Point of View Columns

Their Freedom Not Yours

While many of us were anxiously awaiting the news about the lost Malaysian Airlines jet and others were watching the NCAA basketball tournaments (Men and Women), the United Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that has incredible ramifications regarding the definition of religious freedom. A number of corporations are plaintiffs in a case claiming that their religious freedom is being violated because they cannot impose their religious beliefs on their employees.

Mitt Romney is on record as saying that corporations are people. The Supreme Court in the infamous Citizens United case has ruled that corporations have First Amendment rights and can therefore hurl untold gobbets of cash into the political fray. Clearly this mindset has emboldened the plutocrats and billionaire Masters of the Universe who believe that their wealth translates into moral superiority in all matters.

The toxic combination of the entitled one percent united with religious zealots who believe that their personal understanding of spirituality should dominate has produced an alternate universe where religious freedom means religious oppression and domination. In this bizarre logical inversion the Supreme Court is being asked to affirm religious freedom at the expense of the religious rights of others.

The current case before the Supreme Court is based upon the contention of corporations that the Affordable Care Act, which requires that private sector employers must provide contraception and related services to their employees. The plaintiffs contend that being required to do so will offend and violate their religious principles. Seriously.

The problem with this case is that it is a classical slippery slope. If employers have religious beliefs that are not consistent with contraception and are entitled to deny such services to their employees, there is a long of line of alternative believers who also will need to be heard. There are religious adherents who oppose blood transfusions, vaccinations and, in some instances, any traditional medical care whatsoever.

People are entitled to adhere to those beliefs but it is unconscionable to suggest that these beliefs should be imposed on people simply because they are employees. Indeed, if a condition of employment means submitting to the religious beliefs of the employer, we are about to witness the tyranny of religion that would make Savonarola smile.

There is also a need for a real world discussion regarding religious liberty. From the inception of the Republic, it has been clear that every American citizen should be free to practice their religion and expression of spirituality in whatever fashion they deem appropriate and satisfying. The corollary to this right is that no American citizen has the right to impose their religious beliefs on another citizen.

This is a fairly simple and fair concept. But there are those who are using the right of freedom of religion as a cudgel to bash and batter their fellow citizens into their belief universe.

This is dangerous, wrong and unfortunate in the extreme. We can only hope that the Supreme Court will, in this case, observe the original intentions of the Framers of the Constitution and not confuse religious rights with the right to oppress in the name of religion.


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