobby are made in China-sending jobs overseas. Another WalMart. These corporations mistreat their emplyees (shoddy healthcare and pay) and expect the government and taxpayers to pay for these services. I have heard that the cost in healthcare and benefits, such as food and nutrition, to the taxpayes in America is in the hundreds of billions.

    It is also time we started thinking about taxing religious organizations. Period.

  77. I guess China's official 1 child policy is OK with them.

  78. Jose is absolutely correct in his last statement. Religion is a special breed of non-profit. Their beliefs apply only to their members, as opposed to, say the United Way or Doctors Without Borders who help everyone regardless of religious affiliation. If religious folks want to be separated from the rest of us that's fine - but they should be willing to financially support their organizations, including paying real estate and income taxes.

    It boggles the mind when one considers the multi-thousands of acres of real estate owned by religions that are off the tax books - no taxes paid at all. This is, in part, so they can provide educational institutions for their practitioners children - while the rest of us pay ever increasing real estate taxes for public schools AND support religious freedom from taxation. This is nuts and it should be stopped immediately. Tax religions!!

  79. Our "Earned Income Credit" is nothing more than a public subsidy for people who pay unlivable wages.

  80. Advocates of exemptions for religiously-affiliated (however loosely) organizations from laws that apply to "the rest of us" would do well to review the text of the First Amendment. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free practice thereof."

    The proposed exemptions clearly are violations of the Establishment Clause and are, or should be adjudged, unconstitutional.

  81. Ah, but if the government did not pander to the religious, they would not vote for them at the next election. And a new government would sit at the conference tables and ponder how to best pander to ensure re-election!

  82. So is the "under God" Congress inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance in 1953, but the Supreme Court has denied EVERYONE standing to challenge it in court.

  83. The various exemptions given to religious organizations - tax exemption being the most obvious - spring from the second half of the amendment, where a prohibition "on free practice" has been judged to mean anything that puts any limit on one's religious practices.

    To tax a church, for example, would certainly make it harder for the church to operate and to force someone to do something that their religion prohibits is considered interfering with the freedom to practice.

    The problem arises when religious organizations become involved with activities that are not inherently religious - a hospital, for example. While the Constitution protects the free practice of religion there is no logic that extends the "protection" to the practice of non-religious activities performed by individuals or religious institutions. And certainly not to companies that are owned by individuals.

    To extend these protections in this way leads the untenable position that church run hospitals should be exempt from other "prohibitions"... like the wage and hour laws - after all, those laws cost the church labor dollars that could otherwise be spent on other church activities.

  84. This battle seems to be a question of who pays. Given the relatively inexpensive cost of conception, why cannot folks pay for their own? Is it really possible that anyone with a job cannot pay for their own condoms or birth control pills? The whole fight seems silly.
    Why does everyone want someone else to pay for their choice? Insolating ourselves from the results of our own choices is definitely not the role of goverment.

  85. You seem to have a few misconceptions that I'd like to explain. Firstly, not all birth control is created equal. And not all women can take the same birth control. Birth control ranges from relatively cheap to quite expensive.

    Secondly, I as the consumer pay for my own insurance. My insurance, therefore, should cover my needs. My needs include birth control that works for me and that is prescribed by my doctor, and is not necessarily the kind that you think is the most affordable.

    Thirdly, not everybody has a job where insurance is provided as a benefit. Typically these are low-paying jobs. They kind where buying anything out of pocket requires a serious cost-benefit analysis. And please refer to #1 where I inform you that the cheapest kind of birth control is not always what works for every woman.

    Fourthly, birth control is used for a host of different medical conditions that are wholly unrelated to sex or pregnancy. Ovarian cysts, for one, are very painful. In this light, this is much less about choice than it is about necessary medical coverage.

  86. As a primary care physician who prescribes contraception, I can tell you from experience that contraception is NOT universally affordable. Condoms, used alone, are only about 85% effective in prevention of pregnancy. Hormonal contraception, which is far more effective, is also much more expensive. It's not at all unusual for my patients to stop filling their OCPs, or to skip months, because they can't afford the prescription.

    This should be an issue for the health insurance companies as well, since it's far less expensive for the company to pay for contraceptives than for a pregnancy.

    As to your question of wanting "someone else to pay for their choice," will Hobby Lobby next decide that it's an infringement of their religious freedom to pay for prenatal care or treatment sexually transmitted infections for unmarried employees? Where does it end?

  87. Yes it's entirely possible that someone with a job can't afford contraception. Not sure what oral contraceptives cost these days but any form of contraception involves a visit to a physician or health care provider which, until the insurance copay is met, can be costly. Condoms are more for disease prevention and are abysmal for preventing pregnancy.

    Anyway, I think Mr Green's issue is emergency contraception but it's not his business what his female employees do with their health coverage.

    My issue would be buying an art book from Hobby Lobby and opening it to find it defaced.

  88. Many fundamentalist religions, not just Christian, believe that illness and disability are punishments from God. Does that mean they should be allowed to interpret this as justifying their choice to opt-out of Americans With Disabilities act requirements on the basis of faith?

    The problem is that you are discussing religious dogma, not conscience. They are not the same. Religious dogma does not equate to morality, as should be obvious to anyone who has paid the least attention to the various types of religious persecution practiced by religions when they enjoy governmental control of countries.

    This means, simply, that religious dogma must not be considered a basis for denying employees legally mandated provisions of civil law, and/or constitutional protections.

  89. Public policy should treat them as evil charlatans, to guilt trip people with such lies. Absolutely no preferences or subsidies or credibility should flow to them.

  90. Dave makes a very good point. Most fundamentalist religions believe that women are second class citizens designed to be "helpmeets" to men. Religious freedom should never trump civil rights and other laws. Many of the same extreme fundamentalist churches whose priests and pastors sexually abuse children and or court prostitutes are the same "faiths" who want to forbid contraception to women. Some day, civilized people will look back at the punitive and violent nature of religion and shake their heads. Many of us already do so.
    I must always testify to my experience: as a sixth grader who had no reproductive awareness, who was taught not to hurt other peoples' feelings, and who believed in the Virgin Birth, I was taken advantage of - statutory "rake" is what I heard it was - and sent to a convent where I was tied flat on my back for a long time. I suffered from undiagnosed celiac disease, and respiratory allergies. The parish priest said girls must take responsibility for certain things because boys need to keep clean records so they can support wives and children. Very traditional. Very religious. We are not all that far from the mid-1960's and many Roman Catholic and fundamentalist religious folks who decry contraception maintain very dogmatic and cruel attitudes toward girls and women who find themselves "in trouble." The babies on today's Right to Life bumper stickers were "trouble" back then and not so far back then.

  91. Many people, indeed many companies, consider the benefits provided by a job as part of the compensation. In fact, a number of years ago I worked for a small college that didn't pay very well, and didn't always give annual raises to employees. One year when there was some vocal dissatisfaction, the HR department sent out a letter to each employee which reported salary and the amount the college paid for benefits, basically suggesting that they were making a considerable financial commitment to their employees. And most of us contribute to our own medical, including co-pays, which means that I am really paying for my own insurance and the organization that I work for doesn't get to tell me how to spend my money.

  92. I agree with you; if the employee pays any contributory portion toward a premium, along with co-pays as services are used, then the company/organization for which one works should have absolutely no say in which services are accessed under the health care plan. The downside is that your employer will partially know what you did with that plan because there is an account notification when the plan is used. It may not specifically state what the service is under today's HIPPA, but it used to be more explicit in years past. I was aware of that and when I used a service which would have been provided under my company's health care plan, because of disclosures that I did not want made to my company, I went outside the plan and paid for the service out of my own pocket. There is statistical information provided to the plan holder, which is the company for which one works, and that statistical information determines the calculation of premium each year at negotiation time, so effectively, your company knows what part of its insurance plan is being more accessed than other parts. This is where the plan holder (i.e., the company) wants to have total control over what is offered and what is not. This is where the plan holder (i.e., the company) must also follow the law. Hospitals did not want to do that but were forced to by law retain patients for a certain period after childbirth, biopsy or mastectomy. Birth control should be no different.

  93. Quite aside from the issue of whether a corporation can be seen anthropomorphically as "having a conscience" (it can't), I think that Mr. Green has confused having a conscience with imposing his religious views on his hapless employees. This is often referred to as "bigotry". I Suppose he would argue that they are free to find other employment. So is he.

  94. If the Mr Green you mention were to close his business and do something else, how many people would be unemployed? It would be unlikely that many people started working for this person without understanding his rules and beliefs. What is clear is that the people wished to be compensated for work, while demanding ever increasing compensation in 'benefits', items that the owner chooses against providing. Nothing, other than personal greed, prevents those employees who are offended by compensation rules leaving that company and finding other employment. Oh, with ever increasing costs to employers there are no jobs available? Hmmmmm!

  95. Every corporation is an amplification of its CEO's personality. That's why the law is necessary to limit corporate tyranny.

  96. Cases like this, for me, are all the more reason to have universal healthcare where we can maintain the separation of church and state and simply support a woman's right to choose how she takes care of her body. We can talk about corporate conscience all we want, but this is still just papering over the larger issue of a patriarchal culture's subversion of a woman's right to live as a fully autonomous being. The state necessarily must protect the rights of all individuals to control what happens to their bodies and ultimately contributes to the greater good of society as a whole. Let us continue to fight for universal healthcare where medical decisions can be made between an individual and their doctor, not their boss!

  97. The RC Church is actively sabotaging separation of church and state with its unconstitutional demands.

  98. Religious freedom is trumped by civil rights. Health care coverage is not about religious freedom; it's completely about equal opportunity and anti-discrimination. The owner, president or CEO of a company doesn't get to ignore the civil rights of employees on the basis of religious freedom.

    Eclectic Pragmatist — http://eclectic-pragmatist.tumblr.com/

  99. I agree with you, Eduardo, but apparently President Obama does not. Taking health care out of the hands of private corporations seems to be the best way around this. As long as health insurance is privatized, this issue will keep popping up.

  100. Somehow I think Citizens United may have already given this issue a toehold....If corporations are people, why wouldn't they be able to sue to preserve their religious freedom? Even an insurance company itself could have religious beliefs if it has personhood.

  101. One is free only to exercise one's religion on oneself. Not on anyone else.

  102. Some religiously inclined employers believe that a fertilized human egg is a person and want to deny women the right to prevent such a thing from implanting and potentially developing into a baby. However, it is estimated by scientists who are extremely familiar with the processes of reproduction that fifty percent of fertilized human eggs are explelled rather than implanted. Therefore, insisting that all fertilized human eggs be given the opportunity to implant, rather than assuring they won't by using the so-called Plan B method of birth control, is an imposition of one person's religious belief upon another. Those who argue that denying payment is not the same as denying access are disingenuous.

  103. Did the women who "lost" 50% of their fertilized eggs commit some sort of murder or at least manslaughter ? ....Of course not but evangelicals do not deal in reality ,only sky daddies.

  104. If the Hobby Lobby claim prevails, it will become one more step toward decoupling medical insurance from employment. The whole notion that my employer determines my insurance carrier and coverage is very archaic. Why, for example, should a change in jobs require a change in insurance carriers, which in turn, triggers a change in health providers if one of more of my providers does not participate with the new insurance company.

    My last job change forced me to change from one of the carriers that is top rated by Consumer Reports to one that is very mediocre. My family experienced a dramatic difference in quality and coverage -- not to mention the endless paper work hassles. It is crazy that a job change should force such changes in health insurance.

    In the simplest transition, families can purchase insurance via the exchanges or other emerging personal options. An employer can then subsidize the cost as part of a total compensation package, but has no say over which govt. approved program I choose to purchase. HR personnel can compete over which company offers the most generous total package.

    For an equivalent example, my employer requires me to possess a valid drivers license and insurance, but leaves me free to buy the insurance from whatever carrier I choose.

  105. Over and over again, Universal Health Care! This would solve all the problems of changing jobs, moving to another state, etc.

  106. Catholics used to be prohibited from eating meat on Friday. School cafeterias at the behest of the Catholic church (at least in Massachusetts) did not serve meat at all on Fridays.

    The debate over contraception is the church attempting to keep contraception expensive so it's used less, even though a very large majority of fertile Catholic families use contraception. There are families and individuals that can't afford contraception without significant sacrifice.

    We lose religious freedom when one religion is permitted force its rules on members of other religions. Religious freedom obtains when individuals can make their own choices. Whether it's eating meat on Friday or being able to readily avoid the unwelcome and very expensive happening (for both families and society) of having unplanned offspring, the choice should be the individual's.

  107. Although I agree with your position, I think no-meat-on-Friday in schools here in MA and in RI where I grew up was not so much "at the behest" of the church but rather a recognition that a large percentage - in many schools a majority - of the served population (the students) were Catholic and would not eat a meat-based lunch.

    There is not much sense in serving a meal that will not be eaten.

  108. I respect the right of owners to express their views, religious or otherwise, through the conduct of their businesses - as long as they are lawful. I equally respect the right of employees and customers to find such expression objectionable, and thus to work or trade elsewhere, which I intend to do now that I am aware of this company's policy.

    This is yet another strong case for government provided health care.

  109. Yes, but if you think Hobby Lobby and its supporters are crying foul now, wait till single-payer makes us all indirectly party to medical care.

    My tax dollars are already taken to support a great many things of which I disapprove; to draw on the simplest example, I'm an eithical vegan (right down to spending a week with the flu rather than getting the vaccine), but the government provides billions of bucks to support the meat and dairy industries, not to mention animal testing and the military. No one ever thinks about my conscience when they pick my pocket.

  110. Another common defense goes like this:
    Employees who do not like the religious restrictions on their benefits will simply leave their jobs. The market will then sort out what benefits are acceptable because businesses who are too restrictive will not be able to find employees to fill their positions.

    But things are never this efficient in the real world. Jobs are already difficult to find, especially in the current economy, and a number of other factors tend to keep people immobile, including mortgages, a spouses career, family commitments, etc. Imposing religious restrictions on captive populations, as David Green is attempting to do, sounds frighteningly similar to a theocracy.

  111. I have used the argument of pacifists not being exempt from paying taxes for war in a number of discussions with Roman Catholics and conservative Protestant evangelicals, and invariably, they either do not respond or wish to change the subject. Never have I seen someone objecting to contraceptive or abortion coverage take on the cause of pacifists being exempt for taxes supporting warfare. What hypocrisy!

  112. To exempt religiously affiliated hospitals or religious organizations was despicable. It is said that it was a political expediency but instead it served to further integrate church and state. The further we maintain a separation of church and state the better off we all are. Let the religiously biased individuals make their own personal decisions but do't let corporations nor entities be exempt from the law of the land.

  113. Americans have never lived under a monolithic religious hierarchy. I have lived under one in Italy for more than a decade, and understand the desire of the Roman church to destroy religious freedom and the separation of church-state in the US. Please read Pope Benedict's Ratisbon speech and his characterization of the US as fruit of the Enlightenment and the "de-hellenizers", those theologians who left behind Plato and Aristotle when reading the Bible. They are the ones who argued for the separation of church- state.
    For the pope, a "secular" state and the lack of "non-negotiables" in Western culture make it uninhabitable. The ideal way to introduce "non-negotiables" in the American political system has been to introduce cultural warfare over abortion- equating a fertilized egg one minute old with an adult human being. Since the time of Reagan, this ideological thinking has been growing, with the introduction of absolutist thinking into American politics through this abortion issue. Now the Roman Catholic Bishop's Conference has added marriage to the list of non-negotiables, and will continue to introduce other "non-negotiables" under the guide of religious freedom.
    Here in Italy where Rome has no competition, and since the time of its political agreement with Mussolini, there is very little religious freedom. It is illegal to build a structure that looks like a church building that is not a Roman Catholic church. If you want to understand Roman Catholicism, look at Italy.

  114. Corporations were originally groups of business persons who combined their efforts in order to access more money and manpower. Now corporations, especially closely held or individually owned corporations, are often just legal shields for the personal assets of the owner/owners. So they should not have the same status as religious organizations, because most corporate goals are financial rather than religious.
    We ought to truly separate church and state: no federal tax deductions for donations to churches, mosques, and temples.
    THe tax deduction for religion is the biggest scam: it started with just a few churches but now includes scientology and every little storefront church, independent of any larger body, whose tax deductible donations support an individual preacher who can say and promote any ideology he/she likes.
    This will all be moot soon. contraception is one of the most important modern technological developments. To allow more than half of the human race to fully enter into social, economic, and political life is the greatest change ever.
    And more and more of us recognize that overpopulation is the most dangerous result of our species' success.

  115. There also exists a common belief that employees of businesses such as Hobby Lobby who are unhappy with the religious restrictions can simply leave the company for a better job. The market will then sort out what benefits packages are acceptable or not because companies who do not cover contraception and other controversial benefits will be unable to find employees to fill their positions.

    This type of perfect market efficiency never exists in the real world. Jobs are already difficult to find (especially in the current economy) and a number of other factors limit the mobility of people to find work elsewhere, including mortgages, a spouse's career, family commitments, etc. Trying to force religious beliefs on captive populations from the top down sounds frighteningly like a theocracy.

  116. The whole issue of health insurance coverage of birth control would vanish if health insurance was provided by Medicare for all and paid for by taxes rather than a business expense. Just as one cannot refuse to pay taxes for government activities we disapprove of, one cannot refuse to pay taxes because Medicare would cover birth control. There would of course be a campaign by organizations opposed to birth control to remove that coverage from Medicare but it would certainly fail. That
    health insurance is paid for by businesses is a very peculiar American practice but the government has every right to regulate coverage to be similar to what it would be if
    it was government insurance rather than private insurance. Coverage is not a religious issue, it is a health issue. The only right religious believers have is to refuse to use coverage that runs counter to their religious beliefs and that means only for themselves, not for anyone else (iike their children).

  117. Benefits are a business expense only in the sense that all employee compensation is a business expense. The employer has no right to specify how the employee spends the wages. Health insurance premiums are part of the compensation package, and therefore the employer has no right decide what those premiums buy.

  118. We must be the only developed nation that has such a rube golberg health care system that has introduced the innumerable for-profit insurances into the system. This has injected untold complexities including cherry-picking by providers such as Hobby Lobby. If we had a single-payer government run "Affordable Care" system the likes of Hobby Lobby or Notre Dame would not have a say in the type of health care people would be entitled to: everyone would be entitled to the full range of care available and everyone would still have the right to accept or refuse care on religious grounds but they couldn't impose their choices on others..

  119. A church follows the laws of God. A business follows the laws of Caesar. There is a constitutionally defined demarcation between the two. If a church does not wish to obey the laws of Caesar, then it should not extend itself into the realm of Caesar, and confine itself entirely to the realm of God.

    Can a business run by 7th Day Adventists refuse to carry insurance to pay for coverage of blood transfusions? Can a business run by Scientologists refuse to permit their insurance to cover psychiatric care? Can a church decide to deduct a compulsory tithe from all its employees, including unbelievers? Can a religious business decide not to hire anyone not of their belief in their business? Can a religious business impose a biblical code of conduct on its employees?

    The potential for abuse here is awesome - to allow any religious institution to define which of Caesar's laws they're going to follow in their business practices would lead to chaos. A church is a church. A business is a business. Businesses follow the laws of the land. That's all there is to it.

  120. I have read through the most of the comments and what seems to be ignored is right now employers have the ability to offer more or less coverage for their employees under the affordable healthcare act. One employer covers 80% of the cost of a procedure and another pays a specific amount while yet another does not cover the procedure at all. Orthodontics is an easy example to cite but it is true for most other dental procedure, many surgical procedures, and even well care visits. Unless all of the basic coverage dictated by the law is uniform why should Obama be able to dictate the inclusion / exclusion of specific procedures ? If it is a tax as found by the supreme court the why not add another box to the w2 and collect it as a tax from everyone. We know the answer. Even the most liberal proponents understand if presented as a tax the healthcare act would have been rejected.

    Why should Catholic hospitals have to provide contraceptive services of any kind ? The government is not going into vegan restaurants and requiring that they include steak on their menu or requiring IBM to sell PCs. The knee jerk response is government funds are used by those same hospitals to provide services. So what ? Does that mean there will be meat on the menu only at those vegan restaurants that get their start using a government grant ? I do not think so. I would not support the dictate for the restaurant and I do not support the special interest dictates on Catholic hospital offerings either.

  121. The question here , it would seem, is rather does the Affordable Care Act give the government the ability at some point to require employers to meet a certain level of coverage for any procedure deemed necessary whether or not there is any such current requirement?
    The decision to mandate contraception services to all but a few employers would seem to be based more on the practical premise that it is a relatively inexpensive way to prevent much greater health care costs in the future.

  122. Religious organizations worldwide have long believed in reality by fiat. Intellectual breadth is required to adapt to reality. Those who recognize reality and adapt are rarely rewarded with fealty, money, and power, whereas those who proselytize their Procrustean credos are elevated in the land of the willfully blind. Not surprisingly, one of America's political parties has successfully imitated that winning formula, and now even corporations, apparently, can be baptized. (I wonder whether they can be circumcised.) Progress!

    Magical thinking leads to actions designed to validate that thinking. Religious organizations elevate those like Roger Mahony into positions in which they can do untold harm. Just this morning, we read that the Los Angeles diocese stole money from a cemetery maintenance fund to pay off sexually abuse cases. Probably got the OK directly from the Deity.

    How one can make the argument that those who wear their religion on their sleeves are somehow more moral or upright than those who don't and therefore are entitled to more respect for their rights (over the rights of, say, the author of this morning's Washington Post Op-Ed called "A Law That Adds to Gay Military Widows' Grief") is increasingly a cruel riddle.

    As always, it's those "in the middle" who need to make the decision not to let inertia dictate their lack of action. Sure, they say, it's all nonsense, but who's it hurting?

  123. If a corporation is a person and if their financial political contributions are speech, then what about their profits? I would think that anyone who benefits from those profits--ie inherits , or whose family is supported by those profits-- would be obliged to live under the same constraints as the employees. Since my legal education is comprised of viewing Law and Order reruns, this may be flawed--but if the principle of fruit from the poison tree is disallowed, then the family and heirs of owners of companies who disallow contraceptive coverage for employees should be likewise barred from using contraceptives, or having insurance that covers contraception.

    If the company bars access, then the family of the company owners must live by the same rules. And if they decide to use contraception for themselves, then they cannot bar it for their employees.

  124. 1. The individual owner is free to exercise his or her religion not to use birth control.
    2. The individual employee is free to exercise his or her religion not to use birth control.
    3. Anything beyond this is the owner exercising control over what should be the employee's individual religious choice.

  125. The corporation does not take the medication. The individual does. It is not the job of a corporation to dictate personal ethical behavior. One may run a corporation in a humane and ethical fashion and that I would applaud. But the corporate power to dictate my personal ethics, no matter how subtle, crosses the line. Must I be a Baptist to hold a job? Should being a Lutheran determine availability of healthcare?

  126. Allowing a boss for the sake of his so-called "Religious Freedom" to take away that of his employees is a very slippery slope that has the possible side effect of unnecessary loss of life due to traumatic injuries, or yet another Sandy Hook massacre due to untreated childhood schizophrenia! Suppose your boss is a Jehovah Witness? Would this mean he would the write to exclude from coverage any surgical procedure or cost of blood products for hemophiliacs or sickle cell anemia? Suppose your boss is a Scientologist and your child has autism or even worse, schizophrenia? Would he be allowed exclude cover for any mental health treatment, or even worse, your boss is a devout Chiristian Scientist? Would be be allowed to limit any health benefits for that of Christian Science practicioners?

    The only solution is to divorce access from health insurance coverage with employment, through a single payer system progressive payroll and financial instrument trade tax!

  127. The thing I think that isn't being examined here is what happens if the Hobby Lobby suit is upheld.

    This is really just the first volley in Big Business's squirm to get out of contributing to any benefits. If this passes it won't be long before no one offers any sort of help with healthcare to their employees.

    Much like the dismantling of Social Security, big business is behind this. It's another dime they can squeeze from the drones in their employ with the help of the wholly owned by big business Supreme Court.

    We already have unions being dismantled, social security being defunded and how health care benefits. The common thread is they all cost a business money. Look for Congress to begin work on unemployment benefits in the coming decade.

  128. Two thoughts:

    1. If an employer does not provide coverage for contraception, I would expect their insurance raters to rise. After all, there will be more pregnancies (at least some of them unwanted) and therefore more expenses. Shouldn't the so-called free market handle this issue? Surely, the owners of Hobby Lobby and others like them will respond to the bottom line repercussions of their choices?
    -- Will insurance companies sett heir rates based on this perceived risk?
    -- Will insurance companies allow customers to buy special rider coverage for contraception? It seems to me, it would be in their interest to do so.

    2. I try to imagine how I would react if the exclusion that this company is seeking is not for contraception, but for selective gender-based abortions. Even though I am a staunch supporter of a woman's right to choose, I am troubled by sex-selective abortions and would not be okay with women/couples using that as a way to plan the make-up of their families. For this reason, conscience-based objections are an important component of any rule. The resolution, I think, lies in making sure that those who choose to opt out do so in a consistent manner and that they are made to shoulder the cost of their choice. Which brings us right back to point 1 above.

  129. A few issues are exposed:
    First, Hobby Lobby exists as a corporation. If David Green wants to run it as a sole proprietorship, he should do so. Then and only then could he make any case for his obvious belief that he has any right to control the choice of which employee benefits to provide. That would, of course, lead him to be fully and personally liable for all business risks, debts and so forth.
    Second, this controversy would not exist if healthcare was removed from association with employment. Single payer benefits include (a) having only one bookeeping system would eliminate multiple executive payrolls that add fortunes to our national healthcare expense, (b) make it easier for employers to add people without worry over healthcare costs, (c) make it easier for people to seek new employment opportuniities becasue healthcare would not be a consideration, (d) give people full opportunity to prevent or not prevent pregnancy as a private decision.
    Third, if, under the present system, cost of pregnancy prevention is to be viewed as an additional expense, so are coverage for prenatal care and care for dependent children. Each of these costs money. The arguments over cost quickly become absurd.

  130. The good news is religion is aging out of our population, so the damage they do to our republic and humanity will wane.

    I've seen a sea change in attitudes in the last 40 years, just look at the opinions expressed, the tone and scope of support for comments that make it clear religion is either a negative influence or the moral equal of poison.

    It's an artifact from the stone age that grew into a business and a tribal control system, nothing else. It's the only sphere of human endevour that refuses to submit to reason. I can't believe any intelligent politician really believes in god, they are just going along to get along.

    It will pass, not soon enough for me, but it will pass.

  131. Corporations have no business in the private lives of their employees. To allow a company to dictate which services or benefits its employees might receive is to put the rights of the figurative person - the corporation - ahead of the real human being. In America today corporations have more power and influence than citizens; extending that power by, in essence, giving a corporation a religious conscience is absurd and dangerous to democracy.

  132. 1. Health benefits, like pay, are earned by an employee's labor.
    2. Hobby Lobby argues that its "conscience" forbids elements of this kind of remuneration.
    3. Money is fungible.
    4. Hobby Lobby can argue that salary paid in money is also a violation of its conscience because money can be used to buy abortions.
    5. Hobby Lobby can next argue that paying its employees in Hobby Dollars satisfied its conscience.

    The wider right wing Christian community can organize itself into a network of faith-based enterprises, enjoy its tax deductions, and force its employees into a closed consumer universe.

  133. It is the power of corporations that have put us in this awful mess we are currently experiencing...on second thought, it is the willingness of government and the apathy of the people that allows government to accommodate their big business benefactors and ignore the will of the people. Religion is just another big business - a group of corporate giants using a childish set of thoughtless beliefs as a wedge to beat down the competition and advance their particular brands. It is disgraceful that in the 21st.century there remains an absence of critical thinking and acceptance of science and reality. Such a ridiculous squabble this business of birth control rights! Clearly overpopulation is likely the basis for extinction of the human race as plunge onward destroying our environment and encouraging procreation. I expected more of the Obama government.

  134. You are absolutely right about the potential blowback from religions muddying themselves on the political battlefield. I used to be a Southern Baptist, but the church's hateful stances on civil rights, marriage rights and education seemed the opposite of the love in the heart of Jesus. I stopped going to church, then I abandoned the Southern Baptist faith completely. I suspect that I'm not the only one who has traveled that path. Let the church take care of its own, and let us take care of our freedom and liberty.

  135. It seems the present conservative conception of freedom is only and merely the right to discriminate against other, the right to exploit others and the right to impose the will of the majority in personal matters. They recognize no other freedoms. Doesn't sound much like freedom, more like indentured servitude.

  136. Conscience? That's not conscience, that's a control freak at work. This country was founded on the idea that we have freedom of choice. David Green, and the many others like him, seem to be determined to take that freedom out of the equation. I suggest that Green and his ilk be reined in by whatever means possible. Perhaps a year or so in jail, where their choices would be tightly controlled and extremely limited, would teach them a lesson.

  137. Health insurance like any insurance is designed to cover risk that can't be managed. The extremely low cost of contraception can and should be managed by the individual. Moralizing and politicizing non issues will often lead to divisiveness. More important issues await the body politic than pandering to a minor special interest group.

  138. And the cost of Viagra? Who should 'manage' that? How about the relatively low cost of generic statin drugs? Do you propose making cost the criterion by which we decide whether or not a drug should be covered in all instances, or just in the case of birth control?

  139. Render onto God what is due God and render onto Caesar what is due Caeser. As a Scotch Irish Presbyterian I have never been happy with the Supreme Court's Everson decision when I see Catholic school students stepping up into my taxpayer paid school buses to go to a Catholic school. For God's sake, no pun intended, churches and their schools receive property tax exemptions which is not true in many countries.

    At a minimum the Catholic Church itself if the church is to receive a waiver, for that is what it is, from the contraceptive requirement should pony up as a tax the amount everyone else in America has to pay for such coverage. Let's be real--this is nothing other than an attempt to receive another tax loophole.

  140. Presbyterians have been responsible for denying Catholics civil rights in Ireland and America. Instead of hopping on this bandwagon, you should apologize for all the misery your denonimation has caused. When will Princeton and Yale give back the tax dollars those Presbyterian schools from their inception.

  141. Thanks for the information about Hobby Lobby's attack on women's health, cloaked in a phoney religious freedom argument. I need never spend any money in one of those stores again. I invite others to join my boycott, with the hope that money will talk, and the owner wll accept his responsibilitiy to provide all manner of healthcare to all employees. Or else stop self-insuring, and offer all employees coverage by a non-religious insurance company.

  142. David Green is a consummate hypocrite: He claims that his conscience bars Hobby Lobby's participation in Obamacare. However, he sees nothing wrong with his company deriving the overwhelming majority of its revenue and profit from goods manufactured in China, often by firms associated with the People's Liberation Army.

    Let's just call this what it is: another reactionary seeking to advance his personal financial and political agenda.

  143. It appears the time has come for a real debate about the boundaries of religion in this country.

    Are the laws of the United States to be trumped by an individual pressing their religious beliefs on their employees?

    We have examples of religious control of government, for example Iran, is this a model we want to replicate here?

  144. so his conscience is guided by his imaginary friend in the sky that nobody can question or even talk to. and this is a serious business article. when are we going to stop pandering to the deluded?

    your imaginary cloud being in the sky doesnt get to make medical decisions. lets start laughing these people off the stage already. for the good of the country.

  145. The fallacy of the Citizens United ruling that corporations are people is tantamount to the myth that god is our holy legislator.

    I've no more respect for the Hobby Lobby's religious "consistency" in their attempts to impose a private standard than I do for the self-anointed morality police. These are the folks who'll demand community subsidies (forced upon us!) while attacking our own beliefs.

    We actually pay for the privilege of abetting their myths and empowering them to take away our own rights...something screwy here?

  146. To highlight how ridiculous the "corporations are people" concept is, there's a guy in northern Ca who put corporate papers in the passenger seat. When pulled over for driving in the car pool lane, he presented the "personhood" papers as his passenger.

    In court, the judge opined corporations are not people. So he has the satisfaction that a court of law spoke out against that ridiculous piece of legal fiction. The man was vindicated but still fined. He's appealing; I hope his next court appearance triggers a huge media event.

  147. The mantra 'corporations are people' is a textbook example of the logical fallacy of equivocation - that is, shifting between different meanings of a word. The original intent was that corporations are 'people'. that is, 'persons', in a narrow legal sense, for the purposes of bringing lawsuits and being sued. SCOTUS, Romney, et al. have confounded that narrow meaning with the broader meaning of 'person' as in 'individual'. Legal documents often specify when a 'person' may be either an entity or an individual. It is a sad indication of the failure of our education system that so many can't even see this semantic sleight of hand.

  148. Religious liberty for corporations to impose their owners'/owner's religious beliefs/practices on employees seems more than a bit perverse. Aren't we only a bit more than a century beyond when owners as the Kellog Familiy, et al's efforts to ensure their version of religion was a practiced prerequisite for employment were

    It's back to the future, eh? Catholic labor unions versus Protestant owners (or visa versa), street fighting, etc. as forms of modern democracy,. What a ride we are in for!

  149. Hobby Lobby's lawyer misapprehends the law: the "owner" of the company is the business entity, not the members or the shareholders.

    As Ambrose Bierce defined it: "Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility." What Hobby Lobby really wants to do is to "impose personal moralism without corporate responsibility."

  150. So, Hobby Lobby is the alter ego of its owner on religious issues---- but I suspect that if someone tried to sue that owner personally for something that Hobby Lobby did, he would be shouting "can't pierce the corporate veil!" often, and loudly. That's one of the key functions of corporate law, to distinguish between the two; the owner can't disregard that precept just because he personally opposes contraception.

  151. What about the taxation of religious property?

    Could we make a deal on that issue in exchange for all the concessions and exemptions being granted in the name of religious beliefs?

  152. Our subsidies to churches actually require them to shirk and idolate to qualify. We are thus literally making sinners out of these people under the terms of their own religions by giving them these subsidies.

  153. Thank you, Mr. Keller, for including the words of Douglas Laycock, who has perfectly captured the essence of one of America's greatest problems today. Not that long ago, conservatives (and today's far right and Tea Party members) argued on behalf of being able to choose and live the life they wished. Today the cause of their unhappiness is the ability to compel everyone else to live that life. It's a self-imposed cancer that no amount of prayer--or any employee benefit plan--will save them from.

  154. This kind of stuff, along with other issues, contributed to my husband and me leaving organized religion for good, thus far (we're 57). While I still hold basic Christian beliefs such as doing unto others and caring for the least of these, I am today actually embarrassed by the more prominent "Christian" voices and have no wish to be associated with that or the Church they claim to represent.

  155. Why not leave the option open to access for contraception and/or abortion to individual choice?

    Even if that choice is open and/or made by a woman?

  156. Last year I learned that Hobby Lobby would not pay for contraception for its women employees. I immediately stopped shopping there. I also have other friends who have done the same.

  157. Is Hobby Lobby a corporation?

    If so, it is an easy theological question. God created man (assuming one believes in God); Government created corporations.

    Religious freedom is for a person to follow his or her religious beliefs; corporations can have no such beliefs.

  158. I am an artist but I have never encountered a "Hobby Lobby" store. Rest assured I would never, ever shop at one if I did.

    I try hard not patronize businesses which are bigoted, discriminatory or which support policies and legislation which is discriminatory. This includes so-called "religious" organizations and organizations which claim some sort of religious "shield" against 21st century inclusiveness.

    Too bad. So sad. Your power to discriminate is over.

  159. Also buying a pack of condoms suits the mood but birth control needs to be taken daily and the morning after could cost a lifetime of grief for women but the good Christian, Rcc, Muslims, etc have shown just how much value they have for humans born female.

  160. Conversely, can a corporation require its employees to pratice contraception?

  161. Let's exercise our constitutional right not to shop at Hobby Lobby starting immediately. The advantage here is that we don't have to wait for a court to decide the issue.

  162. Hobby Lobby is already on our "do not trade with" list along with Pappa John, Walmart and other mental midgets of industry. Regardless of the legal issues involved, making one's religious beliefs part and parcel of business operations is bad business and drives more customers away than it brings. Just ask Chik Fil A’s Dan Cathy who has eliminated donations to many anti-gay groups and reached out to the main student activist group opposing them, Campus Pride. Apparently, Mr. Cathy wants to sell chicken sandwiches more than he wants to push his backwards views. Mixing one's personal political beliefs with one's business is stupid, legal or not.

    RegressiveWatch.Org

  163. A corporation HAS to be registered in a state. Without that registration, it simply does not exist. The state doesn't exactly "give" it existence, but without that recognition, it cannot operate and the owners do not get the benefit of limited liability, tax benefits, etc. The religious views of the owner(s) of the corporation are meaningless to the existence of the corporation. Those views may guide actions of the owner, but are not part and parcel of the corporation itself..

  164. Corporations shouldn't be offering health care benefits and the government shouldn't be subsidizing them thorough tax breaks. Because of the government's unfair policy, people who don't get health benefits from their employer have to pay more for health benefits and pay it with after-tax money.

  165. This is exactly the image of religion in America that is destroying the church. There is nothing in the misguided desire to deny women access to birth control that remotely resembles the gospel message that Jesus embodied. New life in Christ denies the self and its personal desires and seeks to live solely for the sake of the other. There is no room in that for a personal moral agenda.

  166. And yet, here you are with your personal moral agenda.

  167. Evidently the only way our 50 state circular firing squad thinks it can attract businesses is to allow each corporation to be a pure unadulterated personal dictatorship of the CEO.

  168. Love your work Steve Bolger :-)

    '50 state circular firing squad' regrettably says it all about contemporary US of A. Please distribute car stickers with this epithet; it concentrates the mind wonderfully well, and may precipitate some folk into getting some real change happening.

  169. Once Hobby Lobby the corporation begins to attend services, I'd be willing to entertain its request.

  170. Not going to happen. All of this is really about cutting cost. It's a business decision. Employees are a column in the ledger and one of the costs to a business that you can control by cutting benefits to increase profits. All kinds of business today uses the "religious" red herring as their claim to cutting cost while at the same time increasing profits, an example would be those taking that "free" tax-break of "non-profit" status. Paul Ryan calls them makers but alas they are takers of freedoms.
    Look at that Christian business called Wal-Mart. IF you wanted to point to one company that has done more to impact our middle-class and move them to poverty status, Wal-Mart would be the poster child, setting low-wage, low benefits-part time hours as a base-line of employment in thousands of small communities all over the world.
    Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Darden Restaurants, just the tip of the iceberg. These are business men making business decisions riding that religious horse til it dies.

  171. While I don't agree with the position of Hobby Lobby in this instance I do agree with this article about the constant "wantings" of government. Storm water tax, taxes for two unpaid wars, taxes for eleven aircraft carriers, taxes for aircraft worth hundreds of millions of dollars and more. Little chuncks of taxes that kill the SOUL.
    Republicans like to call a lot of these fees, but what it ususally means is a tax on top of a tax I already should have paid. I think we all want value for our money and taxes used in good conciense, not squandered.

  172. So it all becomes quite simple: do what the government did with the highways. They didn't say the states couldn't do what they wanted with the roads and speed limits, they just said that unless they complied with federal guidelines they wouldn't get federal money. Do the same thing with the corporations and the hospitals. If they employ people who are not of their faith (unlike churches, for example), then they should not get to dictate their faith to their workers. And that includes the freedom to get contraception through their health insurance.

  173. If one wants to operate a corporation in the United States of America, then adherence to the laws governing businesses is not an option. In your business life, one cannot choose to obey the laws of Catholicism, or Mormonism, or Hinduism instead of federal and state laws. (Employees are forbidden to divorce, be homosexuals, use contraception, eat pork -- imagine the possibilities.)

    If you want a competitive, profitable business, then you are doomed if you do not compete for the goodwill of your employees by offering effective healthcare insurance options. You are a sham, not a business. Corporate laws should not protect you to wield your religious tyranny.

    Individuals have the right to use contraception, or not, based on religious beliefs or individual beliefs. The government, corporations and religious institutions should stay out of this personal choice. Talk about freedom . . . this is the most basic.

  174. If a corporation is a person (think Citizens United) then it can have a conscience. OK, fine. Then it can also be put in jail and sentenced to death

  175. "You might ask why a clerk at Notre Dame or an orderly at a Catholic hospital should be denied the same birth control coverage provided to employees of secular institutions."

    Come on, Bill! You really have a tin ear!

    Back in the old days, it used to be called pluralism. It is the idea that we allow a diversity (another word stolen by the social levelers) of ideas and practices to flourish and allow people to affiliate with them or not as they choose.

    So the obvious answer to your question is that the clerk or orderly at a Catholic hospital is denied the same birth control coverage because they freely CHOSE to be denied those benefits. There are plenty of hospitals and other employers who offer such coverage.

  176. Do you actually think a blue-collar or semi-skilled worker just "chooses" which company will offer him/her a job? In this economy even most professionals do not have the luxury simply to choose where they wish to work, it's usually their current job or what, quit and spend an avg of 12-18 months looking for a secular-run job that may never materialize? A corporation has no right to impose its owners' arbitrary religious beliefs on its employee's healthcare coverage.

  177. perhaps the "plenty of other hospitals" you say people could work at have other obections that they dont want to pay for. so we as workers now have to find a place of work that caters to our own personal beliefs?or are we going to have non religious based standards that ensure fairness for all?

    it is you with the tin ear.

  178. Corporations are not sentient beings and therefore can not have a conscience, period.

  179. What kind of boss, who hires 1000s of people, makes a federal case of his employees right to have the full benefits of the medical coverage they work for. Does he think the coverage is largesse--a gift from him? What kind of puffed up, egotistical, control freak of a business man would try to arrange it so that his employees purposely be denied a choice that is only theirs to make? It can't be about the money, because if it were about the money, he wouldn't be as generous as he is. It has to do with self-aggrandizing and control. To me it seems a despicable use of a pseudo-Christian theme to bring attention to one's own out-dated ideas of right and wrong--but it goes one step beyond the protected first amendment right to speak openly of one's belief and begins to smell of coercion.

    Just when did Christ speak out against birth control anyway? A bunch of supposedly celibate men tell their flock not to use birth control and it leads to discussions like this--how does a process like that begin? That's the question we should be discussing!

  180. A third of young people now religously unaffiliated. It's really encouraging to see that America is finally catching up mentally to other advanced countries. Acting sensibly becomes so much easier when your thinking is not shackled by what some carpenter or goat herder thought about sex or justice 2000 years ago.

  181. It's one of the Ten Thousand Commandments:

    Thou shalt not support a health care system that supplies contraceptives

  182. Nor facelifts. Isn't vanity one of the deadly sins?

  183. I need to see fundamentalists reconcile their christianity (yes, lower case 'c') with their love of the 2nd amendment too. What? ...oh, more hypocrisy.

    Duluth Trading (clothiers) is another one. Their products may be fine, but as soon as I see a catalog, it's recycle time. Better for the earth. I refuse to patronize any organization solely for the sanctimony of it's owner(s).

  184. I am also an artist as well as a gallery owner and have shopped at Hobby Lobby something I will no longer do. I find company owners who attempt to impose their religious or political beliefs on their employees as being morally irresponsible and reprehensible.

  185. What about non-catholics, non-evangelicals freedom of religion? Why do we have to adhere to their dogma? Their freedom to worship as they please is inherent in the constitution, but not to impose their beliefs on everyone else. If they don't want to follow the law, then don't accept federal money and take the responsibility of actually being a religious institution.

  186. A business is in business or it is not. Can the operator of a lunch counter claim that his religion prevents him from serving people of a certain race? Or will Hobby Lobby try to be recognized as a church?

  187. Nobody is forcing their employees to take oral contraceptives, no one is shoving morning after pills down the throats of their staff.

    But, if the people that work for them choose to do such things then it is not their right to tell insurance companies, "you must not cover the costs for my employees".

    There is a sin here, one group of religious zealots trying to impose their will and beliefs on others. I thought America was better than that.

  188. As a member of the population whose fastest growing religious affiliation is "none", I can only say "amen" to your final conclusion.

  189. I spend at least $1000 a year on art and craft supplies, though not so much at Hobby Lobby, because they are closed on Sundays. After news of the owner's position on contraceptives, I will now spend $0 at Hobby Lobby.

  190. You can't have it both ways. Either a corporation is an entity that is too big to fail and nobody ever goes to jail for doing bad things, or a corporation is the embodiment of those that run it and it just like a person, meaning that it is not too big to fail and those that run it will have to go to jail for the things they do. Sorry for the odd parallel, but I hope you get this idea. ALSO, I am tired of supporting religion with my tax dollars. I have no religion, so I should just pay for all of these high and mighty freeloaders?

  191. Put simply :
    If our history is right, some people came here to escape religious persecution, the King or Pope dictating what religion one would have.

    Hence "Freedom of Religion" in the constitution. Now it seems that we are faced with new religious persecution.

    One is free to choose his or her belief, juat NOT impose it on others.

    Which side do you think these so called religious corporation leaders are on?

    Think of it this way, Viagra or birthcontrol, that is the question.

  192. Fortunately, Rick Warren does not speak for all (many?) of us. This cleric will no longer shop at Hobby Lobby - I do not wish to support such Pharisaical religion with my consumer dollars!

  193. The employer mandate to provide health insurance is an anachronism and should be replaced by extending Medicare for all.
    The Catholic Bishops and other groups should be told that the US is a secular country and that laws about behavior are made by ELECTED officials and not religious leaders.

    Suppose a religious group opposes blood transfusions and mediations or vaccines made from blood products. May an employer who is a member of that religious group refuse to provide coverage for those treatments.

  194. Douglas Laycock's quote “Interfering with someone else's sex life is a pretty unpopular thing to do," misses the point that so many religious conservatives miss.

    Contraception is a health care issue. Use the tenets of your faith to try to convince people of whatever it is you believe regarding their sex life but leave the medical choices to individuals and their doctors.

  195. Does Hobby Lobby object to plans that include Viagra? Do they object to vasectomies? Would they cover a woman who has her tubes tied after her third baby?

    Would they, or others, refuse to provide payment for circumcisions? That's an infringement on my religious rights. Do they believe that only Catholic and Christian laws count, and that freedom of religion doesn't apply to everyone else..

  196. This Hobby Lobby guy would have a lot more credibility if he refused to insure employees who divorced their spouses. What's that? Oh, wait a second. He's already on wife number three?

  197. Health insurance is part of an employees compensation for work. A company does not have the right to say how you spend the money they pay you as compensation and they should not be able to restrict the health care you get with your compensation either.

  198. The title of your commentary, "the Conscience of a Corporation", is an oxymoron. But the article itself was very interesting.

  199. This is what I would say to David Green: "You are required to provide health insurance for your employees. You are not a provider of medical services. What religion your employees choose and what health care services your employees choose is none of your business. You are not the overlord of your employees. The good news, David, is that you are entitled to make decision regarding your own religion and health care."

  200. Medicare for all is the only solution.

  201. When do these same corporations start dictating which men can get a Viagra prescription?

  202. Since when corporations have conscience ? when their fat profitis inside their pockets.